If you suffer an injury in a slip-and-fall incident on another individual’s property, what are your legal rights? If a property owner’s negligence is the reason you suffered an injury, reach out to a Yakima slip-and-fall accident attorney to learn about your right to compensation.
What will you have to prove after slipping, falling, and sustaining an injury in order to prevail with a premises liability claim and recover monetary compensation?
This short introduction to slips and falls in Washington State will answer that question, but because each case is unique, if you are injured by slipping and falling on private property in the Yakima area, you’ll need personalized advice from a Yakima slip-and-fall accident lawyer.
Slips and Falls – What Are the Facts?
Thousands of people are injured every year, often catastrophically, in slip- or trip-and-fall incidents. Slips and falls, for example, cause more than four out of ten spinal cord injuries in this nation. Slips and falls are also the cause of brain, neck, and back injuries along with other serious injuries.
If you’re injured in a slip- or trip-and-fall accident in or near the Yakima area because the owner of a property has been negligent, you will be entitled under Washington State law to monetary compensation for medical costs, lost income, personal pain, suffering, and related losses.
However, prevailing with an injury claim against the owner of a property isn’t easy, even when you’ve been seriously hurt. Property owners aren’t liable for every accident that happens on their premises. Everyone has an obligation to stay aware of our surroundings and to stay alert.
How Do You Build a Negligence Case Against a Property Owner?
Nevertheless, a premises liability lawsuit that arises from a slip- or trip-and-fall injury will claim that an injury and accident wouldn’t have occurred if the owner of the property had met his or her responsibility to maintain the property in a safe condition.
State law in Washington obligates property owners to take “reasonable” steps to keep their premises free of dangers and hazards. Lawmakers attempt to balance the obligation of a visitor to be aware and alert with an owner’s obligation to keep a property reasonably safe.
To recover compensation from a negligent property owner, an injury victim – “the plaintiff” – must demonstrate that at least one of these situations was in existence when the injury and accident happened:
- A “reasonable” property owner or manager would have been aware of the dangerous situation and would have repaired it.
- The property owner or manager was in fact aware of the dangerous condition and neglected to have it repaired.
- The property owner or manager caused the dangerous condition.
What Issues Are Considered in Slip-and-Fall Lawsuits?
Most slip- or trip-and-fall claims deal with what a property owner “should” have been aware of and with what property repairs were or weren’t made.
Typically, the important questions in slip- or trip-and-fall cases are:
- For how long was the danger present before the injury took place?
- Did the property owner have a reasonable period of time to make the repair?
It may take a few days, for example, before a sidewalk crack or a plumbing leak can be fixed. Until that can happen, a property owner should put warning signs in place or find an alternative way to tell visitors about the danger.
If You’re Injured By Slipping and Falling
Seek medical attention at once if you’re injured by slipping or tripping and falling. Have a medical exam immediately, even if you feel fine, for a latent or hard-to-detect injury. You’ll also need the exam results as evidence if you file a premises liability lawsuit.
In the Yakima area, if you’re injured by slipping and falling on another person’s private property, after your medical exam and/or treatment, contact a Yakima slip-and-fall accident lawyer as quickly as possible.
Your attorney will work to help you acquire compensation for a slip- or trip-and-fall injury that happened:
- at a store, restaurant, hotel, or amusement park
- at someone else’s home
- because of inadequate lighting in a staircase, parking lot, or parking garage
- because of an uneven or cracked sidewalk or an inadequately-paved parking lot
- because of broken or substandard staircases or balcony railings
How Does a Property Owner Fight an Injury Claim?
If you are injured in the State of Washington in a slip-and-fall accident because of a property owner’s negligence, and should you bring a lawsuit to seek compensation for your injury, the owner of the property may attempt to shift any blame for the incident to you.
The arguments that a property owner may offer in his or her defense in a slip-and-fall case include but are not limited to:
- The plaintiff wasn’t paying enough attention to the situation and the surroundings.
- The plaintiff was injured in a restricted location or in a no trespassing zone.
- The plaintiff was without shoes or wore unsafe footwear.
- Signs and yellow warning cones were put in place to inform visitors of the danger.
- An average, reasonable individual would have recognized and avoided the danger.
How Are Premises Liability Lawsuits Settled?
Your Yakima slip-and-fall accident attorney will negotiate out-of-court with the property owner’s lawyer and insurance company. If a speedy settlement is offered, don’t take it. Your attorney can almost certainly negotiate a more generous settlement on your behalf.
Most slip-and-fall cases – about ninety percent – are resolved in out-of-court settlements when the lawyers for each side negotiate an agreement that is satisfactory to both parties. In most slip-and-fall cases, the injury victim does not even have to make a court appearance.
If your injury claim is challenged, however, or if no acceptable settlement offer is made, your attorney will take the case to court and explain to the jurors how you were injured and the extent of your injuries. Your attorney will then ask jurors to order the payment of your compensation.
What Should You Remember About Slip-and-Fall Injuries?
You must act within three years of a slip-and-fall injury or you won’t be allowed to bring a claim under Washington State’s statute of limitations, but you can’t wait three years to contact a Yakima premises liability lawyer. Make the call as soon as you’ve been examined and/or treated.
Evidence deteriorates – or disappears – and the memories of witnesses fade over time. Your attorney should review any evidence while it’s still fresh and question the witnesses before their recollections fade.
If you are injured in a slip-and-fall incident, the physical, emotional, and financial challenges may seem overwhelming, but a Yakima slip-and-fall lawyer will protect your rights, walk you through the process, and advocate aggressively for the compensation you need and deserve.
Premises liability lawyers work on a contingent fee basis, so your first consultation is offered without cost or obligation, and you’ll pay no attorney’s fee unless and until your attorney recovers your compensation.