Monday, October 31, 2016

What are the New Developments in Automated Cars?

Few things affect your Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney more than the automated cars. As you may recall from prior blogs, automated cars are now being tested on our Nevada roadways. Aside from minor accidents, there have been no real catastrophes involving automated cars. That all changed on May 7, 2016 for a driver in Florida.

On May 7, 2016, Joshua Brown, a former Navy Seal, was driving his Tesla Model S in Florida, in the “semi-autonomous Autopilot system”, when he was killed in a fatal car crash. In piecing together the events leading up to the crash, investigators determined Mr. Brown wasn’t actually driving his car.  Moments before the crash, a big rig, made a left hand turn in front of Mr. Brown’s Tesla.

The driver of the semi-truck, said when the accident happened, he could hear a movie playing. In an erie turn of events, even after Mr. Brown had died in the collision, the truck driver saw the Telsa drive down a quarter of mile before stopping due to hitting a light pole. In support of the truck driver’s claim, police found a portable DVD player in the Tesla. The DVD proved that Mr. Brown was watching a Harry Potter movie instead of watching the road. 

What caused this horrific accident? Tesla was noted as saying that the Autopilot system failed to see the white truck against the bright Florida sky. Tesla released a lengthy statement on statement the crash, saying:  

“Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.” 

For your Las Vegas Car Accident Lawyer, there is a deeper issue with current automated cars. The problem with “Driverless” cars at present, is that drivers who aren’t fully paying attention, don’t really have the reaction time to prevent an accident. You can’t ask someone to let the car do all the driving and then act surprised when the “driver” doesn’t have time to avoid an accident.

The Federal government now wants to regulate autonomous cars and take that power away from the states. These new Federal guidelines have come from the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“Safety Administration”).  The Safety Administration has said that States should stick to registering the cars and dealing with questions of liability, when the driver is a computer. It remains to be seen how the States feel about this and what the ultimate result will be. 

The Safety Administration stated that it can use its current “recall” authority to regulate automated cars. It warned automakers that self-driving cars that still rely on a human driver to intervene in some circumstances must have a means for keeping the driver's attention. If they don't, that "may be defined as an unreasonable risk to safety and subject to recall," the department said.  This is an ever-changing topic and updates will be provided by your Las Vegas Accident Lawyer as developments unfold.

Next time, we will talk about the liability of rental car companies after an accident.

Friday, October 14, 2016

What are the Changes in Las Vegas Justice Court’s Jury Award Limits?

What is the best thing about the law? That it changes all the time. What is the worst thing about the law? That it changes all the time! If one thing can be said about the practice of law for your Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer, is that she is always being challenged to keep up with the changes in the law. Today’s blog deals with the exciting new developments for personal injury cases in Las Vegas Justice Court. 

In the past, Las Vegas Justice Court and it’s Small Claims counterpart, both had max awards limits of $10,000 per injured person. Starting on January 1, 2017, Las Vegas Justice Court will increase its jurisdictional limit from the present $10,000 to $15,000.  

Small Claims Court will keep its trial award limits of $10,000. Your
Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney will tell you that the benefit of Small Claims Court is that your case will go to trial generally within a few months of filing your lawsuit and trials generally last less than an hour. This is a quick and efficient way to resolve a smaller personal injury claim. However, Small Claims Court does not allow for the award of any attorney’s fees. The great part of Las Vegas Justice Court, is that attorney’s fees can be awarded to the winning party. 

If your
Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney recommends that you should file your case in Justice Court, you will usually have a trial date within 6 months. Trials are also limited to one day. While it takes a little longer to go to trial, as compared to Small Claims Court, the damages limit is $15,000, as compared to the lower $10,000 in Small Claims Court. Justice Court also has the added bonus that the Court can award attorney’s fees and costs. 

If you case has a value of over $15,000, the other option to your Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney is to file your lawsuit in District Court. Yet, in District Court, special hurdles exist to get to trial, if your case is valued at less than $50,000. In those instances, you have to go through a “non-binding” arbitration program before you ever get to trial. It usually takes about 6 to 9 months to get your arbitration hearing. 

Since this special program is “non-binding”, any party who doesn’t like the Arbitrator’s decision can ask for an actual trial. The additional wait to get a trial, may be up to 6-9 months. So, it could take up to two years to resolve smaller cases. This is why Justice Court is a great new option for smaller Las Vegas Injury Cases. Talk to your Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer about which court is best for your case. 

Next time, we will talk about new developments in driverless cars.