A fall injury can have a serious impact on the victim’s life. A victim may suffer a hip fracture, for example, that requires long-term bed rest and makes it impossible to work. If you fell on a public sidewalk or street in Washington due to an uneven surface or other defects, you may have the right to sue a government agency for negligence. Your legal options will depend on various factors unique to your case.
Premises Liability Laws in Washington
A slip or trip and fall accident case falls under the umbrella of premises liability law. Premises liability refers to legal responsibility for injuries that result from a dangerous condition or defect on another person’s property. All property owners in Washington have a legal responsibility to clear their premises of accident risks. If they fail to do so, the property owner can be held responsible for any damages that arise from an injury on the property.
Premises liability cases are based on the legal doctrine of negligence. Negligence is the failure of a property owner to keep a property safe and free of hazards. All property owners have an obligation to inspect their properties for injury risks, repair any discovered defects and warn visitors of potential hazards. Falling short of these responsibilities could place liability (financial responsibility) on the property owner for a related slip and fall accident.
When Can You File a Claim Against the Government?
If you fall on an uneven sidewalk or street in a public place in Washington, your premises liability case will look different from a claim involving a fall on private property. Rather than holding an individual property or business owner responsible for your accident, you may have grounds to sue the government.
A rule called sovereign immunity protects most government entities from liability for accidents and injuries. However, the Revised Code of Washington Section 4.96.020 (the Tort Claims Act) lists exceptions to the rule when the government fails to comply with the requirements of safe property ownership, maintenance and control. If the government is negligent in this regard, it can be held responsible for related fall accidents.
Proper sidewalk maintenance, safe and even walking surfaces, and adequate street lighting are all responsibilities held by the government in public places. Falling short of these responsibilities could make the government liable for a fall accident. A claim against the city or state in Washington will come with unique rules and requirements. It is important to work with an attorney during these cases to protect your legal rights.
Private Property Fall Accidents
If you fell on an uneven sidewalk or street that was on private property in Washington, you may be able to hold the individual or company that owns the land liable. If you fell in front of a business, for example, that business could be held responsible for failing to keep its sidewalks in safe condition for customers. Consult with an attorney about bringing a claim for a fall accident that occurred on private property in Washington.
Contact a Slip and Fall Accident Attorney in Washington
The best way to understand your rights and potential legal options after a fall accident in a public place is by consulting with an attorney. An attorney will carefully review your case to determine if there was negligence involved. If so, your lawyer can help you navigate the rule of sovereign immunity and Washington’s Tort Claims Act to hold the appropriate party responsible. Consult with a Vancouver slip and fall accident lawyer at NW Injury Law Center today for more information.