As 2014 drew to a close, it looked like Las Vegas was going to see something else in the skies besides fireworks on January 1 – snow! Although the threatened snow never truly materialized, had snow actually fallen and accumulated, Las Vegas business owners could have found themselves shoveling parking lots and sidewalks on the first day of the new year. Shoveling parking lots and entranceways is not just good for business – it helps protect business owners from premises liability claims.
Businesses like casinos, hotels, and retail establishments can be dangerous places for patrons. Wet or slippery floors, floors with obstacles on them, dark or poorly lit stairwells, and snow and ice (if snow fell and accumulated) can result in serious trip and fall, slip and fall, or other injuries. In a premises liability case, an injured victim (the “plaintiff”) seeks to recover compensation for the injuries he or she sustains while on the property of another. Part of a successful premises liability claim involves showing that the property owner owed the plaintiff an obligation to make the property reasonably safe but did not do so.
The steps a business owner has to take regarding hazards can vary from person to person. Most businesses are for-profit businesses – they open their doors with the expectation that members of the general public will enter the business and buy products or services. To these individuals of the public (sometimes referred to as “invitees”), the business owner must generally make a reasonable inspection of his or her property and correct obvious hazards. A wet floor would need to be mopped; a dark stairwell would need to have lights installed; and (if snow or ice did accumulate on the business’s property) snow and ice would need to be removed. Hazards that cannot be corrected need to have conspicuous warnings given or placed so that the public is aware that the hazard exists.
There is another class of individuals, however, that might come onto a business’s property. This class of individual does not have permission to be on the property (perhaps he or she was banned from a casino or given a notice by a retail store manager not to return to the store); this person is therefore referred to as a “trespasser.” If a person is not legally permitted to be on a business’s property but comes on the property and suffers an injury, the business may escape liability because a property owner generally does not owe any duty to a trespasser to identify or correct hazards.
If you or a loved one has been injured while on the property of another, your ability to recover compensation for your injuries can depend on showing what duty – if any – the property owner owed to you. Do not leave your case to chance; contact the Nevada premises liability firm of Ladah Law Firm, PLLC right away at 702-252-0055.