In most cases such as the recent fatal fall from the High Roller in Las Vegas, property owners are not liable for slip and fall accidents when a trespasser’s actions lead to their injuries or death. However, there are exceptions and it is necessary to review the merits of each slip and fall accident individually to determine whether the property owner violated their duties to the injured party.
Bad Choices Lead to Tragic Fall
In February, Stefan Quinton Jones-Green trespassed into an unauthorized area near the High Roller Observation Wheel. He slipped and fell about 50 feet down a set of stairs to his death. Investigators believe Jones-Green was attempting to gain access to the zipline when he lost his footing on the stairs and fell.
It is currently unclear how he gained access to the area or whether he was intoxicated at the time of the accident. It is also unclear as to whether Caesar’s Entertainment which operates the property took reasonable steps to deny Jones-Green access to the area from where he fell to his death.
When Property Owners Can Be Found Liable for a Trespasser’s Injuries or Death
Property owners can be found at fault for a slip and fall accident when they act violently or aggressively towards a trespasser. However, property owners do have the right to defend themselves if attacked, chase a trespasser off their property, and have the right to forcibly remove a trespasser.
More commonly, property owners are found liable when they fail to post signs notifying individuals of potential hazards and adequately deny access to dangerous areas. For example, failing to maintain a fence around a swimming pool or lock gates and doors to rooftops could open the door for a premises liability lawsuit.
Access (& Liability) Denied
Businesses, whether they are engaged in hospitality, entertainment, or other operations, have a duty to protect employees and patrons from harm. To accomplish this, they have a right to deny access to hazardous areas by posting signage and locking doors.
When trespassers wantonly defeat security measures to trespass into “off limits” areas, they deliberately place themselves at risk. These include machinery rooms, electrical rooms, elevator shafts, elevated platforms, and dangerous stairwells. If the courts determine the property owner took reasonable steps to deny access to the area and prevent an accident, then they generally hold the property owner or facility operator blameless for the incident.