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How Negligent Entrustment May Impact Your Car Accident Claim

If one person allows another person to drive his or her car, the person who loaned the car may be held liable for injuries and property damages under negligent entrustment laws.

Negligent Entrustment Laws

Negligent entrustment refers to one party entrusting a motor vehicle to another party without making sure the driver has a valid driver’s license or allowing a person to drive a vehicle without the knowledge of his/her driving history. Under tort law, negligent entrustment arises when the person loaning the car (the entrustor) is found liable for injuries to a third party if the person driving the car (the entrusted) has a car accident that results in injuries.

In most negligent entrustment cases, car accidents involve employees who are driving company vehicles without the employer verifying license status or past driving history. Some cases may involve an entrustor providing an entrusted with a dangerous instrument such a weapon. In either type of case, the entrustor can be held liable for any injury or death caused to a third party. Whether third party injuries result from a car accident or a lethal weapon, the entrustor can be found liable for damages that result in civil lawsuits. If an injured party dies, the entrustor may be found guilty of negligent homicide.

Company Vehicle Safety

When an employee is given the use of a company car, it’s the employer’s duty to verify that employee’s license status and driving history to ensure safety. Legally, a driver can be deemed unfit to drive due to an expired, suspended, or revoked driver’s license, lack of driving experience, and reckless driving history. To prove a negligent entrustment claim against a company, the injured party must prove:

  • The company controlled or owned the motor vehicle
  • The employee was authorized by the company to drive the vehicle
  • The driver was incompetent, unlicensed, or reckless
  • The driver caused the car accident, injuries, and property damages
  • The company should have known that the driver was unfit to drive the vehicle

Before handing over the keys to a company car, an employer should check the employee’s driving history through a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR). An MVR is a public record that shows a driver’s current license status, past traffic violations and convictions, and history of traffic accidents. By checking an employee’s MVR annually, an employer can prevent negligent entrustment claims and costly civil lawsuits filed with accident lawyers against the company.

When an Underage Driver Causes a DUI Crash in Nevada

In Nevada, dram shop laws can hold establishments who serve alcohol to minors liable for injuries and property damages caused by DUI crashes.

Dram Shop Liability Laws

A “dram shop claim” or civil lawsuit against a Nevada business or individual who sells or serves alcohol is not allowed if the involved party is 21 years old or older. Dram shop liability in Nevada only applies if the intoxicated person in a DUI crash is a minor at the time of the drunk driving accident.

In 43 other states, dram shop laws allow a person/persons injured in a drunk driving accident to sue an establishment that sells alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person if the drinker causes harm to someone after leaving that establishment. In states that impose dram shop laws, establishments that sell and serve alcohol can purchase liquor liability insurance (dram shop insurance) as protection against personal injury lawsuits. Since Nevada dram shop liability does not apply to any person of legal age, civil lawsuits handled by personal injury lawyers in Henderson often involve underage drunk drivers who cause DUI accidents.

Social Host Liability Laws

Nevada’s dram shop liability statute also allows an injured person to seek damages against a social host who furnishes alcohol to a minor or who allows a minor to drink alcohol on his/her property. If a minor guest at a private residence or social gathering becomes intoxicated and injures another person, the injury victim can file a personal injury lawsuit against the homeowner or host that held the social event. Under Nevada’s social host liability law, an injury victim can file a claim because the property owner allowed a minor to drink on the property.

Nevada social host statues also impose criminal liability on individuals who provide alcohol to minors under age 21. In Nevada, it is a misdemeanor offense to:

  • Sell or furnish alcohol to a minor person under age 21
  • Give money or valuables to a minor person under age 21, knowing that it will be used to buy alcohol or an alcohol beverage
  • Leave alcohol in a place with intent that a minor person under age 21 will retrieve it

Nevada DUI laws are much stricter for underage drivers than drivers over the age of 21. While drivers over age 21 have a legal alcohol limit of .08 BAC, underage drivers have a legal limit of .02 BAC. Underage drivers convicted of DUI face the same penalties as adult drivers which include fines up to $1,000; jail time, a six-month suspended sentence in juvenile hall; and a driver’s license suspension for 185 days.

