Car Accident FAQ

Car Accident FAQ

Answers from Our Las Vegas Car Accident Lawyers

The time surrounding a car accident can be confusing, especially if this is your first collision. This is why many people choose to enlist representation from a car accident lawyer. At Shook & Stone, we are here to assist in this way. No matter what step of the auto insurance claims process you are involved with, our firm can step in and see your case through to the best possible resolution. We help car accident victims throughout Las Vegas and all of Nevada. Listed below are some answers to common car accident questions. This is just one more way that we are here to help.

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How do I go about filing an auto insurance claim?

While each insurance company will differ slightly as to the method of filing insurance claims, they are all basically tied together by the same principles. As soon as possible after an accident, you will need to contact your insurance company and report your accident. All auto insurance claims require similar information: the nature of the accident, information about you and the occupants of your vehicle, information on the occupants of the other vehicle involved, the other party's insurance company information, etc. It is important to gather all the necessary information after your accident so that you can make a comprehensive report to your insurance company.

In some cases, you may have to obtain a copy of the police report of your accident (provided that there was one). A police report can provide further details of the nature of the accident so that your insurance company can better determine what happened and who is liable.

After the initial report, the individual assigned to your case will explain that there will then be an investigation by an adjuster. The insurance company will evaluate your claim, the evidence and the ensuing damage (property and bodily). Once an at-fault party is determined, then that individual's insurance will provide the necessary coverage up to the amount of coverage that is in their auto insurance policy. Your claim may not stop here. There are some cases in which a claimant does not receive the necessary coverage. This can happen for a few reasons.

First of all, the at-fault party may not have been carrying adequate insurance to fully compensate for the damage you suffered in the accident. In other cases, insurance companies could attempt to withhold or "lowball" your claim and give you less than you actually deserve. If you believe that the outcome of your claim was incorrect, you can absolutely seek counsel from an auto accident lawyer from our firm.

Is it wise to accept the first settlement offer from my insurance company?

The answer to this question will depend on a variety of factors. If an insurance company approaches you with a settlement offer extremely soon after your accident, this may or may not be an attempt to get you to settle for a lesser amount than you deserve. Your settlement offer should accurately reflect the extent of the damages. If it does not, then it would not be wise to accept this settlement. Once you accept a settlement, you cannot ask for more.

It is also important to remember that the at-fault party's insurance will only offer you up to the amount that the damage is worth. For example, if your car was totaled in an accident, even if it was brand new, you likely wouldn't get the full cost that you bought it for. This is because the value goes down once you drive a car off the lot. The insurance company is charged with determining how much the car is worth. You can contest this though. If you believe that you are being offered less than what you deserve, a lawyer from our firm could help you.

Insurance companies, because they are for-profit businesses, want to make as much money as possible. Every car accident claim filed carries the possibility of the insurance company losing money. Insurance companies are required to pay out claims according to their policyholders' contracts, but it may be difficult for a policyholder to know how much is appropriate.

This is where an attorney can benefit you. An attorney experienced in car accident cases will be able to best determine how much you actually deserve. Shook & Stone can evaluate your claim, see if there is any other areas where you are deserving of compensation, and fight to see that you get it.

The other driver is claiming I am partially at fault, what can I do?

The answer to this question centers around the principle of contributory negligence. This means that the accident is being viewed as having split liability between multiple drivers. For example, the insurance company might decide that you were 20 percent at fault while the other driver is 80 percent at fault. This means that you can only collect up to 80 percent of the total cost of damages, and your insurance company will have to provide for the remaining 20 percent of your compensation.

In Nevada, insurance settlements operate by the "51 percent rule." This can be found in § 41.141 of the Nevada Revised Statutes. In sum, the statute says that drivers who are more than 50 percent at fault for an accident cannot recover compensation from the other party's insurance. Their own liability insurance would have to cover the cost of damages. This also means that their insurance rate could go up, since the majority of the fault was with them for the accident.

Consider this example scenario. A Honda Civic and a Dodge truck are involved in a collision. The truck changed lanes without looking and sideswiped the Civic, but the driver of the Civic was not paying attention because they were texting while driving. After a thorough investigation by an insurance adjuster, the adjuster determines that 70 percent of the fault goes to the driver of the truck while 30 percent of the fault goes to the driver of the Civic. Both could face additional traffic citations and fines, but those are separate issues.

