Understanding Premise Liablity Law
Premises Liability law holds that property owners have a responsibility to ensure that their properties are reasonably safe for those who visit or to warn visitors that a hazard exists. Put simply, premises liability is an area of the law that protects people who are injured on the property of another.
This law holds the property owner responsible for any damages arising out of an injury on that person or entity’s property and can be the basis for a personal injury case if the injury involved was caused by an unsafe or defective condition on said property. In all states, owners that occupy a property must make a reasonable effort to maintain a safe environment for visitors to it. Premises liability is a form of negligence, as the property owner has failed to follow the correct protocol to ensure his property is safe for all who enter.
Premise Liability Case Requirements
1. Duty of Care
2. Breached Duty of Care
Slips and falls, although seemingly innocuous, comprise a huge percentage of patients admitted to the Emergency Room, often resulting in broken bones, torn ligaments, and head injuries. Victims must establish negligence and evidence is critical to establish an irrefutable liability to obtain maximum compensation. In addition to environmental analysis and safety protocol evaluation, the plaintiff’s medical records are often needed to present a complete picture of injury, pain, cost, and treatments that have been incurred.
In the Personal Injury case for a slip and fall claim, a property owner must be shown to have failed to follow the correct protocol to ensure his property is safe for all who enter. A simple cautionary sign is insufficient. This minimal effort sets up an assumption of the risk, a common defense used by property owners. The injured party may not have seen the sign, or have the ability to read or understand it, as in the case of children, disabled or foreign visitors. Therefore risk cannot be assumed. Similarly, the second common defense of Comparative fault, where the victim is blamed, assumes that the victim could avoid an “obvious” obstacle, which is often not the case with the elderly, child, or disabled injured party.
Medical treatments and hospitalizations
Short-term and long-term disability
Occupational and physical therapy
Pain & suffering compensation
Wet & Uneven surfaces account for the majority of slip and fall cases, where the victim encounters loose mats, carpets or boards, clutter, defective concrete or potholes, moisture or wax collection on surfaces, and/or poorly constructed staircases.
Weather conditions, in which a property owner must take the appropriate measures to compensate for possibly unsafe weather conditions on their property.
Improper training on the worksite, often on construction locations.
Improper Footwear, when worn at a worksite in other situations.
Uneven floors or holes in the ground
Poorly built or damaged stairs
Exposure to dangerous chemicals
Lack of security or insufficient security
Fraud, which surprisingly accounts for 3% of all slip and fall cases, where someone purposefully spills a slippery substance or when a case is filed against a party that is not liable for it.
Frequently Asked Questions About Premise Liability
If you are injured on another person’s property note your location.
- Were you at the grocery store? Were you at a local business? It is important to indentify the business so an experienced premise liability attorney can identify the property owner.
- Where did the injury occur and what caused you to be injured?
- Was the floor wet?
- Was the floor recently waxed?
- Is there something wrong with the carpet?
- Did something fall on you?
Save the shoes you were wearing and even clothes or anything else you had when the injury occurred.
Do not give a statement to any employees or the property owner. You are not required by law to give a statement.
Instead, if you are injured request and seek immediate medical treatment. Keep a record of all you medical-related expenses and follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment.
Call Feidler Law Firm for a free consultation. The quicker you call an experienced premise liability attorney, the quicker that attorney can start gathering evidence and even preserve evidence before it is destroyed.
A property owner is usually the defendant in most premise liability cases, because by law the property owner is responsible for injuries that occurred on their property as a result of negligence.
However, in South Carolina the property owners liability is dependent on the classification of the injured person when he or she was injured on the property owners property.
South Carolina recognizes four general classifications of persons who come on another’s property or premises:
Different standards of care apply depending on whether the injured party was considered an invitee, licensee, trespasser, or child when the injury occurred on the property.
A invitee, or invited quest, is a person who enters onto the property of another at the express or implied invitation of the property owner. The visitor is considered an invitee especially when he is upon a matter of mutual interest or advantage to the property owner. Phrased somewhat differently, it may be said that a person is an invitee on the land of another if he enters by express or implied invitation, his entry is connected with the owner's business or with an activity the owner conducts or permits to be conducted on his land, and there is a mutuality of benefit or a benefit to the owner.
