How Negligence Works in Personal Injury
You’ve been hurt in an accident. It wasn’t your fault, but that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically collect money for your personal injury claim. Nevada law requires a person act negligently in an accident for the injured individual to collect damages. Damages in legalese means money.
According to NRS 41.130, a person who causes an injury because of a wrongful act, neglect or default is responsible for paying the injured individual damages.
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What is Negligence?
Negligence means fault. In specific situations, a person has a legal responsibility not to cause and accident and/ or harm anyone. This is called duty. A duty may be attached to a job such as a physician or a store owner. It may be attached to a daily task like walking a dog or driving a car.
The duty may be to do some like obey traffic laws. The duty may be to not do something. An example of a duty not to do something would be a surgeon not causing an additional injury to a patient.
Related: Elements of Negligence
Isn’t Reckless the same as Negligence?
No. Negligence is different than recklessness.
In fact, a person can be reckless in an accident and injury, but not owe you money. Recklessness is acting in an unsafe or unlawful way that shows a disregard for human life or property. Recklessness focuses on behavior. The person knows their behavior may cause harm, but they don’t care.
Negligence focuses on the responsible the person has to avoid causing an accident and injuring someone.
Are There Different Types of Negligence?
Yes. A person can be negligent in many different ways such as:
- Gross Negligence: When a person is so careless that they displayed a complete lack of concern for other people’s safety, it’s called gross negligence. This lack of concern goes beyond simple neglect and is considered more serious than general negligence. An example of gross negligence is a nursing home not changing a patient’s bandages for several days.
- Contributory Negligence: Contributory negligence is a defense a defendant uses in a personal injury case to bar a plaintiff from obtaining damages. The defendant shows the court the plaintiff’s action or inaction contributed to the accident. Contributory negligence isn’t used in Nevada.
- Comparative Negligence: This is another defense where the defendant tries to decrease the amount owed the plaintiff. The defendant will claim the plaintiff contributed to the accident. Their action or inaction showed decrease their award by a percent. The plaintiff will still get paid, but a lesser amount.
What are the Factors that Affect Negligence?
In Nevada, an injured person’s actions affect negligence. Nevada is a comparative negligence state. A defendant can raise this defense to pay a plaintiff less money. As mentioned before, the plaintiff, if found partly at fault, will have a percentage deducted. The state sets a limit on a plaintiff’s fault.
A plaintiff must be less than 51 percent at fault for the accident. For instance, if the jury awarded a plaintiff $10,000 for their injuries. The jury found the plaintiff 50 percent liable for the accident. The plaintiff would receive $5,000.
However, if the plaintiff was 52 percent responsible for the accident, they may not receive any damages.
What Needs to be Shown to Prove Negligence?
Proving negligence is a complex task because it must be done in four steps, or elements. These elements are links in a chain. Each one must be proven for a plaintiff to receive money. The following are the elements a plaintiff needs to establish to prove negligence:
- Duty of care: The defendant has a responsibility to follow laws, policies or procedures to avoid causing an accident and/or harm to you.
- Breached of Duty: A breach of duty refers to a defendant negligently causing an accident that injured you. Nevada uses a reasonable person test. If a reasonable person in the same or similar situation as the defendant would have acted differently, then the defendant breached their duty. An attorney will often use expert testimony to prove a defendant breached their duty to their client.
- Cause: The law requires the plaintiff to link their injuries to the defendant’s breach of duty. Nevada doesn’t assume the defendant was the cause of your injuries. You could have been injured prior to the accident. You see this in a lot of medical malpractice cases where a plaintiff is already injured when seeking medical treatment from a physician. That’s why you must how the defendant’s actions caused your injuries.
- The defendant owes damages: This is another element where the law gives the defendant the benefit of the doubt. A plaintiff has the burden of showing they incurred damages for the injuries the defendant caused. Damages include:
How Long Do I Have to File an Injury Claim?
Nevada limits how long a person can sue for negligence. You have two years from the date of the accident. The law doesn’t give any extra time if you were negotiating a settlement with the wrongful party. Once the two pass, you’re barred from filing a lawsuit for the negligent acts of the person harmed you.
Nevada negligence laws are diverse and complex because of elements, time limits and who you can sue. Negligence is how a plaintiff receives money in an accident that wasn’t their fault. You want to speak to an attorney about the type of negligence that occurred in your case. Also, you want to have as much legal protection as possible when negotiating a settlement, calculating damages or seeking just in court.
Related: How Long Do I Have to File an Injury Claim in Nevada?
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