Thousands are injured every year in accidents that occur in homes or businesses. While some of these accidents are unavoidable, others are caused when the property owner or manager fails to keep their property safe. If you were injured due to the failure of a South Carolina property owner to maintain their property in a reasonably safe manner, you may have the right to compensation for your injuries. A Columbia premises liability lawyer can help you recover from an incident that wasn’t your fault.
Legal claims involving accidents that occur on another homeowner’s or business owner’s property belong to an area of law called premises liability. South Carolina laws state that all property owners are legally responsible to fully maintain their properties and keep them safe for visitors. When a property owner is negligent and fails to follow this responsibility, they may be able to be sued if someone is hurt.
At The Solomon Law Group, we believe in obtaining justice for injured victims. Filing a lawsuit can help ensure a guilty property owner understands the importance of their legal obligations so no one else can become hurt in the future. We can help you navigate the complex process of filing a premises negligence lawsuit and assist you in getting the funds you need to make a full and complete recovery.
Premises Liability Laws in South Carolina
When an injury is suffered on private property, the circumstances determine whether or not the victim is eligible for compensation. This area of law addresses the legal protection owed by property owners to others who visit their premises. Essentially, the law states that property owners have to protect visitors from dangers, but only to the extent that a responsible person would.
These cases can be difficult to prove for a number of reasons. Some of the most common involve the lack of witnesses or video evidence, no law enforcement on-site to determine fault, and it’s not likely the owner will admit fault. To improve your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve, you can take pictures of the area where you were injured, make an incident report with the owner of the premises, write down contact information for anyone who saw the accident happen, and notify the property owner about the negligent conditions.
It’s important to note that not all accidents on private or public property are eligible for compensation. Specifically in South Carolina, Section 26-3-30 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, the law states that landowners do not owe a duty of care for persons who have sought and obtained permission to use the property for recreational purposes. Property owners are also not required to warn of any dangerous conditions when the property is being used recreationally.
Dealing with insurance companies can be trying, which is why our attorneys are here to make the process easier for you. We’ll handle the paperwork and difficult conversations, so you can focus on your recovery and getting your life back in order.
Types of Property Visitors
In order to determine if a property owner is liable for what has happened to a person on their property, the classification of the person has to be determined. There are generally four classifications of persons:
- Invitees. An invitee is a person who is physically on the premises with the express or implied permission of the owner. In a situation like this, the owner has made an implied assurance that the property is free of any conditions that could foreseeably cause the invitee any harm. This is the highest level of protection afforded to a visitor. An example would be a person staying in a hotel or someone shopping in a retail store.
- Licensees. This is a person who has the privilege to be on the premises based on the owner’s consent. Their presence is tolerated but not necessarily invited, according to state law. A social guest invited for dinner at a friend’s house would fit this classification.
- Children. Typically, children are offered a very high level of protection from premises liability-related injuries. The age of the child, their experience, the reason the child was on the premises, and the inherent danger associated with the premise’s conditions are taken into consideration.
- Adult Trespasser. This person legally has the lowest level of protection because they do not have permission to be on the property. While this does not mean an adult trespasser cannot recover damages, it is the most difficult classification to overcome.
Your lawyer will determine which category of visitor you fall into. In most cases, you’ll either be an invitee or a licensee. Either way, it’s possible you could be compensated for the expenses related to your injuries and losses.
Common Areas Where Premises Liability Accidents Happen
Injuries resulting from a property owner’s negligence can happen anywhere. Here are some of the most common locations where these accidents often occur:
- Someone else’s privately-owned house or yard
- Commercial property
- Rental property
- City parks
- School playgrounds
- Construction sites
- Parking lots
- Hotels, resorts, and casinos
- Grocery stores
- Business lobbies or hallways
- Streets or roadways
- Anywhere with poor lighting
- Sidewalks (private or public)
- Surfaces covered with snow, ice, or water from rain
- Stairs, steps, or porches
- Public venues such as concert halls, movie theaters, and restaurants
- Apartment complexes
Property owners are responsible for not only fixing hazards that exist on their properties, but for regularly inspecting their properties to see if hazards exist. If you were injured while carrying mail to a homeowner’s front door, for example, and an overgrown tree fell and caused serious injuries, that homeowner cannot claim they did not know the tree was falling apart. Part of their job as a homeowner is to regularly maintain trees and have an idea of how safe their property is.
No matter where you were injured on someone’s property, it’s important to understand when you have grounds to file a claim and what your claim will be based on. When you work with an attorney from our firm, you’ll be on the path to receiving the compensation you need to get your life back in order.
