Property owners have a duty to keep the premises they own (or lease) reasonably safe, so visitors can expect to be free from harm when they enter the premises. If you, as a visitor, suffer injury on someone else’s property due to a dangerous condition, you may be able to hold the owner liable for your injuries under the legal theory of premises liability.
Many different factors contribute to a premises liability determination in court, including the status of the visitor, the activities of the visitor, the condition of the property, the knowledge of the owner regarding any defects on the property, and the timing of the incident and injury. Though a premises liability claim can be complex, our firm can help make sure you receive proper compensation for your injuries from the responsible party. Our attorneys have dealt with thousands of premises liability and slip and fall cases.
The Status of the Visitor
In order to successfully recover on a premises liability claim, first, you must prove that the property owner owed you a duty of care and subsequently breached that duty of care, causing your injury. Whether or not a property owner owes a specific person a duty of care depends on the status of the visitor. There are three main categories of visitors for the purposes of premises liability:
- Invitee: This type of visitor is invited onto the premises to conduct business, e.g., shoppers in a store or customers in a restaurant.
- Licensee: This type of visitor is present for non-commercial purposes, e.g., a social guest in a home.
- Trespasser: Trespassers, by definition, have no invitation onto the property and the owner usually does not even know they are present.
Property owners generally have no duty of care to trespassers, except to child trespassers under certain circumstances. In North Carolina, owners owe an equal duty of care to both invitees and licensees. In South Carolina, however, property owners are thought to have a higher duty of care to invitees than licensees.
Common Premises Liability Cases
The majority of premises liability cases occur at homes, grocery stores, home improvement stores, department stores, sport venues, and hotels. Though accidents and injuries can happen for any number of reasons, premises liability cases commonly stem from the following situations:
- Slip and fall accidents;
- Inadequate lighting;
- Tripping accidents;
- Falling merchandise;
- Broken or failing handrails;
- Negligent security or failing to warn of possible criminal activity (which can result in assaults, rapes, or even death);
- Improper maintenance of the property; and
- Failing to warn of any other potentially dangerous conditions.
Each premises liability case is unique and the resulting injuries can vary widely. For example, some visitors who slip on wet floors suffer bruises or a minor sprain, while others hit their head and suffer long-lasting traumatic brain injuries.
Whether you have suffered an injury in North Carolina or South Carolina, our firm will help guide you through the process of seeking recovery. Contact our office today for help with your case.