IMPORTANT: What Nevada’s taxicab seat belt law means for lawsuits

A new law would enable courts to hold cab passengers at least partially responsible for injuries following a crash if they were not wearing a seat belt.

In May of this year, Nevada's lawmakers passed a bill regarding ride-hailing companies. Known as Assembly Bill 175, the legislation began as a way to give taxi companies an edge following an accident. Various amendments were added throughout the bill's life cycle in the state's capital until it was signed into law.

It is important to note the seat belt provisions in the law, which addresses how negligence is viewed in a taxi crash. Because Las Vegas has a large number of commercial passenger vehicles, residents and visitors alike should be aware of what the new law means for those involved in an accident.

Deciphering the legislation

State laws have long maintained that adult passengers in a taxicab are required to wear a seat belt at all times. However, up until AB175 passed, whether or not the passenger was wearing a restraint was not factored into the outcome of a taxicab accident. Now, the law states that evidence of seat belt use will be admissible in court, enabling a judge or jury to take it into account when evaluating the responsibility in a car crash lawsuit.

Opponents to the bill had concerns that the law would take the focus off perhaps the most important piece of information: the cause of an accident. According to the Las Vegas Sun, groups like the Nevada Justice Association pointed out that drivers of taxicabs should be held to a higher standard because they are paid to transport passengers.

Filing a taxicab lawsuit in Nevada

Nevada's statute of limitations gives victims of car accidents two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. Taxicab accident claims are treated similarly to car accident claims in that a passenger in the cab can hold the negligent party accountable. A lawsuit surrounding a cab accident could list any of the following defendants:

  • The driver of the cab: If the driver had been reckless or committed other negligence, he or she may be held responsible.
  • The manufacturer of the vehicle: A defect in the vehicle could result in suing the car's manufacturer.
  • The cab company: For example, if the cab company failed to conduct a proper background check of the driver or did not properly maintain the vehicle, they could be responsible for injuries.

The damages recovered from these lawsuits can cover costs for medical expenses, time missed from work and even pain and suffering.

Modified comparative negligence

AB175 is especially significant because Nevada uses a modified comparative negligence to determine damages in a personal injury lawsuit. As the Claims Journal notes, Nevada uses the 51 percent bar rule, which will not allow the victim of a crash to recover compensation if he or she were found responsible for 51 percent or more of the incident. Further, the state allows a court to determine how much fault the victim had in the crash and subtracts that amount from the total damages awarded. For example, if a court rules that someone suffered $100,000 in damages but that person was 20 percent at fault in the accident, the awarded sum would only be $80,000. Because of AB175, not wearing a seat belt could result in significantly reduced awards and settlements for taxicab crash victims.

People who have questions about this law or commercial vehicle accidents should consult with an attorney.

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