Filing a slip and fall claim in Las Vegas may seem simple at first, but there are a few roadblocks you might encounter. In these cases, the property owner often argues that the victim shares some or all of the responsibility for a slip and fall injury. Or, if you sustain an injury on a friend’s or family member’s property, the process might be embarrassing or awkward.
Whatever the case may be, you need a Las Vegas slip and fall attorney that looks out for you and your recovery. At Morris Injury Law, we work personally with clients every step of the way because we know what’s at stake for them.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents can happen virtually anywhere you go, whether on private or public property. While they may not seem serious at first, slip and falls sometimes result in debilitating injuries with long-term consequences. What starts as a broken bone or dislocated hip might evolve into a degenerative condition or permanent disability. There are many ways these injuries happen, but some of the most common causes include:
- Poor lighting,
- Slippery floors,
- Unsecured rails,
- Unknown hazards,
- Broken furniture, and
- Damaged or uneven walkways.
Generally speaking, these conditions should be handled promptly by the property owner. Unfortunately, some get away with poor maintenance or lack of care, significantly increasing the likelihood of an injury.
Elements of a Slip and Fall Claim
In Nevada, slip and fall cases have three elements that play a significant role in determining negligence. These elements may come into question at any point in the process, whether during the initial discovery period, settlement negotiations, or at trial. Here’s an overview of each and how they might apply depending on the unique circumstances of the incident.
The Visibility of Warnings
If a property owner knows of a hazard, they must put up warnings or close off the area. In other words, they should make it obvious that the area is hazardous. For example, many grocery stores instruct their employees to place a wet floor sign near any spill while they clean it up. This is especially important if that hazard isn’t immediately apparent, such as water on a white floor or black ice on a concrete step.
The Victim’s Awareness of Their Surroundings
Another element of a slip and fall case is the victim’s own awareness during the incident. Many property owners accused of negligence claim that they shouldn’t be responsible if the victim wasn’t paying attention to their surroundings. An example of this might be looking down at your phone before tripping over a cord or crack in the floor.
The Location of the Slip and Fall
One aspect of slip and fall cases that sometimes gets overlooked is the location of the fall itself. In most cases, property owners aren’t responsible for injuries that happen to people trespassing on their property. This also extends to those walking around areas of the property that visitors aren’t allowed to be in, like a loading dock or storage area.
Important Steps to Take Following a Slip and Fall
Based on the different elements of a slip and fall claim, one thing is clear: evidence matters. Ultimately, gathering evidence of your slip and fall helps tell your side of the story and generate credibility. With this in mind, there are a number of things that you can do to help build your claim from the moment you receive your injury.
1. Take Photos of the Scene
Photographs are probably some of the most important evidence in any slip and fall case. That’s because they not only show the conditions of the area when the slip and fall happened but also contain metadata indicating the date and time of the incident. This helps recreate the moments leading up to the injury and helps verify your personal claim. If you can, take as many pictures as possible of the scene, such as damaged or slippery floors. You should also take photos of the surrounding area if there aren’t any posted warnings.
2. Write Down a Personal Account of the Accident
Before you leave the scene, try to write down or record every detail you can about the incident. For example, make a note of the time of day, visibility, and what you are wearing. It may even help to explain what you were doing when the slip and fall happened as well as the overall conditions of the walkway. All of this information helps, even if it seems insignificant at the time of the injury.
3. Ask Witnesses for Their Contact Information
Unless your slip and fall happened in an isolated area, chances are that somebody saw it. You should identify any potential witnesses and ask them if they are willing to give you a statement. If so, ask for their contact information and follow up with them as soon as possible. A Las Vegas slip and fall lawyer can help interview them and ensure that their account is accurate.
4. Seek Medical Attention
If there’s anything that might jeopardize your slip and fall case, it’s refusing to see a doctor. Even if you don’t think you have a serious injury, we recommend seeking medical attention after your slip and fall. Some serious injuries might not have any noticeable symptoms, even if they worsen. In addition, the defense may argue that your injury isn’t that serious since you didn’t get treatment.
5. Stick to the Truth
There’s the old saying that “honesty is the best policy.” In slip and fall cases, this is no different. Even if the defense wants to interview you, it’s always best to stick to the evidence at hand. Read through your own personal account from the scene and review the photos you have. Most importantly, make sure your own testimony is consistent.
Potential Damages in a Slip and Fall Claim
In slip and fall cases, damages typically fall into one of two categories: economic or non-economic. While the extent of each damage type varies among cases, both play a significant role in determining the overall value of a claim. However, they aren’t calculated the same way, and they include different kinds of losses. That being said, a slip and fall lawyer in Las Vegas can help identify the losses that apply to your situation.
