Your South Carolina Slip and Fall Attorney
Every year, thousands of people are injured when they slip or trip and fall on a wet floor, stairs, or a rough patch of ground. Unfortunately, many of these injuries are often very serious. When it comes to determining who is responsible for the accident, there are many legal factors that must be taken into consideration.
Slip and Fall Accidents and Premises Liability
Slip and fall cases are under the umbrella of premises liability. Premises liability is a legal concept that typically comes into play in personal injury cases where the injury was caused by some type of unsafe or defective condition on someone’s property.
Like most personal injury cases, premises liability cases are based on the legal theory of negligence. In order to win a premises liability case, the injured person must prove that the property owner was negligent with respect to ownership or maintenance of the property.
South Carolina Statute of Limitations
One of the first things to understand before you decide to file a slip and fall lawsuit in South Carolina is the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations determines how long you have to get your case started. Specifically, the law in South Carolina gives you three years to ask the state courts for a civil remedy for any personal injury or damage. Now, if the claim is against the state, the statute could be only 2 years. It is very important to contact an attorney as soon as you can. Letting too much time go by can impact your case and any restitution you are seeking.
Charleston Slip and Fall Law
Not all slip and fall accidents are created equal. In fact, such cases can be exceedingly complicated. A Slip and fall accident is a premise liability claim, which represents an umbrella that can include slipping, twisting, spinning wrenching, sliding, and any number of other sudden movements that result in injury. Injuries that you incur on someone else’s property are not necessarily the property owner’s fault, however. In South Carolina, the laws are quite precise, and whether you have a case or not will hinge on the exact elements of your slip and fall case.
To bring a viable claim, you must be able to illustrate that the property owner either created the dangerous condition that caused your injury, had actual notice or knew of the dangerous condition that caused your injury, or had constructive notice or should have known about the dangerous condition that caused your injury – all while failing to warn you or other visitors or to make the necessary effort to correct the hazard or make the area safe.
Corporate Denial of Slip and Fall Cases
Often, large corporate landowners will – as a matter of course – disclaim or deny liability for most slip-and-fall accidents on their property. This can represent a kind of overall cost-benefit analysis for the corporate entity – the more cases they (with their in-house litigation teams) deny (no matter the validity of the cases) the more would-be litigants they frighten off. Corporate landowners are in the business of making money and are, therefore, likely to take an aggressive stance toward slip and fall litigation to intimidate would-be litigants. This can be a corporation’s business-as-usual stance, but don’t let it fool you. You have the legal right to expect the environment that you do business in to be appropriately maintained and to be free from dangerous impediments.
The Extent of Premises Liability
Premises liability cases amount to more than just slip and fall cases. In fact, each premises liability case is unique unto itself. There are, however, specific conditions that should be carefully considered:
- Accidents caused by falling equipment or merchandise
When merchandise or business equipment is not stacked properly or put away appropriately, it can cause unsafe conditions in which accidents ensue.
- Accidents caused by negligent lighting or faulty security
Businesses owe their customers reasonably safe commercial conditions, which include adequate security and sufficient lighting in those areas that are integral to conducting business – including stairwells, parking lots and ramps, and garages. Faulty security and inadequate lighting in such areas can contribute to slip and falls and any number of other safety issues.
Burden of Proof in Slip and Fall Cases
If you’re injured while conducting business with a corporate entity, there are situations in which the property owners are legally responsible for the harm you sustain on their property. South Carolinian property owners have distinct responsibilities, and when they fail to uphold these responsibilities, they can be held liable for damages (such as your injuries).
In South Carolina, you must be able to prove that your injury was caused by a breach of the business owner’s duty. You, as the business’s invitee, are owed the owner’s duty of avoiding the creation of unreasonable risks that might lead you, as an invited consumer, to suffer injury on the business property. As such, you must be able to prove two necessary elements of a successful slip and fall case:
- The business owner, manager, or employee was responsible for whatever caused your injury. Typically, corporations are held responsible for their employees and for outside companies that they hire to do work on their behalf. They are not, however, responsible for third-party actions, such as when another customer spills something slippery on the business’s floor that the company can’t reasonably be expected to be aware of.
- The business should have known that whatever caused the accident was present and then failed to rectify the danger or to warn customers of its presence. The caveat to this is that you, as a typical shopper, are expected to heed your surroundings and to notice and avoid glaringly obvious dangers.
The Philosophy behind Slip and Fall Cases
When you go shopping or enter into a business transaction with any kind of enterprise as an invited guest – or customer – you are awarded the status of having the reasonable expectation that the commercial interaction will not harm you by way of presenting hazardous conditions or dangerous states of repair. There are several conditions that are routinely deemed injurious:
- Non-even sidewalks, walkways, and entryways;
- Common area with dangerous or hazardous conditions;
- Surfaces that are wet and slippery;
- Surfaces that are snowy and/or icy;
- Rough and damaged carpeting;
- Unchecked spills resulting from normal business routine; and
- Sub-par and, thus, dangerous lighting and/or merchandise displays.
Any of these instances can contribute to a slip and fall case. We all default to I’m clumsy from time to time, and that’s understandable. Do not, however, demure in such a way when you’ve been seriously injured by someone else’s negligence. Stand up for your legal rights.
Slip and fall accidents are notoriously complicated, and they can also be vexing; that should not affect your resolve to fight for your right to shop wherever you are invited (commercial shopping venues) and to do so while unmolested by avoidable dangerous conditions.
Your Charleston Slip and Fall Case
Slip and fall cases are often ambiguous, lengthy, and complex, but they are also important. If you’ve incurred an injury caused by a business or corporate entity that neglected to pay adequate attention to its safety precautions, you may well have a decent slip and fall case. The litigation process can be difficult, but it’s important that you stay the course. An experienced Charleston, South Carolina legal firm with extensive slip and fall expertise can help guide your case toward a satisfactory conclusion. Call the Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. today; we care about your slip and fall case, and we can help
If you were injured in a slip and fall, you may be entitled to recover damages for any injuries that resulted. Determining your legal rights can be complicated, and it may be unclear who to bring a claim against, and to what sort of damages you are entitled. For these reasons and more, contact an experienced slip and fall accident attorney.
As our client, you will receive attentive and compassionate legal help. Please call us today at 843-300-7600 or contact us via email for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. serves all of South Carolina, including Charleston County and surrounding areas.
 South Carolina Code http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t15c003.php