If you suffer a slip and fall accident in Nevada, you may try to bring a negligence lawsuit against the property owner or tenant. In Clark County, many of the personal injury lawsuits against Las Vegas hotels stem from dangerous flooring conditions.
In order to win a falling case, you have to prove three things:
- There was a hazardous surface on the premises;
- The property owner or occupant knew (or should have known) about the hazard; and
- The hazard caused your injuries.
If you prevail in your slip and fall lawsuit, you may be awarded compensatory damages to pay for your:
When the court finds that the defendant’s behavior was malicious or otherwise shocking, the defendant may have to pay you punitive damages as well. Depending on the case, punitive damages can amount to three times or more than the compensatory damages.
Even if you were partially to blame for your injuries, you may still be able to win a personal injury lawsuit. Under Nevada’s comparative negligence laws, property owners or tenants owe you damages whenever they were at least 50% at fault.
In this article, our Nevada personal injury attorneys will discuss:
- 1. How do I prove a claim under Nevada slip and fall law?
- 2. What are dangerous surfaces and conditions?
- 3. What if I had a slip and fall at a Las Vegas hotel?
- 4. Can I sue for slips and falls in grocery stores?
- 5. What are defenses to a slip and fall claim?
- 6. What damages can I get?
- 7. Are slip and fall cases hard to win?
- 8. How much do I get for a slip and fall?
- 9. What is the statute of limitation to bring a slip and fall claim in Nevada?
- Additional reading
If you are a slip and fall victim who got injured on another’s property, you may have a negligence claim against the
- property owner,
- tenant, or
Whenever these cases proceed to trial, you would need to prove the following elements in order to win:
- The defendant is the owner of the premises or is in control of the place where your fall took place;
- You were on the premises with the defendant’s consent;
- A falling hazard exists on the premises;
- Defendant caused, knew of, or should have known of the alleged falling hazard; and
- The falling hazard caused you to suffer an injury and/or other damages.1
In these types of Nevada premises liability cases, you have the burden to prove negligence “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This is the legal way of saying that it is more likely than not that the defendant’s negligence caused your fall.2
Note that if the victim died from their serious injuries, the victim’s family can bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Nevada against the property owner, tenant, and/or occupant.
1.1. Defendant owned or controlled the site of the fall
Defendants usually face premises liability when they own or otherwise control the property where the accident happened. Therefore, defendants in falling cases may include:
- the property owner,
- a tenant on the property,
- an occupant on the property
Typical evidence that can demonstrate the defendant has ownership or control of the property includes:
- leases, and
- other property records.
1.2. You were permitted to be on the property
Property owners, tenants, and occupants are legally required to extend a reasonable duty of care to anyone they allow on their property. This typically includes people such as:
- hotel guests
- store customers
- mail deliverers
- home health care workers
- social guests
You can prove that you were a “permissive” user of the defendants’ property through such evidence as:
- service contracts,
- recorded audio, visual, or text conversations, and
- eyewitness testimony
(Note that even trespassers may be able to recover money damages for a slip and fall if they can show that the defendant failed to exercise a reasonable duty of care towards them.3)
1.3. A falling hazard exists on the defendant’s premises
As discussed more fully below in section 2, common examples of falling hazardous conditions include:
- slippery surfaces from spilled drinks
- slippery surfaces from recently washed floors
- frayed carpet
- uneven sidewalk, tile or pavement
- rugs that do not grip the floor underneath
- swimming pool tiles that lack friction
- any other flooring not built to code
Typical evidence that can prove one of these falling hazards exists on the defendant’s property includes:
- surveillance video, and
- eyewitness testimony.
Your medical records following the fall might also help prove that a falling hazard existed: Perhaps an expert medical witness can testify that your specific injury could have been caused only by a fall.
1.4. Defendant had (or should have had) knowledge of the falling hazard
The best way to prove that a property owner or tenant knew (or should have known) of a falling hazard on the property depends on the case.
It is usually presumed that defendants are aware of any “open and obvious” falling hazards on their property. It is also presumed that defendants are aware of any falling hazards documented in any inspection reports that have been done on the property.
Or if a good Samaritan or neighbor informed the property owner or tenant of the falling hazard, you may then rely on the informer as a witness that the landowner or tenant had notice of the falling hazard.
1.5. The falling hazard caused your injuries
As discussed below in section 7, you need evidence to prove that the defendant is at fault for your injuries. Typical evidence includes:
- any video recordings that may exist of the fall,
- eyewitnesses to the fall,
- medical records, and/or
- expert medical testimony linking the falling hazard to your injury
One of the advantages you have in this day and age is that nearly every public place is under video surveillance. Plus nearly everyone has smartphones that can take photos and video. This visual evidence of the accident scene can often be the key to winning a slip and fall lawsuit.
