Patrons who suffer injuries or accidents at a restaurant in Nevada may be able to recover damages. Lawsuits may be filed against (a) the owners, (b) the restaurant's parent company (such as a hotel/casino), (c) a third-party supplier of food, fixtures, or security, or (d) individual restaurant staff.
Common injuries for which a Nevada restaurant may be liable include (without limitation):
- Slip-and-fall accidents,
- Food poisoning,
- Inadequate or negligent security, or
- Violations of Nevada workplace safety laws.
To help you better understand when a Nevada restaurant is liable for accidents to patrons or employees, our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers discuss, below:
- 1. Elements for a claim of restaurant negligence in Nevada
- 1.1. The restaurant owned a duty of care to the customer
- 1.2. Breach of the duty of care by a Nevada restaurant
- 1.3. The breach was the legal cause of injury to the patron
- 1.4. The injuries resulted in damages
- 2. What damages can I get if a restaurant is negligent?
- 3. Who can I sue if I am injured in a Las Vegas restaurant?
- 4. What if someone at a restaurant injured me on purpose?
- 5. What if I was partially at fault for my Nevada restaurant injury?
In Nevada, restaurants are liable for injuries caused by their own negligence or the negligence of their employees. They are also liable for negligence caused by third parties (such as security guards) under the restaurant's control.
A plaintiff must prove four elements in order to make a claim against Nevada restaurant for negligence:
- The restaurant owed the patron a duty of care;
- The restaurant breached that duty;
- The breach was the legal cause of the patron's injuries; and.
- As a result of the breach, the patron suffered damages.1
Let's take a closer look at each of these elements.
Under Nevada premises liability laws, restaurants owe patrons a duty of care to maintain their premises (including parking areas and walkways) in a reasonably safe condition.
They must also exercise due care for the safety of their patrons and other people who use the premises (such as suppliers, cleaning companies and employees).2
Duties involved in keeping a restaurant safe can include (but are not limited to):
- Complying with food safety procedures,
- Serving drinks at a safe temperature,
- Not serving alcohol to severely intoxicated diners,
- Keeping furniture in the restaurant in good repair,
- Cleaning up spills promptly, and
- Maintaining adequate lighting in the parking area.
Additionally, restaurants have a duty to take “reasonable affirmative steps” to assist a patron in need of first aid. However, they are under no obligation to take extraordinary measures that require special training.3
A restaurant breaches its duty of care when it or its employees fail to exercise the degree of care which an ordinarily careful and prudent person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances.4
Example: In an actual case, an intoxicated diner began choking at the Carson Street Café, located within the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Security personnel called the Las Vegas Fire Department paramedics. While waiting for paramedics to arrive, security began CPR on the patron, but did not attempt the Heimlich maneuver or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
The diner died and his widow sued the hotel's parent corporation under Nevada's wrongful death law. However, the Nevada Supreme Court held that restaurant employees were under no legal duty to administer the Heimlich maneuver. The employees acted reasonably by rendering medical assistance to the diner and summoning professional medical aid within a reasonable time.5
Breach of a restaurant's duty of care is considered the legal cause of a patron's injuries when "but for" the restaurant's actions, the injury would not have occurred.
Most of the time, this is fairly straightforward. Only in rare situations will this issue of “proximate cause” be problematic.
Example: A diner at a Las Vegas restaurant begins choking on a bite of food. The wait staff stands around not knowing what to do. Another diner finally calls 9-1-1 and paramedics arrive fifteen minutes later. They perform life-saving procedures to no avail.
An autopsy later reveals that the diner's throat had closed up due to a rare allergic reaction to the food and calling the paramedics earlier would not have made any difference. So even though the wait staff violated their duty of care by not calling for help right away, the diner's injuries were not legally caused by the restaurant.
Under Nevada law, a patron must actually suffer damages before he can recover damages from a restaurant for negligence. A slight bruise is generally not enough for a viable lawsuit, even if the restaurant was negligent.
