In a slip and fall case, the incident report, witness statements, photographs, sweep logs, and surveillance video are held by the business owner until a lawsuit is filed. This makes it more difficult to completely evaluate liability in slip and falls case prior to litigation.
However, there are a few things you can do at the scene to preserve evidence.
For example, you can take photographs of the dangerous condition that caused your fall, photographs of the surrounding area where you fell, photographs of the location of surveillance video cameras, and photographs of the incident report the business has you complete. You should also attempt to obtain witness contact information and statements, and write down the names of all the business employees involved.
Additionally, make sure to contact Las Vegas slip & fall attorney Blake Friedman as soon as possible as he will immediately strategize the best possible outcome for your case. Friedman Injury Law will send the business detailed preservation of evidence letter immediately to help ensure that all evidence is preserved.
Notice of the Property Hazard
The most important factor when determining liability in slip and fall cases is proving notice of the hazard on the property. Notice can either be “actual” or “constructive.”
For visualization purposes in this section, imagine you are walking through the meat department of a grocery store, and you slip and fall on a small puddle of water on the ground.
Actual notice means the business knew there was a hazard on their property but failed to fix, remove, or warn of the hazard.
Using our example above, if the employee at the meat counter saw the puddle of water on the ground but decided to ignore the slipping hazard and wait for another employee to put up a warning sign and clean it up, the grocery store is likely liable because the store had actual notice of the hazard but failed to provide a warning or clean it up.
Constructive notice means the business should have known about the hazard. Businesses are expected to make reasonable routine safety inspections of their property to find potential hazards and risks, and warn of or remove those hazards.
Using our example above, let’s imagine that the grocery store has a policy of conducting safety sweeps of the meat department every 25 minutes to ensure the floor is dry and free from hazards. Let’s also imagine that the puddle of water was on the ground for over 30 minutes prior to the fall. The store would likely be on constructive notice of the hazard because there should have been an employee in that area that should have discovered the puddle of water prior to the fall. Therefore, the store should have known about the puddle of water and warned of the hazard and/or cleaned it up prior to the fall.
Another way to prove liability in a Las Vegas slip and fall case is to prove that the business’ employee created the hazard.
Using our example above, let’s agree that the employee in the meat department wheeled in a cart of frozen meat from the front of the store back to the meat department. The employee did not realize that there was water dripping from the cart as the ice surrounding the frozen meat was melting due to the Las Vegas summer heat. 5 minutes later, you slip and fall on the puddle of water created from the dripping water. In this scenario, you will likely be able to prove liability on the grocery store as it was the business themselves who created the hazard.
Comparative Negligence in Vegas Slip & Fall Cases
The business owner’s insurance company and defense lawyers will likely try to argue that you are comparatively negligent, thereby attempting to reduce or eliminate your recovery.
Common defense arguments include:
- Improper Footwear:
- The injured party was wearing slick dress shoes or cheap flip flops with no grip.
- Failure to Pay Attention:
- The injured party was texting on their cell phone and not paying attention to walking.
- Under the Influence:
- The injured party was under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other intoxicating substances.
Assumption of Risk
Assumption of risk is a legal defense under which an injured party can be barred from recovering damages for an injury sustained when he or she had actual notice of a hazard, yet voluntarily chose to traverse the hazard anyway.
Using our example above, if you saw the puddle of water in the meat department prior to stepping in it, and you decided to walk through the puddle anyway instead of going around, and you subsequently slip and fall, the defense will argue that you assumed the risk and should be barred from recovery.
Common Types of Las Vegas Trip and Fall Accidents
The information contained in the above section regarding slip and fall cases applies to trip and fall cases as well. Below are two common types of trip and fall cases:
Most sidewalks are made of multiple concrete slabs connected by control joints and expansion/contraction joints. Over time, adjacent concrete slabs can move due to things like temperature changes and tree roots. In certain circumstances, if the adjacent slabs separate such that there is a ¼” or greater vertical change in elevation, it creates a dangerous tripping hazard.
Following a trip and fall, experienced premises liability attorney Blake Friedman can help by setting up a site inspection to preserve the area, photograph the area, and take important measurements before the hazard is fixed.
Bunched Up Floor Mats
Businesses often use floor mats at entryways to help collect dirt, dust, and moisture from the bottom of people’s shoes as they walk into the store. Grocery stores and convenience stores often place mats in front of freezers to help collect any water that drips from the freezer to the floor. However, if a floor mat is old, worn down, or improperly placed, it can create a tripping hazard. A floor mat that does not lie flat against the floor without waves, ridges, or puckering is a potential trip and fall hazard.
Contact a Las Vegas, Nevada Slip and Fall Lawyer
Schedule a free consultation today by calling (702) 970-4222 or sending us an online message.