Accidents that occur on another’s property—whether privately or publicly owned—fall under the purview of a specific area of personal injury law known as “premises liability.” Typically, the persons or entities being sued—referred to as “defendants”—are often insured. As a result, these insurance carriers hire large and expensive law firms to defend the lawsuits against them in order to pay out as little as possible, or nothing at all. There are various “go to” defenses that these companies will use in premises liability cases. If you are a plaintiff who was hurt on another’s property and are thinking of seeking monetary compensation, you should be at least aware of these common defenses used by insurance companies to defeat the claim and avoid legal and financial responsibility.
- The plaintiff failed to exercise due care, which resulted in the accident and injuries;
- The hazard on the premises was open and obvious;
- There was another event, known as an intervening cause, that really caused the accident;
- The defendant is not liable because of a liability waiver in a contract with the plaintiff;
- The plaintiff’s injuries were due to a preexisting condition and not the accident itself.
In addition, in Nevada vendors of alcoholic beverages, such as bars, casinos, restaurants, and other places, have a particular defense that can be raised against an injured plaintiff — the customer’s accident was caused by their own intoxication. In such a scenario, state law relieves the venue from liability.
Below is a brief explanation of each common defense to a premises liability lawsuit:
- Lack of due care: A defendant may argue that a plaintiff did not exercise due care and, therefore, was at fault for injuries suffered. Even if a plaintiff is partially at fault for harm suffered, however, Nevada law may still allow him or her to be awarded monetary compensation.
- Open and obvious: Landowners and operators have no legal duty to protect people on their premises from hazards that are clearly open and obvious to any reasonable person and cause them to notice and avoid. As a result, many insurance companies will argue that the defendant was at fault because the hazard was open and obvious.
- Lack of due care: Defendants may also say that the injured plaintiff did not exercise due care and acted unreasonably on the property, resulting in the injuries suffered. Even if a plaintiff is partially at fault for harm suffered, however, Nevada law may still allow him or her to be awarded monetary compensation under its modified comparative negligence rule.
- Intervening cause: Another common defense to a premises liability claim is that an intervening cause that was beyond the defendant’s control caused the accident and resulting injuries.
- Liability waiver: These are clauses in contracts that release or excuse a property owner or operator from fault in the event the person who signs the contract is involved in an accident and suffers injuries. Depending on the contract language, a plaintiff may be able to get around the liability waiver clause.
- Preexisting conditions: When an injured plaintiff sues a property owner, operator, or tenant for their injuries, it is typical for the defense attorney to try to seek out the plaintiff’s medical records and history by way of a subpoena to search for preexisting conditions. The lawyer will then use any illness and/or injuries that predate the accident to claim those caused the injuries and not the accident themselves.
Contact Our Attorneys
If you or a loved one is involved and hurt in a Las Vegas accident, the Nevada personal injury lawyers at H&P Law can help. The insurance companies will put forth a strong defense, let our attorneys fight for the monetary compensation you deserve.