Slip and fall accidents can occur anytime throughout your day. You might fall in your home, on the way to work or school, at the grocery store, or while dining at your favorite local hot spot. Elders are especially at risk for slip and fall accidents and injuries.
Not all slip and fall accidents result in injuries or require a hospital stay, and not all slip and fall accident injuries require legal representation. Yet, when a negligent property owner fails to maintain a safe environment, someone can slip and fall, and severe injuries can occur. Accident victims need a South Carolina slip and fall lawyer to advocate for them.
If you or someone you love has sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident in South Carolina, you might be eligible to receive compensation for your damages related to your accident and injuries. South Carolina law gives you three years from your date of injury to bring a lawsuit against the careless property owner who caused you harm. Contact the South Carolina slip and fall lawyers at Hughey Law Firm online or at (843) 881-8644 for a free consultation to discuss the events leading up to your slip and fall accident, your injuries, and the ways we can assist you going forward.
Hughey Law Firm’s Results in Slip and Fall Accident Claims
The award-winning legal team at Hughey Law Firm has been advocating for injured clients for more than a decade, including those who have suffered injuries in slip and fall accidents. The firm’s commitment to seeking justice and client service has led to tens of millions in settlements and jury awards for clients and their families, helping to eliminate or reduce the economic burden that often comes with a severe injury.
Some of the most recent slip and fall accident case results include the following settlements and court-awarded damages:
- $497,500 for a client who suffered falls and a broken hip at a nursing home.
- $440,000 for a client who suffered falls and a broken arm at a nursing home.
- $435,000 for a client who fell over a rolled floor mat at a restaurant.
- $425,000 for a client who broke an ankle in a slip and fall accident.
- $415,000 for a client who suffered a fall on the stairs at church.
- $415, 000 for a client who suffered injuries falling on stairs without a handrail.
- $375,000 for a client who fell on a hazardous sidewalk.
- $215,000 for a client who needed surgery after suffering a fall at a nursing home.
- $200,000 for a resident who needed hip surgery after a slip and fall accident in a nursing home.
The above case results are examples of financial outcomes in slip and fall accident cases; they do not guarantee specific results for your slip and fall accident claim. Each case has underlying facts and circumstances that increase or decrease its value. The personal injury attorneys at Hughey Law Firm have the resources and knowledge to help build the best case possible against the negligent property owner who harmed our clients. Read on to learn more about your recovery options through premises liability law.
Common Hazards that Lead to Slip and Fall Accidents
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) estimates that one-third of those over age 65 fall each year. These falls result in more than 7,000 hospitalizations and 25,000 emergency room visits in South Carolina each year.
These slips and falls can occur in many scenarios, but slip and fall accidents typically happen when someone loses their footing on an uneven or slippery surface, or trips over a hazard.
Here are some common hazards that can lead to dangerous slip and fall accidents:
- Wet and dry spills or product use including water, food, oil, grease, powders, sawdust, hay, and more
- Heavily polished tile, marble, and wood floors
- Falling debris and uncleared trash
- Broken or malfunctioning escalators
- Rotten wood on steps and stair rails
- Broken floorboards in old buildings
- Loose carpeting and broken tiles
- Uneven walking paths and sidewalks
Risk Factors That Make People More Prone to Slip and Fall Accidents
We covered scenarios that often lead to slip and fall accidents above, but individual factors also contribute to the likelihood of experiencing a slip and fall accident. According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), three risk factors increase the chances that a person falls and suffers injuries. They are:
Aging typically results in the loss of bone mass and muscle strength for many. This loss makes it more difficult to balance in general, and more difficult to recover balance after losing one’s footing.
Those who regularly exercise and have an overall high level of physical activity have better balance because they typically have more muscle mass. Those with sedentary lifestyles often have lower muscle mass, making it easier to fall when hazards are present.
Experiencing an unintentional fall can be an emotionally traumatic event. Some people develop a severe phobia of another fall. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that people who experience one fall are twice as likely to fall again.
Slip and Fall Accidents Lead to Multiple Types of Injuries
Victims of slip and fall accidents can suffer a wide array of injuries that range from mild to fatal. Some common slip and fall accident injuries include:
- Fractured hips, legs, and ankles.
- Fractured arms and wrists, typically from trying to break a fall.
- Sprains, strains, tears, and other soft tissue damage to muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
- Brain injuries that often lead to traumatic brain injuries (TBI), some of which are mild and others that are more severe and lead to chronic issues with pain, cognitive functions, and motor skills.
- Psychological trauma, especially for older adults who suffer injuries in a slip and fall accident.
