Officials say there is no single reason why the number of fatal crashes in Las Vegas increased a staggering 33 percent in 2016.
Laura Meltzer, the Metropolitan Police Department’s public information officer, said that speeding and distracted driving explain much of the increase. “We could reduce accidents a lot if people would just obey the traffic signs,” she remarked. Moreover, distracted driving goes well beyond cellphone use to include things like eating while driving and adjusting the radio, she added. Poorly-designed intersections and usage change play a part as well. For example, Boulder Highway once carried mostly vehicle traffic, but do to an increase in pedestrian activity, the Department of Transportation is installing offset crosswalks.
The number of pedestrian fatalities increased sharply as well, from 34 in 2015 to 50 in 2016.
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Liability in Car Wreck Cases
Human error, either careless driving or a failure to adjust to adverse environmental conditions, causes about 98 percent of car crashes; mechanical defects and other situations almost entirely beyond the driver’s control cause the other 2 percent. Some specific causes include:
- Speed: Excessive velocity increases the risk of car crashes, because the faster a driver travels, the longer it takes for the vehicle to safely slow down or stop. Speed also increases the force in car wrecks, effectively changing non-injury “fender benders” into high-impact collisions that often cause serious injuries.
- Distraction: The government defines “distracted driving” as any activity that prevents drivers from being 100 percent focused on driving, and as mentioned earlier, that could include a wide range of activities.
- Impairment: Drug-induced impairment, typically from commercially-available antidepressants and painkillers, may be as serious as alcohol-induced impairment, or maybe even worse.
- Fatigue: The government estimates that driving after eighteen hours without sleep is the medical equivalent of driving after three or four beers.
Many vehicle wreck cases involve third-party liability as well. For example, if an owner loans a vehicle to an incompetent driver, the owner is really responsible for a subsequent car crash, even though the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was behind the wheel. Similarly, employers are legally responsible for their employees in civil court.
A sudden and unexpected car wreck basically has a snowball effect. If the victim is hurt and cannot work, unpaid bills begin to pile up. The financial stress adds to the physical pain, causing significant hardship. Therefore, the law allows compensation for:
- Economic damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property loss, as well as
- Noneconomic damages, including emotional distress, loss of consortium (companionship), and loss of enjoyment in life.
The purpose of these compensatory damages is to restore the victims to their pre-crash physical and financial condition, to the greatest extent possible.
In some cases, such as high BAC alcohol-related wrecks, punitive damages may be available as well. Victims are entitled to additional damages if they prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the tortfeasors knowingly ignored an obvious risk and therefore endangered the safety and/or property of other people. A damages cap may apply in some situations.
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At Naqvi Injury Law, our experienced Las Vegas personal injury professional team is dedicated to maximum compensation for accident victims. Contact us today for a free consultation.