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South Carolina Premises Liability Cases: The Basics Explained

Premises liability law establishes property owners’ responsibility to maintain premises safe for visitors

Accidents can happen everywhere, including in a store or a residential home. If the owner’s negligence and failure to keep their property safe caused your accident, you may have the right to file a premises liability claim.

In this article, a South Carolina personal injury lawyer at the McDougall Law Firm explains the most important details injured persons need to know before taking legal action.

Defining Premises Liability Doctrine in South Carolina

Premises liability represents a branch of personal injury law establishing property owners’ responsibility to maintain their premises safe for visitors. This means that a property owner should regularly inspect their property, identify any unsafe and hazardous conditions, and fix them.

Failure to do so, resulting in someone suffering injuries and economic damages in an accident, is an act of negligence. The injured person has the right to file a premises liability claim and recover damages.

Visitors’ Status Determines Their Right to File a Claim

The law does not give everyone a free hand to file claims or lawsuits against property owners. What makes the difference is the visitor’s legal status. Here are all the potential situations explained:

1. Invitees

Invitees are present on a property at the owner’s express invitation. Some simple examples in this sense are:

  • Customers in a store
  • Guests in a hotel
  • Members of a gym or club

This category of visitors benefits from the highest level of protection. The property owners must actively identify and fix any dangerous or unsafe conditions before anyone suffers an accident.

Also, the owner must warn invitees of any hidden dangers they know or should reasonably know about.

2. Licensees

Licensees are also lawfully present on a property, but not at the owner’s express invitation, but for their own purposes. For example, a person who enters a business office to make a delivery or ask for directions is a licensee.

A licensee is not owed the same duty of care as an invitee. The property owner must warn them of hazards they know about, but not purposely search for and fix unsafe conditions.

trip and fall accidents result in painful injuries

3. Adult Trespassers

A personal injury attorney always starts the meeting with a potential client with a premises liability claim by asking if they were trespassing on the property. The reason for this is that adult trespassers are owed the lowest duty of care.

The property owner must not intentionally injure or trespassers (by purposefully creating an unsafe condition), but otherwise owes them no duty.

4. Children

Children trespassing on a property enjoy a special legal status. The legal principle of attractive nuisance states that something on a property (such as a swimming pool) could attract a child and entice them to enter the property without the owner’s knowledge or approval.

In this case, if the owner did not act with diligence to prevent an action caused by the attractive nuisance (in the given example, covering the pool when it is not used), they are liable to pay damages for the child’s injuries.

Steps to Take after an Accident

If you suffered an accident, such as a slip and fall, while lawfully present at someone’s property, follow these steps in order to protect your chances to file a claim successfully:

  • Report the accident to the property owner
  • Take photos and videos of the hazardous area
  • Seek medical care as soon as possible after the accident
  • Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney

Pay special attention if your accident happens on a business property and you have to fill in an incident report. Many such reports contain a waiver of your rights to file a claim or sue, written in fine print.

The best approach is to take the form with you and show it to your lawyer before signing anything.

Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer!

Winning a premises liability case is not easy, especially if you need to file your claim against a large retail chain. They work with big insurance companies, which fight all types of claims aggressively.

You will need an experienced South Carolina personal injury lawyer to make sure that your claim is filed correctly and on time and to negotiate a fair settlement.

We offer each new client a free case evaluation so call or text us at 843-379-7000!