Dangerous flooring lawsuits in Nevada typically involve people slipping and falling in
- sidewalks, and
- parking lots.
Floor surfaces become hazardous when the property owners or managers breach their duty of care by failing to
- do preventative maintenance or
- repair existing problems.
If the defective floors cannot be repaired right away, property owners and managers have a duty to warn you of the dangerous condition with a sign or by cordoning it off.4
Specifically, dangerous surfaces and conditions may arise when landowners and tenants fail to take the following preventative and remedial measures. Examples are to:
- Replace damaged, torn, or worn carpeting;
- Using flooring or rugs that are trip- or slip-resistant;
- Use traction mats or paint as necessary;
- Removing excess wax from floors following waxing;
- Repairing cracked, holey, loose, defective, or uneven walkways and stairs;
- Maintaining handrails on staircases;
- Putting warning signs/cones by slick or sticky floors or construction zones;
- Keeping walkways free of debris, loose cords, and falling objects;
- Following safety codes;
- Providing adequate lighting;
- Providing adequate drainage to catch rainwater and mud;
- Salting ice (if necessary);
- Maintaining level manholes (if necessary);
- Providing adequate security to monitor crowd control;
- (In stores) keeping product displays sufficiently far from each other;
- Keeping public bathroom floors dry and clear of paper towels and other items that may cause people to slip;
- Mopping up spills; and/or
- Cordoning off hazardous areas
Note that falls are not the only potential hazard of dangerous flooring. For instance, flooring that contains formaldehyde can cause people to develop respiratory conditions, such as in the recent Lumber Liquidators class-action lawsuit in Las Vegas.5
2.1. Dangerous flooring injuries
The National Floor Safety Institute reports that slipping and falling injuries lead to more than one million ER visits a year.6 Slipping and falling occur most frequently in high-traffic areas.
In Las Vegas, this may include hotel or store entrances and “productivity zones,” such as buffet spreads or checkout counters.
Just some of the common types of injuries from dangerous flooring include:
- bruises, contusions, lacerations, or scars,
- twisted, torn, inflamed, or sprained tendons and ligaments,
- fractures/broken bones,
- facial injuries,
- slipped or herniated disks,
- knee injuries, including dislocated patellas or MCL or ACL injuries
- neck, shoulder, hip, tailbone, rotator cuff, or spinal cord injuries,
- wrist or elbow injuries (especially when you use your arms to break a fall)
- head injuries such as concussions and traumatic brain injury,
- nerve or organ damage,
- permanent mobility issues,
- chronic pain,
- cognitive and behavioral problems,
- other severe injuries requiring emergency room medical treatment
- catastrophic injuries, and/or
- occasionally death
Even relatively minor falling injuries can interfere with your daily activities, such as driving, cooking, dressing, or typing. It is no surprise that the elderly and people with such bone conditions as osteoporosis are most vulnerable to injuries from falling.
Las Vegas hotels and casinos are comprised of all different types of flooring, each of which carries potential falling hazards. Common slip and fall accidents in Las Vegas hotels include:
- Slipping in the shower because the bath mat is too worn to provide non-slip protection
- Tripping over frayed carpet in the casino floor, hotel room, elevators, or restaurants
- Skidding on a spilled drink by the bar or in the lobby
- Stumbling over uneven pavement outside the hotel
- Tumbling down uneven steps or a malfunctioning escalator
- Falling off defective gym equipment
- Slipping by a swimming pool, where defective drainage is causing water to pool on the tiles
Under Nevada law, hotel patrons are considered “invitees.” This means that hotels have a duty regularly to inspect the premises for potential hazards and quickly address any existing hazards.
Therefore, hotel staff is supposed to be on the constant lookout for flooring problems that could cause a slip and fall. Depending on the location and how dangerous a particular flooring condition is, the hotel must:
- cordon the dangerous area off,
- put out caution signs by the dangerous area, and/or
- fix the hazard
Note that patrons who trespass into staff-only areas of the hotel and suffer a fall may have a more difficult time proving negligence than if the accident occurred in the hotel’s public areas. Though depending on the case, even trespassers may be able to recover money damages from hotels.
See our related article, Can I sue if I had a slip and fall in a Las Vegas hotel?
