People love to gamble. In Washington state, our casinos attract people from across the country and entertain people with slot machines, table games, shows and free drinks.
With thousands of people visiting casinos every day across Washington state, accidents are bound to happen. And with potentially millions of dollars at stake and complex legal issues in play, it’s important to understand these accidents.
If you or a loved one has been injured by casino negligence, you have a right to pursue compensation. Getting a fair settlement depends on the details of your case, getting expert representation and how to build a strong insurance claim.
Common Casino Accidents and Injuries
There is a nearly limitless number of ways that you or a loved one may be injured at a Washington state casino. Many people consider slip and falls to be the most common, but the following accidents also can cause serious injuries and high medical bills:
- Parking lot accidents. Casino parking lots are often extremely busy and full of pedestrians. When drivers fail to act responsibly, accidents and injuries may occur.
- Food poisoning. Casinos serve thousands of meals each year, and unsanitary conditions or negligent employees can lead to severe food poisoning incidents.
- Burn injuries. Hot drinks may get spilled or faulty hotel room appliances such as irons, coffee makers and hair dryers and lead to injuries.
- Faulty slot machine chairs. Broken furniture at a slot machine or table game is quite common. These high-use chairs can break down and lead to injuries.
- Falling debris. Construction material or any other piece of debris that falls and hits a patron may lead to serious injury.
- Assault from another casino patron. Customers at a casino may be subject to crime (theft, assault).
- Slip and falls. There are many places in a casino, hotel or resort where patrons may slip and fall. This may include the gambling areas, hotel rooms, shuttle buses, swimming pools, etc.
- Lack of security. A casino has a responsibility to provide protection for its guests when they enter the premises.
Casino Negligence Leading to Injury
Washington state personal injury laws require that the at-fault person or party be found negligent. Negligence means fault. A casino has a legal responsibility not to cause and accident and/ or harm anyone. This is called duty.
There are many ways in which a casino could be negligent, including:
- Lack of security
- Poor hiring practices
- Slippery floors
- Poorly maintained equipment and seating
- Over-serving alcohol to a person who later causes a car accident
Native American Casinos and Tribal Law
Washington state is home to 35 casinos owned by 25 Native American tribes, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission. These casinos are located in 15 counties across the state — Snohomish County has the most (five), followed by King County (four).
These casinos are federally recognized and are regulated by the United States Department of the Interior. The tribes have a contract with the Washington State Gambling Commission to split revenues and limit the types of games that can be played. As of 2011, tribe-owned casinos in the United States produced a total annual revenue of $27 billion.
The biggest casinos in Washington state include:
- Tulalip Resort Casino, Tulalip
- Northern Quest Resort and Casino, Airway Heights
- Muckleshoot Casino, Auburn
- Snoqualmie Casino, Snoqualmie
- Skagit Valley Casino Resort, Bow
- Quinault Beach Resort and Casino, Ocean Shores
- Emerald Queen Casino, Tacoma
- Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort, Suquamish
These casinos operate on Native American land. These lands are sovereign (self-governing), and if you are injured in a casino on tribal land, Washington state’s personal injury laws may not apply. Casinos on tribal land always have immunity from lawsuits filed in Washington state court.
If an injury does occur on tribe-owned land, a claim can usually be filed against the tribal casinos insurance company. These claims are treated much the same way any other personal injury claim would be. If the claim is denied or you are unable to settle, you must file a personal injury lawsuit against the tribe itself.
Talk to an experienced personal injury attorney ASAP if you have questions about a potential case against a tribe-owned casino. The statute of limitations in these casinos varies from state laws, and it’s best to act fast to recover the most compensation possible.
When the Injured Person is (Partly) Responsible
If you or a loved one suffers an injury at a casino, your compensation may be reduced or denied if you share some or all of the blame for the circumstances leading to your injury.
Washington state follows the concept of comparative negligence. Comparative negligence allows you to recover compensation even if they are partially at fault for the accident. But any settlement or jury award is reduced by your proportion of fault in the accident.
For example, if you were 50 percent at fault in a case where the damages totaled $100,000, you can only collect $50,000 rather than the full amount.
Dram Shop Laws and Casinos
Every day across the United States, patrons of casinos leave the premises and drive drunk. If you or a loved one was the victim of a drunk driver who was over-served at a casino, the casino may be liable for damages.
Dram shop is an old term for bars, restaurants or anywhere else where alcohol is served. The term is still used in the legal field.
Under Washington state law (RCW 66.44.200), it is provided that “no person shall sell any liquor to any person apparently under the influence of liquor,” and furthermore that “no person who is apparently under the influence of liquor may purchase or consume liquor on any premises licensed by the board.”
If a casino employee over serves alcoholic drinks that that person goes on to cause an accident, the casino can be held legally responsible for the damage.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you’ve been involved in an accident and suffered injuries at a Washington state casino, it’s important that you protect your legal rights. Hiring a personal injury attorney with a background in these cases is key.
Davis Law Group is an award-winning team of personal injury lawyers dedicated to protecting the legal rights of accident victims and their families. We represent people across Washington state who have been seriously injured or suffered from the wrongful death of a loved one.
For a free case evaluation at Davis Law Group, contact us by calling (206) 727-4000. You can also fill out the form on this page or use the chat feature below.