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Seattle Premises Liability Attorneys

Have you been injured in an accident that occurred on someone else’s property? If so, you may be entitled to compensation for your legal damages, including your medical bills, loss of income, and even your ongoing pain and suffering as you recover from your accident. This is because of a specific aspect of Washington law known as premises liability.

In Tacoma, all property owners have a legal duty to keep their premises in reasonably safe condition for the benefit of outside persons who are lawfully on the property. A qualified lawyer can advise you of what steps to take when an owner neglects that duty and you suffer a serious injury as a result. At Emerald Law Group, we specialize in helping accident victims obtain compensation through insurance claims, and when necessary litigation against negligent property owners.

Your Status Matters in a Premises Liability Case

The rules governing premises liability are more complex than many people realize. One thing you need to know is that the legal “status” of the accident victim plays a critical role in determining the property owner’s potential liability. Generally, a person who is on someone else’s property can be classified as either an invitee, licensee, or trespasser. Here is how the three differ:

  • An invitee is a member of the public invited onto the property for the owner’s benefit. A common example of an invitee is a customer who shops at a store during normal business hours. Washington law imposes the highest duty of care on an owner with respect to invitees.
  • A licensee is someone who is on the property with permission but generally for their own benefit. If you visit a friend’s home or other private residence, you are generally considered a licensee rather than an invitee. An owner’s duty of care towards a licensee is not as strict as that owed to an invitee.
  • A trespasser is someone who is on the property without the owner’s permission. Generally speaking, an owner owes no duty to protect a trespasser from accidental injury. But there is an exception for children who trespass due to the presence of an “attractive nuisance” on the owner’s premises, such as an unattended swimming pool.

Even where a property owner has a duty of care, an accident victim must still prove the owner had “actual or constructive” knowledge of the unsafe condition on the premises that injured them. Constructive knowledge means that even when the owner did not actually know there was a hazard, they would have been able to discover it through the exercise of reasonable care.

In 2021, the Washington Supreme Court further explained that constructive knowledge applied to cases where a hazardous condition was “reasonably foreseeable” due to certain conditions. Specifically, the Court said that if it was raining outside, a store owner could be held liable if it failed to take reasonable steps to prevent water from tracking inside the premises and lead to slippery floors.

Contact Emerald Law Group Today

Premises liability cases are often vigorously contested by property owners and their insurance companies. That is why it is crucial to work with a skilled Tacoma premises liability lawyer who can serve as your advocate. Contact Emerald Law Group today to schedule a free initial consultation.

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