Because the driver of the truck was more than 50 percent at-fault, their insurance company will have to provide compensation up to 70 percent of the total cost of damages for the driver of the Civic. If you were involved in an accident and you are notified that you were partially at-fault, ask what percentage of fault is being assigned to you. Being assigned a percentage of fault that is more than 50 could hurt you. If you believe that this is incorrect, then you can contest. To learn more about percentage of fault and what you can do to contest an unfavorable claim, please call us today.

I was involved in a hit and run accident. Am I still covered?

Many auto insurance policies have an uninsured or underinsured motorist clause (UM/UIM). This means that your insurance will cover you for accidents caused by drivers without proper insurance. This also means that you have access to coverage when someone who fled the scene caused your accident. A hit and run driver can be viewed essentially in the same light as someone without insurance.

Each state has different auto insurance requirements for minimum coverage. According to the Nevada Division of Insurance, all Nevada drivers must have at least $15k per person bodily injury, $30k per accident bodily injury and $10k per accident property damage. This can be referred to as a 15/30/10 plan. This is the minimum requirement, but any driver can purchase more. Keep in mind that this is liability insurance. Liability insurance covers you if you are at-fault for an accident and also provides compensation to others involved in the accident for property damage and bodily injury.

In Nevada, uninsured motorist insurance is not required but can be purchased in addition to their liability coverage. Before you can receive UM coverage after a hit-and-run accident, you must pay a deductible. You can choose your own deductible, as it factors into the total cost of your insurance. Usually what happens is a higher deductible will result in a lower cost of insurance and vice versa.

UM insurance coverage will differ depending on where you live, your driving history, the insurance company you choose to go through, etc. The average for amount of UM coverage in Nevada is $50k/$30k. Keep in mind that hit-and-run is a crime, and that the driver who hit you could face criminal penalties if they are caught. All drivers are required by law to stop after an accident according to § 484E.030 of the Nevada Revised Statutes.

Will my case go to court?

The answer to this question will vary from case to case. Many car accident cases do not go to court because they are successfully resolved outside of court by way of a settlement. If your insurance company is refusing to budge on the settlement amount and you believe you are being under-compensated, you can contest this in court. You can also go to court if you choose to file a lawsuit against a driver for wrongful death or a drunk driver, for example.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine if your case will go to court until you get in touch with a seasoned car accident lawyer. Shook & Stone can evaluate your case to learn the best possible course of action in your case. If your case does end up in court, your attorney will begin the process by entering the discovery phase. During discovery, your attorney can research the accident report, claim, your policy, witness testimony, etc. Keep in mind, the cases that typically end up in court are those that are heavily disputed. Without disputed facts, then a case will typically settle outside of court.

Remember, every case is unique. The circumstances of your story will ultimately influence whether your case will go to trial. Let our team review your case for free and explain your rights and what you can expect during your legal journey.

How long can I expect it to take for my case to be settled?

There is no one way to answer this question. If you have been involved in a Nevada car accident, the length of time your claim will take to process will vary based on a number of factors. These factors can include the nature of the nature of the accident itself, the severity of the damages, how many drivers were involved and more. Most jurisdictions in the United States require insurance companies to either reject or settle an auto accident claim within 60 days maximum. The least complicated claims take about two to three weeks to process, although some could be settled sooner.

Your insurance company is only required to make an offer within this time frame. The offer does not guarantee an end to your case. Your case could continue after the insurance company's offer for a number of reasons. Typically, the reason is because the policyholder is unsatisfied with the outcome. With the help of a Las Vegas car accident attorney from our firm, you could potentially reject this offer and fight to maximize your settlement.

If you believe that your insurance company is "dragging its feet" so to speak and stalling payment, then you should secure the involvement of an attorney. Your case can only be resolved after you have filed your initial claim, scheduled an inspection and spoken with an adjuster.

