A Las Vegas public space injury, or premise liability injury, can take place in many different shapes and forms:
- a slip and fall;
- a trip and fall;
- a falling object-related injury;
- a fire;
- a negligent security matter;
- assault and/or battery;
- a laceration by a sharp object.
The list goes on and on.
What a premise liability is at its core is any time someone is injured on another person’s property because of another party or parties negligence. As varied as the types of premise liability cases there are the injuries resulting from those types of cases are just as numerous. They can involve broken bones, soft tissue injuries, such as cuts and bruises, brain injuries, or emotional/mental trauma. But the factors necessary to establish a premise liability case are almost always the same.
Determining Eligibility for a Las Vegas Premise Liability Claim
Although the list of public space injury claims may seem long, it’s not as simple as claiming an injury and expecting the property owner to pay up. There are some standard guidelines to adhere to in proving negligence, and we’ve composed a simple three-step guide to detecting case eligibility early on.
In order for a person to be successful in a premise liability case, the first hurdle that needs to be crossed is a liability. Many people come to our office under the impression that just because they were injured on someone else’s property, that the property owner is somehow responsible for their injuries. This is simply not true. There is no strict liability for premise liability cases. In order to successfully pursue a premise liability incident, you must establish that the property owner was somehow responsible by owing a duty of care, and breached that duty of care by acting negligently or failing to act reasonably. As a general rule in Nevada, property owners do owe a duty of reasonable care to the public or anyone that they invite on their premises. In order to establish the negligence prong of liability, however, it needs to be determined that the property owner did or didn’t do something that was unreasonable. This is typically done by showing that there was some sort of dangerous condition, for example, slippery substances, such as liquid on the floor, or trip hazards, that are not properly marked. You must also establish that the property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition, yet failed to act reasonably in addressing the situation. For example, if there had been a spill on the floor for an extended period of time, it can sometimes be constructively established that they should have known about the condition. Perhaps the property owner is the cause of the dangerous condition, such as an employee spilling the liquid, then it can be established that the owner had actual notice of the dangerous condition.
Once liability is established it also must be established that the incident caused the injuries that are complained of by the injured person. This can be difficult to establish if there are no objective injuries, such as broken bones or skin lacerations. In order to establish these types of injuries on a causation level, a doctor would need to testify that to a reasonable degree of medical probability that the person was injured as a result of the incident. This becomes difficult when people suffer from pre-existing conditions, such as arthritis or spinal degeneration. Skilled physicians will usually be able to opine that there was an exacerbation of a pre-existing condition, which would permit a jury to apportion damages to the Defendant at the time of trial. Often times, the property owner will retain biomechanical engineers to opine that the fall or another type of incident could not have caused the injuries alleged. This can be a powerful tool by the Defendant to secure a defense verdict. Many Las Vegas jurors have a difficult time appreciating how a fall from ground level could ever cause the injuries claimed by the Plaintiff. If a jury does not believe that the fall or another type of incident could cause the injuries alleged by the Plaintiff, then they will likely enter a verdict in favor of the Defendant or award nominal damages to the Plaintiff. This could easily be the death of a personal injury action, which is why you should always retain the best possible attorney to represent you in a personal injury matter.
In order to recover damages, the Plaintiff must establish that they were affected either economically, non-economically, or both. Economic damages usually include any medical bills (which also need to be established by a doctor as reasonable and necessary through a reasonable degree of medical probability) or lost wages or loss of future earning capacity. Non-economic damages include any pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of life enjoyment, or mental anguish. These types of damages are an art form to allege and require the hands of an experienced lawyer to establish an award or settlement through the litigation process.