Visitor Question

Fractured neck in drunk diving accident at nephew’s property…

Submitted By: Matthew (Las Vegas, NV)

My girlfriend and I were invited to my nephew’s home to join him and his (non live-in) girlfriend for Sunday brunch and hang out for the day.

After a few hours we were all intoxicated and decided to go swimming in my nephew’s pool.

My nephew said “watch this” as he climbed the 5 foot common wall between neighbor’s home and his.

He jumped into his 5 feet deep pool doing a “cannon ball”.

I followed behind him and jumped into the pool, we did this several times in a row.

However, my last jump was not successful, I lost my footing and dove head first.

I hit the bottom of the pool with the top of my head. When I surfaced I knew I was in trouble but wasn’t aware of the extent. I complained I was hurt and even my nephew said he saw my head hit the bottom. I was still moving and was able to get out of the pool on my own but my head and neck were in pain.

After a few minutes passed his girlfriend, a nurse, shoved me back into the pool.

Once again I was able to get out on my own but the pain was more severe.

Eventually, paramedics were called and I was transported to the ER.

After a CT scan it was determined I have a C1 “burst fracture” what is commonly known as “broken neck” injury. Fortunately, I have no Paralysis or brain trauma.

I need to wear a halo brace and neck brace for 3 months to heal. I am 54 years old and employed through the Carpenters Union.

I’m faced with the possibility of never being able to return to my profession any time soon, if ever.

I have medical expenses, including any future medical expenses for physical therapy once the apparatus is removed. I also have the pain and suffering due to my injury.

My questions…

1) Please explain the non-relative vs relative rule. Does it apply to our relationship?

Will I be able to make a claim on his policy? I’m his uncle but I have never lived in his home.

2) If I can make a claim, will I be limited to only medical expenses?

3) Can the insurance deny the claim since alcohol was involved and the homeowner was the one who introduced the idea of jumping?

4) Does his girlfriend have any liability due to her shoving me back in the pool, which may have contributed to my neck injury? She is a nurse and a homeowner as well.

Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Matthew,

Personal liability coverage is included in most homeowners insurance policies. It covers third parties (other than trespassers) in the event they are injured. In most cases, the coverage excludes family members living in the home, however the exclusion does not attach to relatives not living in the home.

It is very unlikely any insurance company would agree to pay you any compensation for your injuries. From a legal standpoint, your actions wholly preclude you from compensation. Here’s why…

Repeatedly jumping the 5 foot common wall between the neighbor’s home and the 5 foot deep pool while doing cannonballs, as well as your apparent intoxication, constituted Comparative Negligence on your part.

While Nevada law permits victims in personal injury claims to seek compensation from the person or entity which ostensibly caused the injuries, the victim’s own comparative negligence will reduce their compensation according to how much the victim contributed to their own injuries.

However, when the victim’s percentage of comparative negligence is determined to be 51% or more, the victim will be wholly barred from recovering any compensation.

Read Nevada’s Statute on Comparative Negligence here.

Your actions will likely be considered grossly negligent. With that said, it is a reasonable conclusion the percentage of your comparative negligence exceeds 51%.

There is no evidence to suggest the nurse knew you were injured, and with that knowledge purposely or recklessly pushed you into the pool. Moreover, you don’t have any medical evidence directly linking the nurse’s actions to your injury or its exacerbation. In any event, drinking and jumping over 5 foot walls should be wholly discouraged.

Learn more here: Alcohol Related Injuries

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

Best of luck!


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