THE THEORY BEHIND PREMISES LIABILITY LAW IN CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC
In South Carolina, injuries that are suffered while someone is on the private property of another (like "slip and fall" personal injury cases) are generally referred to under the legal nomenclature of Premises Liability. This area of the law generally addresses the alleged legal protection owed by a property owner (or person responsible for the maintenance of the property) to others who visit upon the property. There are two general analyses that have to be conducted in the evaluation of any premises liability case.
THE LEGAL DUTY OWED TO VISITORS BY A PROPERTY OWNER IN CHARLESTON
The first legal analysis is focused upon the owner of the premises. To collect damages for injuries suffered on the theory of premises liability, a person must show:
- A duty of care was owed to the person by the owner of the premises
- The owner of the property breached the duty owed by an act or omission; and
- The damages / injuries suffered by the plaintiff are the proximate result of the breach of duty
Example: Wal-Mart owes each customer a duty of care to insure that it is safe to walk up and down the aisles in its stores. There is a spill in the aisle that is neglected and not cleaned up by Wal Mart. You walk down the aisle and slip, resulting in a broken leg. Wal-Mart has breached the duty owed to you for providing a safe environment for passage.
WHAT TYPE OF VISITOR ARE YOU AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOU ABILITY TO RECOVER DAMAGES IN CHARLESTON
The second legal analysis that must be conducted in a premises liability case is the classification of the person who is visiting upon the premises. The nature and the scope of the duty of care owed to a person by the owner of the premises is determined by this classification. There are generally four classifications of persons while visiting upon the premises of another:
- Adult trespasser: The lowest level of protection. The person did not have permission to be on the premises. Not an absolute bar to recovery but the highest burden to overcome in order to be awarded damages
- Invitees: This is a person who is physically on the premises with the express or implied permission of the premises owner. As an invitee, the owner of the premises has also made an implied assurance that the premises is free of any condition that could cause foreseeable harm to you, This is the highest level of protection given to a person who visits upon the premises of another. (Example: persons shopping in retail stores are invitees)
- Licensees: A licensee, is a person who has the privilege to enter the premises by virtue of the possessor's consent. When a licensee enters onto the premises, the primary benefit is for the licensee as opposed to the property owner. In the words of the South Carolina Supreme Court, a licensee is “a person whose presence is tolerated, a person not necessarily invited on the premises, but one who is privileged to enter or remain on the premises only by the property owner's express or implied consent.” (Example: a social guest invited to a friend's home for dinner)
- Children: Children are generally offered a very high level of protection from injuries induced through premises liability. Generally, the age and experience of the child, the reason the child was on the premises, and the inherent danger in the conditions on the premises that caused the injury (Example: a 4 year old child falling into an empty well with no signage or blockades, versus the same happening to a 16 year old)
HOW TO PURSUE A PREMISES LIABILITY CASE IN CHARLESTON
Premises Liability cases and "Slip and Fall" cases are generally harder to prove for several reasons. These reasons include:
- No law enforcement officer is on site to help determine fault
- No person usually admits guilt
- There are usually no witnesses
- More times than not, there is no video evidence available
However, there are several step you can take to help in the prosecution of your "slip and fall" matter:
- taking any pictures of the area in question including the are where you were injured
- make an incident report with the owner of the premises or their agent / employees
- write down names and contact numbers for any witnesses that may have seen the slip and fall
- if you are aware of any negligent conditions on someone's property notify them in writing and share your concerns with them.
THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM - CHARLESTON PREMISES LIABILITY ATTORNEY
As a Personal Injury lawyer in my solo practice, I will take all necessary steps to protect your rights and work to secure compensation for your injuries as a victim of a slip an fall. Being a small firm allows you to have direct access to your lawyer during this entire process, with open lines of communication as we work together towards a viable solution to your specific case.
Being an experienced personal injury attorney, I have experience dealing with insurance companies. I also know where the courthouse is and will not be afraid to call the insurance company to the mat in front of a judge and jury if necessary.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall in Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, James Island, West Ashley, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner, North Charleston, or any of the other fine communities of the Low Country, and need to meet with an experienced slip and fall lawyer, please contact me to set up your free case evaluation today. Let me help prevent you from being taken advantage of by the insurance company. I am serious and I am here for you! Contact The McMillian Law Firm today @ 843-900-1306