Updated on: 1/24/2019
Residents of Washington State may have encountered a sinkhole, but does the average person understand the actual forces behind these potentially dangerous events?
A sinkhole forms under natural circumstances. A sinkhole is essentially any hole in the ground created by erosion and the drainage of water. There are essentially two types: those created slowly over type and those that appear suddenly (a cover-collapse sinkhole). The latter type can catch people by surprise and cause catastrophic damages.
Recently, a sinkhole opened in the 900 block of Rainier Avenue North in Renton. While it appeared small from the outside, it was 15 feet deep. The relatively harmless looking sinkhole could have caused serious damage had a car or pedestrian been involved in a collapse.
Sinkholes range in size from just a few feet to potentially an entire city block. Both can cause significant injuries. As you’ll see below, they are a natural occurrence, but are usually triggered by human activity.
What If A Sinkhole Has Caused Injury?
Many people mistakenly think that because a sinkhole is a natural occurrence there is no legal recourse if you sustain an injury. This line of thinking is flawed, as depending on the circumstances of the incident, you may be able to file a personal injury claim.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine whether someone else is at fault for the sinkhole that lead to your injuries. If you can prove that had it not been for someone else’s actions that you would not of been at the sinkhole when it collapsed, a claim may be possible.
Make sure you find a personal injury attorney that operates on a contingency fee basis and has the financial and legal resources to win your case.
Who Is Liable For Your Sinkhole Damages?
Many sinkholes, especially the ones that make the news, are at least indirectly caused by human activity. If there’s a construction site where rain water has been concentrated on a small area of ground (runoff from roofs, etc.) a sinkhole may form.
The following are circumstances in which liability for a sinkhole accident may be someone else’s fault include:
Premises liability: Property owners have a duty to guests to maintain a safe and hazard-free environment. Failing to do so can be considered negligent. If the owner had knowledge of a potential sinkhole on their property – such as a shaky foundation, history of sinkholes in the area, indications of future sinkholes via a property inspection – and failed to warn guests, they may be held liable for damages. However, if the owner of the property warned you about the potential risks and you still chose to enter the premises, then they are not liable for injuries or damages sustained by the sinkhole.
Real estate fraud: Real estate agents that sell you property with a known sinkhole underneath it may be held liable for injuries. Sinkholes - or even just a risk of a sinkhole - can cause property values to plummet. If a real estate agent is fraudulent and lies about the risks, it’s important that you contact a personal injury attorney immediately after your sinkhole accident.
Neighborly nuisance: If a construction company, government agency or other corporation does extensive drilling or underground work and compromises the land in surrounding areas, sinkholes may form. If you are injured as a result, legal action may be necessary.
How Much Is A Sinkhole Accident Settlement Worth?
There is no settlement calculator or formula for determining how much one of these cases is worth. Many different factors go into these claims, and no two incidents are the same.
Your personal injury attorney will assess all the factors that went into the auto accident that resulted in your injuries and give you a recommended course of action for our case.
It is usually smart to wait until you have recovered as much as possible from your injuries - otherwise known as maximum medical improvement or MMI - before you try to determine the actual value of your case and negotiate a settlement. Do not be confused. Doing so does not mean you should wait to hire an experienced personal injury attorney until you reach MMI.
Contact a Washington State Sinkhole Lawyer
You may be entitled to compensation if a person or party’s negligence led to injury or death of a loved one. Contact attorney Chris Davis today for a free case evaluation. Mr. Davis, founder of Washington State personal injury law firm Davis Law Group, P.S., and his team of experienced sinkhole claims lawyers can help protect your legal rights to get the resolution you deserve.
Don’t hesitate. Call (206) 727-4000, use the form on this page or use the chat feature below to get started.