Minor drivers under 18 who are arrested for a misdemeanor DUI are prosecuted in Nevada Juvenile Court. Drivers who are 18, 19 or 20 years old are prosecuted as adults in Criminal Court, whether they are charged with a misdemeanor or felony DUI. Nevada holds a strict “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to underage drinking and driving, so dram shop and social host liability laws are strongly supported for minors.

Damages and Filing Requirements

Nevada dram shop and social host liability cases are handled as civil lawsuits through a personal injury lawyer Henderson. This means that liability is imposed solely in terms of monetary damages. Common types of damages awarded in these cases include compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Property damages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional Distress
  • Loss of Consortium

If the injury victim’s employment includes childcare or housework services, the value of lost wages for those services is compensated.

In certain cases, Nevada allows an injured person to seek punitive damages which are usually awarded as punishment to a defendant who engages in willfully reckless or grossly negligent behavior. Punitive damages are imposed to send a message to a person who causes harm to another person with disregard for safety laws, physical injuries, and property damages. In most cases, the judge or jury in a civil lawsuit trial decides on the amount awarded for punitive damages, based on the amount awarded for compensatory damages. If the monetary award for compensatory damages is less than $100,000, punitive damages are limited to a maximum award of $300,000. If the monetary award for compensatory damages exceeds $100,000, punitive damages may be awarded up to a maximum amount equal to three times the compensatory damages.

In Nevada, a personal injury lawyer in Henderson must file a dram shop or social host liability civil lawsuit within the specified time limit set by the Nevada statute of limitations. In most cases, these claims must be filed within two years of the date of the injury.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer. They are typically awarded by the court when a defendant’s behavior is found to be especially egregious.

Recovering Punitive Damages

Punitive damages, also referred to as exemplary damages, are not awarded as compensation for injuries, but rather as a punishment for a particularly harmful act. Punitive damages are typically awarded by the court to punish a defendant for his/her actions and deter other people from engaging in similar actions.

The court often awards punitive damages if compensatory damages are deemed inadequate to cover a plaintiff’s injury costs. Under tort law, punitive damages are typically awarded only in special cases, because they exceed the amount of a plaintiff’s provable injuries. To approve punitive damages, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant engaged in willful and intentional misconduct.

Typically, punitive damages are only awarded in medical malpractice, product liability, and personal injury lawsuits. They are not usually awarded in contract disputes, except in cases that involve insurance bad faith where an insurer breaches a contract. Since insurance policies imply a covenant of good faith and fair dealing by the insurance company, a breach of this covenant is considered to be a tort cause of action where punitive damages may apply. In such cases, punitive damages may exceed the amount of the insurance policy.

In Nevada, injury victims usually receive economic damages and non-economic damages:

  • Economic Damages – Includes compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, property damages, and in some cases, future medical expenses and future lost income.
  • Non-Economic Damages – Includes compensation for present and future pain and suffering, disfigurement, disabilities, and inconvenience.

In Nevada personal injury cases, a plaintiff often seeks both types of damages through a civil lawsuit with attorneys in Henderson.  In certain cases, a plaintiff may also seek punitive damages when his/her injuries are caused by a defendant’s willful, reckless, negligent, malicious, or fraudulent actions.

The monetary award for punitive damages is usually left to the discretion of the jury based on the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries, the egregiousness of the defendant’s conduct, and the defendant’s wealth, so punishment causes hardship to the defendant. In Nevada, punitive damages are usually limited:

  • If awarded compensatory damages are less than $100,000, punitive damages are limited to a maximum award of $300,000.
  • If awarded compensatory damages are $100,000 or greater, punitive damages are limited to a maximum award of three times the amount of compensatory damages.

How to Estimate the Value of a Truck Accident Settlement

Since insurance companies often lean toward settlement offers for truck accident injuries, injury victims should understand how settlements are calculated and what damages are covered.

Understanding Settlement Estimates

Commercial trucking accidents often result in severe injuries and fatalities. To avoid a lawsuit and a court trial, many insurance companies rely on settlement offers to avoid a lengthy and costly legal battle. Since many injuries are severe or fatal, settlements often involve large payouts with six, seven, or eight figures to cover damages.

Although there’s no way to predict a precise truck accident settlement, there is a basic formula used to calculate a rough estimate. Commercial trucking accidents often involve complex legal issues that require a truck accident lawyer to prove fault and calculate an acceptable settlement. If the accident is caused by truck driver negligence or results in a fatality, family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit with the lawyer to seek damages for past medical bills and funeral expenses.