Also referred to as special damages, economic damages are any financial losses you sustain due to your slip and fall. While most people think of injuries at first, there are other types of financial losses they may incur due to their injuries. Generally, this includes things like:
- Doctor’s visits,
- Hospitalization fees,
- Surgical procedures,
- Rehabilitation services,
- Reduced earning capacity,
- Lost wages during recovery, and
- Property damage.
To see how these damages might apply to a slip and fall case, let’s use a fictional example. Let’s say that John slips and falls in a grocery store due to an unmarked, unnoticeable spill. As a result, he needs surgery to repair a broken ankle which amounts to $15,000 in medical bills. In addition, he needs to miss work for three months to recover from surgery. This means that he misses six bi-monthly paychecks, or about $10,000. In total, John has about $25,000 in economic damages.
General or non-economic damages are rarely as straightforward as economic damages. That’s because they include intangible costs to the victim, such as physical or emotional losses. In essence, these are losses that have no specific financial cost but still have a negative impact on the victim’s life. For example, maybe your injury prevents you from participating in a regular hobby, like hiking or golfing. Perhaps it results in a disability that requires lifetime care. Essentially, non-economic damages are any losses that reduce your quality of life, such as:
- Mental anguish,
- Pain and suffering,
- Permanent disability,
- Severe disfigurement,
- Loss of enjoyment, and
- Loss of intimacy.
Since these damages affect every victim differently, we recommend reaching out to a Las Vegas slip and fall lawyer to discuss your case. At Morris Injury Law, we know that injuries often go far beyond their financial impact, so we always thoroughly consider these personal, intangible losses.
How Comparative Negligence Affects Your Claim’s Value
One important factor in many slip and fall cases is negligence. Many states, including Nevada, have laws that determine whether a victim may receive compensation if they are partially at fault for their own injuries.
While some states completely bar the victim’s recovery if they have any fault whatsoever, Nevada does not. Instead, the state follows a comparative negligence rule. Under this law, a victim may still receive compensation as long as their share of fault is 50% or less. However, this also reduces the victim’s total damages by their percentage of fault. For example, if the victim has $100,000 in damages, but the jury finds them 25% at fault, they may only receive a maximum of $75,000.
The Statute of Limitations
If you receive an injury after a slip and fall, keep in mind that you only have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit if needed. This is due to Nevada’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases. Currently, Nevada allows victims to file within two years of the date of the injury. While not every case goes to trial, it’s essential to remember this date when pursuing your claim. If the defense drags out the case until this statute of limitations expires, you may receive nothing at all. However, a Las Vegas slip and fall lawyer will ensure that you don’t miss this deadline.
Tips for Dealing With the Insurance Company
In some cases, victims don’t seek the help of an attorney until after they initially contact the insurance provider handling their claim. Unfortunately, these providers don’t want what’s best for the victim. Instead, they look for any reason to limit or deny your claim so they remain profitable. They’ll use certain tactics meant to extract an admittance of guilt, giving them an excuse to undervalue your claim. To protect yourself from these bad-faith practices, make sure you do the following when talking to the insurance company:
- Don’t admit any fault for the slip and fall,
- Speak with the adjuster or representative politely,
- Refrain from giving long responses to their questions,
- Ask for clarification if you don’t understand something,
- Don’t allow them to take a recorded statement from you,
- Be wary of any pressure to sign something, and
- Review any settlement offers with a qualified attorney.
One good practice is to write down or record your conversations with the insurance adjuster or representative. This helps later in the process if they contradict any of their previous statements.
How a Las Vegas Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer from Morris Injury Law Can Help
At Morris Injury Law, we fight for our clients from day one. Instead of passing you around among legal assistants, we meet with you one-on-one to discuss the details of your injury and how it affects your daily life. We then immediately get to work gathering evidence, contacting potential witnesses, and negotiating with the defense on your behalf. Every case in our community matters, so we utilize our extensive legal resources and experience to build the most robust case possible, no matter how complex. To us, compassionate, professional service is a necessity. In addition, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means you owe us nothing unless we win your case.
Ready for a Free Consultation? Contact Us Today
While not every case requires the help of an attorney, in most situations, hiring one is beneficial. Trying to handle a slip and fall claim while recovering from a serious injury isn’t easy, especially if that injury requires months or years of healing. However, you don’t have to fight alone. If you or a loved one sustains an injury after a slip and fall, we’re here to help. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a Las Vegas slip and fall lawyer, call us at 702-850-5555 or contact us online.