Accidents can occur for a wide variety of reasons; however, there are some types of accidents that are more common than others. Falls, for example, are an extremely common type of accident that frequently result in injuries. Whether tumbling down a flight of stairs, tripping over an uneven sidewalk, or slipping on a wet floor, almost everyone has fallen at some point in their life. Yet most individuals are unaware that when they experience an accident on another’s property, they may be entitled to recover compensation for their injuries.
South Carolina requires property owners to take necessary precautions to keep their property or establishment safe for their customers, guests, and visitors. When property owners fail to ensure premises are reasonably safe, and as a result a visitor becomes injured, they may be liable for any resulting damages.
At Hughey Law Firm, we understand how dangerous these types of accidents can be. We also know how difficult it is for injured parties to demonstrate they are entitled to damages. However, our experienced South Carolina Premises Liability Lawyers regularly fight for the rights of injured victims to seek the compensation they deserve. We strive to use our background and compassion to help our clients maximize their recovery.
Hughey Law Firm’s Success Story
The team of South Carolina personal injury lawyers at Hughey Law Firm understands how devastating premises liability cases are for victims and their families, alike. We also know what it takes to provide injured victims with empathic legal representation as they pursue justice. With experience and skill, the team at Hughey Law Firm has handled hundreds of personal injury cases involving a variety of accidents and recovered.
While we cannot promise any specific outcome for your case, we have more than $150 million for our clients in settlement awards and verdicts as of July 2020. We strive to give back to the legal community by sharing our experiences through education and lectures on all aspects of personal injury law.
What Is Premises Liability in South Carolina?
As mentioned, South Carolina property or landowners must maintain a safe environment to ensure that visitors do not suffer injuries on the premises. Premises liability is a specific legal concept, involving harm resulting from unsafe conditions or defects found on another’s property. When an injury occurs due to unsafe circumstances on a property, premises liability law holds the property owner responsible for the victim’s damages.
Premise liability lawsuits can be complicated because a wide range of accidents can occur on any property, including:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Elevator accidents
- Broken stairways accidents
- Negligent security accidents
- Building code violation accidents
- Poor lighting accidents
- Supermarket or grocery store accidents
- Dog bite accidents
- Swimming pool accidents
South Carolina’s Premises Liability Laws
In South Carolina, individuals who are injured while visiting another’s property may recover compensation from the property owner if the owner’s negligence contributed to their injury. Property owners have a legal duty to ensure that their property and premises are safe for their guests, clients, employees, visitors, and other customers. Failing to ensure the property is reasonably safe for visitors constitutes a breach of that duty, or negligence. When a property owner negligently maintains the premise, victims are legally entitled to seek compensation for the losses they incurred as a result.
Elements to Prove When Demonstrating Fault in South Carolina
Before an individual can recover damages in a premises’ liability claim, the victim needs to prove the following elements:
- The defendant owed the victim a specific duty of care.
- The defendant breached this duty of care by their negligent act.
- This breach resulted in the victim’s accident.
- The victim endured damages because of this accident.
The duty that a property owner owes to individuals who are physically present on the premises ultimately depends on the individual’s legal status as a visitor at the time of the accident.
South Carolina’s Categories of Guests
In South Carolina, four different classifications will determine the legal duty that a property owner owes a visitor. South Carolina law classifies visitors as Invitees, Licensees, Trespassers, or Children.
Invitee or Visitor. An invitee is an individual that has been invited onto another’s property for the benefit of the landowner. For example, a customer at a business establishment is invited to visit the business to purchase goods or services for the benefit of the business owner. Business or property owners owe invitees the highest duty of care. The duty of care owed to invitees requires the property owner to use reasonable and ordinary care to make sure the premises are safe. In addition, property owners have a duty to protect invitees from any injury caused by an unreasonable risk that the invitee could not discover on their own.
The duty owed to invitees requires the landowner to keep their property safe through regular inspections. For instance, a shop owner must regularly check the aisles to ensure that there are no dangerous liquids or substances that might cause their customers to slip and fall. And, if at any point there are present dangers on the property, the owner must warn the invitee of those dangers.
Licensee. The licensee is an individual who is a social visitor on another’s property for their own benefit, rather than the property owner’s benefit. Unlike invitees, licensees are not considered patrons of the property or establishment, but rather include family, friends, or other social guests.
When the individual is a licensee, the property owner is responsible for exercising reasonable care to ensure the property is safe. Owners must warn licensees of any dangerous property conditions that they are aware of but that are not easily discoverable by a guest.
Adult trespassers. An adult trespasser is an individual who enters another’s property or establishment without the owner’s permission.
Typically, a landowner does not owe a trespasser any duty or care, such as warning or protecting them from any harmful conditions. However, owners must not inflict any wanton or willful injury on trespassers (i.e., owners must not hurt them on purpose.)
Children. Under South Carolina’s premises liability laws, the duty owed to a child involves a higher standard of care than that owed to an adult. A child’s mental capacity and emotional immaturity require owners to provide extra protections to children on their property. A child trespassing on another individual’s land may be entitled to recover damages from a property owner if they were injured by an attractive nuisance on the premises.
An attractive nuisance is:
- An exposed dangerous condition that the property owner has failed to take reasonable actions to prevent children from being injured by the condition; or
- An artificial condition is located on the land that is attractive to the children that the property owner has failed to reasonably protect children from.
