A car crash can be among the scariest and most traumatic experiences a driver can experience.
If you’ve been in a car accident in Nevada (including Las Vegas), take the following steps to comply with the law, ensure your safety, and preserve your right to seek compensation for your injuries and losses:
Step #1: Stop Your Car & Remain At The Scene
Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime in Nevada (NRS 484E.010). Always stop your vehicle after a crash and assess the situation. Do not leave the scene of a crash.
Step #2: Check For Injuries
Check yourself for signs of injury – blood, bruises, cuts, scrapes, swelling, dizziness, and burns. Attempt to move your neck, shoulders, arms, and legs, and assess yourself for signs of a concussion (nausea/vomiting, dizziness, blurred vision, general disorientation, sensitivity to light). Repeat this process for any passengers in the vehicle. Call 911 if there are injuries and request an ambulance for each injured person. If you’re in doubt, err on the side of caution – it is always better to have a trained medical professional assess your potential injuries.
Under no circumstances should you say you are uninjured or underestimate/downplay your injuries. Instead, say things like, “I feel okay” or “I’m able to do X.”
Remember: car accidents are incredibly stressful, traumatic events. Your body’s natural response in these situations is an adrenaline rush, which results in a surge of pain-killing endorphins. This effectively masks the pain caused by the accident and can last for hours – possibly until the next day. It is extremely common to wake up the day after an accident in significantly more pain than you experienced immediately after the crash.
There are many types of common car crash injuries that are not immediately obvious in the moments following an accident or can be masked by a flood of endorphins. These include, but are not limited to:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Bone fractures
- Neck & back injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injury
If you begin to experience significantly more pain, have trouble moving your neck, shoulders, legs or back, or notice bruising, swelling or other signs of injury in the days following an accident, immediately contact a medical professional to assess your injuries. Do not attempt to “tough it out” or ascribe it to “soreness” – not only does this increase your risk of aggravating your injury, but it can also dramatically reduce your ability to be compensated for those injuries.
Step #3: Move Your Vehicle To a Safe Location, If Possible
Nevada law requires motorists involved in an accident to mitigate future damages to the extent possible and reasonable. This often involves moving your vehicle out of traffic or to a safer location that is proximate to the scene of the crash, provided your vehicle is in operational condition.
Note: if you are injured or do not feel you can safely operate your vehicle, do not attempt to do so. If anyone is seriously injured, wait at the scene for the ambulance to arrive. You may deploy flares, cones, or other visual aids (if you have them) to alert other motorists to the situation and avoid further damage.
Step #4: Contact The Police
Once you are in a safe location, report the accident to the police. Answer the investigating officer’s questions factually and honestly, to the best of your knowledge, ability, and recollection. Ask the officer if he will file a report with the Nevada DMV directly or if you must also do so.
Nevada Law requires motorists involved in a crash that either (a) resulted in injury or death or (b) resulted in more than $750 in property damage to report it to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles within ten (10) days of the accident.
Do not admit fault or apologize. Never apologize to the other driver or admit fault for the accident, even if you feel the accident is your fault. This will be considered an admission of guilt and will be used against you by the other driver’s attorneys and/or insurance company. The cause of the accident will be determined once all of the facts are known and investigated. Instead, use phrases like, “I’m glad you’re OK.”
Step #5: Exchange Information
Nevada Law requires motorists involved in an accident to exchange insurance information, even if you are not at fault and even if the other driver does not have insurance. If you do not have insurance, you must provide the other driver with sufficient information to contact you – name, phone number, address, and/or email address. Even if you are uninsured, you can collect damages from the at-fault driver – so always exchange information.
Tip: take pictures of the other driver’s insurance card, registration, and ID using your cell phone. This ensures that the correct information is captured and preserved for future use.
Bonus Tip: Nevada State Law requires all motorists to maintain a minimum coverage of $25,000 for bodily injury or death for one person, $50,000 for two or more people, and $20,000 for property damage. Many drivers do not maintain coverage in excess of this to minimize their premiums. In the event your damages exceed the policy limits, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and/or vehicle owner directly.
Step #6: Take Photos of the Vehicles & Scene
Take detailed photographs of each vehicle, along with the scene and any other things you notice around the scene of an accident. Remember: any duplicate or unnecessary photos can be ignored; you can’t go back and retake photos later.
