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Premises liability refers to claims whereby an injured party alleges that another party is responsible for the injuries he and she suffered while on that other party’s property.  These cases are typically referred to as ‘slip and fall’ claims, but they can cover a wide array of different types of injuries.  Property owners and occupiers have a legal duty to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition in order to protect visitors from harm.  When property owners neglect that legal duty, they may be held liable for the injuries and damages that result.  Because South Carolina premises liability claims tend to be very fact-intensive, it is always recommended that you contact a personal injury attorney in order to access the viability of your case.  This article merely touches on some of the things a premises liability attorney would look at when evaluating an injured party’s claim.

Status of Injured Party

The first legal analysis that needs to be conducted in an Horry County premises liability case relates to the status of the injured party.  That status will generally define the scope of the duty of care owed by the landowner or occupier.  South Carolina premises liability law breaks down the status an injured party into the following four classifications:

Invitee:  An invitee is a person who enters upon the premises of another with the express or implied permission of the owner or occupier of the property.  An owner or occupier of property is required to exercise reasonable care for an invitee’s safety and keep the premises free from any condition that could cause reasonably foreseeable harm.  In the premises liability context, South Carolina law offers the most protection to injured persons who classify as an invitee.  A common example of an invitee is a customer shopping at a retail store.

Licensee:  A licensee is a person who has the privilege to enter premises by virtue of the possessor’s express or implied consent.  The licensee’s presence on the property is for the primary benefit of the licensee, not the landowner or occupier.  In these cases, the landowner or occupier must use reasonable care to discover the licensee, avoid injury to him and warn him of any concealed dangerous conditions or activities.  A common example of an invitee is a social guest.  An invitee who goes outside the area to which they were originally invited without consent from the owner or occupier may become a licensee.

Trespasser:  A trespasser is understood to be a person who was not invited on another’s property and is not a child or a person whose presence the landowner or occupier has consented to or acquiesced in.  An owner or occupier of property owes a trespasser no duty except to do no willful or wanton harm to them.

Children:  Children are the lone exception to the general rule that a landowner or occupier owes no duty to protect a trespasser from dangerous conditions.  While children are generally offered a higher level of protection than other trespassers, the duty of care owed by the landowner or occupier often comes down to the reasonable foreseeability of the injury to the child.

Issues that Arise in South Carolina Premises Liability Cases

There are numerous legal issues which may arise in a premises liability case in addition to the proper classification of the injured party.  South Carolina law recognizes several defenses to such claims.  Some of those defenses could result in a claim being dismissed by the court.  Others could result in a verdict against a landowner or occupier being reduced in proportion to the injured party’s own negligence.  It is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately in order to put yourself in the best position to be able to recover for your injuries and losses.

Premises liability cases often present evidentiary issues as well.  A good example of one such problem relates to surveillance video footage.  While it is no secret that most retailers and other large businesses have video recording systems, obtaining recorded footage relating to a specific personal injury claim can be challenging.  In some instances, those recordings are lost if not obtained within as little as 48 hours from the date of the occurrence.  Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney as early as possible greatly increases your odds of being able to collect that and other pieces of crucial evidence.

Grooms & Thomas Law Firm – Myrtle Beach Premises Liability Attorneys

If you or a loved one have been injured in a slip and fall on another’s property in South Carolina, and you need to consult with an experienced premises liability lawyer, please give the attorneys at Grooms & Thomas, LLC a call for a free case evaluation.  Contact us at (843) 444-5702 to learn more about what we can do for you.