Airports are intersecting areas of commerce and responsibility. A slip and fall lawsuit could result in complex multi-party litigation wherein many organizations or businesses could be partially liable for a person’s fall injuries. Airports are quasi-government entities, but they invite airlines to manage terminals, businesses to rent retail and restaurant spaces, private security, and other entities. Accordingly, airports are careful dances of overlapping responsibility, resulting in basic safety lapses, such as cleaning slippery floors or warning people of fall hazards.
Liability in Airports
Any person or entity is liable if it behaves negligently (i.e., doesn’t exercise reasonable care in the situation) and causes an injury. If a passenger doesn’t monitor his or her child and that child runs into another person causing them to trip and fall – the passenger could be held liable for the actions of his or her young child. Similarly, if an airline doesn’t keep the jet-bridge free of obstacles and a person slips on his or her way out of an airplane – the airline is liable.
Government or Private
Most airports are government-owned and operated but lease spaces out to private businesses. In Las Vegas, McCarran Airport is government-owned and operated. While the government is liable for negligence, suing a government entity is more complicated than suing a private company or a person. The most that a government entity can be liable for is $100,000. To recover compensation, the injured person must file a notice of claim with the governing entity.
Suing the airport itself is more complicated and subject to liability limits – suing the businesses is much simpler. Every private company is required to maintain its retail space in a reasonably safe manner. Removing hazards – like spilled drinks – and keeping the walkways clear of hidden obstacles are all examples. Restaurants are required to serve safe food, and retail spaces are liable if they sell defective equipment that causes an injury. The owners of the newsstands or vending machines are also responsible if their operation negligently causes an injury.
Liability for slip and fall accidents isn’t limited to a single entity when multiple entities are negligent and contribute to the cause of the injury. A personal injury attorney will identify all contributing factors to ensure that responsible parties don’t evade their liability.