It can happen anywhere at any time: a slip-and-fall accident that injures you or a loved one, breaking a hip, or arm, or even resulting in a significant head injury. An unexpected injury accident on someone else’s property could require extensive and costly medical treatment and could force you to miss work and lose income, putting added financial stress and strain on you and those you love.
If you’ve been hurt on someone else’s property in Columbia, you may be eligible to file a premises liability claim against the property owner. If you were injured due to the carelessness or negligence of a property owner or property manager anywhere in Richland County, our Columbia premises liability lawyers at Joye Law Firm are prepared to help you seek the full compensation you are entitled to claim by law. You may be eligible to seek reimbursement for all present and future medical expenses related to your injury and compensation for pain and suffering and loss of income.
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.
Who is Liable for a Premises Injury in Columbia?
In just about all premises liability cases, the defense will argue the person injured was partially liable for the accident due to his or her own actions or inattention. In deciding premises liability cases, the court must review the facts and quantify the relative degree of fault of each side in the case.
In South Carolina, the plaintiff’s negligence must be no greater than the defendant and anyone else involved in the accident in order to collect damages. The amount of compensation the plaintiff receives will be reduced by the percentage of the plaintiff’s negligence as determined by the court. If the plaintiff wins $100,000 in damages but is found to be 25 percent negligent, the award will be reduced to $75,000.
Statute of Limitations
South Carolina requires plaintiffs to file slip-and-fall premises liability claims within three years of the date of the accident. If you wait longer than three years, your case will not be allowed by the court.
What Should You Do After You’ve Been Hurt on Someone’s Property?
Your first responsibility is to get the medical attention you or anyone else involved in the accident requires. Keep a record of all medical expenses, including ambulance rides, and any emergency treatment you received. Follow the doctor’s instructions regarding your injury and keep follow-up appointments. The defense may try to argue that you made your injuries worse by not following your doctor’s treatment plan.
If possible, you’ll want to document the hazardous conditions on the property at the time of the accident. Report the accident to property management and ask for a copy of the report. If you are able, use your camera to take photos of the accident scene. If you are unable, ask someone else to use their cell phone camera to get pictures of the scene and get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
Once you have received medical treatment, you should contact an experienced Columbia premises liability law firm as soon as possible. Our attorneys at Joye Law can review your accident and discuss your legal options. Do not talk to the insurance company on the other side. Any unsolicited settlement offer the insurer makes will likely be lower than the fair value of your claim.
Joye Law Firm has a long record of handling premises liability claims in Columbia and we will apply our years of experience to your case. We will begin a thorough investigation into all the particulars of your injury accident as soon as we accept the case.
The context of your accident is very important. Was it a party or were you a customer in a commercial establishment? Was it a pool at an apartment complex? Did the property owner know about any hazards or dangerous conditions on the property? Did the property owner post adequate warning signs? There are many questions that we need to answer to build a solid personal injury case on your behalf. We have access to resources such as accident reconstruction specialists who can help us establish precisely who is to blame for your injury.
Once we file your claim, we will attempt to negotiate a settlement with the defendant’s insurance company. There will be a discovery process to reveal all evidence of responsibility of all parties to the accidents. If the two sides cannot come to an agreement as to a fair and reasonable award for your injury, we will be prepared to pursue your case in a Richland County court.
Our Myrtle Beach Premises Liability Lawyers Can Help You Today
Were you hurt in an accident on someone else’s property in Columbia? If so, our team of premises liability lawyers wants to discuss what happened and help you seek full compensation. Call Joye Law Firm now at (877) 941-1019 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation and let us represent you.