Severe cut after fall on escalator...

by Elisa
(Berlin, NJ)

I was at a casino in New Jersey when I stepped onto the escalator and slipped. I fell about 4 steps down. Right away a security guard came to my aid. I had a severe laceration on my knee. He called 911 because the wound was bleeding severely. The security guard had to use my jeans as a tourniquet.

I was taken by ambulance to the hospital and was there for about 3 hours. I had a 5 inch laceration on my knee, cut all the way down to the bone. I needed several levels of stitches. I am now unable to go to my graduate school classes for my master's of social work at Rutgers University, and I am also missing my mandatory fieldwork at the psychiatric hospital.

Does the casino hold any liability for this particular case? If so, and I file a claim, how would missing my classes and not being able to attend my fieldwork affect my compensation? Where do I start with a case like this? Thanks for any help you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Severe cut after fall on escalator...":

Elisa (Berlin, NJ):

The casino may be liable if you slipped due to a foreign object on the escalator steps, such as soda, alcohol, water, or other slippery substances. But there is a caveat...

If the foreign substance was very recently deposited on the steps, and the casino employees did not have reasonable notice of the existence of the substance, then the casino may escape liability.

While the casino is bound by a "legal duty of care" to keep their premises safe for its visitors, that duty is a reasonable one. In other words, if seconds before you fell, a visitor spilled his drink on the steps, it can be argued the casino did not have reasonable notice of the spill, and thus did not have sufficient time to clean it up.

In the alternative, if you slipped and fell for no apparent reason, you just missed a step or otherwise stepped down inappropriately, then the casino is likely not liable.

Moreover, if you had been drinking alcohol, even in a small amount, or were under the influence of drugs (including prescription drugs), it could be argued you contributed to your own fall. Contributing to your own injuries can diminish or altogether void any settlement you might pursue.

If the casino is ultimately liable for your injuries, your having missed classes as a result does not constitute sufficient grounds for compensation.

If you want to pursue an injury claim against the casino, start with asking for a copy of the incident report made by the casino at the time of your fall, as well as requesting copies of your medical records from the hospital. While the casino is under no legal obligation to give you a copy of their report, they may do so if you ask.

Next, speak with the casino's management. Tell them you would like to file a claim with their insurance company for your injuries and resulting medical treatment. They will likely refer you to their insurance company, where you can commence your injury claim.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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