The Role of a Premises Liability Lawyer in Your Case
When you get hurt in a commercial property, a corporate office, or someone’s house, you might be able to file a claim against the property owner and receive financial compensation for your medical treatment. But first, you will need a premises liability lawyer to help you file a claim and negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
What Is Premises Liability?
Premises liability refers to a property owner’s legal responsibility and liability when people sustain injuries while on their premises. Common examples of on-premises injuries are slipping due to a puddle or slippery floor, tripping over uneven tiles, getting accidentally electrocuted, falling through rotten floorboards, and exposure to toxic substances.
The premise for premises liability is that real property owners owe a duty of care to their visitors and guests to ensure their physical safety anywhere on their property. If they fail, owners can be held legally responsible for the injuries sustained and be made to pay damages to the injured party.
However, there are certain conditions that must be met for premises liability to apply and hold a real property owner liable for injuries sustained on their property:
Duty of Care: The owner must have a duty of care to the injured individual.
Breach of Duty of Care: The owner had been negligent in keeping their property safe.
Cause of Injury: The owner’s lapse in safety caused the injury.
Premises liability can apply to injuries occurring in both commercial and residential properties. If someone gets injured while shopping at a grocery store or attending a party, they may be able to seek compensation. In such cases, contacting a premises liability attorney like Littlejohn Law can be beneficial.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Premises Liability Lawyer?
A premises liability lawyer represents the injured party – the plaintiff – in lawsuits, settlements, or litigations against home or business owners. It is their job to establish the defendant’s duty of care and that their negligence or wilful disregard of said duty resulted in the plaintiff’s injury. The attorney must also establish the plaintiff as a licensee or invitee to be eligible to receive compensation.
A premises liability attorney’s main goal is facilitating a peaceful settlement between the two parties. If no settlement can be reached, the plaintiff can take the case to court and have the judge participate in determining liability and compensation. Sometimes, the premise liability attorney also has to go head-to-head with the defendant’s insurance company if they try to avoid paying settlement coverage.
The premises liability lawyer will fight for the plaintiff to receive fair compensation through all these.
To learn more about premises liability and other areas we can assist you with, visit our practice areas page.
Premises Liability Damages
A premises liability attorney explores all possible defenses and angles from which the plaintiff can legally claim damages against the defendant. In South Carolina, people can claim compensation for three types of damages:
Medical costs for immediate treatment of the injury
Costs of future medical care for injuries that require long-term therapy or maintenance
Compensation for lost wages if the plaintiff couldn’t work because of their injury
Compensation for reduced earning capacity if the plaintiff could no longer pursue their current line of work because of their injury (i.e., the plaintiff sustained a permanent disability or suffered physical disfigurement)
Pain and suffering
These are damages intended to punish the defendant who has acted willfully or recklessly, resulting in the plaintiff’s injury.
Preparing Against Defenses to Premises Liability Claims
Another primary responsibility of the premises liability attorney is to prepare for the defendant’s arguments denying responsibility for the plaintiff’s injury. There are three defenses commonly used to try and avoid legal liability for on-premises injuries:
Assumption of Risk: If the plaintiff was aware of the dangers of entering the premises and stated that they would take precautions to avoid injury, their expressed assumption of risk may absolve the property owner of all responsibility.
A perfect example is when customers sign a liability waiver for wall climbing, camping, mountain biking, and dirt bike racing.
“Open and Obvious” Conditions: Defendants can make an argument of negligence on the plaintiff’s part if the cause of their injury was “open and obvious.”
An example would be if someone entered a restricted area despite the numerous danger signs for chemical exposure or electrocution. Another is if a person is burned or cut after putting their hand on a running machine despite it being visibly dangerous to touch.
Modified Comparative Fault: South Carolina follows a comparative fault rule for damages and compensation. If the plaintiff is partially at fault, the amount they can demand from the defendant will be reduced accordingly.
For example, if the plaintiff was running in a hotel corridor and slipped on a puddle, the hotel can be liable for their injury. However, the plaintiff is also partly responsible because they were running. If the judge ruled the plaintiff to be 25% responsible in this situation, their damages would be reduced by 25%.
If investigation reveals that the plaintiff is 50% or more at fault, they can no longer claim damages from the defendant.
The premises liability lawyer’s ability to make strong counterarguments will be crucial for the plaintiff to receive compensation for their suffering, especially if they can be held partially liable for their accident.
Choose a Seasoned Premises Liability Attorney in SC
Reaching a favorable settlement, avoiding litigation, and getting your rightful compensation are only possible with the help of an experienced and skilled premises liability attorney. If you or someone you know wants to file premises liability claims, get in touch with Littlejohn Law.
Our Attorney Andrew 'Littlejohn' Johnson offers legal representation for premises liability and other personal injury cases like driving under the influence or DUI, medical malpractice, auto accidents, and wrongful death. We are persistent in helping clients obtain justice and get their due compensation for wrongs committed by responsible individuals.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.