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Colburn Law

Seattle Premises Liability Lawyer

Premise Liability refers to the idea that property owners must act reasonably in relation to a property’s upkeep and care. This legal concept comes into play when someone is injured as the result of an unsafe or defective condition on another’s property. Like most other forms of personal injury cases, it’s rooted in the legal theory of negligence.

To successfully litigate a premise liability case, the plaintiff (injured person) must prove the owner of a property was negligent in its ownership and maintenance. In other words, a property owner knew or should’ve known about an unsafe condition, but he or she did nothing to remedy it.

Types of Premise Liability Cases

Premise liability is a broad term that can encompass many types of scenarios. Here are some of the most common types:

  • Slip and fall or trip and fall cases
  • Swimming pool injuries
  • Snow and ice injuries
  • Dog bites
  • Fires
  • Elevator and escalator injuries
  • Amusement park injuries
  • Incidents arising from inadequate security
  • Toxic chemicals (such as asbestos or lead in a rental property)

Slip and fall incidents are the most common type of premise liability cases, so much so that premise liability is also called slip and fall liability. An example of a slip and fall case might be slipping and breaking your arm in a grocery store because of standing water. It might also involve slipping and falling on ice in front of a business. In both examples, a property owner should know about these issues and take care to solve them before an injury happens.

Proving Negligence in a Premise Liability Case

Proving someone was negligent in the upkeep or ownership of their property requires four things:

  • Sufficient evidence that the owner knew or should have known an unsafe condition existed. In our grocery store example, security footage might show an employee walking past a puddle.
  • Proof the owner didn’t remedy the situation. For example, the employee who walked past the puddle didn’t mop it up.
  • A link between their negligence and your injuries. In our example, you slipped, fell, and broke your arm. Documenting where the fall happened will help your case.
  • Proof of damages. Lastly, you’ll have to show you incurred damages as a result. If you slipped on the spill and bruised your tailbone, there is likely to be no damages because there was no need for a doctor or time away from work. Examples of damages include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Exceptions to the Duty of Care Rule

Generally speaking, business owners owe a duty of care to their patrons. In some situations, however, the owner doesn’t owe you a duty of care. These include:

  • If you were trespassing. If you didn’t have a legal right to be on someone’s property, they can’t be liable for your injuries.
  • You were committing another crime on the property. A property owner isn’t negligent if you were in the process of breaking the law.
  • They were reasonably careful. If an owner knew about a situation and remedied to the best of her or his ability, the courts are unlikely to find this person responsible. Snow and ice injuries can be the trickiest to navigate. For example, if you slipped and fell on freshly fallen snow in the middle of a storm, the owner of the property probably wasn’t negligent (especially if he or she was clearing snow periodically). On the other hand, if you slipped on packed down ice from a storm three days ago, you might have a case for negligence.

Finding a Premise Liability Attorney in Seattle

Premise liability cases require an expert hand. In my years of practicing law, I’ve handled hundreds of personal injury cases successfully. Now, it’s time to go to work on yours. I won’t stop negotiating until we’ve reached a settlement we think is fair – and I’m not afraid to go to trial.

No one should have to pay the price for someone else’s negligence. Contact Greg Colburn of Colburn Law to schedule a free review of your legal options. Let me help you get back on the road to health, hope, and financial security.