If you get injured on someone else’s property in Vancouver, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the property owner for your related medical bills, lost wages and other losses. However, not every accident on another person’s property will give you grounds to file a premises liability claim. Certain elements and evidence must be established to recover compensation.
What Is Premises Liability Law?
At the foundation of premises liability law is the idea that property owners need to be held accountable for the conditions of their properties. In Washington, every property owner is responsible for reasonably protecting lawful visitors from harm by demonstrating ordinary care or skill in the management or control of the premises.
If a property owner falls short of this duty of care and someone gets injured as a result, the owner can be held liable (financially responsible) for the harm suffered by the victim. A premises liability cause of action can be brought against the property owner by the victim or victim’s family in pursuit of financial compensation.
Common Types of Premises Liability Cases
Many different types of accidents can occur on someone else’s property and result in a premises liability claim. Common examples of these claims in Vancouver include:
- Slip, trip and fall accidents
- Staircase accidents
- Defective sidewalks
- Structural collapses
- Dog bite injuries
- Swimming pool or spa accidents
- Elevator and escalator accidents
- Falling objects
- Playground injuries
- Daycare accidents
- Negligent security
Any accident, injury or death that reasonably could have been avoided with due care by the property owner may give a victim grounds to file a lawsuit.
What Are the Elements of a Premises Liability Claim?
A valid premises liability lawsuit in Washington must have certain key elements. If you or your Vancouver premises liability attorney can establish these elements, you will have grounds to file a claim against a property owner for your accident or injury:
- The defendant (accused party) owned, controlled, leased or occupied the property where your accident occurred.
- The defendant failed to meet the required duty of care in the maintenance or use of the property.
- You were harmed and suffered specific losses in the accident.
- The defendant’s breach of the duty of care was a substantial factor in causing your harm.
It is up to you or your attorney to prove these elements as more likely to be true than not true. This is known as a preponderance of the evidence, and it is the burden of proof in a civil claim.
Were You a Trespasser, Licensee or Invitee?
Understanding your status as a property visitor at the time of your accident can help you determine if you have grounds for a claim. There are three types of visitors: trespassers, licensees and invitees. Trespassers are the only group that is not allotted a duty of care by the property owner. A trespasser is someone who does not have the owner’s permission or lawful authority to enter or remain on a premises.
A licensee is someone who has permission to enter a property but does not do so for the owner’s benefit, such as a social guest. A licensee is owed certain duties of care, but not as many as an invitee. A property owner must warn a licensee of potential injury risks that exist on the property and make a reasonable effort to repair known hazards.
An invitee is someone who has the owner’s permission and enters a property for the owner’s benefit, such as a customer at a business. Invitees are owed the highest duties of care by property owners. These duties are the same as for licensees, plus an additional duty to inspect a property for unknown injury risks.
To learn more about what is required for a valid premises liability claim in Vancouver, consult with an attorney at NW Injury Law Center for a free case review.