By: South Sound Law Group

What Are the Key Factors in Proving Liability in Slip and Fall Cases in Washington?

Personal Injury

How Can an Individual Injured in a Slip and Fall Accident in Washington Recover Damages for Their Losses?

Slip and fall accidents can result in major injuries, including spinal damage, broken bones, lacerations, and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The recovery process may be extensive, resulting in lost wages, hefty medical costs, and other financial and emotional challenges for you and your loved ones. Holding the responsible party liable for these damages can allow you to regain your financial footing. However, to have a viable claim, you must be able to show that the property owner shared some liability for your slip and fall accident and injuries.

It’s crucial for plaintiffs to understand the key factors in proving liability and how they may apply to their case. A knowledgeable Tacoma personal injury lawyer can evaluate your situation and explain the legal options available to you.

What are the Elements of Negligence Required to Prove Liability in a Washington Slip and Fall Case?

Every slip and fall case is unique. However, whether your injury was caused by a spilled liquid, a loose rug, or another type of hazard, your ability to recover damages is incumbent upon proving that the property owner was fully or partially responsible for the accident due to their negligence. Demonstrating the property owner’s liability in a slip and fall case is achieved by providing proof of the four elements of negligence.

Duty of Care

The property owner or occupant has a fundamental duty to keep the premises reasonably safe for visitors. The duty of care owed to an individual varies based on their reason for visiting the property. For example, a customer patronizing a business is typically owed a higher duty of care than a house guest at a private residence. Business owners must regularly inspect their property for hazards that could pose a danger to their customers and correct them. A homeowner is not held to this standard, but they still must make known dangers safe or warn people who are allowed on their property of the hazard.

Breach of Duty

The plaintiff must successfully prove that the property owner breached their duty. If the owner did not exercise ordinary care to keep the environment safe, they could be liable for a slip and fall accident. Failing to maintain the premises, not providing warnings about unsafe locations, or not fixing a dangerous condition in a reasonable amount of time can constitute a breach of duty.


The plaintiff must show that the property owner’s breach of duty directly caused the slip and fall accident and resulting injuries. They may cite a property owner’s actions, such as leaving debris in a walkway, or their inaction, like failing to clean up spilled water, as the cause of the accident. If a condition existed that the owner could have reasonably foreseen would pose a slip and fall danger to a person, and they did not take timely steps to remedy it or alert visitors of the hazard, the owner could be held responsible for the incident.


A slip and fall lawsuit aims to ensure that the liable party adequately compensates the injured plaintiff for the economic and non-economic damages they have experienced due to their accident. Proof of these damages could include bills for medical treatment, pay stubs indicating the value of lost wages during the plaintiff’s recovery time, and evidence of pain and suffering endured by the individual because of their injuries. In cases involving severe bodily harm leading to disability, it will be necessary to account for future expenses, such as therapy, ongoing medical care, loss of future income, home health care services, and impacts on the victim’s quality of life. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help calculate your damages and fight for a settlement that protects the financial well-being of you and your loved ones.

How Can Washington State’s Comparative Negligence System Impact Your Ability to Recover Damages?

While the property owner’s actions are crucial to the outcome of a slip and fall case, your own conduct leading up to the accident will also be examined. Under RCW 4.22.005, a plaintiff’s award in a personal injury case can be diminished by the percentage of contributory fault assigned to them for the accident. Unlike some states, Washington does not bar victims from seeking compensation if they are found to be more than 50% at fault for their injuries.

Pure comparative negligence could significantly affect the total of your settlement award, particularly if the property owner convinces the court or jury that you were primarily responsible for the accident. For example, if you suffered $100,000 in damages but were found to be 60% at fault for the slip and fall accident, you would only be eligible to recover $40,000 instead of the full amount. Having a skilled attorney on your side to uphold your rights and ensure you are not unjustly blamed for your injuries is essential to recovering maximum compensation for your losses.

How Can Our Law Firm Help You?

Our experienced personal injury lawyers at South Sound Law Group are here to assist you with every step of your slip and fall claim. We know what a devastating impact these often severe accidents can have on victims and their families. From investigating the incident to negotiating with the insurance companies, our family-run law firm provides personalized and compassionate legal representation you can trust. To schedule a free consultation, contact our Tacoma office at 253-465-2722.