What is Negligence and How Could it Impact My Personal Injury Case? 

The term “negligence” is often used in legal systems around the country, yet its meanings and implications vary widely. In Nevada and most other states, negligence means that someone failed to act as a reasonably safe person would have acted, resulting in some type of damage. Though TV courtroom dramas create the common misconception that there is only one type of “negligence” used in court, there are five “types” of negligence in personal injury lawsuits.

However, the way negligence is determined varies widely by state. Here’s all you need to know about the legal definition of “negligence” and how its variability could drastically impact the verdict and recovery amount of your personal injury suit.

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The Types of Negligence

While the only definition that personal injury attorneys in Las Vegas would care about is that of the State of Nevada, here’s some background information you should have on the ways “negligence” can be defined. Remember, if the incident occurs in a different state, you’ll be subjected to that state’s definition.

The strictest interpretation of negligence is called “Pure Contributory Negligence” and essentially means that the person or entity being sued cannot be held liable for any damages if a jury determines that the individual suing was even one percent at fault for the incident. This is the rarest form, only used in ten states, not including Nevada.

Next, the opposite form is the “Pure Comparative Fault” rule employed by many more states, but not Nevada. This means that the person suing can recover full damages even if they are responsible for 99% of the fault, and the person or entity being sued is only 1% responsible. Other states have “Modified Comparative Fault” laws, which are usually hybrids of these two extremes.

Other states use the “Bar Rule”, including Nevada. This sets the “bar” of fault at either 50% or 51%. These percentages are the amount of responsibility attributed to the plaintiff. Nevada follows the “51%” rule, so if you’re responsible for 51% of the damages, injury attorneys in Las Vegas would not be able to help you. Next, let’s take a look at how “fault” is defined and who decides where the blame should lie.

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Nevada’s 51% “Bar” Rule

While you’d need a personal injury law firm in Las Vegas to go over your particular case, here are some facts about Nevada’s “Bar” Negligence statutes you should know.

There are several legal components to Nevada’s unique definition of “negligence”. While complicated in statutes, they’re easy to understand when broken down. Here are the five core pieces of any Personal Injury lawsuit in Nevada.

“Duty”: There was a clear, specific task that the defendant knew or should have known he or she had. For example, anyone driving a vehicle knew or should have known that they should have been obeying the speed limit.

“Breach of Duty”: Once there’s an established legal “duty” the defendant had, it must be proven that reasonable steps were not taken to perform the proper duties. In the same example, a driver’s breach of the known “Duty” of following a speed limit is broken if they’re traveling at 90 mph in a 75 mph zone.

“Cause in Fact”: This is the most-often misunderstood portion of Nevada’s negligence statutes. However, the principle is quite simple. In short, it means that the average person would conclude that you would not have suffered your injury if the other party didn’t commit such a “Breach of Duty.” In our example, if you were previously injured, then had the injury worsen as a result of a speeding driver, you may not be able to recoup the same amount of damage you would have if the injury were not pre-existing.

“Proximate Cause”: This goes hand-in-hand with the “Cause in Fact” portion. Essentially, there can’t be another reasonable explanation for the injuries you sustained that were not the fault of the defendant. It’s quite similar to “Cause in Fact” but focuses more on whether another negligent person (not the defendant) could have caused you to become injured.

“Damages”: The final prong of Nevada’s criteria to prove “negligence” is this. This means that your personal injury in Las Vegas must have caused some actual “Damages” to occur. However, each state’s definition of what constitutes these varies drastically. In Nevada, almost any related issue can receive compensation. Medical bills, wages lost, future wages lost, and “pain and suffering” may all be considered in a settlement. Nevada’s definition of “pain and suffering” includes emotional and physical distress directly resulting from the incident.

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Other Important Factors

There are a few quick facts to know about personal injury lawsuits in Nevada. First, the Statute of Limitations starts at two years, so don’t wait too long! Medical malpractice cases have a 1 year statute of limitations.  Second, you may hear your personal injury lawyer discuss “punitive damages”. Usually, these are recouped in addition to “compensatory damages” discussed in the previous section in the event the jury determines there is a reason to “punish” the defendant in addition to simply putting the injured person back to where they were before the negligent incident.

Usually, these can be multiples of the amount you receive in compensatory damages, depending on the reprehensibility of the conduct, so they tend to be the most lucrative. This is after the traditional multiplication a jury chooses of compensatory damages determined by your level of pain and suffering.


Getting in Touch

The Schnitzer Law Firm is comprised of board-certified attorney who specialize in personal injury law. If you’ve suffered an injury and would like to see if you could qualify for compensation, don’t hesitate to call at (702) 960-4050, email us at contact@theschnitzerlawfirm.com, or fill out our secure form today!

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