Outlining A Fall Injury Claim In South Carolina
Falls are the leading cause of ER admissions in the United States. Every year, emergency responders rush over three million fall victims to hospital emergency rooms. These victims usually sustain broken bones, head injuries and other serious wounds that are often permanent or fatal. Typically, health insurance plans do not cover injury-related expenses. With hospitalization costs exceeding $3,000 a day in most areas, these victims could be left holding a very large financial bag.
A Columbia personal injury attorney obtains the compensation these victims need and deserve in court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. As in many areas of life, a successful negligence case usually means planning your work and working your plan.
Duty of Care
The Palmetto State, like most other jurisdictions, uses a victim classification system to determine the duty of care in a fall or other premises liability matter. These categories are:
- Invitee: Most commercial and social guests are invitees. This designation applies if the victim had the owner’s permission to visit the premises, and that visit benefited the owner, financially or non-financially. Owners have a duty of reasonable care to ensure their premises are reasonably safe. Posting a “Caution Wet Floor” or other warning sign buys these owners some time, but does not fulfill their duty of care in the eyes of the law.
- Licensee: A sign might be sufficient if the victim was a licensee. However, this label only applies if the victim had permission to visit, but that visit didn’t benefit the owner in any way. A person like a guest of a hotel guest or a child who cuts across a parking lot on the way to school is a licensee.
- Trespasser: This term simply means someone who has no permission to be on the property and whose presence doesn’t benefit the owner. Some obscure legal doctrines, like the frequent trespasser rule and the attractive nuisance rule, give some additional protection to some trespassers, like children, in some cases.
A duty of care is the foundation of an ordinary negligence claim in South Carolina. This duty is basically the legal version of the story of the Good Samaritan. Just like this man went out of his way to help an injured traveler, owners must go out of their way to make guests safe, if those guests are invitees.
Knowledge of Hazard
A Columbia personal injury attorney can only obtain compensation for fall injury victims if the owners knew, or should have known, about the hazard which caused injury.
Smoking guns, like an employee’s email reporting a fall hazard or a “cleanup on aisle three” announcement, are direct evidence of actual knowledge. Such evidence is very compelling in court, but it’s usually not available until late in the process. Therefore, if a case settles too soon, there’s a good chance that the victim is settling for less.
Circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known) is admissible as well. Courts typically use the time-notice rule to evaluate the strength of this evidence.
If Tina slipped and fell on a smooth and yellow banana peel, it probably just fell on the floor, so the owner probably didn’t know about it. If Tina slipped on a gritty and black banana peel, it had probably been on the floor for some time, and the owner should have known about it.
Reach Out to a Tenacious Richland County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Columbia, contact the Marc Brown Law Firm. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.