However, if the negligence resulted in a physical injury, severe emotional distress or harm to reputation, then the injury victim may have a claim.
Patrons and employees who have been harmed through a restaurant's negligence may be entitled to recover:
- Payment of medical bills in Nevada,
- Lost wages for missed work,
- Future lost earning capacity,
- Pain and suffering, or
- Wrongful death damages.
We offer free consultations to help you determine whether you can recover Nevada compensatory damages against a Las Vegas restaurant.
Patrons injured in Nevada restaurants have the right to sue the person who actually injured them. However, that person is often a waiter, a security guard, another diner or someone else with no "deep pockets."
Under Nevada's doctrine of respondeat superior (“vicarious” employer liability), however, restaurants and their parent companies can be held liable for the negligence of their employees under certain conditions.
A Nevada restaurant is liable for the actions of its employees when:
- The employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment, and
- The risk was a normal one in the restaurant business.
Example: Ray is a busboy at a Las Vegas buffet. One day, a patron spills spaghetti sauce all over the floor near the buffet. Ray goes to get the restaurant's “wet floor” placard and a mop, but is distracted by his boss on the way.
In the meantime, someone slips on the spaghetti sauce and suffers a head injury. The restaurant is liable for Ray's negligence because Ray was acting within the scope of his employment and spills are an ordinary risk of running a buffet.
Patrons who are injured by someone's intentional wrongful acts in a restaurant have the right to sue the person who harmed them. However, they cannot sue the restaurant itself unless:
- The restaurant itself was negligent in preventing the harm, or
- The act was committed by an employee or another party under the restaurant's control and,
- The wrongful act was a normal risk of the person's job (e.g., an assault by an overzealous security guard), or
- The restaurant was negligent in hiring, retaining or supervising that person.
Example: A Las Vegas pub conducts a shoddy background check on a bartender. The person reviewing the check misses the fact that the bartender is on probation for a violation of Nevada's open or gross lewdness law.
A few months later, the bartender sexually assaults a drunk patron in the parking lot. Sex acts do not fall within the scope of the bartender's employment. And a violation of Nevada's sexual assault law is not a normal risk of running a restaurant. Nevertheless, because of the negligent background check, the restaurant is liable.
Under Nevada's comparative negligence / shared fault law, you are entitled to recover damages when another party is at least 50% responsible for your injuries. Your recovery will simply be reduced by the percentage that you are at fault.
Example: Jimmy, who is drunk, starts insulting another patron at a Las Vegas hotel restaurant. The other patron tells him to back off or he's going to kick Jimmy's ass.
Jimmy puts a hand out and gently pushes the other guy in the chest. A security guard notices what's going on, but does not intervene. The other guy than punches Jimmy in the mouth, breaking several of his teeth.
Jimmy sues the restaurant for medical and dental bills of $40,000 for failing to break up the fight. A jury agrees, but holds Jimmy 25% responsible. Accordingly, Jimmy's recovery is reduced by 25% and he is awarded $30,000.
Injured in a Las Vegas restaurant? Call us for help…
If you or someone in your family was injured at a restaurant in Las Vegas, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.
Our Las Vegas restaurant liability lawyers work with a talented team of investigators, safety experts and doctors to make sure that you get the compensation you are entitled to. For incidents in California, please visit our page on lawsuits for accidents in a restaurant.
Call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) or complete the form on this page to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
And know that we charge you nothing unless and until you win or settle your case.
- Turner v. Mandaly Sports Entm’t, LLC, 124 Nev. 213, 180 P.3d 1172 (2008); Perez v. Las Vegas Med. Ctr., 107 Nev. 1, 4, 805 P.2d 589 (1991).
- See e.g., NRS 651.015 (2) [legal duty of innkeeper].
- Lee AD v. GNLV Corp. 117 Nev. 291, 22 P.3d 209 (2001).
- NEV. J.I. 4.03; BAJI 3.10.
- Lee AD, endnote 3.