One of the most common forms of premises liability and personal injury claims arises from slips, trips, and falls on public and private property. To determine whether or not you have a premises liability or personal injury claim against the owner of the property where you were injured in a slip and fall accident, you have to establish a few factors. The attorneys at Double Aught Injury Lawyers can assist you figure out if you have a case in a free consultation. Following are some of the factors that are relevant to determining whether or not you have a legitimate claim.
Were You Owed a Duty of Care?
Property owners owe the visitors to their properties a certain duty of care. However, what kind of duty of care is owed to you depends on what sort of visitor you are. If you were invited to the property, you are called an invitee, then the highest duty of care is owed to you. The property owner is liable for any hazards of which he had actual or constructive notice (i.e. knew or should have known about) on the property. Customers at stores and restaurants are examples of invitees.
However, if you are a trespasser on the property when the injury occurs, and you are there without permission, then the least duty of care is owed to you. If the property owner is aware of your presence, a slightly higher duty of care may be owed, but it is not as high as it would be if you had been invited to the property by the owner.
Then, there is the category of visitors who frequently visit the property, such as friends and family, known as licensees. Generally, licensees are there for their own benefit and not the property owner. The property owner owes a higher duty of care to these visitors than trespassers, but not as high as that which is owed to invitees.
Finally, there are special rules for children under the age of fourteen who are injured on the property, because they often do not have the capacity to appreciate the danger that an adult might in a situation.
Did the Property Owner Know About the Hazard?
Some hazards are more obvious than others. For example, a significant amount of ice at the entrance to the property should be noticed and addressed by the property owner. A building that is clearly about to collapse is another example. Some reasonably acting property owners will place warning signs to increase awareness of hazards and prevent injuries to visitors. In other cases, there are conditions that the property owner is not aware of and might not be expected to know about. It is possible for the property owners to defend themselves by claiming that they were not aware of the hazard, if it is reasonable to believe that this is the case.
In some cases, if the hazard is plainly obvious, the property owner cannot use the defense of not knowing about it. However, this cuts both ways – the property owner could defend themselves by arguing that the hazard was open and obvious to you as well, and that you should have avoided the hazard. Common examples of hazards that are obvious and undeniable include icy sidewalks and cluttered or damaged walkways. If the property owner knew about the hazard or reasonably should have known about the hazard, then you may have a case so long as the hazard was not open and obvious to you as well.
Did the Property Owner Fail to Address the Hazard?
If the property owner is aware that a hazard exists but refuses to address or it or delays fixing it, then he or she is likely to be legally liable for your injuries when a slip or trip and fall injury occurs. However, if the property owner has taken all reasonable steps to address the hazard, yet the injury still happened, then they may be able to deny liability. For example, if adequate warning signs were posted by a wet floor, but you still slipped, then you might not have a good case against the property owner.
Liability greatly depends on the facts of the situation.
Every case is different, and rises and falls on its facts. If you have been injured through a slip or trip and fall accident on someone else’s property – including in a store or restaurant – contact Double Aught Injury Lawyers to discuss the details of your accident and injury. Our skilled personal injury attorneys in Greenville, SC will be happy to answer all of your questions in a free consultation and help you to pursue a personal injury premises liability claim.
Bryan Ramey is a Personal Injury Attorney who practices in the upstate of South Carolina. He graduated from The University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 27 years now. Bryan Ramey believes in representing the injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.