What Should You Do in Las Vegas if You Hit an Unoccupied Car?

There are so many cars crammed into Vegas that collisions are unavoidable. Nonetheless, Nevada has detailed laws on the books that you must follow after crashing into a vehicle, even a vehicle that isn’t unoccupied. At Ladah Law Firm, we understand the state’s traffic laws inside and out. Below, we reproduce some of the most common questions and provide the best answers about what you should do following this type of wreck.

Do I Have to Stop after Hitting a Car?

Yes. According to Nevada Revised Statutes 484E.020, the person driving a vehicle that is involved in a crash shall “immediately” stop their vehicle at the scene. This is a very clear rule. You can’t simply drive away after crashing into someone.

What if the Vehicle isn’t Occupied?

You still must stop. A different law applies if someone is hurt or killed in the accident, but the law on stopping is still the same—you must do it.

Is it Illegal to Fail to Stop after Hitting an Unoccupied Car?

Yes. It is a misdemeanor to not stop your vehicle immediately at the scene of a crash.

Insurance agent holds estimate of the value of damaged vehicle

What if My Car is Blocking Traffic?

You still need to stop. The law also says that if you are blocking traffic or creating a hazard, then you can move the car out of the way—such as to the shoulder or a different safe location. Depending on the circumstances, you might need to pull into a parking lot to safely get out of the way. Nonetheless, you still should stop your vehicle before deciding to move.

What Are the Penalties I Face if I Leave the Scene without Stopping?

In Nevada, you could face up to 6 months in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine for a misdemeanor conviction. These criminal laws apply even if you live out of state and are only visiting Vegas.

What Should I Do After I Stop?

Nevada Revised Statutes 484E.040 tells you what to do if you cause damage to an unattended vehicle. After stopping, you must:

  • Immediately locate the car owner or operator
  • Give your name and address to the owner

For example, this might mean asking people on the sidewalk if they own the vehicle. You might also need to walk into a nearby business and ask if anyone there owns the car you just hit.

What if I Can’t Find the Car Owner?

The law tells you what else you need to do. You should write a note and attach it securely in a “conspicuous” place. The note should include your name and address. You should also tell them you struck their unattended vehicle. This information is critical. Now the owner can contact you and begin the insurance claims process.

Where is a Conspicuous Location to Put My Note?

“Conspicuous” means in a location where it is hard to miss. One obvious spot would be to put the note under a wiper blade on the driver’s side of the vehicle. That way the driver will see it when they get into the car to start it. Of course, if it is raining, you need to be careful to keep the note dry. You might also open a door and leave the note on the driver’s seat.  

What if I Don’t Look for the Owner or Leave a Note?

You can face misdemeanor charges for failing to do either of these tasks.

What if My Crash Didn’t Result in Damage?

The law doesn’t require that you search for the owner if there is no damage. However, be realistic. A collision typically results in at least some damage to the car that you struck. Even scratches and nicks could cause damage, which could be expensive to fix. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you drive away and a cop finds that you damaged a car, you could face legal consequences.

Do I Have to Call the Police?

Yes. Under NRS 484E.050, the driver must “immediately” contact the Las Vegas police or Nevada Highway Patrol “by the quickest means of communication.” For most people, this will mean pulling out your cell phone and calling the Las Vegas Police Department. If you don’t have a phone, ask a bystander to use theirs or go to the nearest business and ask to use the phone. If you don’t know the number, call 911.

Again, reporting the accident is only required if you caused damage to the vehicle. Use your judgment, erring on the side of caution.

Can A Passenger Call the Police for Me?

According to the letter of the law, the driver must call. So if you were driving and hit an unattended vehicle, you should be the one calling. However, the law does state you can have a passenger call if you are incapable of doing so. You might have been injured in the collision and need an ambulance. In that case, ask a passenger to call for you.


What if I Don’t Call the Police Immediately?

This violation is also a misdemeanor offense.

“Immediately” is open to interpretation. However, you should call after stopping your car and moving it out of the way so that you don’t obstruct traffic.

What if My Occupants are Injured?

Ask a bystander to call. Technically, this doesn’t satisfy the requirements of the law. But we think the Las Vegas Police Department will appreciate you trying to fulfill your duties of notifying them.

Detail Of Damage To Rear Bumper Of Vehicle In Car Park

Do I Have to File a Crash Report?

Yes. Under NRS 484E.070, the driver of the vehicle shall submit a report to the Department of Motor Vehicles if the accident caused at least $750 of damage. You have 10 days after the crash to submit a written or electronic report. You will also need to attach a repair estimate or a statement of total loss from a garage or body shop.

You do not have to file if an officer came out and submitted a crash report with the following information:

  • Name and address of insurance companies covering all people involved
  • Each insurance policy number
  • Dates when coverage begins and ends

Check your copy of the police report to see if it contains this information. If not, quickly submit a report.

Can My License Be Suspended for Failing to Report a Crash?

Yes. NRS 484E.080 states your license will be suspended for 1 year if you fail to report the accident. You might get it back sooner if your failure was truly accidental.

What if My Report Contains False Information?

It is a gross misdemeanor to submit information you know is false. A gross misdemeanor can send you to jail for up to 364 days and result in a maximum $2,000 fine.

Do I Have to Report an Accident if I Rented a Vehicle?

Yes. Nevada’s criminal laws apply to everyone physically present in the state, whether you are a resident or not. Follow the steps as outlined in this article. You will also have to call the rental company. They might have a number and can help you with your reporting requirements.

Can the Car Owner Sue Me for the Damage?

Probably. If you were driving negligently, they can sue. You should have property damage liability insurance, which can pay for repairs.

Experienced Car Accident Attorneys

The Las Vegas Car Accident Attorneys at Ladah Law help people who suffer personal injuries in car accidents. If you were injured in a wreck, give us a call, (702) 252-0055. We can review whether you have a solid claim and what other evidence you will need.