Under premises liability law, property owners – or the individual or business responsible for a certain property – may be responsible for your safety while you are a visitor on their land. If you are hurt while on someone else’s property and the reason for your injuries was not obvious to you or others, then you may have a legal claim for compensation against the property owner or manager. To discuss the possibility of a claim after getting hurt on another person’s land, contact our Seattle premises liability lawyer today at 206-973-0407 to schedule a free, initial case consultation.
In Washington state, your legal rights depend on your status while on the other person’s land, such as whether you were an invited guest or were trespassing. If you have questions about your status while visiting the property of another individual or business, contact a Seattle premises liability lawyer at Emerald City Law Group right away.
Washington Premises Liability Law
In Washington, property owners or managers are required to maintain their properties to a certain standard. The specific standard depends on the type of property and the relationship between the owners and people who come onto the premises. Washington recognizes a variety of visitors, including:
- Public Invitees – People who enter an owner’s property because of an implied or expressed invitation that the property is open to the public.
- Business Invitees – People who enter an owner’s property or remain on the property for a purpose directly or indirectly related to business dealings.
- Licensees – People who have implied consent to enter the owner’s property, such as social guests, utility workers, or door-to-door sales people.
- Trespassers – People who do not have a legal right to be on the property and did not receive permission from the owner.
Property owners or managers have the highest duty of care toward invitees. The owners must use reasonable care in discovering dangerous conditions on their land and either fixing them, warning others about them, or blocking them from access. Essentially, owners must use reasonable efforts to maintain a safe premises for public and business visitors.
Owners have a slightly lower duty of care toward licensees. If they know of a hazardous condition, they need to warn licensees about it, fix it, or make it inaccessible. They cannot know of a dangerous condition and simply let a licensee walk right into it.
Owners have no duty to protect trespassers. When people come onto other’s land without permission, they do so at their own risk.
If you have questions about what type of relationship you share (or do not share) with a property owner on whose land you were injured, you should contact a Seattle premises liability lawyer.
Open and Obvious Dangers
There are a number of limitations on a property owner’s liability to guests. One of these limitations is when a danger is open and obvious, which means it is reasonable to assume a guest will observe and avoid the hazard. Property owners typically do not have to warn visitors about open and obvious dangers. They also are not usually responsible for fixing them, if doing so is possible. Some open and obvious dangers, like wet grass, are not easily remedied.
Whether a condition is open and obvious is typically used as a defense to a premises liability claim. If you were hurt by a dangerous condition on a property and you pursue compensation, the owner may claim the hazard was open and obvious. If an insurer agrees, then it may deny you a settlement. If a court agrees, you may not receive any compensation.
Common Premises Liability Claims
The most common premises liability claims you will hear about are slip and falls. However, just because your injuries were not sustained from slipping or tripping on another person’s property does not mean you do not have a premises liability claim. Many types of accidents can lead to premises liability claims, including:
- Industrial site accidents – Industrial work sites, factories, and warehouses have widespread potential hazards, particularly if they are not well-maintained.
- Slip and falls – All types of property owners and managers need to take care that their floors are safe. Walking surfaces that become slick are very dangerous, such as icy sidewalks or grocery store aisles after spills. Also, walkways need to be clear of debris and loose items, like cords, which could trip anyone not paying close attention to their feet. If you were injured in any of these scenarios, or another accident that resulted in a fall, contact the slip and fall attorneys at Emerald City Law Group today.
- Apartment complex accidents – Many accidents occur in apartment complexes, which often have a variety of private, public, or semi-public areas maintained by different parties. Accidents on apartment complex property can become complicated when it comes to determining who is liable.
- Pool accidents – Pools, hot tubs, and spas are enjoyable, yet they also create a number of hazards. If owners do not take the proper steps, then visitors are at risk slips and falls, cuts, drowning, and more. If you have questions about the validity of an injury sustained at a pool, contact our swimming pool accident lawyers today.
- Stair accidents – Stairs are a prime place for an accident, particularly if there are loose treads, loose or ripped carpet, or uneven stairs. Accidents that occur on stairs can also lead to serious and catastrophic injuries.
- Balcony and deck accidents – Balconies and decks are typically dangerous due to their height. If guests are not protected, a fall to a lower level could lead to significant injuries.
- Third-party assaults/negligent security – Another common premises liability claim is based on negligent security, which enables a visitor to suffer from an attack by a third party.
- Dog bites – Property owners are responsible for their pets. When these pets are aggressive or not properly contained, visitors are at risk for attacks and bites. If you or a loved one were bitten by a dog on someone else’s property, call Emerald City Law Group’s dog bite lawyers immediately.
Compensation in Seattle Premises Liability Claims
If you were hurt while lawfully visiting another person or business’s property, and you believe your injuries were the property owner’s fault, then you should discuss potential compensation with our premises liability lawyers. Through a valid claim, you may be able to obtain compensation for your physical, psychological, and financial injuries. More specifically, you can pursue:
- Past, present, and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Decreased earning capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Permanent disability and/or disfigurement
Possible Insurance Coverage for Premises Liability Claims
In your premises liability case, you may be focused on recovering compensation from an insurer. However, whether there is an applicable insurance policy depends on the property owner and where you were hurt.
If you were injured on a business’s property while there for a business purpose, then it is highly likely there is an applicable insurance policy that covers bodily injury. However, a business owner may be without a business liability policy if they are a solo entrepreneur. Also, small businesses may have insurance policies, but with relatively low limits.
If you are injured at a person’s home or on their land, then you may be able to make a claim against their homeowners’ insurance policy. Similarly, if you were injured inside a person’s apartment for a condition the tenant was responsible for, then you should determine whether the tenant has a renters’ insurance policy. However, not all apartment complex accidents are a tenant’s responsibility. After being injured in an apartment’s common areas or due to a condition that is the landlord’s responsibility, then you need to determine if the landlord has an insurance policy covering bodily injuries.
Do not fall into the trap of thinking a relevant insurance policy guarantees you a good settlement. An insurer may deny your claim for reasons beyond your control or in bad faith. The insurer may refuse to negotiate an appropriate settlement, only offering you amounts too low to cover your injuries. You need an experienced premises liability lawyer to help you benefit from an insurance policy or move forward with a claim against someone who does not have one.
Talk to a Seattle Premises Liability Lawyer Today
If you were injured on someone else’s land, whether it was a person, business, or municipality’s property, you should speak with the premises liability lawyers of Emerald City Law Group as soon as possible. Whether or not you have a claim depends on a number of factors, including why you were on the land, whether you had permission to be on the land, and the condition that caused your injuries.
At Emerald City Law Group, our Seattle personal injury lawyers are ready to take on your case. We will review your situation and advise you on the best course of action, such as an insurance claim or filing a lawsuit. To learn more about premises liability and whether you have a valid claim, contact us online or call 206-973-0407 to schedule a free consultation.
How a Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
After any serious accident, there’s a lot to consider. But you don’t need to go through it alone.
At Emerald City Law Group, we know you are in pain and unsure about how to pay your bills. Even enjoying everyday activities can sometimes be taken away. This would be a lot for anyone and that’s why out personal injury attorneys are here to help with the burden you’re facing.
From dealing with insurance companies to helping determine liability, and all the way through a trial if necessary, we are prepared for whatever comes your way, so you get the financial security and peace of mind you need to properly recover. If you have been injured in an accident in King County, Washington or any surrounding area, you deserve justice and compensation. Contact Emerald City Law Group today at 206-973-0407.