Slip and fall accidents send hundreds of people to the hospital each year in South Carolina. These accidents can occur on public or private property, and injury victims may be eligible for significant compensation if the property owner or manager failed to exercise reasonable care to keep them safe.
Slip and fall injuries can be difficult to obtain compensation for because many property owners and their insurance carriers will claim that the victim was at fault for the accident. Regardless of the dangerous conditions that caused an accident, both a property owner and his or her insurance company will try to pin as much blame as possible on the person who was injured to avoid paying for the accident.
If you suffered catastrophic injuries or your loved one was killed in a slip and fall accident in Clinton or Laurens County, you should consult with a Clinton slip and fall attorney as soon as possible. Our experienced personal injury lawyers at Joye Law Firm can review the details of your accident and discuss your legal options.
It’s important to have experienced legal guidance if you have suffered a serious personal injury. Joye Law Firm has helped injured individuals and families in South Carolina for more than 50 years.
Types of Slip and Fall Accidents in Clinton
The causes of slip and fall accidents may be apparent, or they may be more difficult to identify. In general, some of the most frequent causes of slip and fall accident claims in South Carolina include:
- Inadequate lighting
- Pavement defects
- Torn floor mats
- Broken handrails
- Dirty and/or trash covered floors
- Cracked or uneven flooring
- Wet, slippery flooring
- Stray electrical cords and wires
- Snow and ice
A primary defense in slip and fall claims is that the hazard was apparent, and the victim made no effort to avoid injury. It is important to work with an experienced attorney who will recognize the likely defense strategy and prepare the case to overcome defense arguments and demonstrate the defendant’s failure to maintain safe premises.
Common Clinton Slip and Fall Injuries
Some slip and fall accidents cause little more than a brief, embarrassing moment for people who can walk away without injury. Other falls cause devastating injuries. Individuals may slip or trip and then fall from heights. In other cases, people may fall onto objects that make their injuries worse.
Some of the different injuries people may sustain in slip and fall accidents include:
- Neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Nerve damage
- Internal organ injuries
- Muscle strains
More severe injuries lead to lengthier hospital stays and a need for follow-up care, which often results in overwhelming medical bills. Fall victims are typically unable to return to work for the lengthy period of time during their recovery. Some people may be permanently unable to work as a result of their fall injuries.
Some slip and fall accidents cause fatal injuries, resulting in an accident victim’s death. The deceased’s family members may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent parties in such cases.
Proving Liability for Slip and Fall Injuries in Clinton
A slip and fall accident is covered under the area of South Carolina civil law known as premises liability, in which a property owner may be held liable in certain situations for injuries that are caused by unsafe property conditions.
A key factor in a premises liability claim is the victim’s legal status as a visitor to the property.
South Carolina state law divides property visitors into three categories:
- Invitees — People who are on a property by the expressed or implied invitation of the owner are owed the highest duty of care. Shoppers in most places of business are considered invitees.
- Licensees — People who are on a property with an owner’s consent but typically for their purposes. A meter reader is a typical example of a licensee.
- Trespassers — People who are unlawfully on a property without the permission of a property owner. Trespassers are typically not owed a duty of care, except in the case of children who may lack the judgment to recognize potential dangers. If the trespasser is a small child, a Clinton property owner has an obligation to secure any “attractive nuisance.”
An attractive nuisance is any object that might appeal to a child too young to understand the dangers involved in its unsupervised use, such as a swimming pool or a trampoline. Property owners can be liable for a child’s injuries that were caused by failure to make an attractive nuisance inaccessible.
When a slip and fall case goes to trial, a premises liability action will require the plaintiff to prove the same four elements:
- Duty of Care — The property owner had an obligation to guests to keep the property in a safe condition or warn them about any hazards.
- Breach of Duty — The property owner breached that duty of care by failing to keep the property in a safe condition or warn guests of any hazards.
- Causation — The breach of duty caused the victim to suffer injuries.
- Damages — The victim’s injuries resulted in damages.
Even if you were partly at fault for causing a slip and fall accident, you may still have a claim. South Carolina is a modified comparative fault state. An individual can pursue damages when their negligence is less than that of the defendant.
A person who is awarded damages will have those damages reduced in proportion to his or her percentage of negligence. An individual who is awarded $100,000 in a slip and fall accident claim, but found to have been 25 percent at fault will have the damages reduced by $25,000 and ultimately receive $75,000.
If a slip and fall case goes to trial and the plaintiff proves his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence, compensatory damages could be awarded to the victim. Compensatory damages are typically some combination of economic and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages are actual costs a victim has incurred or will incur, while noneconomic damages are more difficult to quantify. Economic damages include medical bills, lost wages, and property damage, while noneconomic damages include emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.
In South Carolina, there are no limits on jury awards unless a governmental entity is a defendant. In such cases, an award for an individual claim cannot be more than $300,000, and cases involving multiple plaintiffs cannot exceed $600,000.
In certain premises liability cases, a jury may award punitive damages. South Carolina Code § 15-32-530(A) establishes that punitive damages awards are limited to three times the amount of compensatory damages, or $500,000, whichever is greater. The limit can be increased to four times the amount of compensatory damages or $2 million when certain factors apply.
South Carolina Code § 15-32-530(C) establishes that no limit on damages exists when a trial court determines that at the time of the injury, the defendant:
- Had an intent to harm and did harm the victim
- Pled guilty to or was convicted of a felony arising from the act or course of conduct that was the cause of the victim’s damages
- Acted or failed to act while under the influence of alcohol, drugs (except for lawfully prescribed medications).
What to Do If You are Injured in a Clinton Slip and Fall Accident
Seeking medical attention is the first thing you should do after a slip and fall accident. Even if you do not think you were hurt, it is important to be examined by a doctor, as some injuries involve delayed symptoms, and insurance companies will be much more likely to dispute injuries when there is a delay in seeking treatment.
If you fell and suffered an injury in a place of business, have the manager or the supervisor on duty complete an accident report. Make sure that you ask for a copy of the report and keep it somewhere safe.
It is also important to get multiple photos of the scene of your accident, showing the property hazard that caused the fall. You should do this right away before a property owner repairs the hazard, and your evidence disappears.
Obtain the names and phones numbers of any witnesses to your accident. If you’re seriously hurt and unable to collect the contact information for witnesses, then ask a friend, family member, or co-worker to do this for you.
Contact Joye Law Firm before giving a statement to any insurance company or signing anything presented by a claims adjuster. While there may seem to be no harm in discussing your situation with an insurer, most representatives are trained to ask specific questions intended to get you to admit to some form of negligence.
Contact Our Premise Liability Law Firm Today
Did you sustain serious injuries or was your loved one killed in a slip and fall accident in Clinton or a surrounding area of Laurens County? Act quickly to find a personal injury lawyer who can help you pursue full compensation for your injuries.
While every premises liability case has unique factors, Joye Law Firm has a record of success that shows the effort our attorneys put forth to help clients seek full compensation and move forward with their lives. Call (888) 324-3100 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.