When you legally enter someone else’s property, the owner or manager assumes a duty to keep you reasonably safe from certain types of hazards. If they fail to do so and allow you to be harmed in an accident, you may be able to file suit and seek restitution for any damages you suffered due to their negligence.
However, a property owner’s specific obligations regarding your safety will vary depending on the reason you were on their premises. As such, it may be difficult to prove that they violated their duty and obtain a beneficial case result without help from a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. One of our seasoned Kitsap County premises liability lawyers could help you understand your rights under state law in pursuing a claim.
There are three classes of property visitor under state law, each of which corresponds to a different duty of care.
An invitee is someone invited onto premises for the property owner’s benefit, such as a shopper in a retail store. Property owners must exercise ordinary care to protect invitees from harm, which in practice entails inspecting their premises for hazards and either fixing them or warning invitees about them.
A licensee enters property with implicit or explicit permission from the owner but without a specific intent to financially benefit them. For example, a person invited to a house party would be a licensee, as would a contractor or landscaper hired to perform yard work. Property owners must warn licensees of known hazards, but they do not have to consistently inspect their land for unexpected hazards like they would for an invitee.
A trespasser enters premises without permission from the owner or any legal authority to do so. Property owners may not intentionally try to hurt adult trespassers but generally do not have to do anything to protect them from harm. However, landowners may be liable for injuries suffered by trespassing minors under certain circumstances. A well-researched premises liability attorney could offer further clarification about the viability of a civil claim for a particular instance in Kitsap County.
While premises liability cases are different than other types of personal injury claims, they still follow the same statute of limitations. According to Revised Code of Washington §4.16.080, plaintiffs have a three-year filing deadline to seek compensation for their accident in a civil case.
Anyone who waits longer than three years after an injury on someone else’s property may be permanently time-barred from seeking any compensation. However, the filing period for a premises liability case technically starts the moment a plaintiff discovers their injuries, so an extension to the filing deadline may be allowed if it takes a while for the physical effects to manifest. Despite this caveat, it is critical for any Kitsap County resident considering a premises liability suit to get in touch with a skilled attorney as soon as possible.
Getting hurt while out shopping or visiting a friend can make for a complicated legal scenario. Details about the hazardous condition that harmed you, such as how long it existed and whether the landowner was aware of it, may be difficult to obtain without a well-researched lawyer who focuses on premises liability law.
As such, recovering compensation in these kinds of situations often requires legal maneuvering and thorough knowledge of the civil litigation process. A Kitsap County premises liability attorney can help you effectively pursue the compensation you deserve. Call today to discuss what civil action may be possible in your situation.
Jeniece LaCross, Attorney At Law