Have you been injured on someone else’s property? If so, you may have grounds to file a premises liability lawsuit.
However, do you know what specifically makes your case viable? If not, consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer is recommended. Washington State has specific laws related to slip and fall and premises liability cases. Understanding these laws, how they impact your case, and your rights is essential.
At Bernard Law Group, our experienced attorneys can review your case and help you take action to recover compensation against the liable party.
What Is Premises Liability?
You may have heard of premises liability law, but do you know exactly what it is? It is a law that makes property owners liable for accidents and injuries occurring on their property.
The law states that property owners must ensure their premises are reasonably safe for visitors. When they fail to do so, and someone is injured, the injured party may have the right to seek compensation.
Common Types of Premises Liability Cases
Premises liability cases can occur in many ways. Some of the most common cases include:
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are a common type of premises liability case. These can occur due to wet floors, uneven surfaces, poorly lit areas, or obstacles that are not clearly visible. Property owners have a duty to address these hazards in a timely manner or at least warn visitors of potential dangers.
Another form of premises liability comes from inadequate maintenance of the property. This can include broken staircases, faulty elevators, or crumbling infrastructure. When the maintenance of a property is neglected, it can lead to accidents that could have been prevented with proper care.
Insufficient security measures can also fall under premises liability, especially if an individual is injured due to a criminal act that could have been deterred. This could involve inadequate lighting, lack of security personnel, or faulty doors and locks that lead to an assault or theft.
Understanding Your Rights in Washington State
In Washington State, the law recognizes that visitors to a property come under different categories: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. The level of care a property owner owes to a visitor depends on which category they fall into.
Invitees are individuals who enter a property for commercial benefit to the property owner, like customers in a store. The highest duty of care is owed to invitees, and owners must regularly inspect their property and fix or warn of any dangers.
Licensees are guests who enter a property for their purposes, such as social guests. Property owners must warn licensees of any non-obvious dangers that the owner is aware of.
Trespassers are those who enter without any right to do so. Property owners owe the least duty of care to trespassers but must not willfully harm them.
Proving Negligence in a Premises Liability Case
To have a viable premises liability case in Washington, you must prove the following elements:
- Duty of Care: The law states property owners owe a duty of care to those on their property. You must establish this when proving negligence in a premises liability case.
- Breach of Duty: You must also show the property owner breached their duty. The most effective way to do this is by showing they did not maintain a safe environment.
- Causation: Provide evidence that the negligence of the property owner resulted in your accident and injury.
- Damages: Show you experienced damages due to the incident.
The Role of Comparative Fault
Washington is a comparative fault state, which means that if you were partly to blame for your accident, your compensation could be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you are found to be 30% at fault for a slip and fall because you were texting while walking, your compensation could be reduced by 30%.
Statute of Limitations
In Washington State, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including premises liability cases, is typically three years from the accident date. Failing to file a lawsuit within this timeframe usually results in losing the right to sue.
Do You Have a Case?
Determining if you have a premises liability case depends on the specific circumstances of your accident. If you can prove that the property owner was negligent in maintaining their property and that this negligence led to your injury, you may have a strong case. However, the details are critical, and Washington’s comparative fault law could affect your claim.
Why You Need an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Navigating premises liability laws in Washington can be complex, and the advice of a skilled personal injury attorney can be invaluable. An attorney with experience in slip and fall and premises liability cases can help you understand your rights, gather evidence to support your claim, and negotiate with insurance companies or represent you in court if necessary.
An experienced lawyer will work to ensure that all aspects of your case are handled professionally, including the gathering of evidence, such as surveillance footage, witness statements, and maintenance records. They can also assist you in understanding how your conduct may impact your claim and help mitigate any potential comparative fault arguments.
Our Experienced Premises Liability Attorneys Can Help with Your Case
If you or a loved one has been injured on someone else’s property in Washington State, understanding premises liability laws is the first step in determining if you have a case. Remember, the property owner’s negligence must be the direct cause of your injury for a successful claim. With the guidance of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney, you can navigate the legal system and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Injuries sustained in slip and fall accidents can be life-altering, and the path to recovery can be long and expensive. But you don’t have to face it alone. If you believe you have a premises liability case, consider contacting the Bernard Law Group in Seattle, Washington. Our expertise in personal injury law can provide you with the support and representation you need to pursue justice and obtain the best possible outcome for your case.