Property owners in Las Vegas and elsewhere have a responsibility to keep their premises safe. They should ensure that equipment, walking surfaces and other areas where visitors come into contact with are in good repair. Whether you are a resident at an apartment complex or a customer at a shopping mall, you have the right to expect that these places will be reasonably safe.

This expectation can extend to the parking lot of a residential complex or shopping center. For example, you might sprain an ankle or hurt your back if you trip in a pothole on your way into the grocery store. If you are traveling farther north in Nevada this winter, you might slip on a shop’s walkway that has not been cleared of ice or snow. Garbage that is scattered around your townhouse complex might contain something harmful that could threaten you or your children.

The latter point occurred in May 2014 in a South Carolina Target parking lot. According to CBS News, a woman was stuck in the hand by a hypodermic needle. Reportedly, she was injured when her daughter picked up the needle and she swiped it out of the girl’s hand. She claimed she was temporarily incapacitated after taking medication to prevent HIV infection. Recently, the woman won $4.6 million in a premises liability lawsuit against Target. This incident illustrates how you or a family member might be harmed by something that is lying around in a parking lot.

It is not always possible to prevent harmful items from ending up in parking lots, but property owners and management should do all they can to minimize the risk to you and others who are in the area. Failing to protect clients and tenants may result in serious legal repercussions.