Unfortunately, accidents that lead to serious injuries can happen just about anywhere, including on private property that you are visiting as a lawful guest or customer. If you get hurt in this kind of situation, the process of filing suit for civil damages works a little differently than it does for other types of personal injury claims, so it is generally a good idea to seek professional guidance before starting the litigation process by yourself.
By working with a seasoned Federal Way premises liability lawyer, you could significantly improve your odds of a favorable case resolution. A qualified personal injury attorney could explain whether your circumstances warrant a civil claim, help collect evidence of landowner liability and work with you to seek restitution for all your injuries and losses.
What Does a Property Liability Claim Look Like?
Not every accident that occurs on someone else’s property automatically confers liability for ensuing injuries onto the property’s owner or manager. Liability only exists if a dangerous condition was present on private property for long enough that the owner or manager reasonably should have been aware of it, but then negligently failed to address that condition within a reasonable amount of time.
For example, someone who slips on a spill in a store aisle that occurred seconds before they walked over it may not have a claim, but they likely would have grounds to file suit if the spill had gone unaddressed by store staff for several hours. In addition to unaddressed spills, other situations that a Federal Way premises liability attorney may be able to help an injured individual file suit over include:
- Damaged or loose floor tiles
- Frayed carpeting
- Unsteady collapses that allow merchandise to fall off onto customers
- Insufficient or broken lighting
- Unsafe electrical wiring
- Negligent security
Duties of Care for Different Types of Visitors
It is important to note that in Washington State is that property owners owe different levels of care to visitors depending on why that visitor is on their land. Landowners owe the strictest duty of care to business invitees like retail customers who lawfully visit property to benefit the owner. To protect invitees from harm, property owners and managers must exercise “ordinary care” by regularly inspecting their property for hazards and immediately correcting or cordoning off any hazards they find.
Licensees, on the other hand, are people like houseguests who visit property for their own purposes with the owner’s implied or explicit consent. While property owners still must warn licensees of hazards that they know about or reasonably should know about, their degree of responsibility for injuries is not quite as high as it is for invitees.
Finally, property owners and managers have virtually no obligation to warn unlawful trespassers of hazards or fix the hazards so that trespassers do not suffer harm, so long as the property owner does not harm trespassers through willful or wanton actions. However, as a property liability lawyer in Federal Way could explain in more detail, property owners can sometimes be liable for injuries suffered by trespassing children if the owner failed to property secure an “attractive nuisance” like a swimming pool.
A Federal Way Premises Liability Attorney Could Help
Accidents on someone else’s property may justify civil litigation, but only under certain circumstances, and sometimes only if an injured individual falls into a certain category of visitor. Even determining whether your situation constitutes grounds for a claim can be difficult to manage alone, to say nothing of how hard it may be to subsequently recover compensation with no professional guidance.
If you want to maximize your case’s chances of success, you should contact and retain a Federal Way premises liability lawyer as soon as possible. Schedule your first consultation by calling today.