Yes. Slipping and falling is very common in supermarkets, where virtually every grocery item can become a tripping hazard if it drops onto the floor. Furthermore, shoppers often have their eyes up searching store shelves, oblivious to any spills.
Similar to hotel patrons, supermarket patrons are considered “invitees” under Nevada law. This means that the store has a duty to actively search for any potential hazards and address them quickly.
Supermarket staff are supposed to regularly patrol the aisles in search of dangerous conditions and to respond quickly when customers alert them to dangerous conditions. Once staff is aware of a problem, the staff must:
- mop up the spill,
- cordon off the area, and/or
- put out “caution: wet floor” or other applicable sign
Note that a supermarket’s high standard of care towards its customers extends to all areas of the supermarket open to the public. This includes the self-checkout aisles where customers — not staff — handle the inventory.7
4.1. What to do after a slip and fall in a grocery store
If you suffered a fall in a grocery store, you are advised to take the following steps if possible:
- Report the accident to the store manager, and obtain a copy of the accident report prior to leaving.
- If there were any eyewitnesses, get their names and contact information.
- Photograph and videotape the area with a smartphone.
- Obtain and keep a sample of the substance(s) that caused the fall, if any (this may require refrigerating or freezing the sample).
- Write down everything that happened, even minor details.
- If rainwater, snow, or debris from the wind contributed to the fall, obtain a copy of the weather report for that day.
- Place the clothing and shoes worn during the fall in a safe place for inspection later.
- Get medical care, and keep all medical records.
- Do not talk to the supermarket’s insurance company or sign anything prior to consulting with a personal injury attorney.
As a fall victim, you are advised to hire private counsel in order to deal with the supermarket’s attorneys and the insurance company.
The supermarket’s attorneys may sound friendly, but they will do everything to escape liability and pay nothing if possible. A personal injury attorney should help preserve your rights and maximize your payout.
Many defendants carry business insurance or homeowners insurance in the event someone gets injured on their property. These insurance companies, in turn, hire “insurance defense” attorneys who have one goal: Pay out as little as possible.
There are many strategies these attorneys may try to implement when defending against negligence lawsuits, such as trying to show that:
- The defendant sufficiently warned against the falling hazard
- The falling hazard was open and obvious
- Your injuries were caused by preexisting conditions in Nevada
- You failed to exercise due care
- An intervening cause was responsible for the injury
Note that if you signed liability waivers prior to your accident, you may still be able to recover damages: Some liability waivers are not enforceable, and others are limited to certain narrow circumstances that may not cover your injuries.
5.1. The defendant gave adequate warning
Defendants in falling lawsuits may claim that they gave adequate warning to you, such as posting a “wet floor” sign. Though the defendants could be lying, or their warnings could be inadequate:
Example: Ned goes to the Fashion Show Mall and slips on a spilled drink by the food court. He suffers a broken leg and sues the Fashion Show for negligence. The attorney for the Fashion Show claims they had put out a “wet floor” sign by the spill, which should have given Ned adequate warning. However, Ned’s friend took pictures of the scene after his spill, which shows that the sign was several feet away from the actual spill.
If the court in the above example determines that the warning sign was too far away from the hazard to adequately warn Ned, then Ned should be able to recover for his injuries.8
5.2. The “open and obvious” defense
Defendants in falling lawsuits may claim that your injury was due to an open and obvious hazard that any reasonable person would have noticed and avoided. An example of an open and obvious hazard may be a big gaping hole in the ground that is visible from several yards in either direction.
However, defendants can still be liable for not addressing “open and obvious” hazards if the court finds that the defendants did not act “reasonably” under the circumstances:9
Example: Jim signs up for “boot camp” at his local gym. After a grueling first day, he lumbers into the sauna and trips over a large stack of towels that the staff left for patrons. Jim breaks his arm and brings a personal injury lawsuit for gym accidents in Nevada.
The gym argues that the stack of towels was “open and obvious,” which relieves the gym from any duties to warn or remedy the situation. But Jim’s attorney argues that it was foreseeable that gym patrons like Jim who are exhausted from boot camp would be too tired to notice a stack of towels, especially in a sauna with low visibility.
If the court in the above example agrees that the gym should have reasonably foreseen that patrons might not have been alert enough to avoid the towels, then the “open and obvious” defense would fail.
5.3. Preexisting conditions
Whenever you sue venues for your injuries, the venues’ attorneys may try to obtain your medical records in search of “preexisting conditions.” These are illnesses and injuries that predate the slip and fall, and which might have caused your accident to be more serious than it otherwise would have been:10
Example: Tom has a fractured ankle that is nearly healed. While hobbling in her cast through Cheesecake Factory, he slips on a wet floor, and the bone breaks again. Tom brings a personal injury lawsuit for restaurant injuries in Nevada for not warning against the wet floor. The restaurant counters by arguing that Tom’s preexisting condition caused his fracture: Had he not already had a broken ankle, his injury from the fall might not have been so drastic.