Property owners with an attractive nuisance on their property have a duty to take action to ensure children are reasonably safe from harm from the dangerous condition. For example, an empty swimming pool within sight from a road can create an attractive nuisance, especially when there are no warning signs present. Also, a vicious dog on the property that the owners do not reasonably restrain might create an attractive nuisance. Because children may be attracted to a pool or a pet, owners must implement safety measures to prevent injury to children on the premises.
South Carolina’s Deadline to File a Premises Liability Claim
In South Carolina, the statute of limitations allows injured victims to file a premises’ liability claim within three years of the date of the accident. However, generally, injured victims should initiate the claims process as soon as they are able. Delays in filing a claim may increase the likelihood that evidence and witnesses are no longer accessible or that memories of the incident fade. Although there are a few limited exceptions, in most cases, when the statute of limitations expires, victims will be barred from seeking compensation for their injuries.
What Do You Need to Do if You Have Been Injured on Another’s Property in South Carolina?
After suffering an injury on another’s property, to seek compensation, victims must demonstrate that the accident on the property caused their injuries—something that we help our clients do every day. Potentially helpful evidence may include:
Even if you do not think you have been seriously injured, it is still essential to get checked out by a medical professional. Some injuries, even life-threatening injuries, do not show immediate symptoms. Seeking a medical evaluation can reveal whether you may have injuries you are unaware of, provide you with the medical treatment you need, and document any injuries you suffered. Documentation of the injuries will be crucial evidence if you decide to pursue a claim.
If possible, make sure to take photos or videos of the accident scene, depicting the dangerous condition that caused your injuries. Photograph your visible injuries, the weather, the lighting, and any other aspects of the area that could help illustrate the defect or dangerous condition. Photo evidence can support your claims, should the property owner try to discredit your recollection of how your injuries occurred. Also, remember to take photos of your injuries.
Having witness statements to corroborate your recollection of the accident may be essential to proving a claim. If individuals witnessed the accident, victims should gather their names and contact information.
What Are Typical Injuries Sustained in a South Carolina Premises Liability Case?
When a property owner fails to ensure their premises are reasonably safe, the consequences can be disastrous.
Some common injuries caused by dangerous property conditions include:
- Head and neck injuries
- Brain injuries
- Back injuries
- Lacerations and bruising
- Bite wounds
- Soft tissue injuries (e.g., strained or torn ligaments)
- Broken or dislocated bones
- Electrocution injuries
What Damages Can You Pursue in South Carolina?
The amount of damages a victim may be entitled to seek in a premises’ liability accident depends on the specific facts of each case. In fact, many factors are taken into account, including the severity of the injury and whether the victim contributed to causing their injuries in any way.
When there is evidence that the property owner was a fault, victims may be entitled to seek compensation for the following:
- Medical bills: Victims may seek compensation for past and future medical expenses, including bills, physical therapy, medications, and other medical treatments necessary to their recovery. Medical costs may also include any required rehabilitative services, any at-home care services, and travel expenses to and from medical appointments. For future expenses, victims may need to progress through several stages of recovery before a physician can accurately predict their future treatment plan.
- Lost income: Lost earnings can include both past and future income that victims could not collect due to missed work while recovering from their injuries. In addition, victims may recover lost bonuses, benefits, commissions, and even promotions. In certain instances, victims’ injuries may keep them from returning to work in the same capacity as before the accident. Victims who suffer permanent limitations or disabilities may seek damages for lost future earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering: Damages for pain and suffering offer victims compensation for the physical and emotional impacts directly resulting from their injuries. Victims may seek recovery for their pain discomfort as well as the sensation of pain that was caused by the injury itself. When awarding damages for pain and suffering, courts consider the extent of the injuries, the duration of recovery, the victims’ age and general health, and the type of treatments required.
- Wrongful death: If a victim of a premises’ liability accident passes away, their dependents can file a wrongful death action. Compensation can include burial expenses, funeral expenses, medical bills, lost wages, loss of companionship, and loss of consortium for spouses of deceased victims.
- Punitive damages: In certain, particularly egregious, circumstances, the court may award victims punitive damages. However, punitive damages are special damages that require showing the property owner’s actions or failure to act were especially negligent and egregious. Punitive damages are imposed as a form of punishment to deter dangerous behavior in the future.
Do I Need a South Carolina Premises Liability Attorney?
Yes. Premises liability cases are quite complex, requiring extensive and detailed evidence, and victims are often learning how to cope with significant injuries and medical costs. However, victims do not have to endure this battle alone. With help from the Hughey Law Firm, injured victims can have an experienced and knowledgeable premises liability attorney on their side.
We regularly fight for the rights of injured victims to seek the compensation they are entitled to. Our team has a wealth of experience with gathering critical evidence, interviewing witnesses, and timely and correctly filing legal documents. We understand the extensive impacts that accident injuries can have on victims and their families, and aim to maximize recovery for each of our clients.
If you were injured in a premises’ liability case, do not wait any longer. Contact Hughey Law Firm today for a free consultation and case evaluation. Reach us at any time at (843) 881-8644 or through our online contact page.
“Thank you Hughey Law Firm! It was a pleasure to work with you on my case! From the beginning, every contact I had with your firm was professional, kind, helpful, and painless! I always felt kept in the loop, and important to you as a client. If you are looking for a personal injury attorney with integrity, I would highly recommend Hughey Law Firm!”
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