Common Questions that Arise after a Slip and Fall Accident
By Thomas Creech Law Offices, LLC, South Carolina
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One of the most common types of cases personal injury lawyers handle are Slip and Falls. To address confusion that people may have while determining if they have a case or not, here are some of the questions and that we often receive in our South Carolina practice.
We get questions about slip and fall cases on a regular basis. Incidentally, as a personal injury lawyer in Greenville SC, one of the most common inquiries we see are claims for slip and fall at a commercial or even a residential location. There may be some confusion surrounding these claims as sometimes people have questions about whether they have a case or not. We will focus only on South Carolina law-so if you want to know about South Carolina law-read on. And I’ll add another disclosure, please do not treat anything in the informational article as legal advice specific to your situation.
Question: “Do I have a case for slip and fall?’
Questions about slip and fall cases typically begin with determining the legal duty that a business or residence owes to its customer. Generally speaking, an owner of property or the person in control of the property owes a duty to its guests to provide a reasonably safe premises for its customers.
South Carolina law classifies “guests” into three categories: invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
1) Invitees – an invitee is a person who is on the premises with permission. This includes express or implied of the owner or possessor of the premises. An invitee is on the premises to benefit the owner/possessor of the premises. The most common example of an invitee is the customer of the store. A customer is there to benefit the owner/possessor of the premises-that is, to make a purchase or to provide value. The owner/ possessor of the premises owes an invitee a duty of reasonable or due care to avoid creating unreasonable risks and to also find unreasonable risks and thereafter to take safety precautions to warn of or eliminate unreasonable risks.
2) Licensees – A licensee is a person who is on the premises with the permission or consent of the owner/possessor of the premises but, unlike an invitee, is on the premises for his benefit and not for the benefit of the owner/possessor of the land. Examples of licensees include social guests in a home. A licensee is on the premises with the permission of the owner/ possessor. A licensee accepts the premises as he finds the premises. The owner/possessor of the premises must use reasonable care to know about the licensee on the land and to use reasonable care to warn of any hidden dangers on the property and also to warn about any hidden dangers that a licensee may not reasonably discover on his own.
3) Trespassers- a trespasser comes on the premises without permission; he is a wrongdoer. The owner/possessor of the property does not even owe a trespasser a duty of due care-but must not intentionally injure the trespasser.
Questions About Slip and Fall at a Store
Question: “What happens if I fell on liquid at a store?”
A common premises slip and fall claim is when a customer falls on water at a store. In this circumstance, the customer, show is an invitee and is owed a duty of care, must prove that the owner/possessor of the premises knew about or should have known about the hazardous liquid on the floor and failed to clean it up or warn about it. Consequently, in legal terms, it is called “notice”. There are two types of notice; constructive notice and actual notice. If the store knew about the presence of the hazard-that would be actual notice. If the store should have known about the presence of the liquid-then that is constructive notice.
Question: “What damages am I allowed to claim under South Carolina law if I’m injured at a store or business?”
South Carolina law allows for an injured person to claim damages. For example, these damages may include medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, inconvenience, disability, impairment, loss of earning capacity, and loss of enjoyment of life. Additionally, if a person dies as result of owner/ possessor negligence, then there may be a claim for wrongful death.
Question: “What are some common examples of slip and fall accident claims in South Carolina?”
No doubt, liquids or other items left on the floor of a store are the most common causes of slip and fall. We have seen store employees leave flat cardboard boxes on the floor; water on the floor that store employees should have known about; milk spilled on a floor that store employees should have known about. In a liquid or “foreign substance” type claim, the biggest hurdle in proving these claims is proof that the store employees either created the hazard themselves or should have known about the hazard but failed to quickly clean up the spill or hazard.
Question: “How does an injured person prove his or her claim against the store?”
First, the most important thing to do is to notify store personnel-preferably a manager that you fell in the store. Next, seek treatment for your injuries. Remember, your well-being and health comes first. However, once you are stable, you should reach out to an attorney who can help preserve any evidence. In fact, it’s important to hire a personal injury attorney quickly so that he can get to work immediately. Preserving evidence may be vital to your claim.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thomas Creech Law Offices, LLC
Thomas Creech has been a lawyer since 1997. Thomas Creech began his legal career in the courtroom serving as a law clerk to a judge. He then became a prosecutor where he worked with law enforcement to seek justice in the courtroom on behalf victims of crime. Since 2003, Thomas Creech has been actively involved in representing individuals and families in serious personal injury cases. Thomas Creech enjoys using the advocacy skills he has gained over the course of his 20 year legal career in the courtroom, and at the negotiating table, to help his clients in their unique situations.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.