Slip and fall injuries are some of the most common types of accidents affecting people in Washington. Even when a slip and fall accident does not seem very serious, because of how the individual lands after a fall, they could suffer serious back, neck, or head injuries. When a slip and fall injury is caused by someone else's negligence, that person should be held accountable for their actions.
A slip and fall injury victim can file a personal injury lawsuit in Washington to be compensated for their injuries. They can recover damages, including medical bills and lost wages, and receive an award to cover their pain and suffering. If you have any questions about whether you should be awarded damages after a slip and fall accident, contact your Clark County personal injury attorney.
In Washington, property owners and property occupiers are generally liable for dangerous conditions on their property. Property owners or those responsible for keeping the property in a safe condition owe a duty to others to correct hazardous conditions or warn people about those dangers. The duty owed depends on who is on the property and who the property owner is.
Under premises liability, people on someone else's property are generally classified as one of the following:
Property owners have the highest duty of care towards invitees, and these could include customers in a store, diners at a restaurant, or a client in an office. Property owners owe invitees a duty of reasonable care when an invitee is on their property. A property owner is liable for any injuries caused to an invitee by a condition on the property that the owner:
- Knows or should have known about that involves an unreasonable risk of harm to invitees;
- Should expect that the invitees will not discover the danger or fail to protect against it; and
- Fails to exercise ordinary care to protect them against the danger.
A licensee is someone who is allowed to enter the property or remain on the property by permission or invitation. The difference between a licensee and an invitee is a licensee is there for their own benefit and not for the financial benefit of the property owner. This could include someone coming to your house for a party.
A property owner has a duty to licensees of ordinary care in connection with dangerous conditions that the owner knows or should know about and that the licensee cannot be expected to know about. The property owner is required to warn licensees about such conditions.
Slip and Fall Injury Examples
Slip and fall injuries can occur on anywhere, including the workplace, a grocery store, or a neighbor's house. Examples of slip and fall, or trip and fall, injuries include:
- Slipping on a wet surface in the grocery store;
- Tripping on torn carpet in the office;
- Walking down the sidewalk and tripping over broken concrete;
- Slipping on an icy patch in a parking lot;
- Falling after stepping on a broken stair step; or
- Holding onto a handrail that comes loose from the wall.
In many of these examples, the property owner may be liable to the injury victim for their damages. Damages in a slip and fall accident may depend on the seriousness of the injury. Some slip and fall injuries can lead to permanent injuries with life-long consequences.
When someone slips or trips and loses their balance, there may be nothing to protect them from a fall to the hard surface of the ground. This can lead to serious injuries of the neck, back, or spine. If the victim hits his or her head after a fall, this can cause a concussion or other brain trauma.
Liability for Businesses in Customer Slip and Fall Injuries
Businesses owe customers a duty of reasonable care to keep their premises safe. This includes inspecting the property to look for hazardous conditions, keeping the premises in good repair, and warning customers about any unsafe conditions.
When a business has a temporarily unsafe condition, such as a wet floor, the business owner may be liable for any injuries caused if they had constructive or actual knowledge of the unsafe condition. This may depend on how long the dangerous condition existed and whether the property owner had long enough to discover the condition.
Liability for Renters and Landlords
When someone is renting or occupying a property, they generally have a responsibility for the conditions of the property. However, in most cases, the owner or landlord is still responsible for areas under their control, like common areas in an apartment building or office complex.
Property owners generally have an affirmative duty to maintain the common areas of the property in a reasonably safe condition. This also applies to hazards created by natural conditions, like snow or ice buildup.
Liability for Dangerous Sidewalks
Liability for a slip and fall accident on public property depends on who is responsible for maintaining the property. For example, the condition of a sidewalk may be the duty of the property owner or the municipality.
Property owners are generally responsible for the sidewalks adjacent to their property. Property owners have a duty to keep these sidewalks in a condition so they are not unsafe for ordinary travel.
Other sidewalks generally fall under the responsibility of the city, town, county, or state. The municipality has a duty to keep sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition for ordinary use. In order for a plaintiff to make a claim against the city or municipality for negligence, the plaintiff must show that the municipality had actual or constructive notice of the unsafe condition of the sidewalk and a reasonable opportunity to fix it or give a proper warning.
Slip and Fall Claims Process
The process for making a slip and fall accident claim begins immediately after the accident. If the victim is seriously injured, he or she should seek immediate medical attention. Many slip and fall accident injuries are complicated and may not be obvious after the fall. The individual may try and walk off their injury and think everything is okay. But the next day, they may suffer headaches, back pain, or not even be able to get out of bed.
The individual should get the contact information of the property owner or whoever occupies the property. This could be an individual, business, or government entity. The fall victim should take pictures and/or video of the accident scene, if possible. This can help provide evidence in the case. If there are other witnesses, the victim should get their contact information.
File a Lawsuit
The next step should include contacting an experienced Washington slip and fall personal injury attorney. The right lawyer understands what to look for in a slip and fall accident case and will get experts on the case to investigate the accident to strengthen your case.
Time may be limited in a personal injury lawsuit. In most cases in Washington, you only have three years to file a lawsuit in a personal injury action. However, in some cases, the statute of limitations can be longer or shorter. Claims against the government have a much shorter statute of limitations than claims against private parties. Make sure you contact an attorney as soon as possible so you don't lose out on your chance to file a claim.
Be Cautious About Quick Settlement Offers
Your lawyer will also be able to deal with the property owner and insurance companies so you don't have to. Many accident victims think they can handle the case on their own and talk to the insurance company without a lawyer. The insurance company is looking for any way possible to deny your claim. They may even try and get you to say something to use against you.
Even if the insurance company does make you an offer, they will likely try and offer as little as possible. Before you accept any settlement offer or talk to the insurance company about your accident, make sure you know what is at stake.
Posner Law Office, P.C. Slip and Fall Case Results
Quinn Posner at Posner Law Office, P.C. in Camas, Washington has successfully represented clients who have suffered a slip and fall injury. Here are some cases from actual clients.
Clark County Slip and Fall Injury Lawyer
After a slip and fall accident in Washington, you need an experienced lawyer who understands how to deal with the property owner's insurance company to get you the full compensation you are entitled to under Washington personal injury laws. Quinn Posner at Posner Law Office, P.C. will watch out for you and your best interests and fight for your rights. Quinn Posner represents injured clients in Camas, Washougal, and Clark County. Call today for a free slip and fall accident consultation.