Property owners and occupiers have a legal duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition for visitors. If a patron or guest is injured in an accident, the injured party may have legal recourse to recover damages for their injuries. Premises liability law protects victims from all types of accidents, including slip and fall accidents, trips, swimming pool drownings, and amusement park-related accidents. The extent of a landowner’s legal duty varies according to the circumstances. For instance, a business has more of an obligation to keep their premises safe than a homeowner whose property is unlawfully trespassed upon.
Types of Visitors
Businesses, such as restaurants, swim clubs, amusement parks, retail stores, and movie theatres, have the highest duty. This is because businesses invite the public onto their premises to conduct business. Visitors to businesses are called “invitees,” and businesses are legally required to keep their premises safe. This means that they must actively seek out potential dangers to protect invitees from hidden risks. Even if a business owner did not know about a dangerous condition, but could have discovered it through reasonable inspection, they can be held liable for any resulting injuries. For example, if there is a spill in the aisle of a retail store, and it can be proven that the spill sat there for eight hours and no one put up a “caution” sign or took action to remediate it, the store owner could be held liable if a person slips and falls, injuring themselves.
Social hosts have a less imposing duty when it comes to keeping their property safe. Hosts must warn guests about any known hidden dangers on their property. For example, if a host invites people to their home, and there are nails on the driveway, they may be liable if they fail to warn a guest who steps on the sharp object and is injured.
Although a property owner owes no duty to adult trespassers, if a child is attracted to the property by a pool, or playground equipment, and they trespass and are injured, the homeowner can be held liable. Taking steps to protect child trespassers from getting injured, however, can shield a property owner from liability.
Common Premises Liability Claims
Amusement parks owe invitees the highest standard of duty. They also tend to be dangerous compared to other businesses, such as retail stores. Amusement rides injure thousands of people every year. Water parks are also very dangerous as water can pool in unintended places resulting in devastating slip and fall accidents. If you have been injured at an amusement park, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether to file a negligence suit against the park or its employees, or whether to sue the manufacturer of a defective ride. Even if you have signed a waiver or disclaimer, the park may still be held liable for injuries in many cases.
Negligently Secured Premises
If you were on a property and were injured by criminal activity, such as robbery, rape, assault, or battery, you may have a claim arising from negligent security. To bring a successful case, a victim must demonstrate that the landowner or possessor failed to exercise reasonable care to discovery of prior criminal activities, or failed to give adequate warnings so that visitors could avoid being injured. It is critical to prove that the crime was foreseeable.
Swimming Pool Accidents
Private and public pool owners may be liable for injuries in certain circumstances, though they will not automatically be held liable for any injury that occurs on site. The standard of care owed by the pool owner depends on whether the injured person is an invitee, social guest, or trespasser.
Columbia Premises Liability Lawyers at Chappell, Smith & Arden Represent Victims Injured on All Types of Property
If you have been injured in an accident at a retail store, mall, amusement park, water park, at a friend’s party, or on any other type of property, we can help you recover compensation. To learn more, contact the experienced premises liability lawyers in Columbia at Chappell, Smith & Arden today at 803-929-3600 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
With offices located throughout South Carolina, we represent clients in Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, Newberry County, and in Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Chapin, Rock Hill, Aiken, Sumter, Newberry, Florence, and Spartanburg.