Premises liability refers to the duty of care every property owner, occupier or manager owes to anyone visiting their property. That duty of care entails assurance that the space is reasonably safe for anyone who enters lawfully.
If you suffered an injury because someone failed to uphold that duty, a Columbia premises liability lawyer at the Shealey Law Firm could help you recover compensation for the losses you sustained while you focus on healing. Please reach out to us if you need to file a premises liability claim.
What Type of Law Does a Columbia Premises Liability Lawyer Practice?
Premises liability falls under the umbrella of personal injury, also known as tort law, which covers any act or omission that causes injury or harm to another person. According to the legal concept of premises liability, if a property owner fails to remedy a hazardous condition in their home or business and you suffer an injury because of their actions, they are responsible for the financial repercussions. This includes the monetary value of non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Types of premises liability accidents
Since premises liability may refer to residential or commercial private property, the types of accidents and their causes can vary. Common claims a Columbia premises liability attorney may assist with include the following:
- Slips, trips and falls: These can occur anywhere, including outdoor spaces like private parking lots and sidewalks.
- Falling objects: Places like supermarkets with unstable shelving and heavy, high-placed items can be dangerous environments for shoppers.
- Staircase accidents: Staircases can collapse or have inadequate safety features, such as unsecured carpeting or no railing.
- Elevator and escalator accidents: Building owners and managers are responsible for the maintenance and safety inspections of elevators and escalators.
Slipping and falling alone does not constitute a premises liability claim. When you hire a Columbia premises liability lawyer, a critical element of their job is to investigate the accident and find evidence to prove that the owner acted negligently, causing your accident and injuries.
Who Is a Lawful Visitor Under South Carolina Premises Liability Law?
According to South Carolina law, the property owner’s duty of care will vary depending on the visitor’s classification:
- Invitees are the guests of business establishments, such as hotels, where the owner or manager must protect them from injury caused by unreasonable risk.
- Licensees may include friends and family who visit socially but are not patrons of an establishment. The owner must exercise reasonable care and inform them of any hazardous conditions.
- Children receive varying degrees of care depending on their age and mental capacity.
- Adult trespassers are not lawfully present and, therefore, likely owed no duty of care.
Property owners owe invitees the highest duty of care. Licensees are next, and trespassers are last. The most common premises liability cases involve invitees injured in supermarkets, restaurants, amusement parks, shops and hotels.
What Should You Do if You’re Injured on Someone’s Property in Columbia, South Carolina?
In the immediate aftermath of an accident that occurred on another person’s property, there are a few steps you can take to protect your health and reduce the risk of further injury as well as protect your claim:
- Seek medical attention: Even if your injuries do not seem severe, seek an immediate medical evaluation and establish a connection between the accident and your injuries.
- Document the scene: Take photographs of the hazard that caused your accident, such as a spill on the floor or a fallen object. If you sustained visible injuries, take pictures of those as well.
- Preserve relevant information and evidence: Ask eyewitnesses for their names and contact information. Secure the clothing you wore that day somewhere safe without washing or altering them.
- File an incident report: If the accident occurred at a business establishment, report it to the owner or manager and ask for a copy of the accident report.
- Collect documentation of your medical care: Gather all your medical records and bills to prove damages. This should include receipts for out-of-pocket costs, details of procedures the doctors ordered and lists of medications or medical equipment needed for recovery.
Should the insurance company or a representative for the property owner ask you to sign anything, avoid doing so without speaking to a Columbia premises liability lawyer first.
What Other South Carolina Laws Could Impact Your Claim?
In all personal injury cases, state-mandated laws can impact a person’s right to compensation. The statute of limitations and the comparative negligence rule are two laws every claimant should understand when filing a premises liability claim.
Statute of limitations
A statute of limitations places a deadline on your right to file a lawsuit against someone through the civil court system. In South Carolina, you have three years to file your lawsuit for damages relating to your injuries. This timeframe also applies to wrongful death. More often than not, the court dismisses lawsuits filed after the three-year deadline.
Acting quickly is always in your best interest, including seeing a medical professional and speaking to a lawyer immediately. Most insurance providers establish a timeline for filing a claim as well. Your attorney ensures the completion and filing of all paperwork on time to protect you from dismissal.
When you make a premises liability claim against someone, you can typically expect them to respond with accusations of your liability. However, if the court determines you are partially liable for the accident and resulting injuries, that does not automatically bar you from recovering compensation.
According to South Carolina’s modified comparative negligence rule, you can still recover a portion of damages equal to the other party’s share of fault represented by a percentage out of 100%. As long as you are not more liable than the defendant, you are eligible for compensation.
Contact a Columbia Premises Liability Lawyer Today
It is never too soon following an injury on someone else’s property to contact a Columbia premises liability lawyer. Advice from an experienced attorney is invaluable when you face financial, physical and emotional losses from your accident.
At Shealey Law Firm, you can rely on our skilled civil attorneys to protect your right to compensation and hold the property owner accountable for their negligence. Reach out via our online form to schedule your free consultation.