Car Accidents More Information
Accidents are often physically debilitating and emotionally traumatizing. However, insurance representatives are typically more focused on reducing their company’s liability rather than addressing your specific problems. This is why you need an expert to handle your claim without costing you anything out of pocket. At Behzadi Law Offices, our goal is to provide you individualized guidance through the process while successfully compensating you for your injuries.
Should you require it, we can refer you to qualified medical specialists who can not only help you recover with but who understand legal standards in determining causation for every type of traumatic injury. We can help you process the claim through your health insurance and provide you more choices instead of simply signing enforceable liens to pay the medical provider. We can also refer you to body shops that properly assess the property damage to your vehicle should the at fault driver’s insurance company fail to adequately compensate you.
Most importantly, when it comes to negotiating with an adjuster, your attorney has the experience to maximize your claim as he has not only prosecuted but also defended multi-million dollar claims over the course of his career. This means he has the knowledge to anticipate the insurance company’s next move. If necessary to enforce your rights, he has the expertise to go to trial. A to Z, Behzadi Law Offices has your entire claim covered.
Vehicle Liability Insurance
Liability insurance is provided by the at fault party’s insurance company. It covers damages sustained by you, the victim, and caused by the at fault “tortfeasor” (i.e., wrongdoer who committed the harm). The minimum liability insurance required by law in Nevada is 25/50/20—$25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence payout for bodily injuries, as well as $20,000 for property damage. See NRS 485.185; NRS 485.3091. Bodily injury coverage includes all medical expenses resulting from the injury, lost wages and accident related pain and suffering.
Property damage coverage generally includes vehicle or premises damage and the loss of use of a vehicle (rental costs). Liability insurance will cover injuries caused to others even if the at fault driver is not the owner of the vehicle involved so long he or she is a permissive user; however, the at fault driver’s coverage will generally be secondary (excess) to the owner carrying liability insurance for the vehicle being driven.
Potential Extra Contractual Recovery beyond the At Fault Tortfeasor’s Policy Limits and Excess Judgments
If the liability coverage is low in comparison to the damages sustained by you, the at fault driver’s insurer will run the risk of extra contractual liability beyond the policy limits by failing to settle, if it has the necessary opportunity and information available to tender the policy limits, and awareness of the absence of a reasonable basis for denying benefits. Each insured in Nevada has a special relationship with his or her insurer in addition to a contractual one, and can sue the insurer for bad faith in “tort” (i.e., legal wrong for which damages can be obtained in excess of contractual limits) for unreasonably failing to settle for the limits and subjecting the insured to personal liability. See United States Fidelity & Guar. Co. v. Peterson, 91 Nev. 617, 540 P.2d 1070 (1975). In Nevada, the insured can also sue for unlimited “punitive” damages (i.e., damages to punish wrongdoing beyond actual or compensatory damages) if improper intent by the insurer can be shown. See NRS 42.005.
However, the at fault driver will often not have the resources to sue his or her own insurance company for not paying out on a valid claim. In these circumstances, the liable insured tortfeasor can contractually assign his or her bad faith case to the injured victim, and Behzadi Law Offices in Las Vegas can then prosecute the claim against the at fault party’s insurance company. Here, the injured party legally steps in the shoes of the at fault driver inexcusably left with excess liability. In fact, in Nevada, the court can judicially assign the bad faith claim toward satisfaction of the judgment against a tortfeasor without his or her consent. Gallegos v. Malco Enters. of Nev., 255 P.3d 1287 (2011).
However, the at fault party’s insurer will often pay a judgment obtained in excess of the policy limits in order to avoid the cost of defending a bad faith suit and potential punitive damages.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage by the Injured Victim’s Own Insurance
Many do not have the funds to satisfy a judgment and those who do can record a Declaration of Homestead in Nevada and protect equity in their residential homes up to $550,000. See Homestead Law.
However, the injured victim’s (i.e., your) vehicle insurance can have additional coverage in case the tortfeasor does not have any (uninsured), or the tortfeasor’s coverage is not enough to pay for your damages (underinsured).
