Although most people typically associate premises liability with slip and fall accidents, this area of personal injury law actually encompasses a much wider range of elements. Nevada law allows victims to recover when they’re hurt because someone else’s property is unsafe, and this is not limited to only commercial properties.
When a property owner doesn’t take enough care to keep their property safe, and someone sustains injuries because of it, the property owner may be responsible for paying for their damages. Understanding the different elements of premises liability can ensure you are protected if you’re ever injured on someone else’s property. Here’s an overview of premises liability as related to Las Vegas personal injury.
Different Standards for Different Property Uses
The specific duty an owner has for their property depends on the reason other people come onto the property. When a business owner invites people on their property to sell them goods and services, they have a high duty to keep their property safe.
An owner has the least responsibility towards a trespasser. The jury must determine why a person entered the property to decide the standard of care that applies to the case.
A person who owns a business has the highest duty to shoppers that come onto their property. In that case, the business owner invites people to enter the property for the owner’s benefit. That makes the customer an invitee.
When a person enters onto a property for the benefit of the property owner, the owner must take care to inspect their property and fix potential dangers. They don’t have a reasonable amount of time to discover dangers on the property. Instead, the owner must actively look for hazards on the property and repair them quickly.
A property owner has a significant duty to people who enter onto their property for mutual benefit. An individual who goes onto another person’s property for mutual benefit is called a licensee. An example of this might be an individual who goes to a friend’s house for dinner.
In the case of a licensee, the property owner must warn the guest about dangers or repair them. The owner has a reasonable amount of time to discover these risks, but they don’t have to take active steps to inspect their property as a business owner does. If a danger is obvious, the guest should avoid the danger.
Even though a property owner owes the least amount of duty to a trespasser, an owner can still face liability towards an intruder in limited circumstances. A property owner can’t intentionally injure a trespasser or set traps to hurt them.
There’s one notable exception to a property owner’s duty to trespassers. That’s for child trespassers. If a property owner has things on their property that a child might want to play with, the owner may have liability if a child gets hurt.
This concept is called the attractive nuisance rule. A property owner shouldn’t have an unsecured, dangerous item or condition on their property that a child might want to sneak onto the property to use.
Types of Premises Liability
When most people think of premises liability, they think of slipping on a water hazard on a business floor. This example is only one of the ways a property owner can face premises liability.
A dangerous animal can make a property unsafe. Chemicals on the property can cause injuries resulting in premises liability. Even an owner’s failure to provide adequate security can make a property dangerous. When an injury occurs, the victim should evaluate their situation to see if a condition on the property contributed to the injury.
Elements of Premises Liability
To win a case because of a dangerous condition on the property, the victim must prove that several things are true. First, they must show that they were on someone else’s property. Next, they must demonstrate that the property had a dangerous condition.
The evidence must prove that the dangerous condition caused the person’s injuries. The victim must also show that they have damages. Finally, the injured party must demonstrate that the property owner failed to meet the appropriate duty to warn them about the danger or repair it in time.
Expansion in Nevada Law
The Nevada courts recently made it easier for victims of premises liability to recover for their losses. In the Foster v. Costco case, the Nevada Supreme Court said that property owners have some duty to warn invitees and licensees even if the danger on the property is open and obvious. In the Foster case, a shopper tripped on a wooden pallet at Costco and then brought a suit to recover for their injuries.
The Nevada Supreme Court said that the jury should decide whether the store had a duty to warn the customer even though the danger was obvious. They stated that Nevada law should allow the jury to weigh the shopper’s actions against the store’s actions and decide where to place the blame. A jury can also consider if either party could have acted differently to prevent the harm.
This 2012 change to the law is a significant expansion of Nevada’s premises liability laws. Before that time, courts routinely threw out premises liability cases on the grounds that the danger should have been obvious to the injured party. Now, injured victims can bring their case to the jury to look at the actions of everyone involved to assign blame and award a recovery.
Pursuing Your Claim
If you’re hurt on someone else’s property, a qualified attorney can help you pursue a claim for recovery. It’s important to work with a lawyer to evaluate the type of duty the property owner should have exercised in your case. Your attorney can also help you evaluate your damages to value your claim adequately.
An experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorney can help you carefully prepare your case, so the jury can better determine where to place the blame in your premises liability case. At each stage, your attorney’s training and experience can help you pursue your premises liability claim to the fullest extent of Nevada law.