Premises Liability Overview

McNeese & Trotsky, handle claims relating to injuries that occur through the negligence of property owners. These claims are often dependent on the purpose of the victim is on the subject premises and also whether the property owner knew or should have known of the defect that caused the injury. Most slip and fall cases involve patrons falling and injuring themselves on the premises of a business. Under Washington Law, a patron on the premise of a for profit business is classified as an Invitee. A business invitee is defined as “a person who is invited to enter or remain on land for a purpose directly or indirectly connected with business dealings with the possessor of the land.” Restatement (Second) Of Torts § 332 (1965); Younce v. Ferguson, 106 Wash.2d 658, 667, 724 P .2d 991 (1986). The duty owed to an invitee is that of reasonable care for the invitee’s personal safety. The land possessor must exercise reasonable care with respect to conditions on the premises which pose an unreasonable risk of harm.

The possessor’s duty to an invitee is based on the expectation of the invitee that the premises have been made safe for him. This notion is further amplified in comment b, § 343 of the Restatement: “One who holds his land open for the reception of invitees is under a greater duty in respect to its physical condition than one who permits the visit of a mere licensee. The licensee enters with the understanding that he will take the land as the possessor himself uses it. Therefore such a licensee is entitled to expect only that he will be placed upon an equal footing with the possessor himself by an adequate disclosure of any dangerous conditions that are known to the possessor. On the other hand an invitee enters upon an implied representation or assurance that the land has been prepared and made ready and safe for his reception. He is therefore entitled to expect that the possessor will exercise reasonable care to make the land safe for his entry or for his use for the purposes of the invitation.”