Author: Steve Dimopoulos

When Is Uber Liable For An Auto Accident?

Q: An Uber driver crashed into my vehicle. Does the driver’s personal liability policy apply or does Uber’s?

A: Which liability policy will apply generally depends on the Uber driver’s “status” at the time of the crash. Here is an overview of the different statuses and their respective coverages:

  • OFFLINE (the vehicle is driven solely for personal use and the app is not active): The driver’s personal liability coverage will apply.
  • AVAILABLE (the driver has activated the ride-share app and is ready to accept passengers): Uber provides a $50,000 per person injury limit and a $100,000 per incident injury limit (in the event that more than one person is injured).
  • EN ROUTE (the driver has accepted a passenger request and is en-route for pick-up): Uber provides $1.5 million in liability coverage.
  • ON TRIP (the driver is transporting a passenger to their destination): Uber provides $1.5 million in liability coverage.

Due to the limited nature of this article, I cannot thoroughly evaluate and answer the question presented. Please give my office a call (702-706-1138) for a proper consultation.

How Alcohol Consumption Can Result in Pedestrian Deaths in Vegas

When you are in Las Vegas, you walk around a lot. Specifically, you walk between casinos, shopping centers, restaurants and clubs. Public drinking is also generally legal in Vegas, meaning you might be intoxicated as you walk around. Whether you have been drinking or not, drivers may also be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, no matter if they are driving their own passenger vehicle, a taxi or working for a ride-sharing service.

Alcohol consumption for both drivers and pedestrians can result in fatal pedestrian accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost half of accidents resulting in pedestrian deaths involved drinking alcohol for either party involved. Here is how to stay safe as a pedestrian in Vegas:

Spotting drunk drivers

You must be vigilant while walking around the strip. Some signs a driver is drunk include:

  • Weaving across the road
  • Tailgating
  • Sudden acceleration
  • Driving too close to a curb or other vehicle
  • Erratic braking
  • Driving at night with headlights off
  • Driving into opposing traffic

If you spot any of these dangerous behaviors, stay far away from the road to avoid being hit. Remember that drivers of taxis, buses and other commercial vehicles may be intoxicated.

Walking safely

There are several things you can do to reduce your chances of getting hit by a car. First, you can avoid or limit alcohol consumption despite the legality of public drinking. Alcohol impairs your ability to react and make quick decisions. Reducing your alcohol consumption will help you stay alert and ready. You should also always walk in safe areas by using sidewalks and crosswalks whenever possible. Of course, always follow traffic signs and signals.

Getting struck by a car as a pedestrian can cause severe injuries, and alcohol impairment increases the likelihood of death in these situations. If you remain aware of drunk drivers and follow safety guidelines while walking the strip, you have a better chance of staying safe.

Determining Fault After a Car Accident

If you have been injured or suffered property damage in a car accident, you may want to recover damages for your medical expenses, lost wages and other accident-related costs. In order to recover damages, you will have to determine who caused the accident. The at-fault party will then be held liable for damages resulting from the accident.

Determining who is at fault in a car accident is not always easy. In many cases, one driver violates a traffic law or otherwise behaves negligently or recklessly behind the wheel. This may involve driving while under the influence of alcohol, speeding, texting and driving or any other irresponsible behaviors. If you can establish that the other driver breached their duty to operate their vehicle safely and that their breach caused you injury, you may recover damages from them.

In many cases, both drivers are partially at-fault for the accident. For example, one driver may be 60 percent liable for the accident for running a red light, while the other driver is 40 percent liable for failing to yield. In Nevada, the amount of damages you recover will be reduced by the percentage of your negligence. However, under the modified comparative negligence rule, Nevada only allows the plaintiff to recover damages if the defendant’s negligence is greater than yours. In the example above, if the driver who is 60 percent liable brings suit against the other driver, they would not be able to recover damages from the other driver.

