Why is it that we are embarrassed when we trip on a cord or slip on a wet floor and fall down? Instead of pausing to assess our injuries, we tend to hop back up and hope nobody saw our blunder. It’s human nature not to want others to see us in distress, but if your fall or other accident was caused by conditions out of your control, you have a right to hold the negligent owner or owners accountable. This is known as premises liability, and the sooner you talk to a lawyer about what happened, the better the chances are that you will be able to file a successful claim for damages.
At Pracht Injury Lawyers, we have helped many people across South Carolina get the compensation they deserved after an accident on dangerous property, and we can help you as well.
How Do You Know If You Have a Premises Liability Claim?
Not every injury sustained on someone else’s property is compensable under a premises liability claim. First, it must be established that the property owner owed a duty of care to the person visiting their premises. Then, it must be shown that the property owner breached their duty of care by a negligent act or omission. Finally, proof that the breach of duty caused the injury must be presented.
Duty of Care
Property owners do not owe a duty of care to everyone who ends up on their premises. South Carolina recognizes four classifications of property visitors:
- Adult trespassers. Adult individuals who do not have permission to be in the building or on the grounds are not generally owed a duty of care because the owner has no reason to expect them. If a trespasser is injured by falling in a hole, for example, they would not have a claim for damages against the owner.
- Invitees. Guests, residents, customers, and other expected patrons of a property are owed the highest duty of care. Property owners must use reasonable and ordinary care to keep the premises safe to protect invitees from injury.
- Licensees. Visitors who are not considered invitees include friends and family members of invitees. Someone visiting a resident of an apartment complex, for example, would be a licensee. Owners must make a reasonable effort to warn licensees of dangerous conditions, but they are not held to as high a duty of care as they are for invitees.
- Children. Property owners owe a duty of care to children, who might not have the mental capacity to understand that certain conditions are dangerous. For example, a pool owner is responsible for ensuring that a child cannot wander in and fall into the pool.
A premises liability case could hinge on establishing the reason the injured person was on the property when the incident occurred.
Negligent Acts or Omissions
The next piece of a premises liability claim is proving that the owner’s negligence caused the hazard that led to the accident and injury. It must also be shown that the owner knew or should have known that the hazard existed and failed to fix it or adequately warn invitees about it. For example, if a grocery store employee was told to mop up a spill and failed to do so, the store would likely be liable for a slip and fall injury on that spill. However, if a vandal broke a stair railing in a parking garage and an invitee fell down the stairs before the owner was aware of the hazard, the owner would probably not be liable.
Cause of Damages
Finally, a direct connection must be made between the injured person’s damages and the hazard on the premises. Defense attorneys might try to argue that the plaintiff had a pre-existing injury and was not actually injured on the property. Medical records, witness statements, video evidence, incident reports, and photos of the scene will help your lawyer make their case against the negligent property owner.
Our Team Fights for Injured Victims
With unmatched experience in premises liability law and a culture that focuses on providing responsive, compassionate service to our clients, Pracht Injury Lawyers is here for you. Our mission is to use our hearts and our heads to help our clients whose lives have been forever changed because of another party’s negligence. Reach out to our team as soon as you can. We will answer all of your questions and be candid about your options. You have suffered in uncertainty long enough. Get the answers you need now.