Premises liability: How are the laws different in Washington state?

In most states, the landowner is responsible for maintaining their property to a standard so that anyone who enters can be reasonably sure they will not face injury. However, in Washington and a handful of other states, personal injury claims are governed by common law. This means that the laws surrounding premises liability take the “status” of the person entering the property into consideration after an injury occurs. These are the 3 types of classifications of visitors:

Invitee: An invitee sounds exactly like what it is. These individuals have been explicitly invited by the landowner to visit the property. Most commonly, these people are friends, family, neighbors. In addition, invitees can be customers visiting a place of business.  

Landowners have a reasonable responsibility to ensure that invitees are safe from physical harm when visiting the property.

Licensee: A licensee is someone who has the owner’s implied consent to enter the property. This could be a salesman who is visiting for business purposes, or a social guest who has express permission to be on the property.

Generally speaking, owners of the property have less of an obligation to safeguard licensees against accidental injury. However, if the homeowner knows of a liability and the licensee is unlikely to encounter it, then he or she must make them aware of hazardous conditions.  

Trespasser: A trespasser is an individual who has no legal right to be on the property and has received no permission from the landowner to do so.

Trespassers enter property at their own risk and the owner is not liable for potential injuries the trespasser may incur as a result of negligence or hazards.

Common types of premises liability

Negligent upkeep and maintenance  

Poorly maintained properties can become cesspools for slip-and-fall hazards. From wet floors to missing handrails and uneven footing, maintenance plays a huge role in securing property against potential injury that building management may be liable for.

Construction and landscaping hazards

During construction and renovating, those responsible for the work must take extra care to clearly mark danger zones and clear out paths for visitors to walk though. Potentially hazardous factors include heavy equipment, neglected construction materials and unsafe walking conditions.

Insufficient security measures

Property owners also have some responsibility to secure their buildings against potential trespassers who can victimize tenants and customers. Inadequate security features that result in the injury or death of an invitee or licensee on the property can ultimately leave the property owner liable.

Contact personal injury lawyer in Vancouver, WA

If you have been seriously injured as a result of negligent property management, give us a call at Philbrook Law Office. Our team will work tirelessly with you to ensure that you receive justice and the settlement you deserve.

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