Types of Premises Liability Claims We Handle
There are many different types of premises liability lawsuits the injury lawyers at The Solomon Law Group handle. Determining the type of lawsuit you’ll be filing is crucial as the evidence you’ll need to support your claim could vary. These cases we regularly see include the following:
Slip and Fall Accidents
Falling accidents, often referred to as slip and fall accidents, are the number one type of premises liability injury we see. When a homeowner or business owner fails to clean up spills or fails to properly maintain walkways, stairways, or flooring, injuries can quickly occur when a customer or visitor trips and falls or slips and falls.
We assume that business owners have taken steps to ensure we are relatively safe while on their properties. Many times, we do not know the history of any criminal acts on the property and are not warned of any dangerous activity that may cause us or our families harm. Unfortunately, many business owners are more concerned about profits than our safety.
Businesses have a duty to keep patrons and other visitors safe. If you were a victim of a criminal act at a store, hotel, restaurant, or other public establishment and feel that the act occurred due to negligent security measures or poor management, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the business owner. Doing so helps guarantee the safety of future patrons.
Businesses have a duty to implement adequate security measures—including the use of security cameras and hiring security personnel if required—to ensure the safety of guests and customers. If you’ve suffered from injuries that resulted due to failed security measures or untrained security officers, you may be able to file a negligent security claim against the owner.
Childhood injuries are common, but when a child is injured due to faulty playground equipment, poorly-maintained amusement park structures, or a property owner’s negligence, you deserve peace of mind. By filing a lawsuit against the guilty individual or company that allowed your child to become hurt, your family can begin the process of moving forward.
All pet owners have a duty to keep their animals from harming others. If you were bitten or otherwise injured by someone else’s dog that was not properly restrained or leashed, you may be able to sue the dog owner. Doing so will ensure that animal harms no one else again.
All property owners—including homeowners and store owners—have a responsibility to ensure falling debris does not injure visitors. Homeowners must keep their yards and structures well-maintained and landscaped. Poorly-maintained trees, for example, can pose a danger during and after winter storms. Items in grocery stores must be properly stacked and not stacked so high that they may fall and harm customers.
Swimming Pool Accidents
Swimming pool owners have a responsibility to ensure small children cannot access their swimming pool while wandering about unattended. Shallow areas must be properly marked so no one tries to dive in those areas. Pools must also always be properly maintained and cleaned so visitors do not become sick after swimming or do not slip on the nearby pavement.
The federal, state, and county governments have a legal obligation to design, construct, and maintain safe roadways for use by the traveling public. If poor road design, construction, or maintenance causes an injury accident or wrongful death, the government may be required to compensate the injured party or the survivors of a person killed in the accident.
To determine negligence, the roadway and details of the accident must be evaluated by a team of engineers with the expertise to evaluate the roadway, design, maintenance, traffic, and environmental conditions that may have contributed to the accident.
Depending on the type of accident you were in, you may not see it mentioned above. If that’s the case, it doesn’t mean you don’t have grounds for a valid claim. When you get in touch with the Columbia lawyers from The Solomon law Group, they’ll be able to evaluate your situation and determine what your legal options are based on your unique circumstances.
Proving a Property Owner’s Negligence
In order to prove compensation is owed, there are a number of elements the injured party must show. Your attorney will help you build a strong claim that contains those necessary elements.
First, it has to be proven that the property owner owed a duty of care to the person on the premises. This is typically determined by the type of visitor they are, which we’ll go into greater detail about below. After proving a duty of care was owed, it needs to be shown that the property owner breached that duty by an act or omission. If the injured person tripped on a broken stair and fractured their leg, the property owner can be held accountable because they neglected to fix the step and didn’t warn about the hazard.
Finally, it needs to be shown that the injury and damages are the direct results of the breach of duty. Damages include medical expenses for the bills related to your current treatment and any future treatments you may need, lost income for the time taken off work and reduced or lost earning capacity if the injury impacts your ability to work, personal property damage, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Seek Legal Representation with The Solomon Law Group
Your Columbia premises liability lawyer will seek to hold property owners accountable for allowing unsafe conditions to exist and cause harm to innocent people. These types of claims can be incredibly complex in South Carolina, but we understand how these cases work and have access to accident recreation experts that can testify on your behalf and prove that negligence caused your accident.
Filing a personal injury claim may let your family receive compensation that can go towards medical bills, other recovery costs, loss of wage costs, pain and suffering costs, and more. We can help ensure homeowners and business owners alike understand how vital it is to keep their properties safe. Contact us today to learn how.