Premise Liability in South Carolina

Suppose you entered the land of another and upon arrival you stepped on a loose nail and suffered injury. You may be able to recover for your injuries under the theory of premises liability. Premises liability is grounded in the law of negligence. Negligence requires a duty, a breach of duty, causation, and damages. A defendant may be held liable if all the elements of negligence are met. Depending upon the plaintiff’s status at law, the defendant may owe a duty to protect the plaintiff from a defect in the premises. There are four different categories of plaintiffs that we are concerned with in premise liability actions and they include invitees, licensees, trespassers, and children.

An invitee is one who enters the premises with permission either express or implied, for a purpose benefiting the owner or occupier of land. A defendant owner/ occupier of land owes the invitee a duty of due care to discover risks and take safety precautions to warn of or eliminate unreasonable risks. Examples of invitees include: patrons of stores, workers invited on the premises, patients in a medical office and public works employees.

A licensee is one who enters the premises with consent or a privilege but does so for his own purpose rather than for the benefit of the owner or occupier of the land. A defendant owner/occupier of land owes the licensee a duty to use reasonable care to discover and avoid injury to the licensee and to use reasonable care to warn of any concealed dangerous conditions or activities that are known to the defendant owner/occupier of land. Examples of licensees include social guests or guests of a dues-paying member of a private non-profit club.

A trespasser is one who does not obtain permission to enter the land of the owner or occupier or land. A trespasser is also one who remains on the land of another without permission of the owner or occupier of land. A defendant owner/occupier of land owes no duty to a trespasser except to do no willful or wanton injury.

For purposes of premise liability law, a child is generally one who is under the age of fourteen years. The duty owed to the child is judged by the conduct expected of a minor of like age under the circumstances. Therefore, if a child of like age should have appreciated the risk involved he may be barred from recovery.

Once the status of the plaintiff is determined the duty owed by the defendant can be determined. Thereafter, causation requires that the defendant’s actions were the cause in fact and the legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Causation in fact is proved by establishing the injury would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligence. Legal cause is proved by establishing foreseeability.

After causation has been proven, the plaintiff must show she suffered injuries as a result of defendant’s actions. Injuries may include physical pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and permanent disability.

Premise liability cases require a fact specific analysis. Premise liability cases can be complex in nature. For a free consultation, call your attorney Daniel Selwa today at 843- 492-5449. The law offices of Daniel Selwa are located at 516 29th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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