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Can an Airline Be Sued for In-Flight Injuries?

Can an Airline Be Sued for In-Flight Injuries?
An airline passenger can be injured in lots of ways: falls during sudden turbulence, knees or feet smashed by beverage carts, objects falling out of overhead bins, spilled coffee. In some cases, injuries suffered on planes can be serious, requiring hospitalization and a lengthy recovery. Someone with this kind of injury may wonder if suing the airline is an option.

Airlines have a special duty of care to protect their passengers

Personal injury lawsuits usually rest on a theory of negligence. Negligence requires plaintiffs to prove four things:
  1. The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
  2. The defendant breached its duty of care.
  3. The defendant’s breach of its duty of care was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
  4. The plaintiff suffered damages, such as expenses or pain, that can be compensated by a court judgment.
Airlines are a kind of common carrier, an umbrella term that covers any operator of a motor vehicle that is offered to the public as a means of transport from one place to another. NRS 707.041. Legally, all common carriers owe a special duty “to use the utmost care and diligence” to protect their passengers from injury. This high duty of care means that even a slight absence of care may be enough to support a lawsuit for personal injury. Harold’s Club v. Sanchez, 70 Nev. 518, 521 (1954). Here are a few examples of how an airline might act negligently:
  • Not paying attention while rapidly pushing a snack cart down the aisle.
  • Not ensuring that overhead luggage compartments are properly latched before takeoff.
  • Making unnecessary aerial maneuvers while passengers are allowed to move around the cabin.

Limits to an airline’s duty of care

Although a common carrier has a significant obligation to keep its passengers safe, it is not expected to keep them safe from every potential risk. An airline cannot protect passengers from unforeseeable risks, nor can it be held responsible if a passenger ignores safety instructions. For example, if a passenger ignores a fasten-seatbelt sign, stands up, and falls during heavy turbulence, the airline probably isn’t responsible for the passenger’s resulting injuries. The legal issues surrounding airline injuries can be tricky and should be reviewed by an attorney as soon as possible after the accident. For over 45 years the attorneys at the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have helped clients in the Las Vegas area work get compensation for personal injuries. For a free attorney consultation, call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Las Vegas Landlord Obligations to Fix Unsafe Conditions

Las Vegas Apartment Landlord Obligations to Fix Unsafe Conditions
When a dangerous condition on a landlord’s property injures someone, questions invariably arise about the landlord’s obligations to keep the premises safe. Like other personal injury cases, a plaintiff suing a landlord will need to show that the landowner acted negligently, by failing to fulfill its duty of care toward the injured person. But where does a landlord’s obligation apply, and what are its limits?

A landlord’s duty of care

Nevada law requires landlords to exercise reasonable care not to subject others to an unreasonable risk of harm. Wright v. Schum, 105 Nev. 611, 614 (1989). Whether a landlord’s actions are reasonable depends on the circumstances. The likelihood of an injury and its probable seriousness are important factors in this analysis. Turpel v. Sayles, 101 Nev. 35, 38 (1985), quoting Sargent v. Ross, 308 A.2d 528, 534 (N.H. 1973). Under this rule, a landowner has an obligation to address dangerous conditions that it knows about. And it has an obligation not to create unsafe conditions, like locking a door that could foreseeably be used as a fire escape route.

Where tenant responsibility takes hold

A distinction should be drawn between areas of a property that are under the landowner’s exclusive control and those under tenant control. A landlord has exclusive responsibility for conditions that are present in a property’s common areas. This is true even if a tenant or visitor initially creates the condition—even if the landlord has a legal claim against the person who created the risk, the responsibility still rests with the landlord to fix it. Under the modern rule, a tenant’s possession of the premises is one of the circumstantial facts used to determine the reasonableness of a landlord’s behavior. Turpel, 101 Nev. at 38. A landlord that has no notice of a dangerous condition within a tenant’s apartment probably isn’t acting unreasonably if it doesn’t fix the problem, at least so long as the condition was a consequence of the tenant’s negligence. A landlord can assume responsibility for a dangerous condition like a vicious dog by asserting control over it, however badly. The Nevada Supreme Court dealt with this question in Wright. In that case, a tenant’s escaped pit bull injured the plaintiff, who sued both the tenant and his landlord. In Wright the dog escaped the property thanks to defective fencing on the property’s perimeter. The Court found that the landlord could be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because the landlord had notice of the dog’s aggressiveness and had taken steps to address the problem by asking the tenant to keep the dog chained. Wright, 105 Nev. at 614-15.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

If you have been injured by a dangerous condition that was potentially due to a landlord’s negligence, it’s important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at GGRM are broadly experienced in handling complex personal injury cases. For a free attorney consultation, please give us a call today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contacts page.

Nevada Homeowner Liability for Guest Injuries

Nevada homeowners have an obligation to keep their homes reasonably safe for guests. When a guest is seriously injured, the homeowner’s liability will usually come down to whether the homeowner took reasonable steps to prevent the injury. Although this standard sounds straightforward, in practice it can raise challenging legal questions, especially in the case of serious injury.

