Slip and Fall Season

Just in case you take a bad fall this winter… I think you ought to know what your rights are. I reviewed some of the cases in Washington State, and this is what I came up with:

Since 1975, landowners have been required to "exercise reasonable care [toward invitees] to prevent the occurrence of defective or dangerous conditions" regardless of whether the dangerous condition was a "natural" accumulation. (See Washington case Geise v. Lee, 84 Wn.2d 866, 529 (1975)).  Plaintiffs have had the burden to show that landowners had "actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and failed to fix the condition within a reasonable amount of time." Geise at 871. This actual or constructive notice requirement has a reasonably foreseeable exception that applies when slips are "caused by tracked-in rain of snow". Iwai v. State, 129 Wn.2d 84, 101 (1996), referencing, e.g., Buttrey Food Stores Div. v. Coulson, 620 P.2d 549 (1980). A defendant’s "knowledge of the floor’s tendency to get slippery when wet, coupled with the knowledge of the wet weather conditions on the day of the fall, [makes] the specific condition reasonably foreseeable." Iwai at 101. 

It seems pretty clear, based on the law, that insurance companies would agree to cover reasonable medical expenses and other damages after a slip and fall that is due to a landowners’ negligence. However, in my experience, insurance companies are more than twice as likely to deny liability and force litigation if you have slipped and fallen than if you have been rear-ended in an automobile accident. If you have been injured in a fall, please call Anderson Law at (509) 734-1345 for a free consultation.

About the author: Brian Anderson

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