To calculate a settlement for a Nevada trucking crash, a Henderson truck accident lawyer takes certain factors taken into account: Medical bills + property damages + lost income + pain and suffering = estimated settlement value.

  • Medical Expenses – Medical expenses usually include past and future bills for hospital stays; ambulance costs; outpatient visits; rehabilitation costs; home health care; and medications.
  • Property Damages – Large 18-wheelers and semi-trucks cause significant property damage to other vehicles in a crash. Estimates from mechanics and Kelly Blue Book guidelines are commonly used to calculate repair or replacement costs.
  • Lost Income – Victims in trucking accidents often suffer severe or disabling injuries. Records of the victim’s salary, bonuses, tips, etc. are used to calculate lost wages, as well as lost future earnings. If the victim dies, his/her age and most recent salary are used to calculate loss of future support.
  • Pain and Suffering – An award for pain and suffering is typically the sum of the above expenses multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of the victim’s injuries. Pain and suffering is the most difficult expense to calculate.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires truck drivers to carry the minimum in liability insurance. Most commercial trucking companies require a minimum of $1,000,000 in liability coverage. In 42% of truck crash settlements, payouts exceed the minimum insurance requirements.

What to do If Your Teen Is Injured in a Crash

Every year, more than 220,000 American teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 are injured in car accidents, leaving parents to take care of injuries and damages.

Protecting Teens After a Crash

Since teenagers are three times more likely than older drivers to be injured in a car crash or involved in a fatal car accident, parents and teens should know what to do if an accident happens. If a teen is injured in a car crash, the following important steps will help reduce emotional trauma and the severity of physical injuries. There are five important steps to take after a teen car crash.

Call 911

When a car accident occurs, the police should be called right away. Teens should call local law enforcement and/or 911 immediately after the accident and remain at the scene until police arrive to investigate, take statements, and create an accident report. Under no circumstances should teens leave the scene of the accident before law enforcement arrives, since this may constitute a hit and run offense under the law.

Seek Medical Care

After a car crash, parents should seek medical attention for their teens at an urgent care center or hospital emergency room as soon as possible, even if injuries appear minor. Although cuts and bruises are visible, internal injuries don’t always show up right away. Head injuries and internal injuries often show no outward signs of trauma, but they can lead to serious health consequences.

Take Photos at the Scene

If there are no serious injuries, teens should take photos of the accident scene. Using a cell phone, photos should be taken of injuries, vehicle damages, property damages, road hazards, and skid marks. Photos become valuable evidence in establishing fault in a car accident, especially in multi-vehicle crashes.

Gather Information

It’s important to get the names, contact information, and insurance information of all parties involved in the car accident. If there are witnesses to the crash, their information should be collected as well. This information will be necessary when filing an accident claim with an insurance company or a personal injury lawsuit with a Henderson accident lawyer.

Call the Insurance Company

When teens are involved in a car crash, parents should report it to their insurance company as soon as possible, but avoid admitting fault. If the accident is not reported in a timely manner, the insurer may deny the claim.

The Calls You Need to Make After a Crash

After a car crash, the calls that should be made depend on the specifics of the accident such as personal injuries, property damages, and fault for the accident. Before making any calls, factors of the accident should be assessed to protect legal rights.

Steps to Take After a Car Crash

Following a car crash, it’s important to know which calls to make from the scene of the accident and how to proceed to protect legal rights in a personal injury claim.

Taking certain steps after a car accident will ensure personal safety and protection. The order of calls placed after a crash may vary depending on the individual circumstances of the crash, as well as injuries sustained by people involved in the accident. Consideration should be given to personal injuries, property damages, and who’s at fault for the accident, but emergency calls should always be the first priority.

Call 911

Most states, including Nevada, require car accident victims to call 911 immediately after an accident occurs when there are personal injuries and/or property damages. After a 911 call is made, the police will be dispatched to the accident scene to investigate accident details, collect information from involved parties, and create an accident report. All of this documentation will be necessary if personal injury claims or lawsuits are filed by involved parties.

