South Carolina Slip and Fall Law: Premises Liability
Premises liability is often times referred to as “slip and fall” law. A general overview of South Carolina premises liability indicates that:
- To establish negligence in a premises liability action, a plaintiff must prove the following three elements:(1) a duty of care owed by defendant to plaintiff; (2) defendant’s breach of that duty by a negligent act or omission; and (3) damage proximately resulting from the breach of duty. See Hurst v. East Coast Hockey League, Inc., 371 S.C. 33, 37, 637 S.E.2d 560, 562 (2006). (emphasis added);
- If you can’t demonstrate how the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff then the defendant can move for what is called “summary judgment”and you will not even have your case heard by a jury but thrown out of court. Singleton v. Sherer, 377 S.C. 185, 200, 659 S.E.2d 196 (Ct.App. 2008). See also Hopson v. Clary, 321 S.C. 312, 314, 468 S.E.2d 305, 307 (Ct.App. 1996);
- The nature and scope of duty in a premises liability action, if any, is determined based upon the status or classification of the person injured at the time of his or her injury. Singleton v. Sherer, 377 S.C. 185, 200, 659 S.E.2d 196 (Ct.App. 2008). See also Sims v. Giles, 343 S.C. 708, 715, 541 S.E.2d 857, 861 (Ct.App.2001);
- South Carolina recognizes four general classifications of persons present on the property of another: adult trespassers, invitees, licensees, and children. Different standards of care apply depending upon the classification of the person present. Singleton v. Sherer, 377 S.C. 185, 200, 659 S.E.2d 196 (Ct.App. 2008). See also Larimore v. Carolina Power & Light, 340 S.C. 438, 444, 531 S.E.2d 535, 538 (Ct.App. 2000) (“The level of care owed is dependent upon the class of the person present.”)
Understand premises liability in South Carolina now? I didn’t think so. I haven’t even had a chance to detail out the law on each one of the above mentioned categories of persons present on the property of another: (1) invitee (2) licensee (3) adult trespasser (4) child.
I didn’t have a chance to mention “Assumption of the Risk” and “Open and Obvious” defenses the defendant’s attorneys often times raise in an effort to downplay their client’s negligence.
Remember what makes these cases harder than the most common personal injury cases:
- No highway patrolman or police officer shows up to the scene and listens to both sides and determines that one side is more at fault than the other;
- No person usually admits guilt;
- There are usually no witnesses to the “slip and fall”, and
- There is usually no camera or surveillance footage available, contrary to those black bubbles you may see or thoughts that there should be a camera available.
Do some work to assist your attorney in helping you with these cases by:
- taking any pictures of the area in question to better illustrate the negligent condition of the property;
- getting a copy of any incident report filled out by the landowner or their agents, servants, and/or employees;
- write down names and contact numbers for any witnesses that may have seen the slip and fall or come to your aid; and
- if you are aware of any negligent conditions on someone’s property notify them in writing with certified mailand share your concerns with them.