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Premises Liability Attorneys in Seattle, Washington

Washington state law requires property owners to ensure their premises are safe for visitors, business people, and customers with permission to enter. If you or someone in your family sustained an injury while visiting someone else’s property, you may have grounds to file a premises liability claim against the property owner.

At the Bernard Law Group, we understand how a slip and fall accident can impact your life. We encourage you to contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation.

Understanding Premises Liability Law

Premises liability is a legal concept in personal injury law where the person in possession of land or premises is held responsible for certain injuries individuals suffer on the property.

It primarily deals with accidents caused by the property’s condition or activities conducted on the property. The fundamental principle is that property owners and residents owe a duty of care to ensure their property is safe for those who enter it.

Washington State Laws Governing Premises Liability

In Washington State, premises liability is governed under several statutes and common law principles. One of the key statutes is RCW 4.24.210, which addresses the liability of landowners or those in control of land and water areas for injuries to recreation users, including those engaging in activities like hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and more.

This law specifies that landowners are not liable for unintentional injuries to users unless there are known dangerous artificial latent conditions for which no warning signs have been posted​​​​​​​​.

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Key Legal Terms and Concepts

Premises liability law involves terms and concepts that not everyone understands. These include:

Invitees, Licensees, and Trespassers

In Washington State, the duty of care a property owner owes depends on whether the visitor is an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser.

Invitees are people who enter the property for the owner’s commercial benefit, like customers in a store and are owed the highest duty of care. Licensees enter the property for their purposes and must be warned of non-obvious dangers. Trespassers are those who enter without any right, and while they are owed the least duty of care, the owner must not willfully harm them​​.

If an accident occurs, proving liability requires a victim to establish these elements:

  • Duty of Care: Property owners must ensure their property is safe. This includes regular inspections and addressing potential hazards.
  • Breach of Duty: If a property owner fails to maintain a safe environment, resulting in injury, this is considered a breach of duty.
  • Causation: There must be a direct link between the property owner’s negligence and the injury sustained by the claimant.
  • Damages: The injured party must demonstrate that they suffered damages (physical injury, financial loss, etc.) due to the incident.

Comparative Fault

Washington State practices comparative fault, meaning if the injured party is partially responsible for their injury, their compensation can be reduced accordingly. For instance, if a person is 30% at fault for their injury, their compensation could be reduced by 30%​​.

Types of Premises Liability Cases

Premises liability is an umbrella term that encompasses many types of accidents. These include:

Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents are among the most common premises liability cases. They occur when a person slips, trips, or falls due to a dangerous condition on someone else’s property. Common causes include wet floors, uneven surfaces, poorly lit areas, or icy walkways. Property owners are expected to maintain safe conditions to prevent such accidents.

Inadequate Maintenance of the Premises

This refers to situations where property damage or injury occurs because the property was not properly maintained. Examples include broken stairs, faulty wiring, or crumbling infrastructure. Property owners are responsible for regular maintenance to ensure safety.

Defective Conditions on the Property

Defective conditions involve injuries caused by a flaw or fault in the property’s construction or design. This can include poorly designed staircases, malfunctioning doors or windows, or structural failures. Property owners may be liable if they were aware of the defect and did not correct it.

Inadequate Security Leading to Injury or Assault

In cases of inadequate security, property owners may be liable for injuries or assaults on their premises due to a lack of proper security measures. Examples include insufficient lighting, lack of security personnel, or faulty locks.

Elevator and Escalator Accidents

Elevator and escalator accidents can result from mechanical failures, improper maintenance, or faulty design. Property owners and maintenance companies can be held responsible for injuries sustained in such accidents.

Dog Bites and Animal Attacks on Property

These cases involve injuries caused by animals, typically dogs, on someone’s property. Property owners can be held liable if their pet injures a visitor, especially if the animal has a history of aggression.

Swimming Pool Accidents

Swimming pool accidents cover a range of incidents, including drowning, slip and fall injuries, or diving accidents. Property owners with pools must ensure proper safety measures, such as fencing and warning signs, to prevent such accidents.

Property Owner’s Responsibilities

The duty of care is a legal obligation imposed on property owners to ensure their premises are safe for others. This means regularly inspecting the property, fixing hazards, and warning visitors about potential dangers.

The main goal is to prevent accidents and injuries. Failing to uphold this duty can result in liability for any accidents on the property.

Special Considerations for Commercial Properties

The duty of care is heightened for commercial properties due to the nature of public access and commercial activities. Owners must conduct regular inspections, maintain safe conditions (like clear walkways and secure shelving), and promptly address hazards.