The Insurance Information Institute suggests six steps for those who are unhappy with the way that their claim is being handled. If you are unhappy because your claim is taking a long time to settle or you are not happy with the outcome of your claim, you should first speak directly with a representative from the insurance company. Take all the necessary effort to support your case with further evidence and documentation. You should also review your insurance policy to make sure you fully understand the type of coverage you are entitled to.

In some cases, claimants end up contacting their state insurance department (Nevada Division of Insurance) so that they can explain their grievance. At any time during this process, you can contact an attorney. If you believe that your claim is taking longer than is necessary or normal, a lawyer can evaluate your case and ensure that you are not getting the short end of the stick.

Should I go to the hospital following a car accident?

If the accident was serious, you may not have had a choice in the matter. Often, an ambulance will show up at the scene to take those involved away in an ambulance just as a precaution. If you were not automatically taken to the hospital, it may be a good idea to do so. Having an approved doctor give you a medical evaluation can contribute to the total amount of compensation you are entitled to.

Every basic auto insurance policy will include some sort of bodily injury coverage. If you were not at fault for your accident, Nevada law requires the at-fault driver to carry a minimum of $15,000 bodily injury coverage per person. Your medical compensation would come out of this amount. In the event of a serious accident, $15,000 per person bodily injury and $30,000 per accident bodily injury may not be enough to cover medical costs.

Your car accident attorney could advise you on whether or not you should file a lawsuit. To avoid lawsuits, many drivers purchase more than the minimum required coverage. There is also something called personal injury protection (PIP). The state of Nevada does not require PIP. This type of insurance is "no fault" which means it payments do not necessitate proved fault.

You should not wait to visit the doctor after an accident. It is important that you do this as soon as possible for two reasons. For one, your physical wellbeing is important and medical treatment should never be delayed as this could worsen your condition. Second, medical reports are vital pieces of evidence for your claim. When the insurance company is determining how much to award you for bodily injury compensation, they will base their decision in part on your medical examination.

If you were injured in a car accident and the other driver either didn't stop to render aid (hit-and-run) or they did not possess insurance/adequate insurance, talk to our firm as soon as possible. Shook & Stone's car accident lawyers are experienced in this area, and can walk you through even the most complex auto insurance claims.

How can I be sure that I am being fairly compensated?

You cannot control your insurance company, neither can you control the at-fault driver's insurance company. As a claimant, all you can do is make sure you take all the necessary steps for a successful claim. What are some of those steps?

First of all, you shouldn't wait too long before you seek medical treatment after an accident. Part of filing a claim in which you receive fair compensation is doing things promptly. Seeking medical treatment promptly does a few things. It accurately shows the extent of your injuries. If you wait longer than a week to seek medical attention, then it may be difficult to ascertain what your injuries were like at the time of the accident. It also shows that you are responsible, and are taking pains to present an accurate claim.

If at all possible, get the names of any witnesses to the accident. Doing so can further strengthen your case. The stronger your case, the better your chances of being fairly compensated. In addition to witness testimony, you can also take pictures of the accident and your injuries. The more evidence you obtain, the better. In some cases, the accident is too severe for the victim to take pictures or names of witnesses.

Avoid admitting any fault at the scene of the accident or even at the hospital. Any admission of guilt can be used against you and could result in compensation that does not accurately reflect the nature of the accident. Be truthful when you are directly asked about the nature of your injuries and what happened to cause the accident. An accurate and truthful testimony goes a long way when it comes to determining fair compensation.

It is difficult for an individual to make an accurate determination as to whether or not they are being fairly compensated. This is why it is wise to contact a car accident attorney. An attorney can conduct an investigation into your case as well as your insurance policy.

What is GAP insurance?

According to the Nevada Division of Insurance, GAP insurance is Guaranteed Auto/Asset Protection. With this insurance, you could be covered for the difference between how much your vehicle is worth (cash value) and what you still owe on the vehicle (i.e. balance from a loan). To understand GAP insurance, you must understand that any auto insurance claim is subject to the total loss of the asset (total cost of damage/replacement cost of the vehicle). So essentially, GAP insurance provides the remaining amount that you owe on your car loan. This is for cases in which the total settlement amount wouldn't have covered the full cost of the remaining balance on the loan.

