Thousands of people every year are seriously injured in falling accidents, many resulting in permanent disability or disfigurement. While some falling accidents are unavoidable, sometimes the fault lays with a property owner or a business owner’s employees for failing to act to correct a known safety issue or perform regular maintenance. In these cases, a Columbia, SC slip and fall lawyer can help an injured victim get the money they need to make a full recovery.
When a person slips or trips and falls on a floor, down a flight of stairs, or on a rough patch of sidewalk, we call these incidents “slip and fall” accidents. The injuries that result from these accidents are called slip and fall injuries. When slip and fall injuries are caused by the negligence of a property owner, that owner may be able to be held legally liable for those injuries. All property owners have a legal responsibility to make their properties safe for visitors. Failing to do so is grounds for a lawsuit.
If the building was not constructed to code, for example, the building owner, contractor, and/or architect may be liable for any injuries that result due to poor construction. If a visitor falls and slips on a set of apartment stairs that has a broken handrail, the complex owner may be able to be sued.
Slip and fall injury lawsuits can be very complicated. It often takes an experienced premises liability attorney to determine if there is a legal case arising out of the incident that caused the injuries.
Hazards that Cause Slip and Fall Injuries
Slip/fall injuries can result after any type of falling accident, but some hazards are more known to result in serious injuries than others. Here are just a few examples of property hazards that lead to injuries:
- Cracked or uneven sidewalks or walking areas
- Slick pavement from rain, ice, or snow
- Poorly maintained walkways, parking lots, or stairwells
- A lack of required safety features such as handrails or non-slip walking surfaces
- Poor lighting
- Obstructed views
- Torn carpeting
- Broken gutters
- Loose roofing materials that may cause debris during a storm
- Poorly-maintained trees and landscaping which may cause debris during a storm
- Poorly-stacked merchandise inside of a store, for example, that may fall and cause injury
- Ramps that are too steep
- Defective elevators
- Unsecured manholes
- Wet floors caused by spills that are not properly cleaned up
According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), slips and falls account for over 8 million E.R. visits every year, representing the highest cause for visits in the U.S. 60% of individuals who report fall injuries are aged 75 and older. The elderly are high at risk for serious falling injuries.
Handling a Slip and Fall Claim in South Carolina
Slip and fall lawsuits belong to an area of law called premises liability. Premises liability laws help ensure that business and property owners do everything they can to keep their properties safe and well-maintained.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property in South Carolina, you and your injury attorney will need to prove the following points:
- That the hazardous condition existed
- That the hazardous condition directly caused your injury
- That the property owner was aware of the hazard or should have known about the hazard and failed to warn visitors/patrons
Homeowners and business owners in South Carolina have a legal responsibility to not only keep their properties and businesses safe, but to warn visitors or customers should a hazard exist. If a hazard exists and the owner doesn’t have the time or funding to fix it, they need to place adequate warning signs or block off the area until it can be fixed. Owners must also fix hazards within a reasonable amount of time. This period will be determined by the court when a slip and fall claim is filed.
If a store owner, for example, has knowledge that the floor is wet and slippery, they have a duty to warn customers until the floor is cleaned. If a homeowner has a broken sidewalk leading to the front door, they must place warning tape around the area or provide an alternate path until the walkway is fixed. If either situation is not fixed within a certain amount of time and no signs are posted, this may be grounds for a lawsuit if an injury occurs.
Property owners must also regularly inspect their properties for defects or hazards which may exist. If a property owner claims that they did not know about a broken stairwell, for instance, it may be decided by the court that the owner should have known about it given the time frame. That property owner may be able to be held liable for injuries because they should have inspected the property and consequently fixed the hazard.
Store owners must also take proper steps to ensure that merchandise displays are not a danger (falling merchandise) to the customers shopping in the store. Homeowners must keep all walkways and stairwells well-maintained, but they also must ensure that no debris is at risk for falling and injuring visitors. This includes roofs, porches, gutters, trees, and all types of structures and landscaping. Property owners are also responsible for clearing ice and snow from walkways after winter storms.
Find a Columbia, SC Slip and Fall Lawyer Who’s Right for You
Hiring an experienced slip and fall injury attorney who understands premises liability may make the difference between being fully compensated for injuries that were not your fault and not being compensated at all. The Solomon Law Group evaluates and handles serious injury cases arising from incidents like slip and fall accidents, and we have the expertise your claim needs.
We can handle your case knowledgeably and compassionately. If you’d like to learn more, get in touch today by calling our Columbia office at 1-877-323-3120. You can also contact us online.