Under the law, a property owner is responsible for ensuring their property is safe. More specifically, a property owner has a duty to use reasonable care to maintain the property. Reasonable care can include such things as routine maintenance, cleaning up spills, proper fire safety, and snow and ice clearance, among other actions that are expected of a property owner.
Anyone who suffers catastrophic injuries or the wrongful death of a family member is entitled to financial damages if a property owner’s negligence causes an accident. The legal term for this concept is premises liability, and it covers a wide range of injuries that can occur on someone’s property, whether that property is residential or commercial.
In this article, we will provide basic information about premises liability and what you can do if you or a loved one is injured on someone’s property due to the property owner’s negligence.
What is premises liability?
Premises liability is a common personal injury claim. Negligence is a key factor in premises liability cases. Negligence occurs when the property owner fails to use reasonable care for the upkeep of the property. This is a key point, as not all injuries that occur on someone’s property result in a premises liability claim. The property owner must have known or should have reasonably known that the property had unsafe conditions and failed to take steps to fix the situation.
A number of fairly common scenarios can result in a premises liability claim. Examples include:
- Dog or animal bites
- Drowning, including swimming pool accidents
- Injuries caused by a slip and fall accident
- Falling objects and dangerous property conditions
- Improper or inadequate maintenance
- Latent defects in rental property
The above is not an exhaustive list of incidents that can result in a premises liability claim. If you have been injured on someone’s property and think you might have a premises liability claim, you will want to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.
How can I receive compensation for catastrophic injuries or wrongful death on someone else’s property?
A property owner must be found responsible for the accident through negligence. Every case is different, so an experienced attorney will investigate the accident to determine whether the property owner can be held liable. In Washington State, you may seek financial damages from a property owner if these three things are true:
1. Unsafe conditions caused the injury or death
2. The property owner was aware of the condition (or should have known about it)
3. The property owner had reasonable opportunity to address the hazard
For example, one of the most common types of premises liability cases is known as “slip and falls.” These types of accidents occur when someone slips and falls on a piece of property, resulting in injury. Situations that might result in a slip and fall include floors that are wet or slippery, such as those due to a spill; icy walkways, driveways, and parking lots; electric cords that are not clearly visible; slip rugs; and broken floors, stairs, or property surfaces. If you experience a slip-and-fall injury due to any of these causes, and the owner is deemed to be negligent in allowing that cause to persist, your attorney could sue the property owner.
Oftentimes, the property owner will have insurance to cover certain premises liability accidents. For homeowners, this might be their homeowner insurance policies. Businesses may have premises liability insurance and/or general liability coverage. Your lawyer may work directly with the property owner’s insurance company to negotiate a settlement that all parties agree on. If the parties cannot agree on a settlement amount, your lawyer may file a lawsuit to force the insurance company or property owner to pay.
How long after an accident can I sue a property owner?
In Washington State, the statute of limitations for premises liability is three years from the incident. However, pursuing compensation is more likely to be successful if you contact an experienced attorney immediately to begin the investigation process.
What’s the limit on damages I can seek for injuries or wrongful death on someone’s property?
Some states place limits on the extent a property owner can be held responsible for an injury on their property due to their negligence. Fortunately for anyone who has experienced an injury on a piece of property in Washington, there is no limit to how much a jury can award the victim of a serious injury or wrongful death.
If you have suffered a catastrophic injury or the death of a loved one because of dangerous conditions on someone else’s property, speak with a lawyer by completing our intake form or calling us at (253) 948-3199 or (206) 536-2850. All conversations are confidential.