Some GAP insurance policies can also cover the deductible. The deductible is the amount that a policyholder must pay before their insurance will provide coverage. Some people have high deductibles and others have low ones. They can choose this for themselves based on how high or low they want their insurance payments to be. Who should consider GAP insurance? The Nevada Division of Insurance suggests that GAP insurance is most valuable to those who A) have extended financing plans (because the value of the car would depreciate faster than you could pay off your loan, in some cases), B) make low down payments, C) have high insurance interest rates or D) have chosen a loan that has a term longer than 60 months.

To learn more about GAP insurance and how it could affect your case, please get in touch with our firm today. Trust Shook & Stone's experience in this area to provide the help you need!

Do I need an attorney for a car accident case?

No attorney will tell you that it is essential to hire legal representation for a car accident case, but many will highly advise it. There are many complications that can arise even in the most basic car accident claims. If you are involved in a car accident, the first thing you'll likely to is file a claim by notifying your insurance company. If another driver or drivers were involved, they will do the same thing and notify their insurer of the accident. The insurance companies will then begin the process of evaluating the claim against the claimants' insurance policies as well as investigate the accident to determine who was at fault. There are a few things that could happen at this point.

In an idea situation, your insurer would notify you that the other driver was completely liable for the accident and you will be receiving maximum financial compensation for property damage as well as bodily injury. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. You may find that the settlement you receive is unfavorable. Whether it comes back denied completely or lower than you expected, your claim deserves a second look. You can potentially request a reconsideration from the insurance company, but most of the time the insurance company will stick to its original decision.

The insurance company may also have wrongfully shifted liability onto you, which could lower the total amount you could receive. When a claim comes back with an unfavorable result, a car accident lawyer can be extremely helpful in this situation. Contact Shook & Stone for aggressive representation in pursuing the compensation you deserve after an auto accident.

Will my insurance rate go up after an auto accident?

Many people wonder if their insurance rate is going to go up immediately after an accident or after they file a claim with their insurance company. No two cases are alike, but your auto insurance rate will not automatically go up. There are many factors that could contribute to an increase in your insurance costs.

It is a common myth that increased insurance rates are "automatic." Because many people are under the impression that their rates will increase, they do not file claims or report their car accidents. Under no circumstances should you fail to report a claim. If you do not report your accident, you run the risk of not being compensated and having to pay out of pocket for damage.

One of the major factors that plays into an increased insurance rate is liability. If, after a car accident, you are determined the at-fault party then there is a chance that your rates will increase. This is because you are seen as a greater accident risk. The severity of the auto accident can also play a role. For example, a dent in the hood of a vehicle is not as severe as the damage from a rollover accident.

Insurance companies will also take your driving history into account. If you have a history of safe driving, then you may qualify for some sort of "accident forgiveness" that prevents your insurance rate from increasing. If you have accidents or other spots on your record, then there may be a greater risk that your rate goes up.

If your insurance company has notified you that your rates are being increased and you disagree, then you may be able to contest this with the help of the Las Vegas car accident attorneys at our firm. Contact Shook & Stone today for answers to more questions about car accidents, liability and insurance rates.

What's the difference between no-fault and tort car insurance and what do I have?

All states in the U.S. abide by tort or no-fault laws for auto insurance purposes, and Nevada operates on tort laws. What this means is that, when a driver is involved in a car accident, they can collect compensation from the at-fault driver's insurance. Contrast this with no-fault insurance states that allow every driver, regardless of fault, to collect compensation from their own auto insurance company.

Because Nevada is a tort state, this makes determining liability extremely important when it comes to compensation. Only those who are less than 50 percent at fault can collect compensation from the other driver's insurance. The at-fault driver's insurance will not only have to pay for the insured's damages, but also the victim's.

Tort insurance laws are also of importance when it comes to accidents with uninsured and underinsured drivers. If you carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, then you can be covered in the event of an accident with an uninsured, underinsured or even hit-and-run driver.

Tort law also allows drivers to sue at-fault drivers for damages, even damages not included in most auto insurance policies such as emotional pain and suffering or compensation over the minimum amount (minimum liability: 15/30/10).

If you reside in Nevada, then any auto insurance accident claim you file will operate under tort laws. If you would like to learn more about how these laws work and how they affect your claim, please do not hesitate to contact a Nevada car accident attorney from Shook & Stone for information.

