If you are involved in a slip and fall or car accident you may be confused as far as what type of attorney that you should retain to help you. Both slip and fall incidents (also known as premise liability matters) and car accidents require the same type of personal injury attorney as they both involve negligence claims. However, there are a few key differences between the cases and how they are handled. In order to dissect these two categories of cases, we will go through the elements of a negligence claim and describe how they are similar and different.
Slip and Fall Cases and Liability
The first element of a negligence claim is liability. Liability essentially boils down to the following question “who is responsible for the incident?” Both car accident claims and slip and fall claims must have a defendant who is at fault for the incident before you can pursue a claim. In car accident claims, this is determined by who failed to use due care in the operation of their motor vehicle. It is usually the result of a driver failing to abide by the rules of the road. For slip and fall incidents, however, you must have a property owner who is at fault before you can pursue the property owner. The reason for this is that you typically cannot pursue another property owner’s invitee for both identity and monetary reasons.
For instance, if you went to a grocery store and you slipped on some water that was spilled by another customer, you would have a tough time pursuing the person who spilled the water because it would be unlikely to identify that person as grocery stores do not typically get the contact information of every person who spills water on their property. Secondly, even if that person was identifiable, it is unlikely that the person has sufficient assets or insurance coverage for the incident. Also, the property owner would not be responsible (nor would their insurance company) because they did nothing to unreasonable contribute to the incident.
In other words, a property owner is not responsible for someone just because they are injured on their property. You need to demonstrate liability and in the above scenario, the only way that they would be responsible is if they failed to act once they were put on notice (actual or constructive) of the dangerous condition (the spilled water) before the injured party fell and they failed to act reasonably to rectify the dangerous condition. This makes liability a bit more difficult to pursue in a slip and fall incident rather than a car accident.
Another reason that liability in slip and fall cases is more difficult to establish than in car accidents is that a property owner is under no duty to provide information that could help an injured party’s claim. Under Nevada Law, a driver of a motor vehicle is required to exchange certain information with another person where there is an accident involving property damage or injury. (See Nevada Revised Statute 484E.030). Additionally, if you are involved in an auto accident involving injury, the police will come out and investigate liability. However, this does not stand true for slip and fall cases. If you slip and fall in a store and hurt yourself, the store has no duty to provide you with any information about insurance. In fact, there is no legal requirement that they even maintain insurance to cover your fall. Also, the police will not come out to the scene of a slip and fall and investigate liability. In fact, it is likely that the store will have their own employees (that are on their own payroll) investigate liability. You can imagine how that investigation is typically more favorable to the store rather than the customer.
Slip and Fall Cases and Causation
Causation is another necessary element of an injury case. It means that the incident caused the injury to the Plaintiff. It is the burden of the Plaintiff to show causation and can be difficult to do in certain situations. The most common way that Plaintiffs in injury cases show causation is to treat with doctors who can relate the injuries that they are being treated for to the incident in question, whether it be a car accident or slip and fall. Although from a theoretical standpoint, causation is treated the same way in both a car accident and slip and fall case, as a practical matter, causation is more difficult in a slip and fall case.
Jurors are less likely to find causation in a slip and fall case because most jurors in Nevada simply do not believe that a person can be seriously injured by falling from ground level. The reason for this is due to their own first-hand experience from falling from the ground level. Everyone, at some point, has taken a fall, whether it be from tripping over something to slipping on something. The majority of the time, these types of falls do not involve serious injury. They are able to get back up and go about their day without much issue. So jurors take that real-world experience with them to the courtroom and take a stance against the idea that someone can be injured from a slip or trip and fall case. These preconceived notions can be solidified if there is a video of the fall and the fall seems mundane or non-violent.
This is not to say that car accident cases do not have issues with causation. In car accident cases involving minor damages, an insurance defense attorney’s favorite thing to do would be to point that out to the jury and ask them “how could anyone be injured in this accident, with such a small amount of damage to the vehicle?” This tactic can be successful if your lawyer is not prepared to counter this argument. It can be helpful to retain a biomechanical engineer to aid in the causation aspect of the negligence claim, after all, it is the Plaintiff’s burden to establish all of the elements of a negligence claim.
Establishing Damages in a Slip and Fall Case
Establishing damages in a personal injury case is actually the one element of a negligence claim where it is basically the same when comparing a car accident claim with a slip and fall claim. Damages can be both economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are fairly simple to calculate, they include, inter alia, any medical bills (past and future), damage to personal property, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity. The reason that they are more simple to calculate than non-economic damages is that you can attribute an actual monetary value because they are designed to replace money that was lost because of the incident.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are a bit more difficult to calculate. They typically involve pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, etc. These types of damages do not have an exact monetary figure associated with them. So, it is up to the jury to subjectively assign a
value that they feel would put the Plaintiff in a position that they would be in had the accident never occurred. This is obviously difficult to do, especially in cases where the Plaintiff has been affected to an extreme degree. How does one even begin to assign a dollar figure to someone’s life enjoyment that they have missed? It is a very difficult thing to ask someone to do, which is why you need an experienced attorney to handle your personal injury case.
Contact Our Law Firm
If you have been involved in a slip and fall matter, you should immediately contact us to discuss your personal injury case. He has years of experience helping thousands of individuals who have been harmed in Las Vegas as a result of negligence.