Know What to Do if You’re Injured on Someone’s Property

Injuries that occur on the business or residential property of another person are commonly caused by the property owner’s negligence in regular upkeep or failure to warn. When incidents like this occur, the injured person may have a potential Premises Liability claim against that property owner. Cases like these may be more obvious when they involve an injury that occurs on a public business property such as in or outside of a retail store or restaurant, but they can also be quite problematic when the injury happens in an area where the property ownership is more challenging to determine. In either case the injured party may have a viable Premises Liability claim. 
 
According to Washington Pattern Jury Instruction (WPI) 120.07 Liability to Business or Public Invitee—Condition of Premises:
 
“An [owner or occupier of premises] is liable for any [physical] injuries to its [business invitees, public invitees, or customers] caused by a condition on the premises if the [owner or occupier]:
  • (a) knows of the condition or fails to exercise ordinary care to discover the condition, and should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm to such [business invitees, public invitees, or customers];
  • (b) should expect that they will not discover or realize the danger, or will fail to protect themselves against it; and
  • (c) fails to exercise ordinary care to protect them against the danger.”
 
What Qualifies as a Premises Liability Claim?
These kind of claims cover a vast category of incidents, but typically include the following situations while on someone’s property (in the case that the injured person is not made aware of the present danger with signage or verbal warning):
 
  • Slip and falls, including on surfaces that are slippery and wet or covered in ice and snow
  • Sidewalk falls due to cracks or faults, usually depending on the nature of the crack or fault
  • Defects in property structure, which can cover several areas such as – 
    • Collapse of any part of the structure due to improper design or construction (i.e. balconies and decks most commonly)
    • Loose floorboards
    • Inadequate stairway railing
 
What You Should Do If You’re Injured on the Land of Another
  • Acquire Evidence
    • Take photos of the direct cause of the fall or injury or the surrounding area of damage (i.e. sidewalk crack, icy or unplowed conditions, broken beams etc.)
      • If you are injured to the point where you cannot take the photos yourself, have someone else either at the scene or who can go back to capture the images before repairs are made by the party at fault
    • Observe if there are possible witnesses or security cameras
    • Make note if there are any warning signs of the danger
    • Save the shoes you fell in, which could help support your case
    • Fill out any applicable incident form at the premises, if possible
  • Seek Medical Help
    • Seek immediate/concurrent medical care for any injuries
    • Make sure to describe the mechanism of your injury to your medical providers so they understand exactly how you came to be injured
  • Call a Personal Injury Attorney
    • Will help determine who is at fault, especially in cases where businesses or property owners place blame on a third-party such as city officials 
    • Can assist with figuring out if your medical bills can be paid from the property owner’s “med pay” policy
    • Can investigate prior similar incidents on the premises
 
Falls and injuries caused by failure to upkeep property conditions happen more often than one might think. Never let embarrassment from an incident in a public place keep you from exercising your right to safe conditions. When in doubt, always call a seasoned personal injury attorney to figure out the details and specifics of your case. 
 
 
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