If you are injured on someone else’s North Charleston property, the owner of that premises may be legally responsible for your injuries and for paying you compensation. South Carolina requires property owners to keep their premises well-maintained and their visitors safe from injury-causing accidents. A North Charleston personal injury lawyer from Shelly Leeke Law Firm will help you secure a settlement for injuries sustained while visiting another person’s property.
South Carolina’s Premises Liability Laws
“Premises liability” is a legal term referring to a property owner’s culpability should a visitor to their property sustain an injury on those premises. The “premises” could be a business or commercial property or a private residence.
The injuries that occur could be caused by a slip or fall, a drowning, dog bite, fire, inadequate security, and just about any other situation the property owner should have noticed or anticipated and sought to prevent.
How South Carolina Classifies Visitors
The extent of the property owner’s responsibility depends on a number of factors, including the classification of the visitor injured on the property. South Carolina classifies visitors into three categories:
- Invitees: People invited to the premises for business reasons and the property owner’s benefit, such as customers in a retail store or diners at a restaurant.
- Licensee: People invited to the premises for social reasons, such as party-goers or dinner guests.
- Trespassers: People who enter the premises uninvited and without the property owner’s permission.
Duty of Care
In personal injury cases, to collect a settlement, you must first prove the at-fault party owed you a duty of care. When someone owes you a duty of care, they owe it to you to act in ways that promote your safety and avoid actions that compromise your safety. For example, if you are driving, you owe all other drivers on the road a duty of care, and they owe you that same duty.
Property owners owe their visitors a duty of care to keep their properties free of hazards. If a property owner fails to fulfill this duty, and that breach is the cause of your accident and ensuing injuries, the property owner may be found negligent and held liable for paying you compensation.
The Duty of Care Property Owners Owe the Three Types of Visitors
Property owners legally owe each type of visitor a different level of duty of care, and that level relates to the property owner’s degree of responsibility should an accident occur.
Invitees or Business Guests
Property owners owe invitees or business customers the highest duty of care. Customers are welcomed into the business for the benefit of the business owner. The owner is obligated to keep the property safe from obvious hazards, to anticipate and prevent potential hazards, and to seek out and protect customers from hidden dangers.
Property owners can be held responsible for injuries caused by a danger they knew about, or dangers they should have or could have known about through careful and reasonable property inspection.
Licensees or Social Guests
Social guests warrant a lower duty of care from property owners. Unlike business owners, social hosts are not legally required to inspect their properties to ensure safety. However, they are required to warn guests of any known dangers.
For example, if the host knows a railing is loose and could cause a guest to fall should the guest lean too heavily on it, the host must warn the guest of that hazard.
For the most part, property owners do not owe adult trespassers a duty of care since the trespasser has entered the property without permission and is committing an unlawful act by entering the premises. The property owner only has a duty to refrain from wilfully harming the adult trespasser. Under the “attractive nuisance doctrine,” however, property owners can be held liable for injuries sustained by child trespassers.
The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
A property owner may be held legally responsible for injuries a child trespasser sustains because of a dangerous and attractive condition on the premises. This could occur if:
- A potentially dangerous condition exists on a property
- The condition is known to the property owner and is particularly attractive to children
- It is reasonably predictable the condition could cause an accident and injury
Swimming pools are the most common attractive nuisance. Property owners must take reasonable measures to prevent child trespassers from entering the pool area. If they do not and a child is injured or drowns, the property owner may hold culpability. Other common attractive nuisances are trampolines and partially constructed homes or buildings.
A North Charleston Premises Liability Attorney Can Help You Secure Damages
Following an injury on someone else’s property, seek medical attention and contact a North Charleston premises liability attorney from Shelly Leeke Law Firm. Your lawyer will bring you the best chance of a substantial settlement through their:
- Complete knowledge of premises liability and personal injury laws
- Thorough understanding of and efficiency in taking your claim through the legal process
- Expert negotiation skills to ensure insurance companies do not coerce you into accepting less than you deserve
Damages You May Be Entitled to Collect
Though every premises liability case is different, you can expect your premises liability attorney in North Charleston to gather evidence proving you deserve compensation for both economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages cover accident-related medical costs, including those you will face in the future. They also recover lost wages if you miss time at work and lost future income if you cannot return to work.
Non-economic damages acknowledge and compensate you for your pain and emotional suffering and other non-tangible losses, such as reduced quality of life, your injuries have caused.
South Carolina often allows victims in premises liability cases to seek punitive damages. Punitive damages are not part of the victim’s compensation. They are additional funds property owners must pay as a punishment when their egregious negligence causes serious harm.
Contact a Top-Quality North Charleston Premises Liability Attorney Today
To schedule a free consultation with a top-quality attorney from Shelly Leeke Law Firm, simply visit our contact page and call or send us a message. A premises liability lawyer in North Charleston will carefully review your case to calculate your losses and determine if punitive damages are warranted. You can count on your lawyer to manage your case with empathy and skill from the initial filing until you receive the settlement you deserve.