SLIP & FALL
Slip & Fall Lawyer Las Vegas
What Defines A Slip & Fall?
Premises accidents, more commonly referred to as “slip and falls,” occur frequently and unexpectedly all over the United States, including in Las Vegas, Nevada and its surrounding communities of Henderson, Green Valley, Summerlin, North Las Vegas, Boulder City, Pahrump, Mesquite and Laughlin.
These incidents often occur in unfamiliar locations such as the hotels and casinos. Many of the slip and falls which occur locally often involve out-of-state tourists on vacation. However, that’s not always the case. Any commercial establishment can be a location for a slip and fall. Whether you were injured while traveling or while visiting your local hangout, it’s important you consult a Las Vegas personal injury attorney for immediate help.
Prior to meeting with your attorney, it’s important to gather as many documents that relate to your fall. During the initial consultation, the slip and fall attorney will ask many questions about how the fall occurred and the injuries you sustained as well as any subsequent medical treatment.
This allows the attorney to become more familiar with your case and to determine important issues necessary to move your case forward. The first issue your slip and fall lawyer will review is if the landowner owed you a duty while you were on the property. The 3 classifications you may fall under are trespasser, invitee, and licensee. The specific classification will help establish what duty the landowner owed to you.
A trespasser has the least amount of protection from a landowner’s negligence. Typically, landowners do not have a duty to a trespasser with the exception that a landowner cannot willfully cause injury to the trespasser. If injured while trespassing on another’s property, the individual will most likely not be able to recover. However, there are always exceptions.
One of the exceptions is when the trespasser is a “known trespasser.” A “known trespasser” is a trespasser who often trespasses on the property and the landowner has notice of the trespasser. If a landowner allows a hazardous condition to remain on the property which could cause injury to the trespasser, then the landowner can be found liable because he had a duty to provide a warning to the trespasser or to fix the hazardous condition in order to prevent the injury.
The second exception to succeed in a premises liability case as a trespasser is if there was a “dangerous instrumentality” on the property. Under the “dangerous instrumentality doctrine,” a landowner can be negligent if he leaves an instrument, appliance, or machine easily accessible to children that have hidden, concealed, or latent dangers.
This dangerous instrumentality must be in a location that the landowner has the knowledge, or should have known, that the location is in a place where children can be expected to gather. The landowner has a duty to remove the dangerous instrumentality or prevent children from having access to the dangerous instrumentality.
When many people imagine a premises liability case, they often think of a person slipping and falling due to a slippery substance on the floor in a business establishment, such as at a grocery store. The injured party will typically have the classification of an invitee. An invitee is a person that has been invited, either expressly or impliedly, onto the landowner’s property for the benefit of the landowner. The landowner then has a duty to warn of a dangerous condition existing on the premises or to make the dangerous condition safe to prevent injury.
The most common pitfall in proving liability when the injured party is an invitee is providing evidence that the landowner had notice, or should have known, that a dangerous condition existed on the property. Additionally, a landowner does not have a duty to warn when the dangerous condition is open and obvious and the invitee knew or should have known, about the dangerous condition.
However, the status of an invitee is not absolute and can change to a trespasser if the invitee enters an area of the property which was not included in the invitation to enter. For example, if you’re shopping at Walmart or Target you’re considered an invitee while shopping in the parts of the stores open to the public. But, if you decide to enter an “employee only” designated area, then your status will change from invitee to trespasser because the invitation did not extend to the “employee only” area. The landowner’s duty to protect you from injury on the premises will then change to the duties owed to a trespasser.
Licensees and invitees are often confused with one another, but a licensee is provided slightly less protection than an invitee. A licensee is a person who enters a landowner’s property with an invitation and at the licensee’s discretion, without benefit to the landowner.
An example of a licensee is a guest invited to the landowner’s house for a party. On its face, the person should fall under invitee because the person was invited, the main difference is the landowner is not receiving benefit from the person attending the party outside of normal socializing.
Under the invitee classification, the person is providing a direct benefit to the landowner (i.e. a person shopping in a store helps the store profit). Under the licensee classification, the landowner only has a duty to protect the licensee from injury, if the landowner knew of a hazardous condition on the property that poses an unreasonable risk of harm and the licensee could not be expected to recognize the dangerous condition. Then the landowner must warn or eliminate the hazardous condition.
For example, Jim has a party at his house and invites Tony and Gil over. If Jim is aware that there is a loose tile in his living room that could cause a person to twist his or her ankle while walking on it, Jim could be liable if he fails to warn his guests of the dangerous condition. In this scenario, Tony and Gil would be licensees. If Tony twists his ankle on the tile in Jim’s living room and falls and injures himself, he could sue Jim on the theory that Jim knew of a dangerous condition and failed to warn him of the danger.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU’VE BEEN INJURED?
