Yakima Premises Liability / Slip and Fall Lawyers
If you slipped and fell on public property, a private residence, or commercial property in Washington state, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses. Speak with our Yakima premises liability slip and fall lawyers to understand your options for compensation.
Slip and falls account for more than a million emergency room visits each year. Slip and fall accidents are also the leading cause of missed days at work in the United States, according to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI).
If a property owner is responsible for your slip and fall accident, you may be able to pursue compensation based on premises liability. Contact our slip and fall lawyers at Brumback & Ottem to find out whether or not you can hold a property owner, occupier, or landlord liable for your slip and fall accident. Call 509-350-5382 to get a free case review.
Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and falls account for the largest percentage of premises liability claims in Washington state. These accidents occur as a result of the following hazards and conditions:
- Wet floor
- Slippery floor
- Uneven surfaces
- Ice or snow that was left untreated
- Loose or torn carpets
- Defective sidewalks
- Missing or broken handrails
While most slip and fall accidents lead to minor injuries, some accidents may result in serious injuries and disabilities. Regardless of what caused your accident, you need a slip and fall lawyer to discuss your particular case and determine whether or not you can obtain compensation from the negligent or careless property owner.
When Are Property Owners Liable for Slip and Fall Injuries?
Under Washington’s premises liability law, property owners cannot be responsible for all slip and fall accidents that occur on their premises. You may be able to hold the property owner liable for your injury if you can prove the following:
- The owner of the property where your accident occurred owed you a duty of care to maintain the property in a good and safe condition;
- You slipped or tripped and fell because of a dangerous condition on the property that the owner knew or should reasonably have known about but failed to fix it or warned you about the hazard; and
- You suffered injuries and damages because of a dangerous condition that was caused by the property owner or was not fixed by the owner within a reasonable amount of time.
The property owner’s duty of care differs depending on the legal status of the people who sustained injuries on their property.
Four Types of Legal Statuses in Premises Liability Cases in Yakima, WA
The property owner’s standard of care depends on the visitor’s legal status. Washington state recognizes four types of legal statutes in premises liability cases:
- Public invitees are any people who are invited onto the property either expressly or implicitly because the property is open to the public. An example is a shopping mall or a restaurant.
- Business invitees are any people who are invited onto the property for business dealings with the property owner.
- Licensees are any people who have received an express or implied invitation to enter the property.
- Trespassers are any people who are unlawfully on the property and have no permission from the owner to enter or remain on the property.
Property owners owe the highest standard of care to public and business invitees. Under Washington’s premises liability law, owners must exercise due care to:
- Regularly inspect their property to discover hazards;
- Eliminate dangerous conditions within a reasonable amount of time; and
- Warn visitors about dangerous conditions that cannot be fixed immediately.
In a nutshell, property owners must provide safe premises for their visitors, especially public and business invitees. The duty of care owed to licensees is lower than for invitees. However, a property owner is still required to warn licensees of known dangerous conditions to prevent accidents.
In Washington, property owners owe no duty of care to protect people who have no legal right to enter their property unless the trespasser is a young child who was attracted because of an attractive nuisance. The law assumes that children do not have the ability to understand what is safe and what is not safe.
What Damages Can You Recover With a Slip and Fall Lawyer in Yakima, WA?
If you sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident, you might be eligible to recover the following damages:
- Medical bills, including the cost of your treatment, medications, emergency room costs, rehabilitation, and others
- Lost wages if you missed time at work
- Emotional distress and pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Diminished earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Other damages may be available in your premises liability case depending on the severity of your injury and the circumstances of your slip and fall accident. Contact an experienced attorney to review your situation and determine what damages you can recover in your specific case.
Frequently Asked Questions About Premises Liability and Slip and Falls in Washington
How Long Do You Have to Bring a Premises Liability Claim in Washington State?
In Washington state, the statute of limitations for any premises liability claim, including slip and fall cases, is three years from the date of the accident (RCW § 4.16. 080). If you fail to bring a premises liability claim by the end of the deadline, you will be barred from recovering damages.
While three years might seem like a long time, you should wait a year or two to start legal action. The sooner you start building your legal case, the better the chance of a successful outcome. It is advisable to contact a skilled premises liability slip and fall lawyer to help you gather and preserve evidence and build a strong claim immediately after your accident.
What is Considered an Open and Obvious Hazard in Washington?
If you sustain injuries on someone else’s property and the owner of the property says that the condition that caused your injury was an “open and obvious” hazard, you may wonder what an open and obvious condition is.
Under premises liability law, an open and obvious hazard is a condition that any reasonable visitor would observe to avoid harm. Typically, a property owner does not have an obligation to warn visitors of open and obvious hazards.
Because most open and obvious hazards cannot be eliminated altogether, a property owner may not have a legal duty to fix the condition. However, what constitutes an open and obvious danger depends on the circumstances of your case.
It is advisable to speak with a skilled premises liability slip and fall lawyer in Washington state to determine whether or not the property owner can avoid liability by claiming that the condition that led to your slip and fall accident was an “open and obvious” hazard.
If a property owner successfully argues that the condition constitutes an open and obvious danger, you may be barred from receiving any compensation.
Can You Seek Compensation for Your Slip and Fall Injury if You Were Partially at Fault?
Recovering damages after a slip and fall accident can be complicated, especially if you were partially to blame for the accident. If the property owner argues that your own negligence contributed to the accident, your compensation may be reduced.
However, the fact that you were partially at fault cannot prevent you from seeking compensation. Washington state follows the doctrine of pure comparative negligence pursuant to RCW § 4.22.005.
It means that a victim of a slip and fall accident – or any other accident, for that matter – is entitled to compensation even if their degree of fault exceeds the fault of the other party. In other words, you can receive compensation for your injuries even if you were mostly at fault. Thus, a plaintiff can be 99% at fault for a slip and fall accident and still recover one percent of the damages.
The comparative negligence of each party will be assessed by a jury or judge to assign a percentage of fault. Then, the damages award is reduced in proportion to each party’s percentage of fault.
For example, if your premises liability claim is valued at $50,000 and you were deemed 30% at fault for the accident, you would only recover $35,000 ($50,000 minus 30% of your fault). Contact an attorney to assess the degree of fault in your particular case.
Does Washington State Have an Attractive Nuisance Doctrine?
Washington state follows the doctrine of “attractive nuisance,” which means that a property owner can be held liable for a trespassing child’s injuries if the property had features that:
- Captured the interest of the trespassing child;
- Attracted the child to trespass onto the property to investigate the attractive nuisance; and
- Caused the trespassing child’s injury.
Common examples of attractive nuisances include swimming pools, trampolines, fountains, machinery, tree houses, construction projects, and others. If your child was injured while trespassing, consult with an attorney to determine whether or not you can sue the owner of the property for failing to take reasonable precautions to prevent the accident.
Contact our premises liability and slip and fall lawyers at Brumback & Ottem to discuss your unique case and explore your legal options. We will analyze your case during a free initial consultation. Call 509-350-5382 today.