A slip-and-fall accident is a type of accident in which an individual slips or trips over a property hazard such as loose, torn, or wet flooring, cracked sidewalks, cluttered walkways, or poor lighting. However, many people are unsure as to who is responsible for this type of accident. If you have been in a slip-and-fall accident, the personal injury lawyers at Pacific West Injury Law can assist you in determining who is responsible for the accident.
Sources of Liability in Slip-and-Fall Accidents
According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), about one million people seek emergency room treatment in the U.S. each year as a result of slip-and-fall accidents. Las Vegas, with a high number of hotels, restaurants, and other amenities for tourists, is certainly no stranger to slip-and-falls.
Premises liability refers to the responsibility of a property owner or possessor to regularly inspect the property in search of hazards that can cause injury to guests who have been permitted onto the property for business or social reasons. If a hazard is found, the property owner is not only required to promptly take measures to restore safety by repairing or otherwise mitigating the hazard, but also to warn guests of the presence of hazards that have yet to be remedied.
Property owners, by way of a deed designating that ownership of the property is theirs, are required to ensure that the property is safe for guests. In a residential setting, this responsibility is generally addressed not only by discovering and warning guests of known hazards, but also through the provision of a homeowner’s insurance policy that can compensate guests for injuries incurred in slip-and-fall accidents or as a result of other hazardous conditions.
In commercial settings, it is not at all unusual for a property to be owned by one business, but maintained and managed by another. In these cases, the owner would likely not have reason to know that the hazard existed, and would not be held responsible for hazards. That responsibility would instead fall on the individual or entity named on the lease as the legal possessor of the property.
Individuals who possess a residential property as tenants generally protect themselves from liability through the provision of a renter’s insurance policy. Commercial business owners who are leasing a building for their operations generally have a business insurance policy to protect them financially if someone is injured on their property.
Managing agencies are responsible for addressing property hazards on properties they manage. For example, governmental agencies or departments are generally responsible for ensuring the safety of public properties, such as parks and municipal buildings. A property management company can be found liable for injuries occurring on a property that they manage if their contracted services include maintaining and inspecting the property or otherwise having control of it.
Additionally, in some cases, agencies who provide cleaning services for a commercial entity are responsible for property hazards – such as freshly mopped or waxed floors that they have not warned guests about.
How to Prove Responsibility After a Slip-and-Fall Accident
Liability refers to the legal responsibility of an at-fault party to compensate the expenses and impacts of an injury suffered by someone else. In order to prove the property owner or possessor is liable for your Nevada slip-and-fall accident, you must show the following elements in your claim:
- The defendant owned, leased, or was otherwise in legal control of the property and had a duty to ensure that it was safe for guests.
- The defendant failed to take measures to render the property safe, such as regularly inspecting the property in search of hazards, the prompt repair or mitigation of those hazards, or warning guests with a prominently placed sign in proximity to the hazard.
- The claimant was injured as a result of the defendant’s negligence.
Potential Exceptions that Could Absolve the Property Owner of Responsibility
There are several reasons why a property owner or possessor would not be liable for the injuries incurred by the guest as a result of a property condition. Two of the main reasons include trespassers and the comparative negligence defense. Here is a look at both of these issues.
A trespasser is defined as one who enters or remains on a property without the authority or consent of the property’s owner or possessor. As provided by Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) §207.200, trespassing is a crime in Nevada. Not only that, but property owners do not owe the same duty of care to trespassers as they do to other types of guests, including those who are on the property for the financial benefit of the owner (known as invitees), and those who are invited to the property as a social guest (known as licensees).
The only duty owed to trespassers by property owners is to avoid luring them onto the property in order to intentionally injury them.
The Comparative Negligence Defense
Nevada follows a comparative negligence rule when it comes to determining liability in personal injury claims, including those involving slip-and-fall accidents. What this means is that an individual can be partially responsible for the accident that caused their injury, as long as they are not more than 50% responsible. However, the amount of compensation they receive will be reduced by the percentage of responsibility they bear.
The comparative negligence defense is often used by insurance companies as a defense to the negligence of their insured and often strives to shift a greater portion of the blame to the claimant in order to reduce or diminish the value of the case. Even if you feel as though you had partial or total responsibility for the accident that occurred, it is important to speak with an attorney about your claim as that is not necessarily true.
If You Were Injured in a Nevada Slip-and-Fall, We Can Help
To learn more about your legal options for seeking compensation after a Nevada slip-and-fall accident and the services that can be provided to assist you, contact the legal team as Pacific West Injury Law for a free case evaluation.