Property owners may be liable for injuries that result from a dangerous condition on their property. The duty a property owner owes to a person on his or her property regarding a dangerous condition of the property often turns on the status of the injured person. A landowner has different obligations to business invitees, licensees, and trespassers. A Washington appeals court recently considered whether a landowner can be liable in a Washington premises liability case if the dangerous condition is actually on someone else’s property.
According to the appeals court’s opinion, an eight-year-old girl drowned while camping as part of a youth group. The landowner allowed the group to camp on the property for free for several years. The property was near a lake, and four counselors took 15 children swimming at a cove on the lake. To get to the cove, the group walked from the campsite across property owned by the federal government. The appeals court described the victim as a “non-swimmer.” According to the opinion, the counselors lost track of her while caring for another child. A search and rescue team found her body the next day.
The victim’s estate sued the landowners, alleging they had a duty to warn the child about the dangerous conditions in the cove. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding they did not have a duty to warn about conditions on property they did not own. The estate appealed. Continue reading