Slip and Fall Accidents
Posted on behalf of Harbin & Burnett on Apr 24, 2017 in Slip and Fall Accidents
The key to holding a property owner liable for your slip and fall accident is proving that the owner did not fulfill one or more of his or her legal obligations and this failure led to your injuries.
Property owners have different legal obligations depending on your legal classification when you entered the property where the slip and fall accident occurred.
In South Carolina, there are three general classifications for someone who enters another person's property. These classifications are explained in detail in Sims v. Giles, 541 S.E.2d 857 (S.C. Ct. App. 2001), a case that has been cited in numerous opinions.
In South Carolina, invitees are divided into two main categories:
These are people who are invited to enter or remain on property or land for the same purpose the land is held open to the public. An example of a public invitee would be someone who goes to a public dock to fish, assuming fishing is allowed at the dock. Another example would be someone who goes to a public park for a walk or some form of recreation.
A business visitor is someone who enters a property in direct or indirect connection to the business dealings of the owner. Examples would include patrons of stores, patients in doctor's offices or people invited to work on the premises.
Obligations to Invitees
Property owners have a legal obligation to exercise reasonable care to provide safe premises for invitees. Property owners are also required to adequately warn invitees about latent or hidden dangers that the owner knows or should know about.
This means that property owners can be liable for injuries caused by an obstacle or hazard that created a greater than ordinary risk of injury, even if the owner did not foresee the exact circumstances under which the injury could occur.
Property owners could also be held liable for slip and fall injuries caused by things like wet floors, debris, or uneven or damaged walkways, if these obstacles presented a higher than normal risk of injury.
A licensee is someone who receives consent from the property owner to enter the property, primarily for his or her benefit. One of the best examples of a licensee is a social guest, such as someone who is invited to a party at another person's house or someone who entered the property to:
- Seek a favor
- Make inquiries
- Ask directions
- Perform volunteer work
- Recover personal property
- Use recreational facilities without asking specific permission
Property owners have a legal obligation to licensees to use reasonable care to:
- Prevent them from suffering injuries while they are on the property
- Warn of any concealed dangers
- Warn about any change in the condition of the premises that could be dangerous, if the licensee is reasonably expected to discover it
There are many situations where a property owner could be held liable for an injury to a licensee. For example, a host of a party could be held liable for failing to warn a guest about a loose or damaged step on a staircase.
Trespassers are people who enter property without any express or implied permission from the property owner. The only duty owed to a trespasser is to avoid willful or wanton injury. This means that the owner cannot intentionally injure the trespasser.
However, if the trespasser is a child, there are situations where the property owner could be held liable for the child's injuries in a slip and fall accident. An example could be if the child slipped and fell by a pool and the owner did not take reasonable steps to prevent it.
The slip and fall lawyers at our firm have a detailed understanding of these legal classifications and how to establish liability for a slip and fall injury. If you have a valid claim, we will conduct a thorough investigation to build a strong case to help you recover fair compensation for your injuries.*
We work on a contingency fee basis, which means your initial consultation is free and we do not charge attorneys’ fees unless your claim is successful.*