greenville Premises Liability Lawyer
The degree to which an owner of a property must provide care to those on a property is based on the law of premises liability in Greenville, South Carolina. Below, is an overview of the different classifications of people that may enter a property and how the state’s law applies to those people.
How Does Premises Liability Law Classify People in Terms of Premises Liability?
In our state, this law is based on the idea that as a property owner, one must protect visitors from any dangers on the property, but just to the extent that a responsible person would protect visitors. Essentially, a property owner’s liability depends on the classification of the injured party and the way in which the injured person entered the property.
In terms of classifications of people who enter a property, South Carolina recognizes four classifications, namely:
- Adult trespassers – these are deemed people who enter a property with the owner’s permission. A property owner does not owe any type of care to a trespasser other than not to inflict wanton or willful injury or purposefully hurt the person.
- Invitees – these are people that enter a property with an invitation to enter the property. The person’s entry should be connected with the owner’s property or an activity that allows the invitee onto the property. Typically, there is some sort of mutual benefit between the property owner and invitee. For instance, a customer at a restaurant or a pest control company are examples of invitees. Property owners are required to exercise reasonable care to prepare a property and make sure it is safe for the invitees. Further, the property owner had a duty to warn invitees only of any hidden or latent dangers of which the owner should have knowledge or does have knowledge.
- Children – there tend to be various degrees of care depending on the reason a child is on the property.
- Licensees – licensees are people that enter a property without consent. These people enter a property for their own benefit and not the benefit of the property owner. A licensee is considered a person who is allowed on the property but who is not necessarily invited by the property owner, yet remains on the property only by the owner’s consent. Examples of licensees include someone on the property who is asking for directions or a dinner guest to the owner’s home. Contrary to the duty that is owed to invitees, a property owner does not have a duty to discover or look for any dangers or defects on and around the property or to otherwise render the premises safe for the licensee.
What Care Do Property Owners Owe to Children?
While the duty of care that is owed to an adult tends to depend just about entirely on the adult’s reason for being on the property, premises liability law in Greenville, South Carolina applies slightly differently to children.
A trespasser who is a minor is permitted to file a lawsuit against the owner of the property for any injuries caused as the result of an attractive nuisance. This refers to something that could tempt a child to entire the property without realizing there is a danger. This child may be too inexperienced or too young to comprehend that there is a risk in terms of the condition of the property. Usually, the cost associated with remedying the condition of the property is minimal compared to the risk facing the child. Buildings that often qualify as attractive nuisances, particularly when no kind of warning sign is posted, include empty swimming pools and abandoned construction sites.
A Closer Look at Premises Liability
Imagine that a person trips on a broken stair that leads into a restaurant, and that person breaks an ankle. The injured person then discovers that the stair had been broken for several weeks. Under the law of premises liability in Greenville, South Carolina, if a person is injured while on the property of another person, that property owner may be held responsible if the accident is found to be caused by the negligence of the property owner. Thus, property owners have a legal duty to make sure that their premises are safe for customers, guests, employees, clients, and any other visitors. Failure to fulfill such a responsibility is considered negligent, and victims are entitled to seek compensation for lost wages, hospital bills, and any other expenses.
The most common types of liability include instance such as swimming pool accidents and other injuries caused by the hazardous conditions of a property.
Was the Property Owner Aware of Hazards?
Some hazards are usually more obvious than others. For instance, a great deal of ice at the entrance of a property should easily be noticed and addressed by the owner of the property, or a building that is on the verge of collapse should also be noticed and attended to by the owner. There are reasonably acting owners who will place necessary warning signs to draw attention to the hazards and prevent injuries to visitors, and there are those conditions a property owner is no aware of and may not be reasonably expected to know about. It is entirely possible for a property owner to defend him or herself by claiming to be unaware of the hazard, provided it is reasonable to believe that it is the case.
In some instances, if a hazard was plainly obvious, the owner may not use the defense of not knowing about the hazard. But, this works both ways – as an owner, you may defend yourself by arguing that the hazard was actually obvious to you, too, and that you should have avoided that hazard. Examples of hazards that are undeniably obvious include damaged and cluttered walkways and icy sidewalks. If a property owner is aware of the hazard, or reasonably should be, the injured party may have a case, provided the hazard was not obvious and open to the injured person.
What If the Property Owner Failed to Address a Hazard?
If a property owner knows that a hazard exists but does not address it or is delayed in fixing it, the owner is legally liable for another person’s injuries. But, if the owner has taken reasonable steps to take care of the hazard, but an injury still occurred, then the owner might be able to deny liability for the incident. For instance, if adequate warning signage was posted by a wet floor, but someone still slipped on the wet floor, the injured person may have a good case.
