Human error causes about 90 percent of the car wrecks in Las Vegas. Most of these wrecks involve either negligence, which is a lack of ordinary care, or negligence per se, which is a statutory violation (e.g. DUI). That’s especially true with regard to the five types of impairment, as outlined below.
Damages in negligence and negligence per se cases usually include compensation for both economic losses, such as medical bills and noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.
There is a very good reason that hand-held cell phones garner most of the attention in this area. These devices combine all three forms of distracted driving, which are:
- Manual (taking a hand off the wheel),
- Visual (taking one’s eyes off the road), and
- Cognitive (taking one’s mind off driving).
Vehicle manufacturers and other product makers tout hands-free cell phones as safe alternatives to the hand-held variety. But hands-free phones still involve two forms of distracted driving (visual and cognitive). Moreover, hands-free devices give many drivers a false sense of security.
There are many other forms of distracted driving, such as eating while driving, talking to passengers, or staring out the window.
Since the mid-1990s, police and courts have cracked down on “drunk drivers.” Yet alcohol still causes almost a third of the fatal car crashes in Las Vegas.
Legally, victim/plaintiffs may use the negligence per se doctrine to establish liability in DUI-related crashes. Even if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is not convicted, the doctrine still applies. In civil court, the jury determines all the facts, including who was and was not guilty of DUI. If there was no DUI, victim/plaintiffs may use circumstantial evidence to establish impairment. Impairment begins with the first drink and the standard of proof is low in civil court. So, this is rather easy to do.
Many people would never drink and drive but they have no problem driving home after a long day at work. Yet alcohol and fatigue affect the brain in about the same way. Driving after eighteen hours without sleep is like driving with a .08 BAC.
There is another key similarity. Intoxication has no cure except time. Similarly, drowsiness has no cure except sleep. Drinking coffee, chewing gum, or playing the radio loudly may help some drivers feel more alert for a few minutes. But these tricks do nothing to change the effects of fatigue on the brain.
Illegal street drugs, like heroin and cocaine, are not the only problem. In fact, they are not even the leading problem in this area.
Many prescription medications have similar effects as heroin. In fact, many opioid painkillers are stronger than heroin. Prescription antidepressants, like Xanax, may have a similar effect. Even some over-the-counter medicines, like Sominex or NyQuil, may seriously impair driving performance.
To establish liability, the victim/plaintiff can use direct evidence. That may be a blood test conducted immediately after the crash or statements the tortfeasor made about drug use. More than likely, however, the victim/plaintiff must rely on circumstantial evidence. That could be something like pill bottles in the tortfeasor’s home or car.
Many people in Las Vegas suffer from diabetes, heart conditions, epilepsy, and other chronic illnesses which could cause loss of consciousness. If these individuals lapse into unconsciousness while driving, that could lead to highly dangerous loss-of-control collisions.
Adverse medical conditions also raise the possibility of punitive damages. People with these issues know they must not drive, yet they chose to do so anyway. If there is clear and convincing evidence that that tortfeasor acted with reckless disregard for the safety and property of others, punitive damages may be appropriate.
Work With an Aggressive Lawyer
Impaired drivers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Las Vegas, contact Naqvi Injury Law. We routinely handle cases in Clark County and nearby jurisdictions.