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South Carolina property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their property safe and free from dangerous conditions that could cause injury to individuals lawfully on their premises. This duty applies to anyone who allows others onto their property, from commercial business owners to private homeowners. Unfortunately, many property owners or managers neglect their responsibility to maintain their premises, and instead allow dangerous and often hidden conditions to exist that pose serious risks to innocent victims. Sometimes this is simply due to negligence or carelessness on the part of the property owner, others involve situations where corners were cut to increase profits. You need an experienced Lexington premises liability lawyer to help assess the situation.
South Carolina law applies different standards of care depending on the classification of the person injured. There are three general classifications of persons present on the property of another: (1) invitees; (3) licensees; and (3) trespassers.
An invitee is a person who is on the property of another with the expressed or implied permission of the property owner. Examples of invitees include customers of stores, patients at a doctor’s offices and individuals hired to perform work on a premises. Invitees are owed the highest duty of care by a property owner. The owner owes an invitee a duty to discover risks and take safety precautions to warn of or eliminate foreseeable unreasonable risks. Also, under the law, an invitee is entitled to expect that the owner or occupier will take reasonable care to know the actual condition prevailing at the time the invitee is on the premises and either make those conditions safe or warn the invitee of the dangerous conditions.
In cases involving customer slip and falls at grocery stores or other retail establishments caused by foreign substances on the floor, a customer (i.e. invitee) must prove either that (1) the foreign substance was placed on the floor by store owner/operator; or (2) that the store owner/operator had actual or constructive notice of its presence on the floor and failed to remove it. Constructive notice can be established by showing that the foreign substance had been on the floor for a sufficient length of time that the store owner, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have discovered the defective condition.
A licensee is a person who has consent or a privilege to enter a premises but does so for his/her own purpose and not for the benefit of the property owner or occupier. Common examples include social guests and utility workers. A property owner owes a licensee a duty to use reasonable care to discover the licensee, to conduct activities on the land so as not to harm the licensee, and to warn the licensee of any concealed dangerous conditions or activities.
Finally, a trespasser is person who is on another’s property without their consent or a legal right to be there. Property owners do not owe trespassers a duty of care, except not to intentionally or recklessly cause them harm.
The most common types of premises liability claims are slip and fall accidents. However, there are many other ways in which people can get hurt when property owners fail to maintain their premises in a safe condition. Our premises liability attorneys have decades of combined experience handling premises liability cases on behalf of victims of unsafe and hazardous conditions throughout South Carolina and Georgia including:
Premises liability claims often require substantial investigation and evidence gathering. Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident may help you to preserve evidence that might otherwise be lost. For instance, slip and fall incidents (as well as the events leading up to those incidents) at grocery stores and big box retail establishment are often captured by in-store video surveillance cameras. However, these retailers often delete their video surveillance footage as a matter of company policy after a pre-determined period of time has passed, in some cases as often as every 30 days.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed while on the property of another individual or business, contact the experienced premises liability attorneys at Morgan Litigation Group to schedule a free consultation and case assessment.