Visitor Status in South Carolina Slip and Fall Accident Cases
South Carolina law has four classifications for people who go onto another party’s premises: trespassers, invitees, licensees, and children. Property owners have different duties of care based on visitor status. Here is a broad view of how each visitor status impacts a landowner’s potential liability in a trip and fall accident case:
Under South Carolina law, and the laws of every other state, adult trespassers have no rights if they suffer slip and fall accident injuries on another person’s property. Owners are legally prohibited from causing intentional harm or setting traps for trespassers, but owe no further duty of care to them.
An invitee is a person who enters another’s property with an express or implied invitation. Specifically, invitees have a connection with the landowner’s business, and the owner benefits from the invitee’s presence. The law divides invitees into public invitees and business visitors. Public invitees enter on public land for public use, such as parks.
Other invitees fall under the category of business visitors because their purpose for being on the property is related to doing business with the owner. Business invitees include diners in a restaurant, patients in a medical office, shoppers at the mall, and many other places people conduct business.
Landowners have the most duty towards invitees to the extent they owe them reasonable care for safety. Landowners must warn invitees of hidden dangers they know or should know.
A licensee has consent to enter on another party’s property, but their presence is tolerated. Licensees are not always invited. Social guests are the most common licensees. Landowners have less obligation towards licensees. Under South Carolina law, a property owner must use reasonable care to discover the licensee and avoid causing injury, and to warn of any concealed hazardous conditions or activities. A property might be liable if a licensee slips, falls, and suffers injuries.
South Carolina law protects children, especially young children, when they trespass on someone else’s property. Old cars, swimming pools, trampolines, and play equipment are all items, referred to as attractive nuisances, that attract children to a particular property. If a child trespasses and suffers slip and fall injuries as a result of an attractive nuisance, South Carolina property owners potentially face financial liability for costs related to injuries.
Common Defense Tactics for Property Owners in Slip and Fall Cases
Property owners, business owners, and their insurance companies often do not want to pay out insurance claims, and especially not court-ordered damages from a personal injury lawsuit. If you file an insurance claim or take legal action after a slip and fall accident, the defense may use a variety of tactics to deny or devalue your claim.
As you go through the claims process, the property owner, their insurance carrier, and defense legal teams might employ some following strategies:
- Argue you were trespassing when you fell, because the property owner owes trespassers no duty of care.
- Argue you were in a prohibited or restricted area of the property.
- Argue you ignored posted warnings and verbal warnings about the hazard or dangerous condition that led to your slip and fall.
- Argue you were distracted by your cell phone, another person, food, or some other common distraction that caused you to overlook the obvious danger in your path.
- Downplay the severity of your injuries and argue that you or your doctor are claiming your injuries are worse than they are.
- Argue you did not injure yourself on the property because you had preexisting injuries.
- Argue you were not at the location where you claim the slip and fall accident occurred.
- Argue that any other reasonable visitor would have noticed the dangerous condition and went out of their way to avoid it.
Our slip and fall accident attorneys have seen these tactics before and they never surprise us, effectively protecting you from them.
With thorough accident investigation and case preparation, lawyers advocate for injured clients and fight to give them the best odds for receiving maximum compensation for their injury claims by building a strong case against careless property owners.
Recovering Compensation After a South Carolina Slip and Fall Accident
If you take legal action against a negligent landowner, come to an agreeable settlement, or the court rules in your favor during litigation, you might recover the following losses related to your slip and fall accident and injuries:
- Medical expenses including ambulance ride, emergency room visit, hospital stay, surgery, follow-up care, diagnostic imaging, prescriptions, and travel to and from the hospital/doctor.
- Rehabilitation costs such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and mental health services.
- Expenses for assistive devices such as wheelchairs or canes.
- Estimated future medical treatment costs when a slip and fall accident causes a permanent injury requiring ongoing care.
- Lost wages for missing work if applicable.
- Estimated future lost wages for catastrophic slip and fall accident injuries.
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering.
- Decreased quality of life.
- Loss of consortium with a spouse if applicable.
- Punitive damages, if the property owner intentionally caused harm.
If you have lost a loved one as a result of a fatal slip and fall accident injury, you might be eligible for compensation depending on your relationship with the deceased. A South Carolina slip and fall accident attorney, like those at Hughey Law Firm, could evaluate your case and advise you on the best course of action.
South Carolina Slip and Fall FAQ
Often a slip and fall can seem like a minor incident, but many slip and fall accidents result in injuries that alter the victim’s day-to-day life. It is important for slip and fall victims to understand that they have the right to recover for their injuries if the fall occurred because of another party’s negligence or while operating in the scope of their duties as an employee.
Read on for answers to some questions commonly asked about slip and fall accidents and to understand your options for recovery after a fall. For more specific information about your legal options, contact Hughey Law Firm.
Q: How frequently do slip and fall accidents happen?
