What is Premises Liability?
In South Carolina, property owners have a legal responsibility to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. When an unsafe condition exists such as a spill on a grocery floor, the property owner or manager has a reasonable amount of time to correct the hazard. If a property owner knew or should have known of an unsafe condition and did nothing to repair it or warn of the hazardous condition and a guest or customer was injured, the property owner may be found negligent and held liable for injuries caused as a result of the negligence.
If you were on someone else’s property and suffered an injury due to an unsafe condition such as a loose handrail, an obstruction, or a spill creating a slippery surface, you may have grounds to file a premises liability claim against the property owner.
In Columbia and elsewhere in South Carolina, there is a limitation to bringing premises liability claims when the property where the injury occurred was being used for recreational purposes. The law regarding using the property for recreational purposes is as follows:
“The purpose of this chapter is to encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting their liability toward persons entering thereon for such purposes…an owner of land owes no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by persons who have sought and obtained his permission to use it for recreational purposes or to give any warning of a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity on such premises to such persons entering for such purposes.”
This means that if someone has permission to enter a property for hunting, fishing, boating or other recreational purposes and sustained an injury while there, the ability to sue for premises liability is limited.
Typical Columbia Premises Liability Claims
Falls are a common type of premises liability claim. Older people are particularly at risk of injuries in falls including broken bones and head injuries. Approximately 10 percent of Columbia’s population is 65 or older.
Property owners could be liable for injuries to visitors. A premises liability lawsuit may be based on:
- Inadequate maintenance creating dangerous conditions—Inadequate maintenance of the premises may create safety issues. A property owner may decide something is too expensive or difficult to repair, or fail to put up a warning sign about a dangerous condition. These types of personal injury claims are beneficial to the community because they encourage property owners to fix the things that are broken or at least provide adequate warning so that people don’t get hurt.
- Negligent Security—For properties frequented by the public, such as hotels and shopping centers, there is a duty to provide building security to prevent injury or assault of patrons. If there is an assault on the premises, the property owner may be liable in certain situations.
- Poor Lighting—If light bulbs are burned out or there is inadequate lighting, it may be hard to see a hazardous condition. Poor lighting also may be an invitation to criminal activity.
- Elevator Accidents—Elevator and escalator injuries are commonly reported premises liability claims. If a property owner does not routinely inspect and maintain an elevator or escalator and someone is hurt as a result, the victim could have a right to seek compensation for injuries.
- Dog Bites—An unprovoked dog bite or dog attack may be the basis for a premises liability claim. If you were bitten or attacked in a public place or while lawfully visiting a private property in Columbia or Richland County, the dog owner may be held responsible for your medical bills and other expenses and losses related to your injury.
- Swimming Pool Accidents—A swimming pool accident may be the basis for a premises liability claim involving a defective drain or other hazardous conditions. The pool owner may be liable by failing to provide adequate warning signs and security fences to prevent children from gaining access to the property.
- Other premises liability cases may involve playgrounds, amusement park accidents, water leaks or flooding, and toxic fumes or chemicals that are not adequately stored.