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Falls from Ladders: Who Is Liable?

Falls are significant cause of injury and death, both at home and at work. Ladders are involved in many of these injuries. Falling from a height increases the likelihood of severe injuries, from broken bones to concussions, paralysis, and death. As such, using a ladder should be thought of as an inherently risky activity that requires special precautions. Of course, there are several scenarios where a fall from a ladder could occur. Each presents different legal issues:
  • When the ladder is used improperly by the injured person.
A common source of falls from ladders is a simple lack of care by the people who use them. Climbing a ladder that is obviously unstable, carrying something heavy or awkward while climbing, leaning a ladder at an unsafe angle, or standing the ladder on another object like a table, are all examples of cases where the user has contributed in some way to an accident. Nevada is a modified comparative negligence state. Even if someone else bears some of the fault for the accident, in litigation that person likely will argue that the injured plaintiff bears at least a portion of the fault. The amount the plaintiff can recover from a defendant can be reduced by the amount of his or her comparative fault. If the plaintiff is found to bear 50% or more of the fault, then the defendant will pay nothing.
  • When the ladder is defective.
Ladders need to be designed and manufactured to be safe for foreseeable uses by consumers. When a ladder has a defect that makes it unsafe, and a person is injured as a result, a products liability lawsuit may be warranted. In a products liability suit the plaintiff can seek compensation not only from the manufacturer of the ladder but also the businesses in the chain of distribution that brought the unsafe product to market. Note that the defect in the ladder might not be in the ladder itself but in how it is sold or documented. A so-called marketing defect lawsuit could be justified if, for example, a ladder’s instructions fail to mention a key safety step that users must take to ensure the ladder’s stability.
  • When someone other than the injured person causes the fall.
In some cases a fall from a ladder isn’t caused by the ladder or the person who falls, but by a third party’s negligence. This might arise if a person knowingly set up a ladder in an unsafe way and assured the injured person that it was safe to climb. Or it could happen if someone knocks into the ladder out of lack of necessary attention.
  • Falls from ladders at work.
Most work-related injuries fall under a completely different legal standard from other types of injury. With few exceptions, injuries from a fall at work are covered by Nevada’s workers’ compensation system. Workers’ compensation covers all injuries arising out of or in the course of employment. As a no-fault form of insurance, it will apply regardless of the underlying cause of the injury. Compliant employers are shielded from most lawsuits that arise in the course of their employees’ work.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

Regardless of the circumstances of a fall from a ladder, it’s worthwhile talking to a personal injury attorney to determine if there are arguments to be made for seeking compensation from potentially at-fault parties. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases for over 45 years. Call us today for a free attorney consultation about your injury at 702-388-4476 or reach out to us through our contacts page.