New Metro Policy Regarding Non-Injury Car Accidents in Las Vegas

The next time you’re in a fender bender in Las Vegas, and you don’t seem to have any injuries, don’t bother calling the police.  Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department announced that as of March 3, 2014, they will no longer be responding to non-injury “minor” motor vehicle accidents.  According to the LVMPD, officers currently spend about 250 hours per week investigating fender benders, and that’s just too much time being taken away from more serious traffic concerns.  Las Vegas recorded 114 traffic fatalities last year and LVMPD wants that number to come down.  They’re hoping that with the new policy change, traffic officers will be able to take a more proactive approach by spending more time enforcing traffic laws in order to reduce the amount of accidents on local roadways.  This is by no means a novel idea and other major cities, like Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco have already enacted similar policies.  LVMPD will still respond to accidents involving an injury, hit-and-run accidents, and accidents where a driver refuses to exchange insurance information.

HOW WILL THE NEW FENDER BENDER POLICY AFFECT YOU?

insurance companies will be relying on firsthand accounts and motorist gathered evidence to determine fault and liability.

As you can imagine, the new policy is going to cause some headaches, especially where insurance claims and coverage are concerned and you may need the expert help and support of a personal injury attorney more than ever.  Issues regarding fault and liability will likely be the most problematic.  In the past, a police report regarding a fender bender was used to help determine liability for a car accident.  While the police report was by no means conclusive evidence as to fault, it certainly helped in the determination of who had to pay.  But now, without a police report, insurance companies will be relying on firsthand accounts and motorist gathered evidence to determine fault and liability.  Relying on the average citizen to provide evidence rather than relying on an unbiased, third party police officer who has been trained in accident forensics and who knows what to look for at an accident scene raises all kinds of issues.  How honest and unbiased will people be when it comes to reporting an accident?  There are plenty of dishonest people out there who will exaggerate an accident, understate an accident, refuse to take blame, blatantly lie, and manipulate the situation.

Insurance premiums are also likely to go up.  In the past, when a fender bender occurred, the police would take a report and usually issue a traffic citation to the driver at fault.  The citation was recorded with the insurance company and they would likely see a rise in their premiums.  But now that police are no longer responding, citations will no longer be issued, but claims will still be made.  Without an offending party to lay the blame with, insurance fraud is likely to become more commonplace and you can plan on seeing insurance rates go up across the board.  Drivers who frequently break traffic laws won’t be held accountable and may start paying the same rates that good drivers currently pay.

Oftentimes, the pain doesn’t manifest itself until 12-36 hours later, well after the accident has occurred.

The issue of whether an accident can be categorized as “non-injury” will also be a problem.  The most common injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents are neck and back injuries and soft tissue damage to muscles, ligaments, and tendons.   Oftentimes, the pain doesn’t manifest itself until 12-36 hours later, well after the accident has occurred.  Without an accident report issued by police, insurance companies may decide that since the accident was considered a “non-injury” accident, medical care was unnecessary and they may refuse to pay for care.

HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF IF YOU ARE INVOLVED IN NON-INJURY CAR ACCIDENTS?

Without an officer on the scene of a fender bender, the responsibility of documenting a car accident will now lie squarely with the motorist and there are a number of things motorists need to do and be aware of in order to protect their interests when they are involved in a car accident.

If you are involved in a car accident, take a moment to stop and check yourself to make sure you are not injured.  Move your arms and legs and make sure everything feels alright and then check on the other motorist to make sure they are not injured.  If they are, call 911.  Otherwise, as long as both vehicles are drivable, move them out of traffic so as not to impede traffic anymore and create any other hazards.

Once you are both safely out of traffic, proceed to document everything.  Use the camera on your cell phone if you have one, or keep a disposable camera in your car in case of accidents.  Take pictures of everything, from every angle.  Take pictures of where the impact occurred, the condition of both vehicles, road signs and markers, skids on the roadway, and anything else you can think of.  It’s especially important to take pictures if you don’t see any damage so that the other driver can’t claim that you caused damage to their car when you didn’t.  You may also want to consider investing in a dashboard camera.

Document everything.  Use the camera on your cell phone if you have one, or keep a disposable camera in your car in case of accidents.  Take pictures of everything, from every angle.

You’ll also need to exchange pertinent information with the other driver.  Write down their license plate, VIN number, make and model of their vehicle, their driver’s license number, name, address, phone number, and insurance information.  It may feel natural to just write down your personal information yourself and accept anything the other motorist gives you regarding their information, but you are better off writing everything down yourself.  If possible, get a picture of their driver’s license and insurance card as well.

While you’re at the accident scene, look for anyone else that may be able to offer statements or evidence.  Look for eyewitnesses, other motorists, pedestrians, people who may be in a nearby store, and anyone else who can act as a witness as to what happened.

Be very careful about what you say while communicating with the other driver.  Choose your words carefully and stick to the facts.  Don’t unknowingly accept any blame by apologizing or making excuses.  Pay attention to whether the other driver expresses any blame, and make a note of it if they do.  Be especially careful in what you say if the insurance company of the other driver contacts you.  Do not express any fault to them and keep in mind that insurance claims adjusters will use any information you offer up against you during the claims process.

Once you’ve documented all the physical evidence and exchanged all the necessary information with the other motorist, take a minute to record all the details that you remember.  Make a note of the weather, date, and time of the accident, as well the condition of the roadway, demeanor of the other driver and anything else that may seem notable to you.  It’s important to document your knowledge of everything as soon as possible, while the details are still fresh in your mind.  In the following days, carefully monitor how you’re feeling and watch for any soreness or tenderness that seems to be getting worse.  Seek medical care if necessary.

If you believe that either vehicle sustained more than $750 in damage, Nevada law requires that an accident report be downloaded and filed within 10 days after an accident.  The report is called a SR-1 report and can be found here.

PROTECT YOUR INTERESTS WITH A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER

Without police on the scene of a fender bender anymore, protecting your interests is now more important than ever.  If you are involved in a non-injury causing car accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.  Clear Counsel Law Group has personal injury attorneys who are experienced in dealing with insurance companies and car accidents and they can assist you with any issues you may have.  They will communicate with the insurance companies on your behalf, they will help you organize your evidence, and they will defend your rights in court, if necessary.  It’s possible that the accident did more damage than you or the other driver realizes, and even if everything at the accident scene seems simple and straightforward, you never know how things may change later on.  Having the expertise and compassion of an experienced car accident attorney from Clear Counsel Law Group is now more invaluable than ever.  Contact a personal injury attorney from Clear Counsel Law Group today for a free and confidential consultation today.

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