Slip and fall accidents result in over 800,000 hospitalizations each year in the United States, and one in five falls causes a serious injury. The elderly are especially susceptible to injury from falls, and each year three million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. In fact, more than 95 percent of all hip fracture injuries are the result of a fall. Slip and fall injuries come with significant economic impact as well, with a recent year’s medical costs totaling more than $50 billion.
In South Carolina, fall-related injuries among older adults result in nearly 7,000 hospitalizations and 25,000 emergency room visits each year. The numbers, however, are significantly higher in some years. In one year, there were 417 deaths, 17,471 hospitalizations, and 134,448 emergency department visits from falls in South Carolina. Non-fatal injuries result in over $1.2 billion in hospital and emergency department charges annually in South Carolina, and fatalities from falls result in another $103 million in lost productivity and medical costs.
Q: What are the most common causes of South Carolina slip and fall accidents?
The situations that result in a slip and fall accident are endless, but some are more common than others:
- Uneven or damaged surfaces, like loose floorboards or mats, worn-out carpet, defective sidewalks, and parking lot potholes;
- Wet and icy conditions that are not properly marked including freshly waxed or mopped surfaces;
- Street hazards like debris or construction obstacles;
- Poor lighting;
- Poorly marked or unobvious obstacles such as stray cords and electrical wires or other debris on the floor;
- Unsecured ladders;
- Stairs without a handrail or a broken handrail; or
- Inadequate workplace training, especially in the construction industry.
While it might not be front of mind, it is important to survey the scene immediately after the accident. Be sure to document any conditions that contributed to the fall to help ensure that you have sufficient evidence for recovery.
Q: Who is responsible if I fall at work in South Carolina?
If you fall at work in the scope of your duties as an employee, your employer would be held responsible for your injuries. You will not be required to show that the employer acted negligently, and recovery will be managed through the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. Be sure to immediately report an on-the-job injury to your employer and request medical treatment. You risk losing benefits if you do not report the claim within 90-days of the injury. It is important to follow all administrative requirements to secure and retain your workers’ compensation benefits. A lawyer could assist you with filing your claim, advocating for your recovery, and appealing any adverse decisions.
Independent contractors are not eligible for workers’ compensation and must demonstrate negligence to recover for their injuries. If the independent contractor establishes negligence, they are potentially eligible for recovery of damages not available through workers’ compensation, such as emotional distress.
An independent contractor is free to control and direct their own work.
Factors used to determine this include:
- Any direct evidence of the right or actual exercise of control by the employer;
- Method of payment;
- Which party furnishes equipment; and
- If the party has a right to fire the individual.
Work with your attorney to analyze your status as an employee or independent contractor and to understand how this could affect your ability to recover for your workplace injury.
Q: Who is responsible if my fall happened outside of work?
For any fall that did not happen at work, you would be required to prove that another party violated a duty of care and that the failure caused your injuries. Property owners are often defendants in slip and fall cases.
The duty of care owed by a property owner depends on the status of the visitor:
- Invitee: An invitee is a guest of a business establishment, such as a store, restaurant, or hotel. Business property owners owe the highest duty of care to lawful visitors and must use reasonable and ordinary care to keep the premises safe and protect visitors.
- Licensee: A social visitor is classified as a licensee. A property owner must warn social guests of dangerous conditions on the property of which the owner has knowledge but are not otherwise easily discoverable.
- Adult trespasser: No duty of care is owed to trespassers because the owner has no reason to expect them on the property. A property owner is only responsible for willful or wanton injury to an adult trespasser.
- Child trespasser: The duty of care for children trespassers is higher than for adult trespassers. The property owner is responsible for injuries caused to trespassing children (or individuals with a mental disability) from an artificial condition that is likely to cause children to trespass and is known to involve an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily harm. The child must be unable to realize the risk, and the utility of the condition to the property owner must be low. The property owner is only responsible if they fail to take reasonable care to eliminate the danger or protect the child from encountering the danger. A common example of this type of artificial condition is a swimming pool.
A lawyer would work with you to determine your status, the duty of care owed by the property owner, and whether it was violated.
Q: What injuries result from South Carolina slip and fall accidents?
Given the numerous ways a slip and fall accident can occur, the type of injuries that result are equally numerous. Be sure to seek medical attention immediately after your fall.
These injuries are commonly diagnosed after a slip and fall:
- Head injury: A fall often results in a blow to the head which can result in a concussion, skull fracture, or lacerations.
- Brain damage: Falls are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The effects of a TBI vary and may cause physical, sensory, and cognitive symptoms. Severe brain injuries can result in long-term complications or death.
- Spinal injuries: The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that allows the brain to communicate with the body. Like a TBI, a spinal injury can result in a variety of symptoms including numbness, muscle weakness, and paralysis.
- Neck and back injuries: Neck and back injuries cause many victims to experience a life of pain and often require significant rehabilitation and physical therapy.