If there are serious injuries, or anyone is trapped in a vehicle, the 911 operator will dispatch an ambulance and other first responders to the accident scene. Injuries are always a priority, and calling 911 is the fastest way to get medical help. If there are no injuries, property damages, or traffic hazards, it may not be necessary to call 911. If the accident is a minor fender bender, it is acceptable to exchange contact and insurance information with other accident parties and witnesses and file a police report as soon as possible. If the car can’t be driven away from the scene, a tow truck can take the car to a mechanic or other desired location.

Contact Loved Ones

It may take a while for law enforcement to arrive at the accident scene, so this is a good time to phone or text family members and friends to inform them of the crash, especially if they were expecting a visit or phone call. It is not a good idea to leave the scene before police arrive, but family and friends can provide a ride home if there are no injuries, or to the emergency room for minor injuries. Talking to friends and family while waiting on police may help create a calmer atmosphere.

Schedule a Doctor’s Appointment

If emergency medical help is not necessary, victims should schedule an appointment with a doctor to check for injuries as soon as possible following the crash. Some injuries like fractured or broken bones, organ damage, back and neck injuries, concussions, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are not apparent right away. They may not show up for days or weeks after the crash. A medical checkup with an official doctor’s report will serve as crucial evidence if a personal injury claim or civil lawsuit is filed with a Henderson car accident lawyer.

Contact an Attorney

Even if there are no apparent injuries or property damages, another party involved in the crash may decide to file a claim with his/her insurance company or attorney. In any car accident, fault for the accident plays a major role in the outcome of a claim. To protect legal rights, it’s a good idea to contact a car accident lawyer to discuss the accident and any concerns about claims and compensation. If filing a lawsuit, the lawyer will explain the required legal procedures and handle all necessary paperwork for the case.

Notify the Insurance Company

After contacting a lawyer, it’s time to notify the insurance company about the car crash. However, signing a medical release form for an insurer should be avoided until victims talk to a Henderson car accident lawyer. In Nevada, drivers are subject to comparative negligence laws, often referred to as the 51% rule. A driver in a car crash who’s found 51% or more at fault for the accident is not allowed to collect any compensation for injuries. Insurance companies are likely to withhold payments for medical expenses until fault is determined.

In Nevada, the Statute of Limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of the injury. In cases where an injury surfaces after the actual accident date, the discovery rule may apply. The discovery rule may be used to extend the Statute of Limitations, so the time limit begins on the date the injury was discovered, instead of the actual injury date.

How Truck Platooning Could Make Nevada Roads Safer

Truck platooning relies on advanced technology that increases fuel conservation, improves safety, and decreases the demand for commercial truck drivers.

What Is Truck Platooning?

Using high-tech automated driving systems, platooning links two or more trucks in a convoy during travel. The lead truck serves as the head of the platoon, while the following trucks automatically adapt to changes in movements. As long as trucks within the convoy maintain a close distance to the lead truck, the following drivers do not have to take control of the wheel unless they decide to leave the platoon and drive independently.

Peloton, a leader in truck platooning technology, has developed an automated two-truck system that allows drivers to join together in a convoy. The PlatoonPro connects two trucks together. The system requires both drivers to steer and permits simultaneous acceleration and braking. Vehicle-to-vehicle communication must be installed in both trucks. Both trucks must have radar-based collision avoidance systems, tractor air disc brakes, trailer anti-lock brakes, and nonmetallic mirrors that house short-range communications antennas. Drivers can engage the system on Peloton-approved multi-lane or divided highways and can start or stop platooning at any time.

Platooning Benefits

After Peloton tested truck platooning technology for over 100,000 miles, the automated driving system showed numerous benefits for the trucking industry.

Fuel Efficiency

With Peloton’s technology, a truck driver may choose to lead or follow in a convoy, even switching positions during travel. This permits truckers from different fleets to get maximum fuel economy while on the road. Peloton says their system increases fuel savings of 7 percent. The lead truck’s fuel efficiency improves by 4.5 percent, while the following truck’s efficiency improves by 10 percent.

Driver Shortage

According to the American Trucking Association, the United States is facing a serious shortage of commercial truck drivers. A shortage of 176,000 truck drivers is expected by 2026. Peloton’s driverless technology is expected to be by 2022. Driverless technology will allow the second truck to follow the lead truck and operate without a driver, cutting the need for drivers and the cost of labor in half.

