A 55-year-old woman died after a collision at the intersection of South Jones Boulevard and West Hacienda Avenue. Police faulted the other driver, but would this determination hold up in court?
The woman, whose name was not released, entered the intersection in a Dodge Caravan almost simultaneously with a Chevrolet Silverado operated by 30-year-old Alfredo Vazquez-Orozco. The force of the collision caused the Silverado to overturn and spun the Caravan out of control. Both drivers were rushed to a nearby hospital, where Mr. Vazquez recovered but the woman later died.
Police arrested Mr. Vazquez on suspicion of DUI-drugs.
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Fault vs. Liability
Insurance companies normally use the police report to assign fault in a collision, and while this determination carries great weight at trial, it is not the final word.
Perhaps most significantly, if the victim was seriously injured or killed, the police report only contains one side of the story. In almost all other cases, the report is incomplete, because first responders usually do not canvass the area for witnesses or review surveillance video, unless the crash was a hit-and-run. It is up to an attorney, and probably a private investigator as well, to fill in the gaps.
Moreover, the police report usually does not account for legal doctrines, such as the last clear chance rule. This theory often applies in rear-end and intersection collisions. If the victim had an opportunity to avert the crash, maybe by changing lanes, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is not liable for damages if the victim did not take advantage of this opportunity.
The last clear chance rule is rather subjective, as there is no hard and fast standard for what constitutes the last reasonable chance to avoid the crash, which is what this rule requires. Sometimes, the analysis depends on the applicable reaction time. If the driver had enough time to safely react but failed to do so, the rule may apply. Other factors, like heavy traffic, may affect this outcome.
In other rear end/intersection collisions, both drivers are at fault. For example, the victim may change lanes illegally and the tortfeasor may be speeding.
Nevada is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent threshold, so the victim is entitled to a proportional share of damages if the tortfeasor was at least 51 percent responsible for the vehicle collision.
Often, the best way to maximize recovery in these cases is to stress the victim’s good driving. To return to the previous example, even though the victim may have made an illegal lane change, the victim was probably following the speed limit, stopping at traffic control devices, not impaired, and so on.
Damages in car crash cases include money for tangible losses, including medical bills, and intangible losses, such as pain and suffering.
Count On an Assertive Attorney
Maximum compensation requires careful preparation and aggressive advocacy. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Las Vegas, contact Naqvi Injury Law. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.