Premises liability is a legal theory that holds property owners responsible for accidents or injuries that occur on their property. Premises liability claims are almost always based on negligence, and state judicial rulings, called precedents, guide how a judge may rule. Laws, ordinances and building codes can also be relevant to a specific case.
Although slip and fall injuries are the most common kind of premises liability claim, there are many conditions that can result in different types of injury. Some of these include:
- Wet floors or icy steps
- Faulty stairs or broken elevators
- Open swimming pools
- Dog attacks
- Aggressive customers or guests
- Hidden obstacles or parking lot injuries
Property owners who may be held liable include landlords, tenants, hotel chains, shop owners, business or easement owners, or maintenance companies.
Duties of a property owner
Under premises liability law in South Carolina, the duties the property owner or a tenant on the property owes to a person who has been injured on the premises depend on whether that person is an invitee, a licensee or a trespasser.
An invitee has express or implied permission to be on the property and is there for the benefit of the owner or the tenant. Invitees are owed the highest duty to discover risks, fix them or warn the invitee of the danger. A person who visits a store is one common example of an invitee.
A licensee comes onto the property with the permission of the owner or tenant or a privilege to visit, and is there for their own purposes, not necessarily for the benefit if the owner or tenant. An example of a licensee is a guest at a party held on the premises.
A trespasser has the least amount of protection, however, even trespassers have some rights. The property owner’s duty to a trespasser is to not cause intentional harm, or to cause injuries from willful or wanton conduct.
Pursuing a premises liability claim
In order to successfully pursue a claim, the plaintiff must prove that the property owner failed to exercise reasonable care to protect a lawful guest, invitee or licensee from injury. For residents of Columbia and throughout South Carolina, it is important to seek knowledgeable legal counsel that will help you fight for the compensation you deserve for your injuries.