Examples of invitees include patrons of stores, patients in a physician's office, persons visiting a gas station to use the restroom, and workers invited to work on the premises. The owner of property owes to an invitee or business visitor a duty to warn an invitee only of latent or hidden dangers of which the landowner has knowledge or should have knowledge.
As it pertains to premise liability claims and personal injury cases in South Carolina, damages are what you are entitled to if you are injured due to a property owner’s negligence. Another way to put it is, what can you all be compensated for if you are injured due to a property owner’s negligence in South Carolina.
Personal injury damages are broken into two groups.
- Economic damages or special damages
- Non-Economic damages commonly referred to as compensatory or general damages.
Economic damages compensate you for things like medical bills or lost wages. Non-economic damages compensate you for things like pain and suffering and emotional harm. Economic damages include:
Medical Bills and Costs
If you are injured as a result of a property owner’s negligence, you may be entitled to full compensation for your medical bills, both past, and future. This includes:
- Emergency Transportation by an Ambulance
- Emergency Room Visit
- Surgical Treatments
- Emergency Helicopter Transportation
- Hospital Stay
- Physical Therapy
- Chiropractic Care
- Doctor Visits
- Transportation to Medical Treatment
- Adaptative Medical Devices
- Nursing Care (at home or inpatient)
- Rehabilitation Costs
- Funeral Costs
If your injuries have not healed by the time your case is resolved or if they are expected to be permanent injuries, then you may be compensated for future medical expenses as well. A doctor might also be consulted to provide testimony on the medical costs you could incur in the future.
Compensation for Lost Income
If the injuries cause you to miss time at work, you may be entitled to compensation for lost income. If your injuries affect your earning capacity for the remainder of your life, you may receive compensation for future lost wages. There are major factors to consider when taking into account future lost wages, such as your salary, career path prior to your injury, your education, career skills, and age. An experienced personal injury attorney can have you evaluated by an expert who can provide testimony on the value of your future lost wages.
Compensation for Pain and Suffering and Mental Anguish
Pain and suffering and mental anguish fall under non-economic damages and encompasses all the discomfort that you have experienced because of your injuries. This also includes future pain and suffering of dealing with your injuries in the future. Not only can you receive compensation for physical and mental pain, but also for any reduction in your quality of life such as your ability to engage in daily activities.
It is difficult to put a number on physical and mental pain. However, an experienced personal injury attorney can guide you to an amount of compensation that you deserve for your pain, suffering, and mental anguish.
Yes, if the injuries cause you to miss time at work, you may be entitled to compensation for lost income. If your injuries affect your earning capacity for the remainder of your life, you may receive compensation for future lost wages.
There are minor factors to consider when taking into account future lost wages, such as your salary, career path prior to your injury, your education, career skills and age. An experienced personal injury attorney can have you evaluated by an expert who can provide testimony on the value of your future lost wages.
Punitive damages are not intended to compensate an injured victim, but rather intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar acts. South Carolina Code Section 15-32-510 limits the amount of punitive awards to $500,000 or three times the amount of the compensatory damages the injured party received, except in certain limited circumstances. There is also a higher degree of proof an injured party must show to be awarded punitive damages by a jury. Punitive damages may be awarded to an injured party when the harm to the victim was caused by willful or reckless conduct, which the plaintiffs must prove. The judge or jury will consider a variety of factors in determining whether punitive damages are warranted and if so, the appropriate amount.
These factors include:
- The at-fault party’s degree of culpability.
- The severity of the injuries and harm.
- The extent to which the plaintiff’s own actions contributed to the accident or injuries, if any.
- The defendant’s ability to pay punitive damages.
- The duration of the conduct.
- Whether the defendant attempted to conceal the wrongful acts or prior similar acts.
- Whether awarding punitive damages will deter the defendant or others from committing similar acts.
- Whether there were criminal charges or civil penalties.