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Understanding Washington’s Slip and Fall Laws and Regulations

Submitted by Elizabeth V on Fri, 03/24/2023 - 17:52

Slip and Fall Accidents and Their Impact on Victims

When a slip and fall accident takes place it can have a long-lasting effect on the victims as well as their families. This is especially true for scenarios in which the slip and fall victim is unable to work for a long period of time due to the effect of their injuries caused in their slip and fall accident.

Washington’s Slip and Fall Laws and Regulations

Washington has a statute of limitations, which is a law that places a time limit on the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. For most Washington slip and fall lawsuits, the statute of limitations states that the person must commence the lawsuit within three years of the slip and fall accident taking place on the defendant’s property which you were allowed to use, and the property owner was required to keep the property in a safe condition. If you try to file a slip and fall lawsuit after the 3-year deadline set by Washington's statute of limitations, the property owner will likely request that the court dismisses the case.

What is a Slip and Fall Accident?

Slip and fall accidents take place when a victim falls either backwards or forwards after coming into contact with a hazard that causes them to slip and fall.

Some of the commonest causes of slip and fall accidents on a property are:

  • wet floors;
  • uneven floors or sidewalks;
  • spills of food or liquids;
  • potholes or cracks present in flooring;
  • loose or upturned carpet edges;
  • loose mats or rugs;
  • loose floorboards.

Some of the most common injuries from slip and falls are:

  • a broken or fractured bone;
  • a dislocated shoulder;
  • traumatic brain Injuries;
  • a sprained wrist and ankle;
  • a soft tissue injury;
  • a knee injury;
  • spine and nerve damage.

Understanding Washington’s Slip and Fall Laws

In Washington, property owners are not automatically liable for a slip and fall accident just because a slip and fall injury takes place on their property. Rather, to be liable, the property owner needs to have created (or allowed to exist) a dangerous condition or hazard which caused the property to be in an unsafe condition. If the property owner, either on private or government property, is aware of or should have been aware of an unsafe condition, they have a legal responsibility either to repair this unsafe condition immediately or to warn people of the potential danger.
For example, if a customer slips and falls on a wet floor in a grocery store, and the area has no warning signs, then the owner may be held responsible for the victim’s injuries.

The Concept of "Reasonable Care"

The concept of "reasonable care" and its application in slip and fall cases is important when deciding whether to award compensation in a slip and fall case.

Proving Negligence in a Slip and Fall Case

What is negligence in a slip and fall case?

Negligence in a slip and fall claim is when the victim can demonstrate that it is a property owner's negligence that directly caused the injuries, and that the property owner owed a duty of care to keep the premises safe for others to use without suffering a slip and fall injury but failed to uphold this duty.

Evidence required to prove negligence

Providing the following evidence is a requirement for proving negligence, liability, and the victim’s losses in a slip and fall claim:

  • eyewitness statements;
  • photos of the hazard or dangerous condition on the premises;
  • video footage of the slip and fall accident.

How negligence is established in Washington courts

A defendant who failed to maintain a property which led to a person’s slip and fall accident and subsequent injury(s) may be deemed negligent. It is worth noting that a court may also find that the defendant was malicious, strictly liable, or reckless. In some scenarios, the plaintiff’s own negligence may have contributed to the slip and fall accident. This is called contributory fault or comparative negligence, which could reduce the amount of compensation awarded to the victim.

Compensation for Slip and Fall Victims

There are both economic and non-economic damages available to slip and fall victims. Economic includes the financial losses caused to the victim by the accident like loss of wages while recovering and the cost of medical treatment. Non-economic damages include compensation for the pain and suffering caused by the slip and fall accident, loss of consortium suffered by the victim’s partner due to the injuries caused in the accident and the mental anguish caused by injuries such as permanent disfigurement. Punitive damages may also be available to punish the defendant for the victim’s losses.

If you believe that you may have contributed a little to your slip and fall accident you may still be able to recover compensation under Washington’s negligence laws that allows a slip and fall victim to seek compensation so long as they can prove that they are less than 50 percent liable for the accident.

The best way to maximize your claim is to make sure you do not file your claim too quickly in order to provide yourself with enough time to gather sufficient evidence that proves the losses you have experienced due to your slip and fall accident. You will need to gather receipts for the cost of your medical treatment, as well as a doctor’s report detailing any ongoing treatment and the costs you will require to treat your injuries. If you are offered an amount that you know does not cover your losses, you should dispute this as soon as possible in order to maximize your claim.

Seeking Legal Representation

An attorney that has negotiation skills and knows how to present a claim will offer you maximum compensation. This is because an attorney knows how to prepare documents that present your slip and fall compensation case in a compelling manner.

If you want to get the best compensation you can and may deserve, it is wise to hire a Washington personal injury attorney who can assess your case and help you in preparing a claim that meets your economic and non-economic losses.

Complete the Free Case Evaluation on this page to get connected with an independent, participating attorney who subscribes to our website and can help you today.

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