South Carolina Slip and Fall Attorneys

South Carolina Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer

Accidents that cause injuries at businesses, offices, parks and other public places or private homes may be caused by dangerous conditions that go unrepaired or without proper warnings. If the owners or managers of the property were negligent by creating the problem, failing to fix it or failing to warn about the danger, they may be held liable for an accident victim’s injuries in South Carolina.

Falls are a very common and very dangerous accident for people of all ages, and particularly for older adults. About 8 million people go to the emergency room for treatment of injuries related to falls each year, and about 1 million of those are slip-and-fall accidents, according to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI).

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About five percent of slip and fall victims suffer some type of bone fracture, the NFSI reports. Falls can also prove fatal, particularly among older people. Falls are the second leading cause of injury-related death for people between the ages of 65 and 84 and the top cause for those 85 and older, according to the NFSI.

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The slip and fall attorneys at Joye Law Firm help people throughout South Carolina after slip-and-fall accidents, swimming pool accidents, dog bites and other injuries caused by property owners’ negligence.

Call Joye Law Firm. We can help you get compensation to pay the costs of medical bills, lost wages and other losses due to your accident.

 

Premises Liability in South Carolina

Premises liability law holds that property owners have a duty to make sure that their properties are reasonably safe for those who visit or to warn visitors that a hazard exists. When temporary hazards occur, such as a spill that causes a slippery floor in a grocery store, the owner (or others in charge) is given a reasonable amount of time to fix it.

Property owners who neglect their legal duty may be held liable for the injuries and losses that result.

A premises liability claim may arise from:

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  • Slip-and-fall accidents – Spilled liquids or tracked-in ice and snow can create a slipping hazard in offices, lobbies, retail stores, banks, restaurants and many other public places. Hazardous conditions should be cleaned up as soon as they are recognized, and warning signs should be posted when it is impossible to fix the problem right away.
  • Obstructed walkways — Trip-and-fall accidents can result from items left in walkways, such as a pallet of products in a store aisle. Cluttered stairwells and tools or equipment left in a hallway are also dangerous. Broken and uneven walkways also pose a tripping hazard.
  • Falling merchandise or debris — Shelves that have been overstocked or poorly stacked may cause injuries if the items fall onto customers. Construction sites and other work zones also create the potential for a heavy object to fall from above and strike someone below.
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  • Faulty elevators and escalators — Elevators or escalators that are not properly designed, installed and maintained may cause injuries. Elevators that don’t stop flush with the floor and escalators with misaligned steps may create a tripping hazard.
  • Inadequate security — Apartment complexes, offices, stores, hotels and other public places may be liable for failing to provide enough security if an assault occurs. Sponsors of large events may be liable for accidents caused by too few security officers to control crowds.
  • Poor lighting — Areas with insufficient lighting make it difficult to see hazards that someone might otherwise avoid. Poor lighting also invites criminal activity.
  • Playground or amusement park accidents — Rides and equipment must be designed, constructed, maintained and operated safely.
  • Swimming pool accidents — In addition to a drowning hazard, swimming pools can also be dangerous because of defective drains or water too shallow for diving. A poorly maintained pool with bacteria in the water may make swimmers sick.
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  • Dog bites ­— Dog owners can be held liable for injuries caused when their dogs attack, particularly if the dog has a history of vicious behavior. Dog bites are responsible for about 900,000 emergency room visits each year nationwide, with children particularly prone to injury in dog attacks.

Here are 12 places where slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accidents often happen:

  1. Public sidewalks
  2. Private walkways
  3. City parks
  4. School playgrounds
  5. Streets and roadways
  6. Grocery stores where spills have occurred
  7. Surfaces covered with snow, ice, water or debris
  8. Construction sites
  9. Business lobbies with slick floors
  10. Office hallways with bunched carpeting or spilled coffee
  11. Stairs, steps and porches
  12. Parking lots

The Basic Rules for Premises Liability Accidents in South Carolina

Proving premises liability can be tricky, especially when it is unclear as to whether a hazard actually existed on the premises, or whether the plaintiff just did not pay attention to his or her surroundings. Because of this, there are some basic rules that the courts use to determine who is responsible for an accident on private and public property. Those rules are as follows:

Rule Number One: The Owner Must Keep The Property Safe

The reasoning behind this rule is pretty simple: the owner has the ability and opportunity to keep a premise safe from hazards and dangers, while the visitor does not. Because of this, the owner has a legal duty to protect any visitors—whether they are a tenant, shopper, or personal visitor—from any unreasonable risk of injury due to the design of the property, the construction of the property, or the condition of the property. For instance, if the owner of a hotel learns of a broken banister railing but fails to fix it in a timely fashion, and a young child should fall through that banister and injure themselves, the owner of the hotel will have neglected their duty to keep the hotel safe, and will therefore be liable for any damages sustained as a result of the child’s injury.

