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A midday car crash killed a 73-year-old woman, according to police.

The wreck happened on Lamb Boulevard just north of North Las Vegas Boulevard. A 2007 Avalanche was southbound on Lamb in the right lane. Suddenly, a 1998 Sentra tried to make a left turn against traffic off northbound Lamb. The Sentra was trying to enter a private driveway. But the Sentra driver mistimed the maneuver and the Avalanche smacked into the passenger side. Both the passenger and driver were seriously injured and rushed to a local hospital. The passenger, who was not wearing a seat belt, succumbed to her injuries. But the driver, a 54-year-old man, is expected to survive.

None of the names were released.

Legal Issues in Left Turn Car Wrecks

Left turn crashes like the one described above are increasingly common in places like Las Vegas. They’re especially widespread during busy daytime hours. There are so many large vehicles on the roads that visibility is limited if you are in a passenger car. Furthermore, traffic is so thick that drivers usually accelerate suddenly to shoot through a gap between vehicles.

Driving in this way clearly constitutes negligence per se. Such behavior is a classic failure to maintain a proper lookout and/or yield the right of way. In a negligence per se case, it really does not matter how cautious or careless the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was. The only elements are:

  • The tortfeasor violated the rules of the road, and
  • That violation substantially caused the victim/plaintiff’s damages.

Left turn crashes also often give rise to the sudden emergency defense. This doctrine excuses negligence per se if the tortfeasor:

  • Reasonably responded to
  • A “sudden emergency.”

That last phrase is in quotation marks because it has a very specific legal meaning. Totally unexpected situations, like a hood fly-up, are clearly sudden emergencies. More commonplace events, such as a stalled car, are clearly not sudden emergencies. A car that shoots into traffic with basically no warning falls somewhere in between.

The Seat Belt Defense in Nevada

Some people believe that if they were not wearing their seat belts they cannot obtain compensation for their injuries. That may be partially true in some states. But in Nevada, that belief is entirely false.

The Nevada State Legislature has expressly outlawed the so-called “seat belt defense,” and for good reason. Drivers are legally required to wear seat belts, and smart motorists would wear them whether there was a law or not. But in a negligence case, their use or non-use is simply not admissible under the rules.

Usually, wearing a seat belt has nothing to do with the cause of the crash. Moreover, the victim has no duty to mitigate (voluntarily reduce) damages before the crash. Otherwise, drivers would have to wear crash helmets and fire-proof suits.

The damages in a Nevada car crash usually include compensation for both economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Contact a Tenacious Lawyer

Left-turn crashes raise complex legal questions. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Las Vegas, contact Naqvi Injury Law. After-hours appointments are available.