Who is at fault in a pedestrian-car accident?

Who is at fault?

You have heard it said that "pedestrians have the right of way," but pedestrians can be held liable for car accidents just as drivers can. Both pedestrians and drivers of motor vehicles have to obey the rules of the road. When these rules are not followed, serious accidents can occur.

If you were driving and hit a pedestrian, then consider the following:

  • Did the pedestrian have a "walk" sign?
  • Was the pedestrian crossing in a designated area?
  • If the accident was at night, was the pedestrian wearing dark clothing?
  • If the accident involved a bicyclist, did the bicycle and/or bicyclist have proper reflective gear on?
  • Did the pedestrian attempt to make eye contact with you before entering the road?

If you were walking/running and were hit by a car, consider the following:

  • Did the vehicle appear to be driving over the designated speed limit?
  • Did you have the right-of-way or a "walk" signal?
  • Did the driver motion to you to "go ahead"?
  • Were you jaywalking or in another undesignated part of the road?

These are questions that we might ask our potential clients when evaluating their case. If we discover that you or someone you love was injured in an accident because a driver or pedestrian was not adhering to the rules of the road, then you might have a claim. In some cases, both parties could be held partially at-fault for the accident. To learn more, call and speak with Shook & Stone directly.

What kind of damages could I be entitled to?

Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney

After a car accident, it is imperative that you secure legal representation, because often car accident victims are not aware of all of the damages they could be entitled to. Each case is different, which means the damages you can fight for are different too. Common damages in a car accident include:

A Personal Injury Case

Property Damage

  • If your car or any personal property was damaged as a result of the car accident, you can fight for compensation! Property damage can also include towing costs, vehicle storage fees, appraisals, body shop repairs and replacement costs.

Medical Bills

  • Normally an insurance company will pay your medical expenses, but if you paid for any expenses out-of-pocket, you can fight to recover medical expenses. Examples of medical expenses arising from a car accident can include ambulance fees, crutches/heating pads, in-home services and hospital bills.

Rehabilitation

  • Outside of surgery and treatment (medical bills), if you have ongoing rehabilitation expenses, you can fight for compensation for this as well.

Loss of Income: Past, Present & Future

  • If you could not work as a result of the accident, you could be entitled to compensation for all lost income, past and present! While most car accident victims are able to return to work after the accident, they may not be able to perform the same responsibilities and as a result, their earnings may be reduced.

Pain & Suffering: Past, Present & Future

  • Pain and suffering is defined as mental and physical distress. These damages will be based on the type of injury you sustained, the seriousness of the pain and the prognosis for future pain. Anxiety and stress can also be categorized as 'pain and suffering.'

Special Circumstances

Permanent Injury or Disability

  • Permanent injury/disability not only means increased medical bills, it also means a permanent reduced earnings capacity. You may be able to qualify for disability benefits.

Punitive Damages

  • If "gross negligence" can be proved, you could be awarded damages to punish the defendant. The most common example of a car accident where punitive damages can be awarded is one involving DUI. Other circumstances that could warrant punitive damages include excessive speed, violation of a traffic law, unlicensed driver or driving a vehicle knowing it was in poor condition.

A Wrongful Death Case

Everything Listed Above (Personal Injury Damages)

  • If your loved one died as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash, you can fight for medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, etc. You are also entitled to other damages (see below).

Punitive Damages

  • Punitive damages are most often awarded in wrongful death cases. When someone's negligent driving behavior causes you to lose a loved one, your family deserves justice and compensation!

Loss of Consortium

  • If you lost your spouse in a car accident, you can fight for compensation for the value of benefits of married life that you lost. Consortium encompasses the "company of, help of, affection of, and sexual relations of a mate."

Funeral Expenses

  • When someone's negligent driving takes your loved one's life, you should not have to foot expensive funeral bills. You can fight for compensation for funeral expenses!

