Premises Liability Attorneys in Columbia, SC
It is the responsibility of South Carolina property owners and caretakers to maintain a premises that is safe and free of hazards for visitors and guests. This is true whether it is a government building or public park, commercial space, or private property. Failure to do so can result in accidents that cause serious injuries and in the worst cases, fatalities.
If you or someone close to you got hurt because of the negligence of a property owner, you have a right to be compensated. But property owners and their insurance companies usually fight hard against premises liability claims, often arguing that they are either frivolous and/or the fault of the injured party. To prevail with this type of claim, you will need to act quickly to put together a rock-solid case, and the first step is to get in touch with a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
At Peake & Fowler, we understand that slip and fall accidents and other types of accidents that happen on other peoples’ property can sometimes be serious, and we are ready to fight for the full and fair compensation you deserve. Our lawyers have over six decades of combined experience representing personal injury victims in South Carolina, and we have a proven track record of success even in the most complicated cases. We know the common tactics that the other side will use to try to avoid responsibility for your premises liability injury, and we will do everything possible to help you recover maximum compensation.
Common Causes for Premises Liability Actions in South Carolina
Injuries can happen pretty much anywhere as you go about your daily life. However, there are some places in which the risks of injuries are more serious than others. These may include shopping centers, hotels and resorts, swimming pools, playgrounds, parks, schools, daycare centers, hospitals, office buildings, and nursing homes.
Some the conditions that commonly cause slips, trips, and falls and other types of injuries on properties like these include:
- Wet and slippery surfaces
- Defective elevators and escalators
- Cracked or uneven pavement
- Loose or broken stairwells
- Missing or damaged railings
- Falling objects
- Dead trees and branches
- Open ditches and wells
- Fires and explosions
- Exposure to toxic substances
- Poor lighting
- Negligent Security
How your Visitor Status May Affect your Premises Liability Claim
There are a lot of factors that help determine whether or not you have a viable premises liability case. Among the most important will be what type of visitor you were when you got hurt on the property. Your visitor status will fall into one of three categories:
An invitee is someone who has explicit permission to be on the property, usually for the financial benefit of the owner or caretaker. Examples of invitees may include customers in a retail shop, hotel or resort guests, residential or commercial building tenants, long-term care facility residents, and restaurant patrons. Invitees are owed the highest duty of care, and it is the responsibility of the property owner or caretaker to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of visitors in this category.
A licensee is someone who still has permission to be on a property, but they generally do so for their own benefit or as a social guest. For example, a neighbor or a dinner party guest would be considered a licensee, as would an unsolicited salesperson, a building contractor who is doing work on your home, or a delivery carrier. Licensees are still owed a high duty of care, but not quite as high as an invitee. The property owner is still responsible to take reasonable steps to keep the premises safe and free of all known hazards, but they are not necessarily required to regularly inspect the property to uncover and eliminate dangerous conditions that would otherwise go undiscovered.
As most people are aware, trespassers are individuals who enter a property without the owner’s permission. This being the case, there is very little duty of care owed to visitors who fall into this category. The only obligation owners have with regards to trespassers is to refrain from any willful or malicious actions that may cause them harm. The one exception to this is if an owner knows that children might come onto the property. In such cases, they have a duty to take steps to prevent harm to children and/or warn them of any potential hazards.
Challenges with South Carolina Premises Liability Claims
If you were an invitee or licensee when you got hurt on someone else’s property, you might have a viable premises liability case. If you were a trespasser, however, you will unfortunately be facing an uphill battle. But even in the case of invitees and licensees, there are still going to be difficulties with successfully pursuing a claim.
As we discussed earlier, South Carolina property owners are not likely to willingly pay your premises liability claim without putting up a fight. There are a number of defenses they may assert in an attempt to avoid responsibility for your injuries. These may include:
- The dangerous condition that caused your injury was “open and obvious” to a reasonable person.
- The accident was your fault because you were not paying adequate attention to what you were doing.
- The accident happened when you were an area of the property that is restricted and/or where visitors do not usually go.
- The defendant was not aware or could not have reasonably known about the hazardous condition that caused your injury.
As soon as the injury is reported, the other side will go to work right away to craft their defense. If you want to have any hope of winning a case like this, you need to take swift action as well.
First off, obtain as much documentation as possible about the accident or event that caused the injury. Create a detailed written report while everything is fresh in your mind, or if you cannot write at the moment, use the voice recorder in your smartphone to create an audio report that you can transcribe later. In addition, take multiple photos of the accident scene that clearly show what caused your injury.
If there were any individuals who witnessed the event, make sure to get statements from them as well. Ideally, you want witnesses who are not employees and who have no vested interest in helping the defendant. Finally, get immediate medical treatment, then get in touch with an attorney at your earliest convenience.
Contact our Experienced South Carolina Premises Liability Lawyers
If you or a loved one got injured on someone else’s property, Peake & Fowler is ready to go to work for you. Call our Columbia, SC office today at 803-998-2412 or message us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment with a member of our legal team.
Peake & Fowler Law Firm, P.A., is located in Columbia, SC and serves clients in and around Newberry, Lexington, Sumter, Allendale, Orangeburg, St. Matthews, Bishopville, Florence, Blythewood, State Park, Eastover, Columbia, Elgin, Irmo, Hopkins, Ridgeway, Lugoff, Ballentine, West Columbia, Kershaw, Camden, Dusty Bend, and Richland County, Lexington County, Calhoun County, Orangeburg County, Sumter County, Kershaw County, Newberry County, Fairfield County, Lee County, Clarendon County and Florence County.