Unsafe Lane Change Causes Serious Injury
A Las Vegas jury recently awarded a local mechanic $6.6 million due to injuries he suffered in a 2013 car accident. The 30-year-old mechanic had just left Pep Boys where he was a service manager. He was struck by a physician who had just been in the store looking for tires. The doctor made an unsafe lane change and was attempting to make an illegal left turn when he plowed into the mechanic’s car, injuring him severely.
According to a newspaper report, the mechanic suffered severe injuries “to his head, neck, back, bodily limbs and organs.” His attorney presented evidence that some of the injuries may be “permanent and disabling in nature.” The mechanic had already endured one low-level spinal fusion and is expected to need more surgery in the future. He was awarded $1.5 million for his past and future medical expenses. The additional $5.1 million is to compensate him for his pain and suffering, including his loss of enjoyment of life in addition to compensating him for his disability.
Car Accident Liability
Almost all car accidents are caused by a negligent driver. If you were injured in a car accident, you may think that it is easy to prove the other driver was at fault. Not always true. Nevada law follows the principles of comparative negligence, which means fault may be shared among all parties involved in an accident. If a court determines a driver was more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, that driver will be precluded from collecting any damages. Otherwise, the damages will be reduced according to the percentage of any fault attributed to a driver.
In the accident between the mechanic and the physician, there was apparently no question of fault. In fact, the doctor admitted he never even saw the mechanic’s car. But, fault can be difficult to establish and often requires the services of an experienced personal injury attorney to gather the evidence and, in some cases, to bring in experts, including an accident reconstructionist.
Overview of Damages Available for Injuries Due to the Other Driver’s Negligence
If you were injured due to another’s negligence, whether it was in a car accident or other type of negligent incident, you deserve to be compensated for your losses. Putting a total value on a personal injury case involves analyzing every aspect of loss and coming up with a final figure. The goal is to make you “whole,” which means to put you, as much as possible, in the same position you would be in if you had not been injured. Damages are classified in three different ways.
This refers to monetary losses which can actually be calculated. The mechanic was awarded $1.5 million in this category which includes:
- All of your medical expenses, both current and those expected to be incurred in the future.
- All of your lost wages, both current and those expected that you will lose in the future, including lifetime loss if you are permanently disabled.
- Any costs you incurred for physical rehabilitation.
- Any costs due to job retraining if you are unable to return to your former employment.
- Difference in wages if you are unable to return to your former employment, but are retrained for another job, and the new job pays you less than what you earned at your former employment.
Non-economic damages are losses you incur for which a monetary value cannot be affixed such as:
- Pain and suffering. Insurers generally have a calculation they use to come up with a figure based on your medical expenses.
- Emotional distress. This is not available for every case and depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the accident.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life damages are available if your life has changed so that you can no longer participate in activities you previously enjoyed.
Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant for wrongful conduct and are rarely awarded in a negligence case. There may be an exception if the accident was caused by a drunk driver. The court may find the driver acted with gross negligence, which is defined in Nevada as “manifestly a smaller amount of watchfulness and circumspection than the circumstances require of a prudent man. But it falls short of being such reckless disregard of probable consequences as is equivalent to a willful and intentional wrong.” If defendants act with gross negligence, the court may consider imposing punitive damages.
Contact Eric H. Woods
If you were a driver or passenger who was injured in a car accident that you believe was the fault of the other driver, contact Eric H. Wood Law Offices for a free consultation and case evaluation.