How to Receive 100% of the Damages You Deserve

When you hire a competent car accident attorney, he/she will fight for your rights and use every resource necessary to help you secure maximum compensation. There are things you can do which can jeopardize your case and things you can do that can help you ensure you receive the amount of damages you deserve. These helpful steps include:

  • Take pictures of the damage done to your car
  • Take notes of any personal property that was damaged (for example, CD player, sunglasses, laptop, cell phone, laptop, etc.)
  • Take pictures of your injuries
  • Write down how you are feeling physically after the accident and take detailed notes of all the injuries you sustained
  • Write down everything you can remember about the car accident
  • Do not admit guilt after an accident, only exchange contact information with the other driver and provide factual answers to the police
  • Call your insurance company promptly
  • Have a claims adjuster look at your vehicle
  • Keep track of your medical bills
  • Hire a lawyer to make sure that all the necessary evidence is collected to make your case strong and to ensure that your insurance company does not short-change you

At Shook & Stone, our goal is to secure the compensation and justice a car accident victim and their family deserves. Over the years, we have successfully secured over $500 million in compensation for our clients. Best of all, you do not have to pay us a cent unless we are successful! For afree consultation, call us today!

Is Med Pay required in Nevada?

Medical Payments Coverage or "Med Pay" is an optional form of insurance coverage in the state of Nevada. When you purchase auto insurance, you will be asked to select whether you want to purchase Med Pay (and for what amount) or whether you reject this form of coverage.

If you choose to purchase Med Pay for an additional premium, you may choose $1,000, $2,000, $5,000 or $10,000 per person.

Med Pay provides medical compensation for you or your passengers' injuries in the event of a car accident. This coverage is provided regardless of fault. This means that even if you were at fault for the car accident, you and/or your injured passengers can receive up to your policy limits ($1k-$10k per person) from your insurance company.

It is important to remember that collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, and liability coverage do not pay for your injuries or your passengers' injuries.

To learn more about the functions of these types of coverage, visit our FAQ page on liability, collision, and comprehensive insurance coverage.

What's the difference between liability, collision, and comprehensive insurance coverage?

What's the difference?

In Nevada, there are multiple types of insurance coverage, each with a different purpose. Because Nevada auto insurance laws can be unclear at times, we have broken down three major types of coverage offered in this state: liability, collision, and comprehensive.

Liability Insurance - This type of insurance is required by Nevada law. Every driver must possess at least the minimum coverage, which is $15k for bodily injury per person, $30k per accident for bodily injury, and $10k per accident for property damage. This form of insurance protects you in the event that you are the at-fault party in an accident, and goes toward compensating injuries and property damage to the other parties involved.

Collision Coverage - Since liability insurance protects other parties in the event that you cause an accident, drivers can purchase additional insurance coverage in order to protect themselves. Collision coverage provides money for accident-related damage to your vehicle (regardless of fault).

Comprehensive Coverage - This form of insurance protects you against theft or other non-accident damage to your vehicle. In addition to theft, this could include vandalism, falling/flying objects, or wind damage.

To learn more about insurance coverage that can protect your and your passengers in the event of an accident, visit our helpful FAQ page on Med Pay in Nevada.

Can I recover lost wage compensation?

One area of compensation you may be entitled to after a car accident is lost wage compensation. This is a form of economic damage, and can replace the wages you may have lost from time taken off work to recover from your car accident injuries.

If you are injured so badly that you cannot work, you may not be able to work to earn a paycheck. Without that paycheck, you and your family will likely suffer financially. Some people purchase insurance to cover lost wages in the event of a car accident injury, but this does not come standard in most insurance policies.

If you were injured in a car accident and you cannot work, talk to a Las Vegas car accident attorney at our firm to see if you might be able to recover lost wage compensation. Shook & Stone is here to answer your questions after a collision, so don't hesitate to call us today for a free consultation.

More questions? Call a car accident attorney at our Las Vegas firm!

If you still have questions after you were involved in a car accident, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a Las Vegas car accident lawyer from Shook & Stone today for a free evaluation of your case. Our firm has been representing auto accident victims since 1997 when Shook & Stone was established. We make it our goal to pursue maximum financial compensation for each of our clients. In total, we have been able to recover more than $500 million in verdicts and settlements. Experience the difference for yourself by calling and speaking with a knowledgeable legal professional today! We look forward to seeing how we can help you.

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