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Slip and Fall Accident Claims in Washington: What is the Pimentel Exception?

October 25, 2021 – Matt Albrecht

Slip and Fall Accident Claims in Washington: Pimentel Exception?

In Washington State, businesses and property owners have a legal responsibility to provide safe conditions for customers and other guests. Should they fail to abide by this responsibility, they can be held liable for a resulting personal injury through a premises liability claim. Slip and fall accident claims are among the most common types of premises liability cases.

In most slip and fall accident lawsuits, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant has “actual or constructive notice” of a safety hazard to establish liability. However, the ‘Pimentel Exception’ broadens property owner liability in some cases. Here, our Spokane personal injury attorneys discuss the ‘Pimentel Exception’ and explain how it affects slip and fall accident claims.

Personal Injury Case History: Pimentel v. Roundup Company

The so-called ‘Pimental Exception’ is a legal doctrine that comes from the 1983 Washington Supreme Court case of Pimentel v. Roundup Company. The case centered around injuries suffered by a woman named Patricia Pimentel at a general store in Yakima, Washington. Mrs. Pimentel suffered a serious foot injury when she was struck by a can of paint that fell off of a magazine rack.

She filed a premises liability claim against the property owner alleging that the injury was caused by an unreasonable safety hazard. The property owner defended the personal injury claim, in part, by asserting that it did not have actual or constructive notice of the alleged safety hazard—notice is generally a required element in premises liability claims in Washington.

Washington Supreme Court Articulates Exception

In Pimental, the Washington Supreme Court articulated an exception to the state’s notice requirement for personal injury claims. The Pimental Exception essentially allows plaintiffs to forgo the typical notice requirements if they can prove the following two things:

They were injured in an accident caused by an unreasonable safety hazard in a “self-serve” area, where customers have direct access to goods/services; and
Their injuries were a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the safety hazard.

Notice is Usually Required in Slip and Fall Accident Claims—Pimentel is the Exception

In effect, the Pimentel Exception puts heightened responsibilities on businesses and property owners to make sure that “self-service” areas are free from safety hazards. A slip and fall accident in a self-service area could result in liability for a business or property owner in Washington even if they did not have notice of the specific hazard. These are complicated cases. If you have any specific questions or concerns about proving liability in a slip and fall accident claim in Eastern Washington, an experienced Spokane premises liability attorney will protect your rights and help you secure the full financial compensation you deserve.

Get Help From Our Spokane Personal Injury Lawyer

At‌ ‌Albrecht‌ ‌Law‌ ‌PLLC, our Washington premises liability attorneys have the skills and knowledge to represent you in a slip and fall accident case. If you have any questions about the Pimentel exception or notice in slip and fall accident claims, we can help. Call us right away or connect with us directly online for your free, no-obligation case evaluation. From our law office in Spokane, we handle slip and fall accident injury claims throughout the entire region.

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