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What You Need to Know After A Car Accident

Answers from Our Las Vegas & Reno Car Accident Lawyers

What you need to know after a car accident – A serious car accident can be a difficult and confusing experience, especially if it is your first collision. This is why most people hire a personal injury attorney when they’ve been in a car crash. At Shook & Stone, our attorneys are here to help you through the process of putting your life back together after a car crash. No matter where you are in the process, Shook & Stone can step in and guide your case through to the best possible resolution. For over twenty years, we have helped thousands of car accident victims throughout Las Vegas, Reno, and all of Nevada. We have the experience to help you, too. 

Listed below are some answers to common car accident questions. 

How to file an auto insurance claim?

While each insurance company will differ slightly as to the method of filing insurance claims, they all generally follow the same basic steps. Shortly after an accident, you, or your attorney, if you are represented, 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(s) involved, the other party’s insurance information, etc. It is important to gather all the necessary information after your accident so that you can give all the necessary information to your insurance company.

You should also obtain a copy of the police report of your accident if one was created. 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 responsible.

After you report the accident to your insurance, there will usually be an investigation by an “insurance adjuster.” This person works for the insurance company and will evaluate your claim, including the evidence and the resulting damages (property and bodily). Once a party is determined to be at fault, then that individual’s insurance should provide the necessary coverage up to the amount of coverage that is in their auto insurance policy. Your claim may not stop here, though. 

There are frequent cases in which a claimant does not receive the necessary coverage to compensate them fully for their injuries. This may happen for several reasons. One may be that the at-fault party did not carry adequate insurance coverage to 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 your claim was not handled appropriately, contact Shook & Stone immediately before signing anything that could end your chance for a full recovery.

Should I accept the first settlement offer from my insurance company?

Generally, no. If an insurance company gives you a settlement offer extremely soon after your accident, this may 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 the settlement offer. Once you accept a settlement, you cannot ask for more later on.

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, you likely wouldn’t get the full cost you bought it for even if it was brand new. 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, contact Shook & Stone.

Insurance companies are for-profit businesses and 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 from Shook & Stone can help you. An attorney experienced in car accident cases will be able to determine how much you actually deserve compensation for your damages. Shook & Stone will evaluate your claim, see if there are any other areas where you are deserving of compensation, and fight to ensure that you receive full compensation.

The other driver is claiming I am partially at fault. What can I do?

The answer to this question centers around the concept of “contributory negligence.” This means that the accident may be considered as having split liability between multiple drivers. For example, the other driver’s insurance company might decide that you were 20 percent at fault while the other driver is 80 percent at fault. This means that you might only be able to collect up to 80 percent of the total cost of damages from the other driver’s insurance.

In Nevada, insurance settlements operate by the “51 percent rule.” This can be found in section 41.141 of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS). 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 because the majority of the fault for the accident was with them.

Consider this 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. 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 will hurt you. If you believe that the apportionment of fault was incorrect, then you can contest the determination. To learn more about the percentage of fault and what you can do to contest an unfavorable determination, 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 had 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 $25k per person bodily injury, $50k per accident bodily injury, and $20k per accident for property damage. This can be referred to as a 25/50/20 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 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.

Uninsured motorist insurance coverage will differ depending on where you live, your driving history, the insurance company you choose to go through, etc. 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 NRS 484E.030.

Will my case go to court or trial?

The answer to this question will vary from case to case. Most car accident cases do not go to court because they get successfully resolved outside of court by way of a settlement. If the insurance company you’re negotiating with refuses to budge on the settlement amount and you believe you are 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 an experienced car accident lawyer. Shook & Stone can evaluate your case to determine the best possible course of action. If your case does end up in court, your attorney will begin the process by entering the discovery phase. During discovery, your attorney can obtain detailed information regarding how the accident occurred, including witness testimony, any reports that were made, etc. Keep in mind, the cases that typically end up in court are those that are heavily disputed. Generally, 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 settle?

It depends. If you have been involved in a car accident in Nevada, the length of time your claim will take to resolve will vary based on a number of factors. These factors can include the nature of the accident itself, the severity of the damages, how many drivers were involved, and many more considerations. Most jurisdictions in the United States require insurance companies to either reject or settle an auto accident claim within a maximum of 60 days. 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 60-day time frame. The offer does not guarantee an end to your case, though. Your case could continue after the insurance company’s offer for several reasons, the most common being because the policyholder is unsatisfied with the offer. 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 are unhappy because your claim is taking a long time to settle or you are not happy with the outcome of your claim, you or your attorney, if you are represented, should first speak directly with a representative from the insurance company. Take all the necessary steps 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. Shook & Stone can help you understand your policy.

