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Premises Liability and Personal Injury

Premises Liability and Personal Injury

Personal injury cases are usually based on showing negligence, and premises liability is no exception. In order to win under the theory of premises liability, the injured party must prove that the property owner was negligent in regards to the ownership and/or maintenance of the property. Essentially, negligence here means that the property owner failed to use reasonable care in taking care of the property.

It’s important to note that simply because a person is injured on someone else’s property does not mean that the property owner was negligent. The injured party must show that the property owner knew or should reasonably have known that there were unsafe conditions on the property, and still failed to take proper steps to remedy the situation.

The following are some examples of personal injury cases that incorporate premises liability:

  • Slip and fall cases
  • Snow and ice accidents
  • Inadequate maintenance of the premises
  • Defective conditions on the premises
  • Inadequate building security resulting in an injury or assault
  • Elevator and escalator accidents
  • Dog bites
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Amusement park accidents
  • Fires
  • Water leaks or flooding
  • Toxic fumes or chemicals

While many states require the property owner to exercise reasonable care in owning and maintaining the property with respect to all persons who might come onto the property, other states still use a much older rule that limits the property owner’s obligations based on the status of the visitor. In these states, visitors are divided into three categories: invitees, licensees, and trespassers.

In Nevada, the necessary elements for a claim of premises liability are:

  • Defendant is the owner of or in control of premises
  • Plaintiff is a permissive user of the premises
  • A dangerous condition exists on the premises
  • Defendant caused, knew of, or should have known of the alleged dangerous condition
  • The dangerous condition caused Plaintiff to suffer injury and/or other damages

In Foster v. Costco Wholesale Corp., Nevada’s Supreme Court held that “the open and obvious nature of a dangerous condition does not automatically relieve a landowner from the general duty of reasonable care.” Previously, defendants had often prevailed on summary judgements by arguing that they had not breached their duty of care as a matter of law where the dangerous condition was open and obvious. This ruling will significantly limit a defendant’s ability to win on a summary judgement in these types of cases.