In Nevada, insurers must offer UM/UIM coverage when a driver purchases, or renews, primary passenger vehicle liability insurance; the UM/UIM offer must also be in an amount equal to the driver’s liability insurance limits for bodily injury, and rejected by the insured in writing if not purchased. The actual coverage purchased cannot be below 15/30 nor more than your bodily injury limits. See NRS 690B.020; NRS 687B.145.
You are only entitled to UM/UIM coverage against a legally responsible driver, so there is no UM/UIM coverage if the adverse driver is not at fault. In addition, you are only entitled to damages exceeding the at fault driver’s liability limits in Nevada. In other words, if an inexperienced personal injury attorney settles the claim against the underinsured driver for less than the limit of his or her liability policy, the UM/UIM coverage will not cover the gap between that settlement amount and that driver’s policy limit (costing you money the insurer will offset).
UM/UIM insurance may also cover an injured driver or injured passengers in addition to an owner with UM/UIM coverage on the vehicle. A typical UM/UIM policy will also cover family members that reside with the policy holder even if they are not specifically named in the policy.
In addition, UM/UIM insurance generally follows the insured person regardless of his or her location, so long as the injury occurs due to the negligence of an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Therefore, unless there is an exclusion, it provides coverage for injury caused by a negligent uninsured or underinsured driver whether the policyholder is injured as a pedestrian, driver or passenger in another person’s vehicle, on a bicycle or motorcycle, using public transportation (bus or taxicab) or in a rental vehicle. If the owner of a vehicle you have an accident in has UM/UIM coverage for that vehicle, your own UM/UIM coverage will usually provide supplemental protection (secondary) beyond the vehicle’s limits (primary).
Finally, Nevada law requires a physical contact between the uninsured or hit and run driver and the covered vehicle to trigger UM/UIM coverage. This law was passed in order to avoid fraudulent claims where the insured loses control of a car and claims a “phantom driver” forced him or her off the road. NRS 690B.020.
It should also be noted that the insurer is deemed to have a “special relationship” with its insured in Nevada and can potentially subject itself to extra contractual liability to the insured if it engages in bad faith in resolving a claim. Behzadi Law Offices in Las Vegas will negotiate the claim with your own insurance company so that you can maximize your benefits regardless of the circumstance.
MedPay Coverage by the Injured Victim’s Own Insurance:
Nevada also requires Medical Payments coverage (“MedPay”) of at least $1,000 to be offered in writing when a driver purchases passenger vehicle liability insurance. See NRS 687B.145. This type of insurance pays medical expenses for the insured driver, and can cover the injured passengers in the vehicle, regardless of who caused the accident or was at fault. There is also generally no deductible in contrast to health insurance.
Health insurance provisions typically have “subrogation” rights in the contract allowing the insurer to recover monies from the at fault party who caused a pay out to the insured for accident related bills; the insurer can thereby assert a lien on the recovery made by you, the victim, from the at fault party, and reduce the money you are entitled to. Using health insurance does have a benefit in that you are typically required only to repay the contracted discount rate paid by the insurer to the medical provider, not the full amount of the medical bills charged. However, Nevada law does not allow subrogation rights to the MedPay carrier against the party causing injury to reimburse itself. See Maxwell v. Allstate Ins. Cos., 102 Nev. 502, 506, 728 P.2d 812, 815 (1986) (prohibiting an insurer from asserting a subrogation lien against medical payments of its insured as a matter of public policy). You may also be able to utilize MedPay to reimburse your health insurance provider’s subrogation lien (unless you have excess MedPay coverage, which only pays for bills which your health insurance carrier does not pay).
Like UM/UIM coverage, MedPay usually follows the insured and family members that reside with the insured and covers any accident involving a motor vehicle (i.e., pedestrian, public transport, another vehicle, etc.).
Of course, as with any contract, legal exclusions may apply in a particular case. For example, a clause may allow an insurer providing UM/UIM and MedPay coverage to offset the amount paid under one or the other provision. Please contact Behzadi Law Offices in Las Vegas with any questions so that we can help you assert your legal rights and maximize your recovery.