Slip and Fall cases are not always easy cases to prove. Specifically, these types of cases can often involve and implicate complicated “proof” issues. For this reason, it’s very important to make sure you properly document injuries and events following a slip and fall. Here are the steps you should take:
1. Take a moment to collect yourself
Many times, if a person is injured in a public setting (such as a slip and fall in a store) the person immediately wants to remove themselves from the area because of embarrassment. Falling, or being injured, due to a landowner’s negligence is nothing to feel embarrassed about. It’s important to take a moment to make sure you are okay before making sudden movements. Your injuries may not be readily apparent due to shock from the occurrence. By quickly removing yourself from the location, you can exacerbate your injury. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help from others around you.
2. Report the Incident
This step is one of the most important because it helps create a record of your injury and it places pressure on the landowner, or his agent, to correct the hazardous condition. Make sure you file an incident report and receive a copy of the incident report for your own records. If you fall in a grocery store or other commercial establishment, insist on filing an incident report. This can be crucial evidence in a claim for damages.
3. Take Photos
A picture is worth a thousand words as they say. This is especially true in premises liability cases. Photos provide evidence of the hazardous condition, and an experienced premises liability attorney will be able to review the photos to look for signs that the hazardous condition existed on the premises for such a duration that the landowner should have known about it.
4. Seek medical treatment
If you’re suffering from pain, it’s very important to present to a medical professional for the examination of your injuries. People will often hope that the pain will subside over a couple of days, but to their detriment, the pain never leaves or continues to get worse. Make sure you see treatment shortly after you’re injured. Slip and falls can often involve brain and spinal injuries that are complex and require immediate treatment.
COMMON TYPE OF INJURIES IN SLIP AND FALL CASES
Getting hurt on a commercial premise or anywhere else can be a serious matter. The injuries that can result can have life altering consequences. Whether hitting your head on a concrete floor or experiencing hip pain following a slip and fall, it is extremely important to understand that an event of this kind can truly alter your life and, for that reason, seeking immediate medical care is vital. Among the most common types of injuries resulting from a slip and fall are the following:
● Brain Injury: The brain is a complicated and delicate organ. Arguably, the most important organ of all since it controls and regulates our movements, our feelings, our thought processes and how we consume information. In short, our brains make us who we are as humans. Brain injuries are very subtle and may not make themselves known until sometime later following a traumatic event. Seeking out a neurologist following a slip and fall event may be necessary and vital.
● Spinal Injury: Our spines keep us upright and able to walk and bend over. The spine, however, is delicate and prone to serious injury. If you’re slipped and fallen and experience spinal cord pain or any pain in your cervical or lumbar regions, it is critical to see an neuro or orthopedic surgeon.
● Hip Fracture: Our hips are literally the center of our bodies. A slip and fall can result in a hip fracture that can be very painful and debilitating. Leaving a hip fracture untreated can lead to serious problems later. Hip pain and fracture is one of the most common types of injuries following a slip and fall incident. This is even more true for elderly persons given their fragile state.
● Broken Wrist: If you’re falling the human instinct is to brace oneself by relying upon the hand to cushion or brake the fall. However, this immediate and sudden impact can lead to a broken wrist. This is another very common injury that results from slip and fall accidents.
WINNING A SLIP AND FALL CASE
In order to successfully make a claim based upon a slip and fall and to win such a claim, you have to prove four things:
(1) that the landowner owed you a duty of care,
(2) that the landowner breached that duty of care,
(3) that the landowner’s breach of duty was the actual (“but for”) and proximate (foreseeable) cause of your injuries and
(4) you sustained compensable damages in the form of either economic (e.g. medical bills, lost wages) and non-economic (e.g. pain and suffering) damages.
At The Vegas Lawyers we have significant experience and success with slip and fall cases. The most important aspect to winning these types of cases is proving liability. This almost always requires hiring the right expert or, in some cases, experts.
The most common experts in slip and fall cases are generally persons with backgrounds in engineering and physics. As you can imagine, if you’ve slipped and fallen and injured yourself, the challenge in a legal case will not be proving your injuries. The challenge will be in showing that the place where you slipped and fell was dangerous and that the landowner should be held responsible for your injuries.
Slip and fall cases can be quite expensive to litigate because of the costs associated with expert witnesses. For this reason, many law firms will avoid taking on these cases.
At The Vegas Lawyers we understand what’s involved to successfully prosecute slip and falls cases and we enjoy the challenges involved. For this reason, we have developed a unique skill set in taking on these types of cases and getting fabulous results for our clients.
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall incident, give us a call today at (702) 707-7000. At The Vegas Lawyers, we care about our clients and we work hard to help get the best results.