Five Factors That Distinguish Negligence From an Unfortunate Accident

About 31 million injuries requiring medical attention occur in the United States every year. Moreover, there are over 150,000 injury related deaths in the United States every year. But which of these injuries and deaths justify a consultation with an attorney?

Negligence is an important legal concept because it is the legal standard used by lawyers to prove liability in many personal injury matters. However, the concept of negligence can be difficult to pin down.

For example, there are over 100 casinos in the Las Vegas valley, including downtown Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Strip, and the surrounding suburbs. What happens when a customer is injured in a Las Vegas casino or hotel? Here are five factors that a lawyer may consider important in determining whether the hotel or casino was negligent:

Who Was Injured?

If the injury occurred to a hotel guest or casino customer, the injury is more likely to form the basis of a negligence claim than if the injury occurred to a trespasser. Moreover, if the injured party was an employee or contractor of the hotel or casino, the injured party may need to seek workers' compensation rather than a negligence claim.

Why Did the Injury Occur?

If the hazard causing the injury was reasonably within the control of the casino or hotel, the injury is more likely to form the basis of a claim of negligence. For example, if the cause of a slip and fall injury was a water puddle or broken floor tile that the hotel or casino knew about, or should have reasonably discovered, the injury could form the basis of a negligence claim. On the other hand, if the hazard was hidden or if the hotel or casino had inadequate time to reasonably discover the hazard, the injury might be just an unfortunate accident rather than a case of negligence.

When Did the Accident Occur?

In Nevada, personal injury claims must be filed within two years of the injury. This is referred to as a statute of limitations and it limits the time period for an injured party to file a negligence claim against a hotel or casino.

Where Did the Accident Occur?

Many casinos now lease space within the casino property to other businesses. Accidents that occur in shops, restaurants, movie theaters, bowling alleys, and other locations inside a casino that are leased by other businesses may be the responsibility of the leasing business rather than the hotel or casino. Moreover, some of these venues may require the customer to explicitly or implicitly assume some of the risk of injury that may occur in their venue. For example, an ice skating rink inside a casino may post a disclaimer that the rink operator is not responsible for ordinary and foreseeable injuries that may occur while ice skating.

How Did the Accident Occur?

If the proximate cause (a legal term for an event that logically contributed to the injury) was a failure of the hotel or casino to act in a reasonably prudent manner, then the injury might be the subject of a claim of negligence. However, an injury caused by something else, such as the inattention of the customer or the actions of another customer, may have been just an unfortunate accident. In some cases, an injury may have multiple causes. In those cases, the customer's comparative fault in causing his or her own injury may reduce the amount of damages the customer can collect for any negligence on the part of the hotel or casino that also contributed to the customer's injury.


Negligence is a nuanced legal concept. However, being prepared to speak with a lawyer, by knowing the who, why, when, where, and how surrounding the injury, will help the lawyer determine the options available and whether a negligence claim is one of those options.

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