It has been over a month since its implementation, and the new accident policy seems to be going well for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which announced it would no longer respond on scene to non-injury motor vehicle crashes, instead focusing limited manpower on law enforcement for violent crimes and apprehension of dangerous criminals. The thing is, the Metro PD may be the only one who say it’s going well, at least according to this commentary published in Las Vegas Weekly earlier this month. Public reaction has been negative, and the use of personal injury lawyers in Las Vegas such as Kevin R. Hansen is expected to skyrocket with insurance claims filed without third-party police officer reports.
But that’s only the beginning of the issue. Author Erin Ryan points out that those most impacted by the Metro’s accident policy change are those most vulnerable to injury. While the accident may not cause physical injuries, the risk of harm to parties involved in a crash is greater for older adults, especially those in poverty, and those living with disabilities, Ryan reports. These people may have more limited means to access personal injury lawyers in Las Vegas, and without officer support, it’s more likely that no one will be in their corner after a wreck.
Using recent research to back up her assertions, Ryan points out that a 2013 Pew study found that disproportionately high percentages of people in poverty lack access to a smartphone with adequate photo/video documentation abilities. Only 18% of adults age 65 and older own smartphones (compared to 80% for other consumer age groups), and declining cognitive and physical functions make it more difficult for older adults to utilize the technology they have. What this set of circumstances does is set up older adults involved in a crash in Las Vegas for exploitation. Additionally, regardless of age, the “poor and less educated are least likely to own smartphones,” and even less likely to be able to afford personal injury lawyers in Las Vegas in the confusing aftermath.
Nowhere is anyone suggesting that the Metro PD has targeted or intentionally exposed these more vulnerable populations to additional risk. But in every policy decision, it is incumbent upon the enactors to anticipate negative fallout for all groups, but especially the disadvantaged. While some Las Vegans can download smartphone apps that walk them through the accident-documentation process, others lack the technology or mental capacity to do so in a way that protects their interests. “If they don’t know how to systematically document the incident or construct a coherent story…it doesn’t matter if they have lots of pictures,” one UNLV professor of Sociology astutely notes.
Improved education about the process, such as at community seminars or senior centers, as well as even some practice role-playing have been suggested examples that could help prepare individuals for the experience in the event of being involved in a non-injury crash. Personal injury lawyers in Las Vegas could also work to allocate a portion of their services pro-bono to such clients in the face of their increased risk of harm and the ongoing new Metro PD policy.