A slip and fall accident refers to any accident that occurs on someone else’s premises – such as that of a land owner or business proprietor – that was caused by some dangerous condition resulting from the direct negligence of the owner or business proprietor. Learn more about what you as a slip and fall victim can recover for your injuries by calling our Las Vegas premises liability lawyer at Eric Roy Law Firm.
Premises liability and slip and falls can occur anywhere, but common areas include:
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The difference lies in the land or business owner’s duty and the Plaintiff’s responsibility, if any, for the injuries sustained. For example, a land or business owner is generally said to be under a duty to inspect and maintain his premises and warn of dangers he has actual or constructive knowledge of.
Generally, the elements of a negligence claim under Nevada law are:
In the past, a land or business owner’s liability depended upon the status of the injured party.
An injured party’s status can be classified as:
An invitee is a person the premises owner, usually a business, invites onto his property for the purpose of shopping, for example. A licensee, on the hand, is one who pays admission to attend an event, such as a football game, while a trespasser is one who is on another’s property uninvited and generally against the owner’s will. Generally, a land or business owner had a greater duty to those that paid to attend an event than those that are invited onto the premises in general while no duty was owed to a trespasser.
However, the Nevada Supreme Court adopted a doctrine of landowner liability independent of the status of the person injured upon the land and “free from the antiquated categorization which had been a remnant of the common law.”
In enumerating the rule, the Nevada Supreme Court has stated:
“Landlords as other persons must exercise reasonable care not to subject others to an unreasonable risk of harm. A landlord must act as a reasonable person under all of the circumstances including the likelihood of injury to others, the probable seriousness of such injuries, and the burden of reducing or avoiding the risk.”
This ruling now requires that an owner of a land must exercise care to maintain the safety of a premises for anyone who is invited on the premises for business purposes.
In general, in order to show that a land or business owner failed to protect the public from a hazard, the Plaintiff must show:
Therefore, the owner or occupier of land has a duty to an invitee to inspect the premises to discover dangerous conditions not known to him and to “take reasonable precautions to protect the invitee from dangers which are foreseeable from the arrangement or use.
According to the Nevada Supreme Court, an owner of a property must exercise ordinary care if he or she has knowledge of a danger that is either hidden, concealed, or that may pose a potential problem. On the other hand, if the danger is ‘obvious,’ the owner does not require a warning from the owner. This means that if a danger is obvious, a plaintiff is barred from recovery. But if a patron is aware of the dangerous condition, this does not necessarily bar the injured individual from recovering compensation if he or she was required to encounter it as part of a job or mission.
With respect to slip and falls, the status of the person on the property is no longer relevant. But a Plaintiff’s reason for being on the premises when he is injured does matter greatly and, under some circumstances, a land or business owner may have no liability if the person injured is on the property for recreational purposes. According to Nevada law, an owner, lessee or occupant of premises owes no duty to keep the premises safe for entry or use by individuals who cross over to public land, hunt, fish, camp, or other recreational purposes.
But in cases where willful or malicious failure to warn of a dangerous condition exists, then the owner can be held liable for the injured.
But how do courts determine when a land or business owner’s conduct is willful? Courts look at:
To determine if constructive knowledge existed, courts asks the standard question of whether a reasonable person would be aware of the dangers under similar circumstances.
Under Nevada law, it is a landowner’s duty to take action to reasonably prevent dangerous activities such as crime or acts of violence by a third party. The owner ordinarily would owe no duty of care to the patron until he knows or has knowledge of a dangerous activity that is occurring or about to occur. The legal duty of a landowner to protect an invitee begins when the circumstances indicate possible criminal activity on the property. The courts characterize the rule in terms of foreseeability. This may include knowledge of such acts from past experience and the location of the business in an unsafe area, which may indicate a likelihood of similar conduct.
In many slip and fall cases, the common defenses are assumption of risk contributory negligence. Assumption of risk means that the Plaintiff was aware of the risks and dangers, but went ahead and participated in the act regardless. This defense is used to protect businesses that would otherwise be subject to what one court deemed “unreasonable and often ruinous responsibilities.”
In order for the doctrine of assumption of risk to apply, the plaintiff must:
Assumption of risk may be found expressly or implicitly. Express assumption of risk applies when the parties agree in advance, such as in writing or orally, that the defendant does not owe a legal duty toward the plaintiff. Implicit assumption of risk focuses not on the plaintiff’s conduct in assuming the risk, but on the defendant’s general duty of care, such as when a plaintiff has failed to establish that a duty exists.
Contributory negligence and assumption of the risk do not overlap; the difference lies in the fact that under a theory of assumption of a risk, the Plaintiff exercises his own free will in encountering the risk. In comparative or contributory negligence, the focus is on the Plaintiff’s negligent or unintentional conduct and, thus, the reasonableness of his conduct. As one court put it, “When one acts knowingly, it is immaterial whether he acts reasonably.”
If you have any questions about your premises liability case and whether your injuries merit a claim, feel free to talk to our experienced Las Vegas slip and fall attorney. We can go over the details of your accident to identify liability and the role of negligence.
Request a free consultation by calling us at (702) 423-3333.
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