Nevada law requires defendants to take plaintiffs as they are, even if they are more physically fragile than the average person. Therefore, Tom should be entitled to compensatory damages to the extent that the accident aggravated his pre-existing injury.
5.4. Lack of due care
Defendants in slip and fall lawsuits often try to argue that you failed to exercise due care and are therefore at fault for injuring yourself.
It is true that everyone — even “invitees” — is legally expected to act reasonably and avoid danger while on another’s property. However, it still may be possible for you to recover damages if you were partly to blame.
Nevada courts abide by the “modified comparative negligence rule.” This permits you to recover for your injuries whenever you are no more than 50% at fault.11
Then when the court calculates the final damages, the defendant would be ordered to pay these damages minus the percentage of fault attributable to you:
Example: Helen is running barefoot and intoxicated through the Bellagio lobby in Las Vegas, NV. She slips on a spilled drink and fractures her wrist. She racks up $100,000 in medical bills and lost wages. Helen brings a personal injury lawsuit for casino injuries in Nevada against Bellagio for not cleaning up the spill. The judge determines that Bellagio breached its duty of care for not cleaning up the spill, but it also determines that Helen was 50% at fault: Any reasonable person would know that running barefoot on mosaic tile floor while drunk is hazardous. Therefore, the court orders Bellagio to pay Helen 50% of the damages, which amounts to $50,000 (half of $100,000).
If you blame yourself for your slip and fall, you should still consult with a personal injury attorney about bringing a lawsuit. If your attorney can show that you were no more at fault than the venue, then you may still be entitled to a substantial financial award.
5.5. Intervening causes
A typical defense in falling lawsuits is that an “intervening cause” that was beyond the defendant’s control was responsible for your injuries. Though in many cases, these intervening causes could have been prevented or remedied by the defendant:12
Example: Max is waiting to get into the T-Mobile Arena one evening for a concert. Max then slips on a puddle of rainwater from that morning’s rainstorm and sprains his ankle. Max brings a personal injury lawsuit for concert injuries in Nevada against the venue for not clearing away the rainwater or warning against it. The venue’s attorneys argue that it should not be held liable for an “act of God” like an unpreventable rainstorm. In response, Max’s attorney argues that the venue should have foreseen that people might slip on the puddle since it was night, and inadequate lighting made the water difficult to discern.
Certainly, the Arena in the above example should not be blamed for the rainstorm. Though the venue can be blamed for responding negligently to it.
If the court agrees that the venue should have provided better lighting or warned against any rain puddles that were hard to see at night, then it would probably reject its “intervening cause” defense.
The term “damages” is the legal way of referring to the money that defendants owe you for causing your injuries. In a standard slipping and falling negligence case, you sue defendants for “compensatory damages.”
Compensatory damages are meant to cover the following expenses:
- Medical bills: This comprises such expenses as hospital bills, outpatient doctor’s visits, rehab, home health care, and medications.
- Lost wages: This includes any money you were unable to earn while you were injured; this can include tips and bonuses as well as salaried payments.
- Future lost wages: This includes any money you will be unable to earn due to your injuries; this can include tips and bonuses as well as salaried payments.
- Pain and suffering: Though this is difficult to calculate, the purpose of “pain and suffering” damages is to compensate for your physical and emotional stress from the injuries.
When the defendant’s behavior that caused the injury was malicious or otherwise egregious, the court can order the defendant to pay punitive damages as well. Punitive damages can be far greater than compensatory damages, and they are meant to
- punish the defendant and
- deter others from being similarly negligent.13
It depends. One of the most important functions of personal injury attorneys is compiling evidence that demonstrates or suggests that the defendant breached its duty of care towards you.14 Your attorney can then use this information as bargaining chips when negotiating with the defendant.
Common evidence in slipping and falling lawsuits include:
- building codes, affidavits, and contracts, that show that the defendant had a duty to maintain safe surfaces;
- eye-witnesses and surveillance video, to reveal that the flooring was a fall hazard at the time of the accident;
- residue from your shoes or clothes from the time of the accident, to show that the flooring was a fall hazard;
- medical records and photographs, to show that you have been hurt by a fall;
- expert medical testimony, to link the dangerous flooring and surface conditions to your injuries;
- testimony by accident reconstruction experts, to explain how the fall resulted from the defendants’ breach of duty and not by any unreasonable behavior of you.