Step #7: Get Witness Details (If Applicable)
If there were witnesses to the incident (other motorists, pedestrians, etc.), get their contact information – at least a name, address, and phone number.
Step #8: Notify Your Insurance Company
Most insurancers require policyholders to notify them of a potential claim within a certain period of time following the incident. This varies by insurer. You are responsible for contacting your insurance company to notify them of the wreck, along with when, where, and if other vehicles were involved.
In the process of reporting the accident to your insurance company, their representatives may also ask/request the following:
- Ask you to make a recorded statement
- Confirm no one was injured
- State how you’re feeling and ask about recent activities
- Agree to a settlement
You are NOT required to do any of these things, and you should not do so until you’ve spoken with a car accident attorney. An insurance company is in the business of limiting liability and minimizing the amount it has to pay — not in making sure you are fully compensated for your injuries and losses.
Step #9: Maintain All Records in a Safe Place
Maintain all records from the car accident in a safe, secure place. Make copies of all papers you receive, and, if storing digital files, create a secure, separate backup on a USB drive, cloud storage drive, or external hard drive. This ensures that all evidence you’ve collected is preserved.
Records to maintain include, but are not limited to:
- All photos of the accident
- The name + contact information of other motorist(s) involved
- Insurance information for the other motorist(s) involved
- All names + contact information of witnesses
- A copy of the police report + Nevada SR-1 (DMV) filing
- All medical records related to the accident
- Detailed notes on each prescription
- A log of any ongoing medical care – physical therapy, chiropractor, etc.
- A daily pain journal
- Car repair bills and invoices
- Bills or receipts for any other expense incurred related to the accident
Step #10: Stay Off Social Media
Do not post any comments, photos, videos, or other information about your accident on social media – even seemingly innocent comments/posts/photos/videos can be misinterpreted by insurance companies and attorneys as admissions of fault.
Additionally, any posts of you looking healthy + happy can be used by insurance adjusters and/or other attorneys as evidence that you were not injured (or your injuries were not serious). Even private activity (such as text messages or DMs) can be used against you. If you have any doubts about whether a particular post or message is appropriate, do not post it.
Step #11: Contact An Attorney
Have a lawyer review all details of your case as soon as possible following the accident. Your attorney will speak to the insurance company on your behalf.
Q: My insurance company is disputing my claim. What should I do?
A: Insurance companies use many tactics to dispute and delay claims – from saying that you were at fault, to claiming you didn’t report it to them soon enough, to questioning the validity and necessity of the medical care you were provided, to dragging out the claim adjusting process. Any time an insurance company starts dragging its feet or making excuses, you should consider hiring an attorney.
Q: This was just a fender-bender. Do I still need an attorney?
A: Whether you need a lawyer after your car accident depends on a number of factors, such as:
- Was anyone injured or killed?
- You were not able to return to work immediately
- There was significant property damage
- Is your insurance company disputing or delaying your claim?
Q: My attorney isn’t calling me back or providing updates on my accident. Is this normal?
A: This is absolutely NOT normal – you deserve representation that provides prompt, open, and transparent communication. If you aren’t comfortable with your attorney-client relationship, or you feel something is off, contact another firm for a second opinion.
Q: I’ve been offered a quick settlement – what should I do?
A: It is very common for insurance companies and attorneys to offer quick settlements to either (a) limit liability or (b) avoid actually having to go to trial – and in these situations, this comes at your expense. If you have any questions, concerns, or doubts about a settlement offer (even one presented by your attorney), call Sam + Ash Law for a free 2nd opinion. We have a proven track record of getting individuals injured in car accidents every dollar they deserve. You do not have to settle for less just because your attorney advises.
Q: I was in an accident, and I’m not sure what to do next and if I have a claim.
A: That’s perfectly normal – accidents can be confusing and stressful. In situations like these, contact an experienced car accident attorney for a case review. The attorneys at Sam + Ash will provide an unbiased, honest opinion of your case (including whether or not you have one) and discuss your options with you, all free of charge. When in doubt, it’s always better to have an experienced attorney review your situation – after all, you only have one chance to ensure you are fairly compensated for your injuries and losses.