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Demystifying Liability: When a Dangerous Condition Isn’t Your Fault

Imagine: you’re browsing your favorite store, and suddenly, trip over a hidden spill, injuring yourself. Who’s responsible? While initial blame might fall on you, understanding your rights as a customer is crucial. This blog post clarifies premises liability law in Washington, including WPI 120.07, focusing on situations where an injury arises from a condition not created by the store owner or operator.

Your Right to Safe Shopping

As a business invitee, you have the right to expect a safe environment in the store. The owner or operator owes you a duty of reasonable care, meaning they must:

  • Inspect the premises for potential hazards: This includes spills, defective equipment, or uneven surfaces.
  • Make necessary repairs or take precautions: If a hazard is found, they must either fix it or warn customers about it to prevent injuries.

When the Blame Isn’t on Them

In cases where the dangerous condition wasn’t created by the store, like a spilled drink left by another customer, things get complicated. However, the store may still be liable if:

  • They knew or should have known about the danger: If they were aware of the spill (or should have been, due to its location or time of occurrence), but failed to address it, they could be held accountable.
  • They couldn’t expect you to notice the danger: If the spill was hidden or inconspicuous, and an average customer wouldn’t reasonably be expected to see it, the store’s lack of warning could contribute to their liability.
  • They failed to take action despite the danger: Even if they knew about the spill, ignoring it or taking inadequate measures to warn or clean it up could constitute negligence.


  • These are general principles and specific cases may vary based on the circumstances.
  • The burden of proving the store’s negligence lies with the injured person.
  • Consulting with a qualified attorney can help you navigate the nuances of premises liability law and seek fair compensation for your injuries.

Protecting Yourself

While the law holds stores accountable for reasonable care, staying vigilant yourself is key:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for potential hazards.
  • Report any observed dangers to store personnel immediately.
  • Document the incident, if possible, by taking pictures or noting witnesses.

Navigating Injuries with Confidence

Understanding your rights as a customer empowers you to hold negligent businesses responsible for your injuries.

By staying informed and exercising caution, you can enjoy safe shopping experiences and seek proper recourse if faced with unexpected dangers. If you have suffered an injury and have questions about how best to proceed to ensure fair compensation, please give one of our attorneys a call to discuss the facts of your case at 800-273-5005 or fill out our contact form here.

If you have been involved in an accident, please call or email our attorneys for a free consultation