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Can I Sue for Damages if a Car Crash Was Partly My Fault?


Imagine for a moment you’re behind the wheel of your car. You’re late for a very important family matter and, admittedly, going about 10 mph above the speed limit. You’re coming to an intersection and see the light turn yellow, so push the gas pedal to get through – and suddenly, you’re thrown into the window as another vehicle slams into the passenger side of your car.

A broken arm. A concussion. A fractured rib. You can’t work for at least the next month, and the physical therapy is going to cost some money. Yes, you were speeding, but the other driver blatantly ran a red light. Can you sue for damages even if you’re partly at fault?

The basics of comparative negligence

In order to succeed with a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff needs to prove, in part, that another party’s actions caused their injuries. In some cases, it can be pretty clear one person is at fault. Other situations aren’t so straightforward.

In order to account for this, Nevada has what is referred to as a modified comparative negligence law when it comes to car crashes. Essentially, you can recover damages through a personal injury lawsuit as long as the other person is at least as much to blame for the wreck as you are. However, any damages you receive will be reduced based on your level of responsibility.

How comparative negligence works

How does this actually play out? Let’s refer back to the example at the start of this post, where you were speeding through an intersection and were hit by a driver that ran a red light. Say your damages from the crash amount to $100,000.

If the jury decides the other party is 70% at fault and you are 30% at fault, your compensation will be reduced by that percentage. So rather than being awarded the full $100,000, you’d receive 30% less – $70,000.

Nevada is one of 23 states that declares if you are more than 50% at fault, you are barred from collecting damages. Let’s say in the example above you were also texting at the time of the crash. If the jury then decided you were 51% at fault for the incident, you wouldn’t receive any compensation.

While car crash personal injury lawsuits might seem straightforward from the outside, in reality, there are many factors that can make them quite complex. In order to succeed, you and your attorney have to show not just that the other party was partly to blame for the wreck, but that they were at least 50% responsible.