If you suffered an injury due to unsafe conditions or hazards on a property, you might be considering a premises liability claim. To make a viable claim, you need to demonstrate that there was a dangerous situation on the premises and that the property owner or tenant was aware of it, or should have been. If the hazardous condition resulted in an accident that caused you harm and damages, you are likely to have a successful premises liability case.
Nevada’s premises liability laws enable victims to receive compensation for injuries sustained on both commercial and private properties. The property owner has a duty of care to ensure the safety of visitors, regardless of whether they own a large business or a residential property. This obligation can be fulfilled by repairing or removing hazards, displaying signage indicating hazards that cannot be removed or fixed, and continuously monitoring the property to identify and promptly address any new dangers. If you were hurt due to unsafe conditions on someone else’s property in Las Vegas, you might have a premises liability claim against the property owner.
What Is Premises Liability?
Premises liability law falls under the category of personal injury claims and deals with injuries sustained on someone else’s property.
Premises liability law outlines the responsibilities of property owners and the compensation that may be granted to victims of accidents. If you are injured on someone’s property and choose to take legal action, premises liability law will determine the outcome of your case.
Like other personal injury claims, premises liability cases require proof of negligence. Simply suffering an injury on someone’s property is not enough to file a lawsuit. You must establish evidence of negligence for your case to be successful.
Nevada’s premises liability laws require four elements of proof:
- There was a dangerous condition on the property. A dangerous condition must exist on the property, such as a wet or unsafe floor, tripping hazards, or poorly maintained equipment. Evidence can be collected through photographs, surveillance videos, or eyewitness testimony.
- The property owner or tenant knew or should have known about the dangerous condition. If the condition was open and obvious, it is likely that the owner or tenant was aware or should have been aware of it.
- Your injuries sustained were caused by the dangerous condition. You cannot claim compensation for injuries that were caused by other factors.
- Your injuries caused damages. These are medical expenses or other costs resulting from the accident.
In addition, you must have been legally permitted to be on the property. Property owners are presumed to have a duty of care towards others on their premises, but this does not extend to trespassers.
If you’re in Nevada, and you’re on someone else’s property, your legal status on the property will determine what obligations the property owner or occupier owes you. It’s important to understand which category of visitor you fall under to determine this. The categories are invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
Invitees come onto the property for the purpose of doing business with the owner, and the owner receives an economic benefit. Examples include patrons of a restaurant or store. Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees and must warn or correct any hazards they know about or should have known about based on a reasonable examination of the property.
Licensees are invited guests who enter a property for their own purposes rather than to help enrich the property owner. An example is going to a friend’s house to hang out. Property owners owe an intermediate duty of care to licensees. They must warn or correct any hazards they are aware of or should be aware of, but they don’t have the same obligation to inspect for hazards as they do for invitees.
Trespassers are people who enter properties without permission. Property owners owe the least duty of care to trespassers, but they still have some obligations. Property owners can’t intentionally injure a trespasser or set traps to hurt them.
Damages Available in Premises Liability Claims
In a premises liability case, you can claim two types of damages: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are also known as tangible or monetary damages, as they have a dollar value that can be quantified. These damages are based on the actual and future costs of the accident. Examples of economic damages that can be claimed in a premises liability lawsuit are as follows:
- Medical Bills: This includes all the medical expenses incurred due to the injury, such as doctor’s fees, hospital stays, medication, rehabilitation, and other medical expenses that were paid or will be paid in the future.
- Lost Income: If the injuries caused you to miss work and lose income, you can claim for the income lost.
- Loss of Earnings Capacity: If the injuries prevent you from performing your job in the future and reduce your earning capacity, you can claim for the lost earnings capacity.
- Treatment for Mental Injuries
- Property Damage
Non-economic damages compensate you for the losses you sustain that don’t have direct financial ties. When you are injured in an accident, you can suffer from physical pain and mental anguish. These are known as non-economic damages. Physical pain and suffering refers to the discomfort that your injuries cause you. Emotional damages include fear, anxiety, depression, or insomnia that you suffer because of the accident. Additionally, if the accident has left you with scarring, disfigurements, or a disability, you may also be able to claim loss of self-esteem.
Types of Premises Liability Claims in Nevada
There are many types of premises liability cases in Nevada, with some types more prevalent than others. The most common are slip and fall incidents, which may occur due to wet floors, uneven surfaces, or insufficient lighting. Tripping over loose carpets or cluttered walkways is also frequently reported. Other types of incidents include dog bites, swimming pool accidents, or injuries caused by falling objects. Furthermore, incidents that stem from inadequate security, leading to theft or assault, may also fall under premises liability. In such cases, if the property owner’s negligence is deemed to have played a role in the accident, he or she may be held accountable for any damages.