Compliance with local safety regulations and building codes is crucial. Special attention should be given to areas prone to accidents, such as parking lots and stairwells. Additionally, commercial properties may need to implement security measures to protect visitors from potential crimes.

Impact of Negligence on Claim Outcomes

Negligence plays a crucial role in determining the outcome of a premises liability claim. If negligence is proven, the property owner may be liable for damages.

However, if the injured party is also found negligent, their compensation might be lessened under the comparative fault rule. The degree of negligence on both sides influences the final settlement or court judgment.

Filing a Premises Liability Claim

Filing a premises liability claim is the obvious step if you are injured due to a property owner’s negligence. However, it is up to you, with your Seattle premises liability claim attorney, to prove negligence occurred.

Your case begins the moment the accident occurs.

Steps to Take After an Injury

What you do or say immediately after an accident can significantly impact the outcome of a legal case. Be sure to take these steps after an accident:

  • Seek Medical Attention: Your health comes first. Get medical treatment immediately.
  • Report the Incident: Inform the property owner or manager about the accident immediately.
  • Document Everything: Take photos of the accident scene and your injuries. Keep a record of what happened and any witness contact information.
  • Consult a Lawyer: Consider talking to a lawyer specializing in premises liability to understand your rights and options.

Gathering and Preserving Evidence

After an accident, evidence of what happened can be changed, moved, or lost. If possible, begin collecting evidence immediately after your accident. This includes:

  • Photos and Videos: Capture clear images of the hazard that caused the injury.
  • Witness Statements: Collect contact details and statements from anyone who saw the accident.
  • Medical Records: Keep all medical documentation related to your injuries.
  • Accident Report: Obtain a copy of the report if one was made at the property.

Statute of Limitations in Washington

In Washington, you generally have three years from the date of the injury to file a premises liability lawsuit. If you miss this deadline, the court may not consider your claim. Therefore, it’s essential to act promptly.

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How Bernard Law Group Can Help

If you are dealing with a premises liability accident, we can help. While you have several options in the Seattle area, we believe we can help. Some of the reasons we are the go-to law firm for your premises liability claim include the following:

Case Evaluation and Consultation Process

Bernard Law Group offers a thorough case evaluation to understand the specifics of your situation. During the consultation, we will discuss the details of your accident, review any evidence you have, and advise you on the best legal options available for your premises liability case.

Strategy and Representation Approach

Our team develops a customized strategy for each case, focusing on strong representation and advocating for your rights. We aim to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries and losses.

Navigating Insurance and Settlement Negotiations

Our lawyers have experience dealing with insurance companies and can handle all aspects of settlement negotiations. We strive to ensure that clients are not pressured into unfair settlements and work towards securing the best possible compensation.

Compensations and Damages

In premises liability cases, compensable damages typically include:

  • Medical Expenses: Costs for current and future medical treatment.
  • Lost Wages: Income lost due to the inability to work.
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain and emotional distress.
  • Property Damage: Costs to repair or replace personal property damaged in the incident.

Calculating Damages in Premises Liability Cases

Calculating damages involves assessing the total impact of the injury. This includes tangible costs like medical bills and lost earnings and intangible factors like pain and suffering.

Factors Influencing Compensation Amounts

Several factors can affect compensation amounts, such as:

  • Severity of Injuries: More serious injuries typically result in higher compensation.
  • Impact on Quality of Life: How the injury affects daily life and long-term health.
  • Fault and Negligence: The degree of each party’s responsibility.
  • Insurance Coverage: Limits of the liable party’s insurance policy.

Common Defense Strategies in Premises Liability Cases

Defendants in premises liability cases often argue:

  • No Negligence: Claiming they did everything reasonable to keep the property safe.
  • Comparative Fault: Suggesting the injured person was partly or wholly responsible for the accident.
  • Lack of Knowledge: They stated they were unaware of the dangerous condition.

Unique Challenges in Seattle Premises Liability Cases

Seattle’s varied weather and topography can create unique challenges, like rapidly changing conditions leading to slips and falls. Additionally, the mix of old and new buildings can pose different safety concerns.

Understanding Your Rights When Filing a Premises Liability Claim

Navigating the complexities of premises liability law can be challenging. The Bernard Law Group in Seattle offers legal services to address these cases and help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Contact our office to schedule a free consultation if you need help with your premises liability claim.

The Proof Is In Our Case Results Over $500 MILLION recovered for our clients. Let us help YOU! Call 24/7 for your FREE injury consultation. 206-298-9900

The Proof Is In Our Case Results

Over $500 Million recovered for our past clients. Let us help YOU! Call 24/7 for your FREE injury consultation. 206-298-9900

Find a Bernard Law Group Office Near You In Washington

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