Slip & Fall/Premises Liability
Property and business owners have a duty to take precautions to maximize the safety of customers, tenants and guests. Slips and falls are common premises injuries, but premises liability deals with a wide array of faulty and dangerous conditions, including:
- Slippery floors
- Objects or debris left on floors
- Unsafe store displays including merchandise stacked too high on shelves
- Parking lot hazards
- Faulty stairways, handrails and walkways
- Inadequate lighting in parking lots and building entryways
- Inadequate security contributing to assaults at hotels, apartments, businesses, malls and other establishments in any area where crime is a problem
- Faulty conditions in common areas of housing developments such as apartments and condominiums
- Faulty elevators or escalators
- Unsafe golf course design
- Swimming pool injuries
A person who is injured by a faulty condition on another person’s property may be entitled to recover compensation for their injuries from the property owner. As in all cases involving negligence, liability depends on whether the property owner owed the injured person a duty of care and whether that duty of care was breached.
In Washington the degree of duty a property owner owes you depends on whether your injury happened in a setting in which you were an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser. Property owners owe the highest duty to their business or public invitees. If you are on another’s property at the owner’s express or implied invitation because you are there to conduct business or use the property for the purposes for which it is open to the public, you are probably an invitee and the owner owes you a high degree of duty to use ordinary care to keep the property in reasonably safe condition, including a duty to actively look for and fix problems. If the problem cannot be fixed, invitees must be warned.
In contrast, a guest at someone’s house would be considered a licensee. A property owner’s duty of care to their licensees is less than that owed by property owners to invitees. The lowest duty of care is owed to a person who is trespassing. There is no duty to warn a trespasser of dangerous, natural conditions. Nevertheless, there may be a duty to warn of dangerous, manmade conditions.
A certain category of premises liability cases are slip and fall or trip and fall cases. These are cases where someone suffers injury from a fall caused by a slippery surface or a dangerous condition that causes the person to trip. Though falls occur quite frequently, these cases are very difficult to prove. In order to establish liability you must prove that the property owner either knew or should have known of the dangerous condition. This involves securing evidence such as incident reports and surveillance video, which is often destroyed very quickly. It also means that witnesses to the fall need to be interviewed right away. When a slip and fall or trip and fall occurs, it is important that you obtain legal representation quickly so that key evidence, and your right to bring a claim, can be preserved.
Our attorneys are well versed in premises liability law and can assess for you what your status on the property was – invitee, licensee, or trespasser – and the nature and extent of the owner’s duty to you. If a duty owed to you was violated, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, including, but not limited to, your medical expenses, your lost income and your pain and suffering.
If you or someone you love has been injured due to a faulty or dangerous condition on another’s property, please contact the Tacoma based attorneys of Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.C. at 866-454-RHHK(7445) or (253) 383-5388 or click here to submit a simple case form. Our initial consultation is free of charge and if we accept your case, we only get paid for our services if you receive monetary compensation.