Liability Depends on the Situation
Every case of premises liability in Greenville, South Carolina is different, and depends on the facts of the situation. If one is injured on someone else’s property, including restaurants and stores, it is important to have a dedicated premises liability lawyer on your side with which to discuss the details of the accident and resultant injury.
Can a Premises Liability Lawyer Help Me Seek Compensation for My Injuries?
To recover a claim in terms of premises liability in our state, your Greenville premises liability lawyer will need to prove a number of things, such as:
- The plaintiff’s duty of care to the defendant
- The defendant’s negligent omission or act that resulted in a breach of the duty of care
- The approximate damage that resulted from the breach of duty of care
Under our common law principles, the duty that is owed by the property owner tends to vary depending on your legal status while on the property at the time of the accident. Ultimately, though, what determines the scope and nature of the duty owed is the classification of the injured party.
If you are injured of another person’s property, you will need to prove that the premises’ owner is liable. To do this, you will need to gather as much proof as possible, such as:
- Copies of any available incident reports or other necessary reports
- Photos of the scene of the accident showing the hazardous conditions that caused you harm, weather conditions, lighting conditions, and so on. Taking photographs of the area can help to illustrate the negligent condition of the property.
- Evidence including clothing that you wore when the accident occurred, as this could help establish what happened to result in your injury
- Witness information including the names and details of anyone who saw what happened or who knew about the dangerous condition
- Medical records that prove the injury and the accompanying bills that show how much the damages were as a result of the injury
In terms of seeking compensation, a dedicated premises liability attorney will demand full compensation if you have been hurt on someone else’s property as a result of their negligence. Compensation may include payment for losses and costs resulting from the incident as well as injuries up to the present day and into the future. Compensation might include:
- Loss of wages and any other income
- All accident-related medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Personal property damage
- Emotional distress
- Physical impairment
Soon after you suffer an accident, an insurance provider may approach you to make a settlement offer for the injuries. An injured person should never sign anything or accept any kind of payment without first consulting with a premises liability lawyer in terms of the options available to you.
How Can a Greenville Premises Liability Lawyer Help My Case?
If you choose to pursue a claim for premises liability in Greenville, South Carolina, an attorney will do all the legwork for you, leaving you to concentrate on recovering from the incident. Your premises liability lawyer will:
- Launch a lengthy and comprehensive investigation – The investigation will help determine who should be held liable for the accident and what insurance policies and any other sources may be available to compensate you. This may involve reviewing your own insurance coverage to ensure you receive maximum compensation.
- Gather accident-related evidence – This includes obtaining accident reports, taking photographs, and interviewing witnesses about the accident. A lawyer will also seek footage from surveillance or traffic cameras that may be in the area and may be useful as further evidence.
- Analyze the injured party’s medical records – Medical records can describe how severely a person was injured, and they also document the treatments received by the injured person. It is vital that you attend all your required doctor appointments and precisely follow medical instructions.
- Consult with medical professionals and other experts – A Greenville premises liability lawyer usually has a large network of specialists who can provide comprehensive analysis of a person’s injuries and the associated expenses. The experts, if required, may serve as expert witnesses for a compensation claim.
- Keep bill collectors and push insurance companies at bay – Insurance companies may try to take advantage of you at your most vulnerable. A premises liability lawyer will work to protect injured people from insurance adjusters who our only concerned about their profits. A lawyer will further contact creditors who want payment related to the incident, like health care providers, to make sure there is a legal claim pending for your injuries and losses.
- Fight for maximum compensation during negotiations with insurance companies – a dedicated attorney will take the time to build a solid case, and in so doing, will negotiate from a position of strength to ensure the injured parties receives fair compensation.
- Present a solid case before a jury or judge – Should the insurance provider refuse to agree to a fair settlement, a South Carolina premises liability lawyer will file a lawsuit and ask the court to order the compensation that you deserve for your accident.
During the case, your premises liability lawyer will communicate with you every step of the way to ensure you make informed decisions about your case of premises liability in Greenville, South Carolina.
Seek Legal Guidance from an Experienced Greenville, SC Premises Liability Lawyer
If you or your loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence or failure of warning of hazardous conditions on a property, a premises liability lawyer from Brumback & Langley, LLC can help. We are familiar with the law around this complex issue and will put our knowledge to work to ensure you receive fair and full compensation. Contact us today for a consultation.