When Is the Property Owner Liable for Injuries?
Patrons and visitors have the legal right to sue establishments that fail to exercise reasonable care, as mandated by premises liability laws. If a dangerous condition leads to an injury, the property owner or tenant can be held liable for the damages. Premises liability cases are based on Nevada negligence law, which means that the property owner must be proven to have violated the four elements of negligence in order to be held accountable for the injury.
Duty of Care
The duty of care is a legal obligation to take reasonable care and caution to prevent harm to others. It is the responsibility of individuals or organizations to identify and minimize risks that could cause harm, whether existing or potential.
Under Nevada personal injury laws, patrons are regarded as invitees, which means that they are invited to the property for business purposes. This covers visitors like job applicants and customers. As a result, the property owner owes the highest duty of care to its visitors. Even if you are a licensee or visiting a private property, the owner still owes you a duty of care since you are on his or her property.
It is the responsibility of the property owner to inspect the premises for potential hazards, repair, or post warning signs about known defects, and implement safety protocols.
Breach of the Duty of Care
If the property owner fails to take reasonable precautions against foreseeable injuries, he or she has breached the duty of care. This level of care is set to prevent anything that could be reasonably foreseen from causing harm to patrons.
In Nevada, premises liability claims have a broad interpretation of foreseeability. Property owners must take reasonable precautions to prevent food poisoning in food preparation and storage. Fixtures and furniture should be kept in good repair, including chairs in dining areas, showrooms, or bathrooms. Spills, tripping, or falling hazards should be cleared away promptly. Adequate security measures should be implemented throughout the premises. Floors and grounds should be even, without loose carpeting, floorboards, or malfunctioning elevators and escalators. Adequate lighting should be provided.
The Breach Resulted in Your Injury
Who is liable when guests are injured in a casino? If you are seeking compensation, you must have sustained an injury that can be attributed to the casino’s breach of the duty of care. Otherwise, you have not suffered documentable harm and have no valid claim against the casino. If your injuries were caused by something other than the casino’s negligence, such as your own negligence, you cannot hold the casino liable. This is because there is no causal link between the casino’s negligence and the harm that you have suffered.
You Suffered Damages as a Result of Your Injury
To claim compensation in a premises liability case against a casino, you must have suffered damages. These can be either economic or non-economic. Economic damages are financial costs, such as present and future medical bills, lost wages, and reduced earnings capacity. Non-economic damages are subjective, non-monetary losses, such as pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life. If you have not suffered any damages, then you have no valid claim for compensation.
If you can prove that there was a dangerous condition on the property that the property owner either knew or should have known about, that the dangerous condition caused your injuries, and that you suffered damages as a result, then the four elements of negligence will likely be proven. This will establish that you were on the property and owed a duty of care. It will also establish that the owner or tenant breached this duty of care by failing to remedy the dangerous condition.
You have the burden of proving each of these things to obtain damages. It is advisable to gather as much evidence as possible after an accident, such as taking pictures of the area where a slip and fall occurred, to maximize your chances of prevailing in a premises liability claim.
How Comparative Negligence Could Affect Your Case
In Nevada, comparative negligence laws come into play while determining the compensation for a premises liability claim. These laws consider the actions of both the injured party and the property owner. If the injured party is found to have contributed to his or her own injury, his or her compensation may be reduced.
If the injured party is found to be more than 50% negligent, he or she will lose the claim. If the injured party contributed to the accident by 50% or less, his or her claim will be reduced by a percentage equal to his or her negligence. For instance, if the injured party’s negligence contributed 10% to the accident, the damages awarded will be reduced by 10%.
The property owner may argue that the injured party was partly negligent by claiming that his or her actions were unreasonable. The property owner may argue that the injured party was partly negligent if:
- The danger was obvious enough that a reasonable person could have recognized and avoided it.
- There were warning signs that the injured party ignored.
- The injured party was trespassing in an off-limits area of the store.
- The injured party was intoxicated.
- The injured party’s actions were otherwise inappropriate.
Thus, if you suffered an injury on someone else’s premises, but you were also negligent, the size of your claim will be reduced in proportion to your negligence.
Proving negligence, as well as your injuries and claim, can be a challenging process. A personal injury lawyer can assess the validity of your claim. He or she can assist in collecting evidence and negotiating the best possible settlement for you.