Sumter Premises Liability Lawyer
Just like motorists have a duty to drive safely, owners have a legal duty to ensure their property is reasonably safe. Common property injuries include falls, which are usually caused by uneven walkways, wet spots, and other property defects, and assault or other such injuries, which are often caused by negligent security. Property injury victims have the same legal and financial rights as vehicle collision victims. These victims deserve justice and compensation for their injuries.
The dedicated Sumter premises liability lawyer at The Stanley Law Group work very hard to do both these things. We start by thoroughly evaluating your case and identifying your legal options. Next, we collect evidence that supports your claim for damages and refutes insurance company defenses. Finally, when your case goes to court, we never stop fighting for you. This formula has produced life-changing results for many past clients. We’re confident that your case will have a similar success story.
Duty of Care
As mentioned, South Carolina law imposes a duty of care on all property owners, whether the property is a piece of land in rural South Carolina or a downtown building. The extent of that duty usually depends on the relationship between the victim and owner, as follows:
- Invitee: If the victim had permission to be on the property and the victim’s presence benefited the owner, the owner usually had a duty of reasonable care not only to initially ensure the property was reasonably safe, but also a duty to conduct frequent safety inspections.
- Licensee: Some people have permission to be at a place, usually because the owner doesn’t care whether they are there or not, but the owner doesn’t benefit from this relationship. In these situations, owners usually have a more limited duty. They must only warn licensees about loose handrails, weak floorboards, and other latent (hidden) defects.
- Trespasser: Owners usually have no duty, other than a duty to refrain from intentional harm, if the victim didn’t have permission and there was no benefit. Tales of injured burglars who successfully sue homeowners for damages are mostly urban legends.
Almost all South Carolina premises liability victims are invitees. The benefit could be economic or noneconomic (e.g. the benefit of social interaction).
The legal responsibility question is slightly more complex in transitional victim cases. For example, if Sid goes to Fran’s house for a party and he gets dangerously drunk, he was arguably an invitee and then a trespasser.
Knowledge of Hazard
In addition to legal responsibility, in order to obtain compensation, a Sumter premises liability attorney must also prove the owner knew about the hazard or should have known about it.
A restroom cleaning report which indicates a toilet had overflowed is an example of direct evidence of actual knowledge. Owners usually hide these smoking guns as long as they can. Normally, attorneys only get a chance to uncover them during a lawsuit’s discovery period.
Circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known) usually involves the time-notice rule. Think of a piece of lettuce on a supermarket floor. If the lettuce was wet and crisp, it probably just fell on the floor. So, the owner may not have known about the hazard. If the piece of lettuce was dry and brown, that’s different
On a related note, the injury must also have been foreseeable (possible). This issue often comes up in negligent security injury claims. Evidence of foreseeability includes the area’s reputation as a high crime area, the nature of the business, and prior similar incidents.
Contact a Hard-Hitting Sumter County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Sumter premises liability lawyer, contact The Stanley Law Group, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.