Rule Number Two: The Visitor is Required to Use the Property Normally

Just because an individual is injured on someone else’s property does not automatically make the owner of the property liable for their injuries. In order for a property owner to be held liable, the visitor must not have been using the property as it was intended to be used when the injury occurred. For instance, slip and fall injuries are common at public pools due to children running on wet cement, but one hardly ever hears of a public pool being sued for premises liability. This is because public pools take proactive measures to avoid premises liability by posting signs everywhere that specifically prohibit running around the pool, or that warn, “Slippery When Wet.” A public pool is not a track, and therefore, most individuals would be hard pressed to sue the owners for injuries sustained as a result of running and slipping.

On the other hand, if an individual were to be walking into the public pool’s restroom and slip on a puddle on the tile directly in the restroom’s entryway, the property owner could be held liable. This is because a) the visitor was not doing anything wrong, and b) that particular hazard (a puddle) should not have existed in that particular area of the property.

Who Is Liable for a Premises Injury in South Carolina: The Owner or Occupier?

Oftentimes the owner of a building, house, or property is not the same as the occupier. For instance, some real estate guru who lives one thousand miles away may own the space that your local grocery store occupies, but the owner of the market rents it out from him or her. Or a family may live in the home next door, but the owner may live three blocks down.

Individuals, businesses, and corporations rent out their property all the time to other individuals, businesses, and corporations. Because of this, it can be very difficult for an injured party to determine whom they should sue for damages. Furthermore, depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident, including what type of property you were injured on, determining who should bear the responsibility for your injuries can become extremely complex.

While it may be difficult to determine who should bear the brunt of the responsibility – the owner or the occupier – our South Carolina premises liability lawyers always suggest filing a claim against both parties, just to be safe. In the end, it is up to the insurance company to decide which one, if not both, of the parties should assume liability for your injuries.  

General Rules for Determining Premises Liability Based on Property Type

  •      Commercial Property: If you injure yourself on commercial property, whether the owner or the occupier should be held responsible is ultimately determined by where on the property the accident occurred, what on the property caused the accident, and what the lease between property owner and occupier states regarding accidents on the property. To be safe, it would be in your best interest to notify both the owner and occupier of any accidents that occur on their property, and of any injuries sustained as a result.
  •      Rented Apartment or Home: Typically, if you or a visitor were to get injured on property that you rent to live in – such as an apartment, duplex, or home – the responsibility is determined by whether the cause of injury was a “moveable” or “immoveable” object. For instance, a landlord may be held liable for any injuries that occur as the result of a hazard presented by the hallways, stairways, entrances, floors, walls, fixtures, or appliances that came with the apartment. However, the tenant would liable for any injuries sustained to themselves or a visitor by “moveable” objects, such as the couch, rug, lamp, or the like.

There is an exception to the “immovability” rule, and that is if the landlord does not know about, and nor do they have any reason to know about, an existing hazard within the home or rental unit, such as a broken floorboard. If you or a visitor were to sustain injuries from a hazard you knew about but did not fix within your home or that you did not contact your landlord about, you may share in some of the responsibility for damages with your landlord.

  •      Privately Owned Home: If you sustain any injuries in your own home, you are responsible for covering the cost of damages. However, if you were to sustain injuries in someone else’s home, they could be held liable, depending on the circumstances.

South Carolina premises liability law can be tricky, which is why we suggest working with a South Carolina premises liability attorney should you sustain injuries on someone else’s property, or when someone else should sustain injuries on yours.  

Proving a South Carolina Premises Liability Claim

The plaintiff in a premises liability case must have been on the property legally to claim a duty of safety by the property owner. A trespasser usually cannot pursue a premises liability claim.

A visitor also has a duty to avoid an “open and obvious hazard.” Plaintiffs injured because of a hazard that a reasonable person would have recognized and avoided may see any award of compensation reduced according to how much their own negligence – not avoiding the open and obvious hazard – contributed to their accident and injuries.

Determining these facts requires an investigation by a legal team experienced with South Carolina premises liability claims. The lawyers at Joye Law Firm have a track record of getting results for clients in South Carolina. Find out how we can help you.

Call Joye Law Firm now or fill out this online contact form to set up a no-cost consultation and claim evaluation. The case review is free and confidential.

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