While land ownership often comes with many benefits, such as commercial improvement or personal goal fulfillment, it does not come without burdens and restrictions surrounding its use. One such burden is a legal theory known as premises liability, which requires landowners to make certain efforts to maintain their property in a condition that reasonably avoids injury to others.
When property owners do not live up to their legal responsibilities, their failure can cause substantial injury to individuals on their property. If you have been injured on property that is not your own, a Yakima premises liability lawyer could help you evaluate whether you have a viable claim and are entitled to compensation. Call an experienced injury attorney today to schedule a case review.
Levels of Duty in a Premises Liability Case
In Yakima, a premises liability case will require an attorney to establish what type of visitor the victim was at the time of their injury. The level of duty a landowner owes a person depends on the reason for their visit to the property.
For example, individuals that a landowner expressly invites to the property, also known as invitees, are afforded the highest level of protection in premises liability law. A property owner is required to take steps to make the premises reasonably safe for invitees.
A landowner may also allow an individual to enter the premises for social purposes. This individual is known as a licensee, and landowners must warn them of any known hazardous conditions on the property.
Finally, while property owners are generally not responsible for making the premises safe to trespassers, they must still avoid intentionally causing trespassers injury. Just as the duty a landowner owes an individual on their property differs dependent upon the circumstances, the actions that generally must be taken are subject to exceptions. One such exception is the doctrine of attractive nuisance.
Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
Attractive nuisance is a doctrine of premises liability that generally applies to children. The principle behind the attractive nuisance doctrine is that certain situations on property, such as a trampoline or a swimming pool, are likely to be particularly attractive to children.
Given the likelihood of a child entering the property to explore whatever may be on it, the law imposes stricter obligations on landowners who create these situations on their premises. If an attractive nuisance exists on a property, the property owner is required by law to take reasonable care to warn of the dangerous condition, even if a child enters the property as a trespasser.
Proving Liability in a Yakima Premises Liability Case
The law surrounding premises liability in Washington has recently become friendlier to plaintiffs seeking compensation. In Johnson v. State of Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board, the Washington Supreme Court held that, rather than proving that the landowner was actually or constructively aware of a dangerous condition on their premises—in certain situations—plaintiffs must now only prove that the dangerous condition was “reasonably foreseeable.”
This ruling means that property owners might be held accountable for dangerous conditions on their premises that they did not know about but that the law finds they should have predicted. This is a lower standard that requiring that plaintiffs show the landowner knew of the condition, potentially rendering it easier to prove liability. Additional exceptions and specifications might apply in unique circumstances under state premises liability law, and a well-practiced lawyer in Yakima could help individuals navigate them.
Call a Yakima Premises Liability Attorney Now
Premises liability is a complex area of law, with factors such as the type of danger and category of victim having a substantial effect on the outcome of the case. A Yakima premises liability lawyer could help you navigate these complexities and provide you with a roadmap of what you may need to prove.
You deserve to expect a reasonable level of safety when entering the property of others. If you have been injured on another person’s land and believe the landowner may bear responsibility, contact an attorney for an initial consultation today.