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Public vs. Private Property: Are There Different Premises Liability Rules?

Colburn Law

In the aftermath of a personal injury on someone else’s property, a myriad of questions can arise. One crucial distinction to be aware of is whether the injury occurred on public or private property. This differentiation can affect your options for recovering compensation; in these situations, it is important to speak to an attorney about your next steps.

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What Is a Premises Liability Lawsuit?

A premises liability lawsuit is a legal claim brought forward by someone who has been injured on another person’s property, be it public or private. These claims arise when property owners or managers are negligent in maintaining safe conditions, leading to accidents and injuries.

Potential damages you could recover in your case include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages and future earning potential
  • Property damage
  • Emotional distress
  • Permanent disability
  • Loss of quality of life

The Three Main Types of Property Visitors in Washington

The state of Washington categorizes visitors on a property into three primary types. Each category has different rights when it comes to premises liability:

  • Invitees: These are individuals who are invited onto a property for the benefit of the property owner, often in a business context. Think of customers in a store or patrons at a restaurant or cafe. Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees, ensuring that the premises are safe from known dangers and warning them if any hazards arise.
  • Licensees: Licensees are those who enter the property for their own purposes but have the owner’s permission. An example might be a social guest or utility worker who is performing repairs at a home. For licensees, property owners must warn of any known dangers but are not necessarily required to inspect for unknown dangers.
  • Trespassers: As the name suggests, trespassers enter the property without permission. Typically, property owners do not owe a duty of care to adult trespassers, except they should not cause them willful harm. However, special rules apply if the trespasser is a child, especially if there are attractive nuisances like swimming pools.

Does Being Injured on Public or Private Property Affect Your Case?

While you can file a premises liability claim regardless of whether you were injured on public or private property, the location of your injury can impact your case. For injuries on private properties, such as a home or store, your case would typically involve an individual or business entity. They are held responsible for maintaining safe conditions and might be liable if their negligence caused your injury.

On the other hand, if you’re injured on public property like a park, government building, or street, your lawsuit might be directed toward a government entity. It’s essential to note that there are often stricter deadlines and requirements when suing a government agency compared to a private entity. In these situations, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. 

Contact a Washington Premises Liability Lawyer After Your Accident

If you’ve been injured on someone else’s property, whether public or private, it’s paramount that you consult with a premises liability attorney as soon as possible. Legal intricacies surrounding such cases can be complex, and you may need guidance through the process. 

A Washington premises liability lawyer can assess your situation, determine the best course of action, and fight for the compensation you deserve. After your accident, seek medical attention for any injuries that you have suffered. Then, schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your case and plan your next steps.