Las Vegas – a city that saw close to 43 million visitors in 2019 alone – is a “hot spot” for slip-and-fall lawsuits. The hotel and casino industry supports nearly 370,000 local jobs, and the city is constantly growing and adding new attractions, including an arena that opened in 2016 and a professional football stadium scheduled to open in June 2020. While the city’s consistent growth is mostly good news for the local economy, new places to visit and more events to attend means unfortunately means more opportunities for guests to become injured.
Learning about the frequency of slip and fall incidents in Las Vegas might put some people off visiting the city. Thousands of people become injured each year by a slip or fall at a Las Vegas property, and insurance companies have grown overly cautious about paying out injury claims, even when the claims are legitimate. Casinos and hotels have taken a tough stance on paying injury claims because they don’t want to become an easy target for fraudulent claims. Most slip-and-fall injuries occur in the workplace and, as the name suggests, occur when someone loses their balance and falls. They are often the result of an obstacle or property defect, in other words, the result of someone’s negligence.
Both the injured party and the property owner can be found negligent. If a building is up to code and the owner is diligent about cleaning the property and clearing it of defects, then someone who slips and falls there is less likely to receive compensation. Courts will reduce the amount of any potential injury award depending on how negligent the injured party is. For example, if the court determines that the injured party was 10% negligent, the owner of the property well the injury happened will be on the hook for only 90% of the potential award. The injured person is unlikely to recover anything from the property owner if the court decides the injured person was at least 50% negligent.
Injuries from slip-and-falls are particularly common because there are so many different ways that they can happen. Guests at a business can trip on a misplaced object, lose their footing due to inadequate lighting, or be jostled and fall due to congestion in entryways and exits. However, most often, falls are the result of wet, unclean, or uneven surfaces. Improper maintenance of walkways is an easy way for a property owner to expose him or herself to a slip-and-fall lawsuit.
Slip-and-fall injuries account for more than 1 million emergency room visits per year in the U.S.
How many are due to negligence? That’s a difficult statistic to measure because whether someone has been “negligent” is a legal determination adjudicated by the court. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, slips, trips, and falls are a common cause of injury in retail stores. Additionally, more than 130 people were killed in workplace falls in the U.S. in 2016 after they fell from the same level (in other words, this number does not account for workers who fell from a higher level, such as a scaffold or second-story roof). Workplace falls due to hazardous floors, walkways, or ground surfaces resulted in nearly 147,000 injuries in 2018. Hazardous floors and walkways are the leading cause of workplace injuries.
Common Slip-and-Fall Injuries
Because of the large variety of circumstances that can cause slip-and-falls, a slip-and-fall can result in varying levels and types of injury, and some types of injury are more common than others. The amount of compensation to which an injured person is entitled is unique to each case and depends on the severity of the injury and whether and to what extent the property owner was negligent.
Broken Bones and Hip Fractures
About 5% of all slips and falls involve broken bones. In adults 65 years and older, falls are the cause of 95% of all hip fractures. Broken bones are the fifth most common injury resulting from workplace accidents, and they account for nearly 80,000 of all workplace injuries. While older adults are significantly more prone to broken bones from a slip or fall, these serious injuries can occur in a person of any age.
Head and Brain Injuries
In older adults, one in every five falls results in a serious injury, including a broken bone or a head or brain injury. It is possible to suffer a traumatic brain injury without a direct impact to the head: Serious jolts can be enough to cause serious harm. Head injuries like cuts and bruises are easy to identify, but brain injuries are harder to see and can cause ongoing pain and disability. These injuries may be exacerbated in persons taking certain medications, such as blood thinners.
Back and Spinal Injuries
Back and spinal injuries can be painful at best and totally debilitating at worst. As the neck and spine are fragile parts of the body, injuries to them can be difficult and expensive to treat, and serious spinal injuries can result in lifelong disability. If you suffer a back injury, you should seek medical attention immediately.
The most common types of shoulder injuries are dislocations and muscle sprains, strains, and tears. They occur when you hit your shoulder in a fall, or when you fall onto an outstretched arm when you try to steady or catch yourself. These injuries can result in a lengthy recovery process and often require surgery.
Sprains and Other Minor Injuries
Sprains, strains, and tears are the number one most common injury in workplace falls, and cuts and bruises are the fourth and sixth most common injuries when people slip or fall at work. Although they are often minor, these injuries can affect your life in big ways since they can negatively affect your ability to work and, in some cases, may require surgery and/or extended recovery treatment.
What Makes a Slip or Fall Injury Dangerous?
Injuries often seem minor immediately after a slip and fall, but they can have severe long- and short-term consequences. A bump on the head may seem harmless when it happens, but it can lead to serious brain injuries if left untreated.
Severe injuries have longer recovery times. They can have enormous impacts on your life, including significantly limiting your ability to go to work or carry out specific work duties.
Slip or Falls Injuries in Old Age
Growing old is one of life’s only inevitabilities. Older adults 65 years and older may experience increased bone and skin fragility, impaired vision, or vitamin deficiencies, and even minor slips and falls can cause severe injuries.
Older adults are more prone to breaking bones when they fall, and falling once doubles the risk of falling again. More than 800,000 older adults are hospitalized yearly due to a fall, and the cost of treatment for falls in the U.S. is more than $50 billion annually.
Slip- and-fall statistics from the CDC show that more than one in four older adults fall each year, but only one-half of those who fall tell their doctors. The best practice for seniors to mitigate the cost of fall-related injuries is to seek medical treatment as soon as possible after the slip or fall.
Only a small portion of slip and fall cases go to trial, with many property owners choosing to settle the case before it goes before a jury. The average cost of a slip-and-fall injury is $20,000, and the average cost for a business to defend against a slip-and-fall claim is about $50,000, but payouts have reached into the millions.
If the Court determines that the property owner was at least partly responsible for a person’s injury, the Court will calculate the damages that the property owner must pay to the injured person by considering the harm the person has suffered. This “harm” can include:
- Medical bills – present and future;
- Any lost wages – present and future – due to the slip and fall;
- Loss of earning capacity;
- Loss of enjoyment;
- Pain and suffering caused by the injury;
- Loss of consortium (by a spouse whose partner was injured);
- Incidental damages.
It is the responsibility of all property owners who invite guests to their property to do all they can to avoid slip and fall injuries on their property. They must institute policies to ensure their property and property features are as clean as possible, and where necessary, inform visitors when they need proper protective equipment.
If you experience a slip or fall, you should immediately seek medical attention. The doctors will be able to both treat you and properly document your injuries, which could help your case. Once you’re in a stable condition, contact a personal injury lawyer to find out if you have a claim to compensation for your injury.
Contact Accident Lawyers of Southern Nevada today. The firm offers free consultations, and any cases we take are “no win, no fee.”
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice on any particular facts or circumstances. If you need advice on specific legal issues, please consult with a licensed Personal Injury attorney at McFarling Law Group.