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 and should contact an attorney from Shook & Stone. If you believe that your claim is taking longer than is necessary or normal, one of our lawyers 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?

Generally, yes. Often, an ambulance will show up at the accident scene to take clearly injured persons to the hospital. If you were not taken to the hospital by ambulance, it is most often a good idea to do so. Having a doctor give you a medical evaluation can contribute to the total amount of compensation you may receive.

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 compensate you for bodily injuries and expenses, they will base their decision in part on your medical records.

If you were injured in a car accident and the other driver either didn’t stop to render aid (hit-and-run) or 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 fairly compensated?

As a claimant, you must make sure you take all the necessary steps for a claim to be successful. What are some of those steps?

First of all, be prompt about the steps you must take. You should seek medical treatment immediately after an accident. Seeking medical treatment promptly does a few things. It will lead to accurate records that show the initial severity 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 the treatment of your injuries seriously.

Secondly, 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.
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.

It is difficult for an inexperienced individual to make an accurate determination as to whether or not they are fairly compensated. This is why it is wise to contact Shook & Stone. Our attorneys can conduct an investigation into your case as well as your insurance policy and give you the guidance you need.

How can I be sure that I am fairly compensated?

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 that loan.

Some GAP insurance policies can also cover the deductible. The deductible is the amount that a policyholder must pay before their insurance provides 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?

Generally, yes. There are many complications that can arise even in the most basic car accident cases. If you are involved in a car accident, the first thing you’ll likely do 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 ideal 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 are offered is unfavorable. Whether your claim is denied completely or you receive an offer lower than you expected, your claim deserves a second look by one of our attorneys at Shook & Stone.

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 personal injury lawyer can be extremely helpful. Contact Shook & Stone for 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 usually not automatically go up. However, 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 the damage.

One of the major factors that play into an increased insurance rate is liability. If you are determined to be the at-fault party after a car accident, then there is a chance 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, you may qualify for some sort of “accident forgiveness” that prevents your insurance rate from increasing. If you have accidents or other blemishes 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 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 either tort or no-fault laws for auto insurance purposes. Nevada operates on tort laws. This means 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 to collect compensation from their own auto insurance company regardless of fault.

Because Nevada is a tort state, this makes determining liability extremely important when it comes to compensation. Only those who are less than 51 percent at fault can collect compensation from the other driver’s insurance. 

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: 25/50/20).

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 car accident involving a pedestrian or bicyclist?

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 a duty 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 we ask our potential clients when evaluating their cases. 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. To learn more, call and speak with Shook & Stone directly.

What kind of damages (compensation) could I be entitled to?

After a car accident, it is imperative that you secure legal representation because car accident victims are often 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, Shook & Stone can fight on your behalf for your 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, Shook & Stone can fight to recover your 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 your 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 or disability means not only increased medical bills, but it also means a permanent reduced earnings capacity. You may be able to qualify for disability benefits.

Punitive Damages

  • If a defendant’s conduct is found to be especially egregious, you could be awarded damages to punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in similar conduct. 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 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 could fight for the deceased’s medical bills, loss of income, pain, and suffering, etc. You may also be entitled to recover 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 could fight for compensation for the value of benefits of the married life that you lost. The 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 personal injury attorney from Shook & Stone, he or she will fight for your rights and use every resource necessary to help you secure maximum compensation. You can do things that can jeopardize your case and things you can do to help ensure you receive the amount of damages you deserve. Some helpful steps you can take include:

  • Call Shook & Stone 
  • Take pictures of the damage done to your car.
  • Take notes of any other personal property that was damaged (for example, laptop, cell phone, 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 all the necessary evidence is collected to make your case strong and to ensure 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 a

free consultationcontact us today!

Is Med Pay required in Nevada?

No. 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 could 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?

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 $25k for bodily injury per person, $50k per accident for bodily injury, and $20k 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 – Because liability insurance protects other parties if you cause an accident, drivers can purchase additional insurance coverage 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?

In many circumstances, yes. Wage loss is a form of economic damage, and obtaining wage loss compensation 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 will likely be able to earn a paycheck. Without that paycheck, you and your family will 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 Shook and Stone Car Accident Attorneys Today!

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 every one 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. Call us at 

Our Car Accident Law Firm Locations

Shook & Stone

710 South 4th Street
Las Vegas, NV 89101

Phone: (702) 570-0000

Las Vegas

Shook & Stone

338 Ryland Street
Reno, NV 89501

Phone: (775) 323-2200

Reno

Shook & Stone

9455 W Russell Rd Suite 100
Las Vegas, NV 89148

Phone: (775) 323-2200

Las Vegas