What is the Sudden Emergency Defense in Las Vegas, Car Accident Cases?

What do swarming bees and Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer cases have to do with each other? Surprising, a lot. What happens if you rear end someone in a Las Vegas car accident and need a Lawyer, but you claim something else caused the accident? In an interesting case from the Las Vegas, Nevada High Court, a jury could find that you were not at fault for the accident, if circumstances beyond your control caused you to lose control of your car.  For the full case, see Frazier v. Drake, 131 Nev.Ad.Opp. 67 (Sept. 3, 2015).

In the Frazier case, a concrete truck driver was driving down the road in North Las Vegas. While he was driving, he claimed a swarm of bees entered the cab of his truck and one landed on his eye. The driver argued that while trying to get a bee out of his eye, he was unable to stop for a red light. As a result of fending off the attacking bees, his concrete truck crashed into two unsuspecting victims, who were stopped at the approaching red light. The truck driver’s insurance company hired a Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer to argue that he was not at fault for the accident.

For those who might think the truck driver was making up the story of the bees, the responding police officer found dead bees in the grill of the truck. The officer also saw one bee actually still swarming around in the cab of the truck. During the trial, the truck driver claimed that the accident wasn’t his fault. Instead, his Personal Injury Lawyer in Las Vegas argued that the bee landing on the truck driver’s eye constituted a “sudden emergency” rendering him unable to avoid the accident. Based on this defense, the truck driver wanted to have the jury instructed that, if it found that the bee landing on his eye was a “sudden emergency”,  he only had a duty of care equal to that of a reasonable person faced with the same situation. If the jury found his actions reasonable, then the truck driver wouldn’t be held responsible for causing the accident.

The Nevada Supreme Court determined that evidence must be presented showing that the “sudden emergency” involved something more than the expected hazards drivers encounter in the regular course of driving, such as the sudden appearance of people, crowded intersections, or sudden stops. So, aside from swarming bees, what does qualify as a “sudden emergency”? Other states have allowed the “sudden emergency” defense based on dust clouds, dense patches of fog, unexpected brake failure, and a car stopped at night without their hazard lights on.

In these examples, a jury could find a driver not at fault for causing the accident, if they were suddenly placed in a position of peril through no fault of their own and acted as a reasonably prudent person would upon being confronted with that same emergency. When talking to your Personal Injury Lawyer in Las Vegas, they will discuss with you whether the at fault driver can claim the “sudden emergency” defense in your Las Vegas car accident case.

Next time, we will talk about new laws in Attorney Liens in Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer cases in Nevada.

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