Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

Where A Criminal Conviction Creates Liability, The Defense Of Comparative Fault Is Still Available

In the 2005 decision of Langdon v. Matamoros, the Nevada Supreme Court said that a conviction on a misdemeanor traffic ticket is not enough to create per se civil liability under N.R.S. 41.133.  See our treatment of this case by clicking HERE.  But left undecided was question of the scope of liability under N.R.S. 41.133 when the statute was actually triggered.  That question was answered in the recent case of Cromer v. Wilson, 126 Nev. Adv. Op. 11 (March 11, 2010).  In Cromer, the Defendant had been convicted of felony DUI.  This caused Defendant to be found liable as a matter of law under the statute.

Handcuffs The question before the Cromer Court was whether, once the statute was triggered, could the Defendant still present evidence of the comparative negligence to reduce or eliminate damages.  See N.R.S. 41.141.  See previous posts addressing this subject HERE.  The court ruled that in spite of the fact that the Defendant was found to be negligent as a matter of law, he not precluded from using the defense of comparative fault to reduce damages or avoid them altogether under N.R.S. 41.141.

The court also found that the conclusive liability provision of N.R.S. 41.133 applies only to the victim of the criminal conduct and therefore would not apply to claims by non-victim claimants. It appears that the Court is leaning towards finding that comparative negligence will always be a viable defense in any Nevada tort claim.

About Michael Mills

Mr. Mills practices in the area of civil litigation and appeals, with particular experience in matters involving trucking liability, insurance defense, insurance coverage, premises liability, products liability and defense of personal injury. Mr. Mills is a member of the Trucking Insurance Defense Association, the Defense Research Institute Trucking Committee and the Nevada Motor Transport Association. Mr. Mills is licensed to practice before the Nevada Supreme Court and the Utah Supreme Court. He is also licensed to appear before the United States Supreme Court, the U.S. District Courts for the Districts of Nevada and Utah, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Mills has created 3 Blogs for the benefit of the insurance industry. He serves as editor and publisher of the Nevada Insurance Law Blog, the Nevada Coverage and Bad Faith Blog and the Nevada Trucking Law Blog.

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