Charleston Premises Liability Lawyer
This umbrella term encompasses most negligent injuries which occur away from home. Dog bites, falls, and swimming pool drownings are the most common examples. These injury claims, while they are diverse, have a number of things in common, especially from a legal perspective. More on that below.
At the Gus Anastopoulo Law Firm, our diligent Charleston premises liability lawyers pay close attention to the details in these cases. For example, if a victim falls in a mini-mall, a number of different entities could be financially responsible for damages, depending on the exact location of the injury. These kinds of details often make the difference between maximum compensation and settling for less.
Duty of Care
South Carolina, like most other jurisdictions, divides premises liability victims into three categories for legal purposes. The category determines the duty of care. The owner must have a legal duty toward the victim in order for a negligence case to succeed. These categories, and the duty of care assigned to each one, are:
- Invitee: All commercial guests in the Palmetto State, like shoppers and vendors, as well as most social guests, are invitees. This designation applies if the victim had express or implied permission to be on the property and the owner benefited in any way. Owners have a duty of reasonable care, which is one of the highest responsibilities in South Carolina law, in these situations.
- Licensee: A law license simply grants people permission to practice law. Likewise, a property licensee simply means that the victim had permission to be on the property. A guest of a hotel guest is a licensee. Since the relationship between owner and victim is more distant, the duty of care is lower. In these situations, most owners must only warn licensees about latent (hidden) defects, such as loose floorboards.
- Trespasser: If the victim had no permission to be there and did not benefit the owner, there is usually no duty. Tales of injured burglars who sue homeowners are mostly urban legends. There are two major exceptions. The frequent trespasser doctrine protects people like hunters who routinely cross property lines. The attractive nuisance rule usually protects children, especially in swimming pool injury claims.
Typically, the judge determines the applicable duty of care in a case. Then, to obtain compensation, a victim/plaintiff must prove knowledge by a preponderance of the evidence.
Knowledge of Hazard
A preponderance of evidence means “more likely than not.” Picture two paper stacks of equal size side by side. If someone moves a single sheet from the right to the left, the stack on the left is taller than the one on the right. That’s a picture of a preponderance of the evidence.
Attorneys usually find direct evidence of actual knowledge during a lawsuit’s discovery process. Common smoking guns include building code or other citations, restroom cleaning reports, security surveys, and “cleanup on aisle two” announcements.
Circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known) usually involves the time-notice rule. If Ben slips and falls on a yellow banana peel, it probably just fell on the floor, so no liability attaches. The outcome is different if the banana peel was gritty and black. These peels have been on the floor for awhile. So, someone should have picked them up.
Work With a Dedicated Charleston County Premises Liability Lawyer
All injury victims are entitled to fair compensation for their serious wounds. For a free consultation with an experienced Charleston premises liability lawyer, contact the Gus Anastopoulo Law Firm. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.