- Internal damage: If the fall results in a blow or impact to the body, the internal organs can be damaged. These injuries are difficult to diagnose but are quite serious.
- Dental and facial injuries: If your face takes the brunt of the impact of the fall, you might suffer from facial or dental injuries such as chipped or cracked teeth or damage to your jaw or other facial muscles. Facial injuries often require plastic surgery.
- Broken bones: An instinct when falling is to throw out your arms to brace the fall. While this often avoids other serious injuries, it means that broken bones are common after a fall. If the break is severe, it may require surgery or rehabilitation. Hip fractures are other bones commonly broken in a fall.
- Cuts, bruises, and sprains: While less severe than the above injuries, cuts, bruises, and sprains still disrupt the victim’s life, often limiting mobility or requiring time off work to manage the pain.
In addition to physical injuries, a victim might suffer from emotional trauma, including depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. This is especially common if the victim’s life is significantly disrupted due to the injuries.
Q: What damages could I recover from the defendant in a South Carolina slip and fall claim?
If your injuries occurred at work, workers’ compensation will cover your medical costs and provide compensation if you are determined to be temporarily or permanently disabled.
For injuries that require a showing of negligence, the negligent defendant may be held responsible for all the injuries you have suffered, including:
- Medical expenses: The defendant would be responsible for all your medical costs, including future medical costs, such as hospital stays, doctors’ bills, prescription medicine, assistive devices like a wheelchair, and physical therapy.
- Lost wages: If your injuries require you to miss work or work a reduced schedule, the defendant would have to compensate you for your lost wages. Your damages demand should also include an estimate of future lost earnings from missed work or a long-term limitation of your performance and future lost earning potential.
- Property damage: If any of your property was damaged in the fall, the defendant would be responsible for repair or replacement. A victim’s personal electronics are often destroyed in a fall.
- Emotional distress: As mentioned above, many fall victims experience emotional trauma. Work with your attorney to determine the appropriate compensation for any emotional distress you have suffered because of the fall.
- Loss of enjoyment: If your injuries limit your ability to participate in activities that were previously a meaningful part of your life, these losses should be included in your damages demand.
- Punitive damages: Punitive damages are used to punish the defendant rather than to compensate the plaintiff. In South Carolina, there must be clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s conduct was willful, wanton, or reckless for an award of punitive damages.
Depending on the nature of your injuries, your attorney might involve a medical or economic expert to prepare the damages demand. A comprehensive damages assessment is important to sure maximum recovery at jury trial and to analyze any settlement offers from the defendant. While there is no guarantee of an award of damages, contact Hughey Law Firm for more information about how to move forward with your legal claim.
Q: Should I accept a settlement offer for my South Carolina slip and fall accident?
The defendant or their insurance provider is likely to make one or more settlement offers before the case goes to trial. Settlement offers allow for a speedier resolution to the matter and provide a guaranteed recovery. However, they may be for an amount significantly below the full extent of your damages.
Work with your lawyer to analyze any settlement offer, taking into account the full scope of your damages and the strength of the evidence against the defendant.
Q: How long do I have to file a South Carolina slip and fall lawsuit?
Plaintiffs must file any lawsuit for recovery after a South Carolina slip and fall accident within three years of the accident. This is called the statute of limitations, and the clock begins ticking when the victim is injured. While three years sounds like a lot of time, it will pass quickly as you manage your injuries, secure evidence of the plaintiff’s negligence, and prepare a damages demand and court documents with the help of a lawyer.
Contact an attorney as soon as possible after your accident so that you do not lose your opportunity to recover for your injuries.
Q: How could an attorney help me recover for my South Carolina slip and fall injuries?
Yes. A lawyer can be a valuable partner as you seek to recover for your slip and fall injuries. Your lawyer would work with you to analyze the facts of your case, determine which party is responsible for your fall, compile evidence to support your case, prepare a damages demand, communicate with the defendant and insurance companies, analyze settlement offers, and prepare court documents.
The team at Hughey Law Firm is here to help. Our firm understands the real issues our clients face. If you or a loved one were injured in a slip and fall accident in South Carolina, contact Hughey Law Firm today or through our website to schedule a free initial consultation.
Get the Legal Help You Need from a South Carolina Slip and Fall Attorney
Coping with the emotional and economic aftermath of a serious injury can be frustrating and difficult. You should not have to feel overwhelmed and mentally exhausted on top of the physical pain you have experienced from a slip and fall injury. A South Carolina slip and fall accident lawyer can guide you through the claims process and help you recover damages for your injuries. Contact Hughey Law Firm at (843) 881-8644 for a free case evaluation. Let us work to help you get the compensation you deserve, from a settlement or jury verdict in your favor.
“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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