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A man who briefly fled the scene of a fatal collision – and may have been intoxicated – is now in police custody.

Nevada Highway Patrol officers state that the wreck occurred on westbound Interstate 80 near West McCarran Boulevard in Reno. A fast-moving Ford pickup truck apparently rear-ended a Pontiac that was disabled on the shoulder; the driver kept going but authorities later caught up with him. Back at the scene, first responders used the Jaws of Life to cut the victims out of the wrecked vehicle. They were both rushed to an area hospital, and both were declared dead a short time thereafter. The driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI, and he will probably face additional charges as well.

All the names were withheld.

First Party Liability in Alcohol-Related Crashes

Even though Nevada significantly toughened its DUI laws in recent years, and may do so again in the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Birchfield v. North Dakota, alcohol-related crashes are still a serious issue on area roadways. If there is direct evidence of intoxication (normally a BAC of over .08), the negligent driver may be liable for damages as a matter of law, because of the negligence per se rule. Generally, if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) violated a safety statute, a judge may deem such violation to be irrefutable evidence of negligence, and a victim needs to only prove damages.

Victims can also make their cases through circumstantial evidence of impairment. The signs of intoxication include items like:

  • Bloodshot Eyes: Many jurors readily associate bloodshot eyes with alcohol consumption. The blurred vision this condition causes obviously makes it more difficult to safely operate a motor vehicle, especially at night.
  • Unsteady Balance: If the tortfeasor’s motor skills are impaired, the tortfeasor’s driving skills are affected commensurately.
  • Odor of Alcohol: Alcohol consumption leaves an unmistakable scent on a person’s breath and clothes.

In most cases, impairment starts with the first drink, so any evidence of alcohol consumption is normally enough to prove impairment in civil court.

Third Party Liability in Alcohol-Related Crashes

Unlike most other states, Nevada does not have a dram shop law that holds saloons, restaurants, bars, and other commercial alcohol providers liable for damages if their impaired customers negligently inflict damages on someone else.

However, Nevada does have a very strong social host liability law. This provision holds non-commercial providers, like party hosts and homeowners, liable for damages in these situations if:

  • Knowingly Serves: If the host knew that a person was under 21 and serves the person anyway, the host is liable for subsequent damages. Note that the consumer does not have to be intoxicated; an age under 21 establishes strict liability.
  • Knowingly Allows Consumption: A similar logic applies if a social host either looks the other way while minors consume alcohol on the premises, or if a host leaves a liquor cabinet unlocked and thus allows minors to access it.

Damages in an alcohol-related car crash case normally include compensation for both economic losses, such as injury rehabilitation costs, and noneconomic losses, such as emotional distress.

Team Up with an Aggressive Attorney

For prompt assistance in any negligence case, contact an aggressive personal injury attorney in Las Vegas from Naqvi Injury Law. Our law firm has a small-town feel and access to nationwide resources.