In July 2017, the Nevada Highway Patrol launched an extended crackdown against aggressive driving. NRS 484B.653 applies if the driver speeds and commits at least two other violations within a one-mile stretch. Commonly, these other infractions include things like following too closely, illegal passing, failure to signal lane change, and failure to obey a traffic control device.
Any one of these violations could constitute negligence or negligence per se. If the tortfeasor (negligent driver) disregarded a number of rules at once, that behavior raises the possibility of additional punitive damages.
All car crash victims are entitled to compensation for their economic losses, including medical bills, and their noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Negligence in Las Vegas Car Wreck Claims
In Nevada, most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. This duty comes from a very old case called Donoghue v. Stevenson. After a woman found a dead snail in her beer bottle, she sued the manufacturer under a then-novel negligence theory. Rather surprisingly, the court allowed her claim. “[T]here must be, and is, some general conception of relations giving rise to a duty of care, of which the particular cases found in the books are but instances,” the justices concluded.
Violating one’s legal duty by driving aggressively is not enough. Additionally, the victim must establish breach, causation, and damages. The victim/plaintiff must establish each element by a preponderance of the evidence, or “more likely than not.”
The Negligence Per Se Shortcut in Nevada
Over time, negligence law developed even further. One such development was the negligence per se doctrine. Sometimes, a statute, and not some amorphous “duty of care,” sets the standard. Workplace safety laws and dog leash laws are two good examples.
The Nevada Vehicle Code is an even better example. Any moving violation, especially the ones discussed above, could cause a car accident. The negligence per se doctrine applies if:
- The tortfeasor violated a safety law, such as an individual traffic infraction or a group infraction like aggressive driving, and
- The violation substantially caused the victim/plaintiff’s damages.
Not all traffic violations trigger this shortcut. For example, if a tortfeasor has an expired inspection sticker, that violation probably did not substantially contribute to the crash.
To receive compensatory damages, victim/plaintiffs need only introduce basic evidence, like medical records, car repair bills, and job income statements. As long as there is a connection between the crash and the claim, most Clark County courts liberally apply the compensatory damages rule.
Additional punitive damages are a little different. These damages, which are designed to punish the tortfeasor and deter future misconduct, are available if there is clear and convincing evidence that the tortfeasor recklessly endangered other people.
Aggressive driving arguably satisfies that requirement. One violation, like an unsafe lane violation, may just be simple negligence. Two violations might raise some eyebrows. But three violations in a row clearly indicates a pattern of disregard for traffic laws.
Connect with an Experienced Lawyer
Aggressive drivers may be liable for additional punitive damages. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Las Vegas, contact Naqvi Injury Law. Home and hospital visits are available.