Police are looking for answers after a violent two-car crash killed two people and seriously injured two others.
According to police and witnesses, 61-year-old Timothy Steele was westbound on Oakley when he collided with 55-year-old Kelly Murray, who was southbound on South Jones. Because of the force of the impact, both cars spun out of control onto the sidewalk and eventually hit light poles. Mr. Steele was declared dead at the scene; first responders rushed Mr. Murray to a nearby hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries. Two passengers with Mr. Murray, whose names were not released, were also hospitalized with serious injuries.
Neither driver was wearing a seat belt.
Evidence in Car Crash Cases
In most intersection collisions, events happen so quickly that there is very rarely one witness that sees the whole accident, and many times, these witnesses give conflicting accounts. This is especially an issue if the two drivers, who should know what happened better than anyone else, are unavailable to testify. This lack of evidence makes it difficult for victim/plaintiffs to meet their burden of proof.
Luckily for plaintiffs, all newer passenger vehicles have Event Data Recorders, internal devices that are functionally very similar to the black box flight recorders in commercial airplanes. In court, EDRs are basically eyewitnesses that are never wrong and never biased. Capability varies by model and make, but most EDRs capture and record information like:
- Steering angle,
- Engine RPM,
- Vehicle speed, and
- Certain mechanical faults.
Nevada has an EDR privacy law, so unless the owner consents, or the data is used for repair or statistical purposes, the information is private unless the requesting party has a court order. A court order is sometimes not enough, because if the vehicle is totaled, the insurance company often disposes of it shortly after the accident, and the EDR is lost. To prevent this from occurring, an attorney can send a spoliation letter to the vehicle’s owner or custodian. This letter directs the recipient to preserve any potential evidence in the case, including electronic evidence like the EDR.
Seat Belt Use
Like every other state except New Hampshire, Nevada has a mandatory seat belt law. However, according to NRS 484D.495, seat belt non-use is inadmissible in civil proceedings to either reduce the plaintiff’s damages or shift fault for the accident to the victim. Although it may seem counterintuitive, the prohibition of the seat belt defense is consistent with the rules of evidence in civil proceedings, because plaintiffs do not have a duty to mitigate their damages before the crash and restraints do not affect causation.
For the insurance company to claim contributory negligence, there must be evidence that the victim partially caused the crash by speeding or otherwise breaching the duty of reasonable care.
Count on an Experienced Attorney
Attorneys have a number of ways to prove negligence in car crash cases. For a free consultation with an aggressive personal injury lawyer in Las Vegas, contact Naqvi Injury Law today, because you have a limited amount of time to act.