As discussed below in section 8, most slip and fall cases settle without a trial. Often a personal injury attorney can negotiate a favorable resolution without much litigation. Sometimes the personal injury attorney and defendant engage in formal mediation to hash out a deal.
Note that there is usually a two (2) year statute of limitations in Nevada for falling lawsuits. This means that you have two years from the time of your fall to sue the defendant.15
7.1. Remedial measures by the defendants post-fall
After someone suffers a fall, it is common for the landowner or tenant to quickly repair the dangerous flooring hazard. Logically, these remedial measures seem like evidence of the defendants’ guilt.
However, Nevada law states that courts may not use evidence of these post-accident remedial measures as evidence that the defendants breached their duty of care towards you. Instead, personal injury attorneys focus on the defendants’ actions prior to and during the fall to show that the defendants failed to act reasonably to prevent foreseeable falls.16
It depends on the case – there is no one typical slip and fall settlement. Though your slip and fall attorney will always fight for the maximum financial compensation for
- medical expense reimbursement,
- lost wages,
- loss of future earnings, and
- pain and suffering.
The majority of personal injury cases resolve through negotiations. A benefit of settling out of court is that you avoid trial, which can be a very lengthy and stressful process. Even if you win the trial, the payment of damages can be held up if the defendant appeals.
That being said, going to trial has several benefits as well. If you win, the court can award substantial punitive damages as well as compensatory damages (depending on the case). Plus you may simply feel better and more vindicated by having your day in court.
Under Nevada personal injury law, there is a two-year statute of limitations to sue the at-fault parties following a slip-and-fall accident. Though this two-year clock may pause (“toll“) in certain situations, such as
- if you are in a coma or
- if the at-fault party (defendant) is not in Nevada.17
Therefore, if you are injured from a fall, you should retain legal counsel as soon as possible after the accident. It takes time to file a negligence lawsuit, gather evidence, and craft a winning personal injury claim.
For more information, refer to our related articles by our Las Vegas slip and fall lawyers:
- What’s the statute of limitations for “slip and fall” in Nevada?
- Can I sue if I had a slip and fall in a Las Vegas hotel?
- Can I sue after falling on a slippery floor at a Vegas nightclub?
- How to file a slip and fall claim in Las Vegas – 5 key steps.
- I had a slip and fall in a Las Vegas hotel. Can I file a lawsuit?
- Rolain v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., (2013) U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42373; Hammerstein v. Jean Dev. West, (1995) 111 Nev. 1471, 907 P.2d 975; Restatement (Third) of Torts: Physical and Emotional Harm, § 51.
- See, for example, Deiss v. Southern Pac. Co., (1936) 53 P.2d 332, 56 Nev. 169.
- See, for example, Asmussen v. New Golden Hotel Co., (1964) 80 Nev. 260; Worth v. Reed, (1963) 79 Nev. 351.
- NRS 41.515; NRS 41.515.
- Carrie Geer Thevenot, Report on Lumber Liquidators flooring leads to Vegas lawsuits, Las Vegas Review-Journal (March 19, 2015).
- National Floor Safety Institute Quick Facts.
- Sprague v. Lucky Stores, (1993) 109 Nev. 247.
- Harrington v. Syufy Enters., (1997) 113 Nev. 246, 250 (“[T]he obvious danger rule only obviates a duty to warn. It is inapplicable where liability is predicated upon acts other than a failure to provide adequate warning of a dangerous condition. Consequently, even where a danger is obvious, a defendant may be negligent in having created the peril or in subjecting the plaintiff to the peril.”).
- State Indus. Ins. Sys. v. Kelly, (1983) 99 Nev. 774; Perez v. Las Vegas Medical Ctr. (1991) 107 Nev. 1; FGA, Inc. v. Giglio, (2012) 128 Nev. 271.
- NRS 41.141; Humphries v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court of State, (2013) 312 P.3d 484, 129 Nev. Adv. Rep. 85.
- Bower v. Harrah’s Laughlin, Inc., (2009) 125 Nev. 470, 215 P.3d 709.
- NRS 42.005.
- See Eldorado Club v. Graff, (1962) 78 Nev. 507. Worth v. Reed, (1963) 79 Nev. 351, 356 (“A slip and fall, standing alone, does not prove either that she was, or was not, negligent.”).
- NRS 11.190.
- NRS 48.095.
- NRS 11.190; NRS 11.300; NRS 11.310.