A homeowner’s duty of care toward guests

Homeowner premises liability is a question of negligence. This is true whether the injury is being evaluated for coverage under the homeowner’s insurance policy or litigated before a jury. The first step in a negligence analysis is to determine if the homeowner owed the injured guest a duty of care, and what that duty was. In Nevada, a homeowner owes guests a general duty of reasonable care. Whether a homeowner acted reasonably to protect a guest from harm depends on the circumstances. Cf. Moody v. Manny’s Auto Repair, 110 Nev. 320, 333 (1994). A homeowner who knows about a dangerous condition owes guests a special duty to warn them of the danger. This is especially true of hidden dangers, like a loose stair that can easily slip. Cf. Galloway v. McDonalds Restaurants, 102 Nev. 534, 537 (1986).

Breaching the homeowner’s duty of care

A homeowner may be liable for negligence if he or she has breached the duty of care. Generally speaking, leaving a dangerous condition unresolved can constitute a breach. The central question is whether the homeowner behaved reasonably. If the homeowner spilled water on a floor, creating a slippery condition, the homeowner has an obligation to make the condition safe. But circumstances matter. It might be reasonable for a homeowner to leave a puddle of water if her baby is crying in the next room and no one is expected to cross the wet floor for the few minutes it takes to comfort the child. On the other hand, a homeowner who doesn’t take steps to address a patch of ice on his front porch, like salting it or putting down an anti-slip mat, might not be acting reasonably if there’s good reason to think that a guest might step on the ice.

The breached duty of care must be the legal cause of the injury

For liability to stick, it isn’t enough that a homeowner hasn’t addressed a dangerous condition. The guest must show that the injury would not have occurred but for the homeowner’s negligence. This is a legal question that is often the focus of an attorney’s analysis of the facts. A negligent homeowner is responsible for the foreseeable injuries created by his or her negligence, provided there aren’t intervening causes. Cf. Taylor v. Silva, 96 Nev. 738, 741 (1980). To go back to our earlier example, a slip is a foreseeable result of a wet floor. But if the guest who slipped on the floor was drunk, the homeowner’s attorney might argue that the drunkenness was the real cause of the injury.

Always talk to an attorney after a serious injury

People who are injured while visiting friends or family are sometimes reluctant to explore their legal options for fear of offending the homeowner. But in cases of serious injury, leaving legal questions unaddressed can be a serious mistake. This is especially true when an insurer is involved. For over 45 years, the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped personal injury clients in Las Vegas get compensation. We know how to handle insurance adjusters and can work with you to get the coverage you need. For a no-cost attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to reach out to you through our contact page.

Personal Injury and the Duty of Care in Nevada

Personal Injury and the Duty of Care in Nevada
Personal injury lawsuits in Nevada typically focus on the negligence of the person who is allegedly responsible for the injury. In a negligence case, a plaintiff must show that the defendant owed the plaintiff (or the injured person, if the plaintiff is suing on their behalf) a duty of care that the defendant breached, leading to the injury and ultimately to the plaintiff’s damages. But what is a duty of care, and when does it arise?

Sources of the duty of care in Nevada

At the most abstract, the duty of care is an obligation to take reasonable actions to prevent others from being injured. In Nevada, a duty of care only exists if it has been defined in a statute or by the courts. In other words, a personal injury plaintiff needs to find an existing legal basis for claiming that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. Nevada law imposes the duty of care on people in many different circumstances. Here are a few examples:
  • People in the responsible role in certain well-defined special relationships owe a duty of care to their more vulnerable counterparts, such as innkeeper-guest, teacher-student, employer-employee, or hospital-patient. See Sparks v. Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity, Inc., 127 Nev. 287, 289 (2011).
  • Drivers have an obligation to obey traffic laws.
  • Manufacturers have a duty to not make or sell defective products.
  • Homeowners, landlords, and property managers have a duty of care to keep their properties reasonably safe for lawful visitors.

What are the limits of the duty of care?

In many personal injury cases, defendants argue that the circumstances surrounding the accident released them from their duty of care. For example, there may have been justification for the actions of a defendant who hurt someone while avoiding a worse injury. This argument often arises in car accidents, where a driver swerves to avoid hitting something and ends up hitting something else. The injured person can also eliminate a defendant’s duty of care in various ways. Waivers of liability are a familiar example. Businesses that often put visitors into risky situations, like bungee jumping or sky diving, invariably require their clients to release the business from its duty of care. Likewise, the plaintiff can assume the responsibility for her own safety by deliberately putting herself into a dangerous situation. The assumption of risk is why we don’t see many personal injury cases arising from football injuries: the players accept the danger by playing the game. The law also limits a defendant’s duty of care if the plaintiff was breaking the law at the time of the injury. A common example is a plaintiff who was injured while trespassing on the defendant’s property. But there are a few important exceptions that landowners need to keep in mind. Creating what’s called an “attractive nuisance” on a property gives landowners a duty of care toward children who trespass to explore it. Back yard pools and hot tubs are textbook examples of dangerous things that might attract a child onto a property; the property owner has a duty to ensure that the pool or tub is properly secured. Traps are another exception. Setting a harmful trap for trespassers is not only a violation of a landowner’s duty of care, it is also a crime.

We are Las Vegas personal injury attorneys

For more than 45 years Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients recover compensation for personal injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured and you have questions about your legal rights, our attorneys are available to discuss your options. Call us today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contact page.