Recovering Compensation for a Slip and Fall Injury in Washington
Slip and fall accidents are often preventable if businesses, landlords and other property owners and managers keep their premises safe and warn visitors of potentially dangerous conditions. Unfortunately, wet surfaces, loose floorboards, potholes, loose railings, inadequate lighting and other property hazards are all too common, and accidents send hundreds of thousands of Americans to the emergency room each year. If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident on commercial or residential property, you may be able to obtain compensation for your losses.
Damages recoverable for a slip and fall can include medical bills, lost income and other costs related to the accident. Obtaining compensation requires filing a claim with the property owner’s insurance company and possibly having to sue in state court. Success in either venue depends upon showing that the property owner was negligent in failing to take appropriate measures despite knowledge — actual or implied — that a dangerous condition existed. Knowledge may be implied if the condition is open and obvious, such as cracks or holes in walkways and loose carpeting or treads on staircases. The property owner or manager has a legal duty to correct hazards or to post warnings or cordon off the area to keep visitors safe.
Just as important, you must be prepared to defend against allegations that your own conduct was a factor in causing the accident, which is known as contributory fault. This may include:
- entering upon a property as a trespasser
- exceeding the bounds of your permitted entrance, such as going into private areas
- wearing inappropriate footwear
- failing to pay attention to warning signs or other indications of hazards
Under Washington law, these factors will not bar your recovery of damages but may significantly reduce them. For example, if you slipped on a recently mopped floor in a supermarket but there were prominent caution signs posted, you may be considered just as much at fault as the store manager. If so, your damages would be reduced by 50 percent. Proving or disproving contributory fault is a major part of resolving slip and fall claims.
Since the property owner’s insurance company and its lawyers will often seek to allocate significant blame to the victim in these cases, securing a fair and adequate settlement out of court may prove difficult. It is sometimes necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit to fully protect your rights. Like all states, Washington has a statute of limitations, imposing a deadline for when you must file a civil lawsuit. For slip and fall claims, the deadline is three years.
If you are interested in learning more about your legal rights after a slip and fall accident, reach out to the legal team at Bottimore & Associates, P.L.L.C. As long-time personal injury lawyers, we are committed to protecting the rights of accident victims in Tacoma and beyond. Call 253-272-5653 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.