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We often find ourselves on the land or premises of another for a variety of reasons. Maybe we are shopping in a store, parking a vehicle in a parking lot, or attending a business meeting. We have a right to expect that the premises will be reasonably safe and free from hidden defects and dangerous conditions. If significant personal injury or death occurs because of an unreasonable condition on the premises, the owner, lessee or one in control may be liable under a premises liability theory.
In South Carolina, a landowner must maintain his premises in a reasonably safe condition. If a landowner creates a dangerous condition on his property which causes injury, he may be responsible. If a landowner allows a dangerous condition to exist on his premises for a length of time such that the condition should have been discovered, he may be responsible for the resulting injury as well.
The duty or obligation of the landowner in South Carolina is generally based upon the status of the individual who enters upon the land. The highest duty of care is owed to an invitee. A lesser duty is owed to a licensee. A minimal duty is owed to a trespasser.
An invitee is generally someone who is on the property for the benefit of the landowner. The invitee could be a customer purchasing items in a store. Thus, an individual who enters land in furtherance of the business of the owner will be deemed an invitee. The owner of the property owes to an invitee or business visitor the duty of exercising reasonable or ordinary care for his safety, and is liable for injuries resulting from the breach of such duty.
The landowner has a duty to warn an invitee only of latent or hidden dangers of which the landowner has knowledge or should have knowledge. The degree of care required is commensurate with the particular circumstances involved, including the age and capacity of the invitee.
Homeowners, property owners and business owners have a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of all persons who are within the premises or boundaries of their property. Slips, falls and other injuries due to broken sidewalks, improper warning signs, falling objects, lack of security, and even animal bites are all common causes of disputes in premises liability matters.
Kassel and McVey can assist you. Call us today at 803.256.4242 for more information.