There are a couple special rules in Washington that make premises liability claims (slip and fall, trip and fall, etc.) easier against landlords than other defendants.
Washington follows (what we think is an outdated) system of determining the duty owed by a landowner (or possessor). There are three basic classes: trespasser, licensee and invitee. It’s important to be classified as an invitee because the landowner owes the invitee the highest duty.
Both tenants and their guests are considered invitees. (The fact that guests are considered invitees is pretty interesting because guests don’t pay the landlord rent but we’ll take it if we can get it).
Besides both tenants and their being classified as invitees, it’s possible to bring claims for breach of lease and violation of the Residential Tenant Landlord Act against a landlord (where it wouldn’t be possible if you slipped and fell at Walmart or McDonalds). We’ve had cases where landlords have included some very favorable provisions (for tenants) in their leases and we’ve been able to leverage these into really optimal results for our clients.
Some people may think twice about suing a landlord. But you know what? That’s why the landlord has insurance. Like so many situations, the only one who benefits when a claim isn’t made is the insurance company (that’s already collected years worth of premiums to cover the risk).