An 84-year-old man died in a car crash that raises interesting questions about liability and damages in negligence court.
Police say that the man was eastbound on Craig Road near its intersection with Tenaya Way. At that moment, a westbound Chrysler made a left turn directly into the Prius’ path. Both drivers were transported to a nearby hospital with various injuries; the Prius driver was later declared dead.
None of the names were released.
Legal Responsibility in Car Crashes
Left turn motorcycle-vehicle crashes are fairly common, but left turn vehicle-vehicle crashes are fairly rare. More than likely, either speed or impairment caused the above-described collision.
Excessive velocity, which includes both exceeding the posted speed limit and driving too fast for the conditions, exponentially increases stopping distance, which is the territory that vehicles cover in the time it takes the drivers to see oncoming hazards, move their feet from the accelerators to the brake pedals, and stop their vehicles without losing control.
At 30mph, stopping distance is about six car lengths, and at 60mph, stopping distance triples to eighteen car lengths.
These figures only represent the average stopping distance for the average-size car. A host of factors, such as the vehicle’s age, condition, and size, may increase stopping distance to a considerable degree.
Age-based impairment is another possible factor. In Nevada, there is essentially a presumption that people over 70 either should not be driving at all or should limit their driving, because individuals above this age must renew their drivers’ licenses in person and submit to several rigorous tests. This rule is not discriminatory, because there is considerable evidence linking age with reduced driving performance.
The duty of care applies equally to all drivers, regardless of age or experience. Therefore, older drivers arguably need to be more careful than other drivers. For example, if a drivers’ license limits the operator to daytime driving, that operator probably should not drive during other adverse environmental conditions either, such as strong crosswinds or heavy rain.
Many people wrongly believe that if they are not wearing their seat belts that they cannot recover compensation for their injuries. In many states, that is true, at least to some extent. But Nevada lawmakers have expressly banned the so-called seat belt defense.
Seat belt use is simply inadmissible under the rules of evidence. Since wearing it, or not wearing it, has no bearing as to fault, use is inadmissible as evidence of contributory negligence. Moreover, as victims have no duty to mitigate (voluntarily reduce) their damages before the damage occurs, use is inadmissible as mitigation evidence.
The blanket ban also eliminates technical arguments that essentially waste the court’s time, such as whether a child was in the right kind of car seat or the adult victim used the seat belt in the correct way.
So, both restrained and unrestrained victims are entitled to fair compensation, which includes money for lost wages and other economic damages as well as pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages.
Count On a Tenacious Attorney
Car crashes often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Las Vegas, contact Naqvi Injury Law. Our main office is conveniently located near the 215 Beltway and Flamingo Road.