Driving Safety

Driving in an automated convoy increases road safety and decreases the potential for serious trucking accidents and injuries often seen by Henderson truck accident lawyers. Most fatal truck crashes are caused by truck driver errors that include excessive speeds, wide turns, truck blind spots, driver fatigue, and driver impairment caused by alcohol or drugs.

What Not to Say After a Crash

When someone is involved in a car accident, there are certain things that should not be said. Saying the wrong thing can result in a denied injury claim and loss of compensation for damages. Until the accident scene is investigated and fault is determined, it’s best to remain silent. Insurance companies look for evidence that may sway an accident claim for injuries and property damages in their favor.

Don’t Admit Fault

Determining fault for a car accident is a major factor in calculating compensation for injuries and property damages. Admitting fault at the accident scene can result in losing damage awards for medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and car repairs. To protect legal rights, do not admit fault to law enforcement, other drivers, or insurance companies.

Don’t Apologize

While apologizing to accident victims may simply be a gesture of compassion, doing so may be misconstrued as an admission of guilt. Kind words like “I’m sorry” may be taken to mean “I’m sorry that I caused the accident” or “I’m sorry for what I did.” If recorded statements from the accident reveal an apology was made, those words may cause an insurer to deny the claim.

Don’t Discuss Injuries

Following a car crash, some injuries like cuts and bruises may be apparent right away, while internal injuries may take hours, days, or even weeks to surface. If injured in a car crash, victims should avoid discussing their injuries. They should seek immediate medical attention and avoid signing a medical release form from an insurer until talking to their car accident lawyer.

Don’t Give Out Information

When filing a claim with an insurance company, victims should not provide the names or contact information for family members, friends, or doctors. To minimize losses, insurers often hire investigators to gather incriminating evidence against a claimant. Investigators often contact a claimant’s relatives, friends, neighbors, and business associates looking for evidence.

At the scene of an accident, it is safe to check other people for injuries and call 911 for help. If another driver caused the accident, victims should remain calm and avoid angry conversations. Staying silent, taking accident scene photos, and seeking medical attention can help ensure a victim’s right to recover compensation is protected.

Motorcycle Crash Statistics that Might Surprise You

More than 89,000 motorcyclists were injured in motorcycle crashes and another 5,172 bikers lost their lives in 2017. Learning more about motorcycle crash statistics, the challenges riders face, and the factors that contribute to these accidents may help reduce the number of injuries and fatalities.

Motorcycle Injury and Death Rates

Motorcyclists are more vulnerable in crashes than the occupants of passenger vehicles. In fact, motorcycle riders are five times more likely to suffer severe injuries, and 28 times more likely to be killed in crashes than people in passenger cars. Without any structural protection, motorcyclists often sustain crushed or amputated limbs, severe burns, permanent disfigurement, and fatal head injuries.

Contributing Factors

Speed and alcohol are major factors in motorcycle accidents. The NHTSA reports that 32% of motorcyclists who were killed in fatality crashes in 2017 were speeding. About 28% were alcohol-impaired with BAC levels above 0.08%. Another 7% of those who died had lower levels of alcohol in their systems.

Factors that Play a Role in Injuries and Deaths

A number of factors impact the risk of motorcyclist injuries and deaths.

Type of Motorcycle

The size and type of motorcycle play a role in motorcycle crash injury and death rates. According to the Insurance Information Institute, supersport riders have death rates four times higher than other riders. Supersport motorcycles, popular with young riders, are built for racing and often modified for street use.

Head Trauma and Brain Damage

Since there are no seat belts or airbags on motorcycles, riders are frequently thrown off their bikes in a crash. They are propelled into oncoming traffic, parked cars, guardrails, buildings, and outdoor obstacles. Only about 50% of motorcyclists wear helmets, and 40% of deaths happen to riders without helmets. Those who survive often suffer head trauma or traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Fatalities for Older Riders

Older riders are more likely to be in fatal motorcycle collisions than young riders due to vision and hearing problems and slower reaction times. Older riders also tend to buy larger bikes for stability, but larger. heavier bikes are more likely to roll over in a crash, crushing the rider under the bike.

Fault for Accidents

Approximately 75% of motorcycle accidents involve a collision between a motorcycle and at least one passenger vehicle. The majority of motorcycle accidents are caused by other drivers who fail to see motorcycles in traffic when they make turns, merge into traffic, change lanes, or stop at traffic signals.

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