Any time you're injured in a slip and fall on someone else's property (whether residential or commercial) in Nevada, it's usually a good idea to explore your options for getting compensation for your losses -- and that's especially true when the property owner's (or someone else's) negligence may have played a part in what happened.
A number of Nevada laws will almost certainly affect any lawsuit you decide to file over your slip and fall. Two of the most important of these are the statute of limitations deadline for filing a slip and fall case in Nevada's court system, and the state's "comparative negligence" rule, which can limit your right to recover compensation if you bear some amount of responsibility for the accident. Even if you're pretty sure your case will reach a personal injury settlement out of court, you still need to keep these state laws in mind, so read on for the details.
A statute of limitations is a law that puts a time limit on your right to have a lawsuit heard in a state's civil court system. Specific time limits vary depending on the kind of case you want to file.
Nevada Revised Statutes section 11.190 says: "an action to recover damages for injuries to a person or for the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another" must be filed within two years. So, anyone injured as a result of a slip and fall must bring any lawsuit against the at-fault party (usually that means the property owner) within two years.
For property damage caused by a slip and fall in Nevada -- maybe you were uninjured but you broke an expensive watch when you fell -- any lawsuit must be filed within three years of the incident, according to Nevada Revised Statutes section 11.190.
In either kind of case -- whether the lawsuit is for injury or property damage, or both -- the "clock" starts running on the date of the slip and fall, and the success or failure of your case will most likely turn on whether you can prove that the defendant failed to take reasonable steps to keep the property safe and to prevent your accident. Learn more about premises liability and proving fault for a slip and fall.
What if you don't get your slip and fall lawsuit filed before the statutory deadline passes? The property owner will ask the court to dismiss the case once you do try to file it, and the court will almost certainly grant the dismissal. In some rare instances, the statute of limitations clock may pause or "toll," giving you more time to get your lawsuit started. Talk to a personal injury attorney for the details on these exceptions in Nevada, and whether they might apply to your situation.
Even when you're convinced that the property owner is to blame for your slip and fall injuries, be prepared to hear that you bear some amount of responsibility for the underlying incident. That's a common defense tactic in any state, and Nevada is no exception.
If your Nevada slip and fall case makes it to court, the state's "comparative negligence" rule will apply to determine how much compensation you can still receive if you are found negligent in connection with the accident. You can find this rule codified at Nevada Revised Statutes section 41.141, which says: "In any action to recover damages for death or injury to persons or for injury to property in which comparative negligence is asserted as a defense, the comparative negligence of the plaintiff or the plaintiff's decedent does not bar a recovery if that negligence was not greater than the negligence or gross negligence of the parties to the action against whom recovery is sought."
Translation: In any Nevada personal injury case where the person being sued raises the "comparative negligence" defense, if the plaintiff is found to be at fault, they can still get compensation for their injuries, as long as their share of liability does not exceed 50 percent. If it does exceed 50 percent, then the plaintiff can't recover anything at all from the defendant or anyone else.
So, let's say the jury finds that you are 25 percent to blame for your slip and fall. They also find that your losses (damages) total $8,000. That will leave the property owner on the hook for $6,000 (that's the original $8,000 minus the 25 percent that represents your share of fault).
Now that you understand how comparative negligence works in Nevada slip and fall cases, what arguments can you expect to hear from the property owner? Here are a few common examples:
And even if your case doesn't make it to trial -- even if a lawsuit isn't filed, for that matter -- the Nevada shared fault rules will likely still play a part. During settlement negotiations, the other side is concerned with what might happen if your slip and fall case does wind up in court. So you can expect any settlement offer to reflect the other side's view of the part you played in causing or contributing to your injuries.