It can be difficult to figure out who is at fault for your accident. If you have been in an accident, it may be in your best interest to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney can assist with your claim and determine whether you have a strong case for damages.

Source: FindLaw, “Fault and Liability for Motor Vehicle Accidents,” accessed on Aug. 14, 2017

Who’s Liable In A Multi-Vehicle Rear-End Collision?

Q: I was traveling in stop-and-go traffic when I felt two impacts to the rear of my vehicle. Upon exiting my vehicle I realized I had been involved in a multi-vehicle rear-end collision with two other vehicles. The driver of the rear-most-vehicle claims the middle vehicle rear-ended me first, and that he in turn rear-ended the middle vehicle due to its sudden and unexpected reduction in speed. The driver of the middle vehicle claims he was first rear-ended by the third vehicle and that the impact was so hard that the middle vehicle ricocheted between the two vehicles with enough force to hit my vehicle twice. I’m not sure who is telling the truth. Does it even make a difference?

A: Among other things determining the sequence of events has bearing on whether one or both of the other drivers are liable to you. There are a number of factors to consider. For example, do you recall hearing a crash before you felt the first impact? If so, the last vehicle likely rear-ended the middle vehicle first. Also consider the amount of time that elapsed between the first and second impact to your vehicle. A less rapid succession of impacts is corroborative of the middle vehicle striking you first. This interesting fact pattern gives rise to many more issues than may be discussed in this limited article. Please give my office a call for a proper consultation.

Valid Marijuana DUI Test Still High Priority

The recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada poses new challenges for preventing car accidents. Unlike tests for a drunk driver, there is no generally recognized standard or marijuana DUI test that can be used to assess a driver who is impaired from marijuana.

Blood testing research illustrates this problem even though some law enforcement relies on these tests. One study involved 30 frequent users of marijuana who resided for a month at a research facility with no access to other drugs. Repeated tests were conducted for the presence of cannabis. The presence of cannabis was still in the bloodstream of some of the participants for 30 days even though they did not smoke marijuana for the entire month. Some users of larger amounts of marijuana had THC in their blood above 5-nanograms even though they stopped smoking several days earlier.

Another study involved testing subjects who did not regularly consume marijuana but smoked it in front of the researchers. Nonetheless, there was no cannabis detected in their blood.

Law enforcement is also considering breath testing. However, THC and other active ingredients are present in only small breath amounts and decompose rapidly. Breath testing could ultimately include searching for metabolites and other indications that marijuana went through a person’s system.

Right now, police are making determinations based upon circumstantial evidence and their own experiences. This is somewhat limited because many officers have not used marijuana since their teenage years or at all. Training has included exposure to marijuana smokers to learn about its odor, users’ behavior, and recognition of items such as blunts or cigars which were hollowed out and filled with marijuana.

Police are still relying on field sobriety tests which tests a driver’s coordination or calculation skills. However, making decisions on these tests still relies on subjective opinion and judgment calls.

Drivers who are impaired by liquor, marijuana, or legal prescriptions pose a risk to other motorists and pedestrians. An attorney can help find evidence to assure that compensation is sought for losses suffered in these accidents.

Source: Nevada Public Radio, “Scientists still seek a reliable DUI test for marijuana,” By Rae Ellen Bichell, July 30, 2017

What Happens If My Airbag Didn’t Deploy?

Q: I was involved in a car accident and my airbag did not deploy. May I sue the manufacturer?

A: Airbag cases are complicated. You must prove not only that the circumstances were such that the airbag should have deployed, but also that you sustained injuries that you would not otherwise have incurred but for the airbag’s failure. Needless to say there are substantial expenses involved in establishing the foregoing. For this reason airbag claims are generally pursued as a last resort, particularly if another driver with sufficient auto liability coverage was at fault for the crash.

Due to the limited nature of this article I cannot thoroughly evaluate and answer the question presented. Please give my office a call (702-800-6000) for a proper consultation, free of charge.

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