Even accidents that seem small at first can cause major repercussions and injuries. While we all may have taken some tumbles and skinned our knees as kids, once you’re an adult a serious slip-and-fall can cause some serious damage. If you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, you may be wondering what your options are as expenses pile up.
You may be able to sue another party in your slip-and-fall case if someone’s actions or inaction contributed to a breach of their duty to care for you in some way. This doesn’t mean that they had any formal obligation to care for you other than the normal, everyday social conventions. As you reasonably expect a certain level of safety on another’s property, if a safety hazard or structural deficiency caused your slip-and-fall accident, then you could potentially seek damages from the property owner.
What is Negligence?
Negligence has adopted a different meaning in common use over the years than its legal context. Negligence in personal injury cases like slip-and-fall accidents usually means that someone’s actions or inaction led directly to your injury. There are four conditions that must be met for someone to be legally classified as negligent in an accident.
Duty of Care
For this condition to be met, the defendant must have had some duty of care for you. This could mean many things, such as you are a welcome guest on their property or in their building, you are an employee with a reasonable expectation of safety, or many other situations. You reasonably can’t be expected to look at the floor constantly while you are walking, so any property owner has a reasonable duty to ensure safety hazards and dangerous obstructions are removed promptly from walkways.
Breach of That Duty
This means that the party failed to meet the duties that would be reasonably expected of them, often as social norms not needing to be spoken. This could be because of reckless actions like disobeying traffic laws, for instance. Alternatively, it is due to inaction such as a failure to repair a hazardous crack in the floor.
For a party to meet this burden of negligence, their actions or inaction must be directly tied to the accident where you slipped and fell. An apparently perfectly normal floor tile breaking, causing you to slip may make proving causation of any action that could have been taken by a negligent party problematic. Slipping on the same floor tile, still not repaired, six months later is a fairly clear-cut case of potentially hazardous issues being neglected.
You must have been caused some injury by the slip-and-fall accident to fulfill this last burden. With slip-and-fall accidents, this is often medical bills, pharmaceutical charges, lost wages, and other expenses associated with a physical injury. Damages for an injury can also encompass any other hardship you experienced as a direct result of the accident, however.
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Was the Accident Caused By the Negligence of Another?
When you’re trying to determine whether your accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, start with what directly caused your accident. Did you slip on an obstruction or deficiency that was reasonably dangerous or that you couldn’t be expected to anticipate? If there was a hazard that wasn’t adequately pointed out with safety signage, then it’s likely that the property owner is liable for your fall in at least some part.
What if Both Parties Are Negligent?
There are cases in which both parties can be found negligent for an accident. For these cases, Nevada uses a principle called comparative negligence in which the legal liability for the accident is shared between the parties proportional to their share of the total negligence. This can get confusing occasionally, but usually, it’s much simpler than it sounds in practice.
For example, if you were to slip on a large crack in a concrete floor that hadn’t been repaired after months of it being a hazard, the property owner would likely be found negligent. If you were also, however, texting while walking or off of a designated path in a public space, your negligence may have also contributed to your own accident. In this case, the liability would be split between you, and you would still be due damages as long as you aren’t found more responsible than the negligent party.
If a plaintiff were found 15% responsible and a defendant 85% responsible for the negligence that caused an accident, the plaintiff would still be awarded compensation from the defendant. That compensation, however, would be reduced by 15% to account for the plaintiff’s share of the total negligence.
What’s the Potential Compensation for Slip-and-Fall Accidents?
Compensation for personal injury lawsuits can include monetary awards to reimburse you for medical expenses, lose wages, childcare expenses, or any other cost that was a direct result of your accident. For serious accidents, you could also be looking at medical care related to them in the future as well. The compensation you seek in your case shouldn’t just cover the bills you have today, but all the costs of the accident, both now and in the future.
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An Attorney Can Help You Fight for Justice and Fair Compensation
Slip-and-fall accidents can lead to serious injuries, and you should never be forced to bear financial burdens from an accident that was someone else’s fault. Proper compensation can’t prevent your accident or heal your injuries, but it can ensure that you aren’t hurt further by the choices made by another.
Here at Pacific West Injury Law, we’re committed to making sure all our neighbors in the Las Vegas and Henderson areas aren’t financially hurt by the negligence of others. If you have questions about your slip-and-fall case, contact us today for a free consultation with our personal injury attorneys.