Do I have a case?. People who slip and fall can suffer serious injuries or death. Many of these types of accidents happen in hotels, condos, and timeshares in Myrtle Beach during the tourism season. Businesses and property owners are responsible for maintaining their properties in a reasonably safe condition for people who are lawfully visiting. When hazardous conditions on the properties exist that the property owners knew or reasonably should have known about and cause accidents and injuries, the property owners or lessors may be liable to pay damages. An experienced premises liability lawyer might help you to secure maximum compensation to fully pay for your losses.
What are slip-and-fall accidents?
Slips, trips, and falls on private or public property can happen for a variety of reasons. People may slip, trip, and fall because of debris left on floors, uneven floor surfaces, broken or missing handrails, slippery floors, spills, and other issues. When trips, slips, and falls happen because of the negligence of a property’s owner or lessor, the injured victims may be able to file claims under an area of the state’s tort law called premises liability.
Falls as a result of negligence can happen in many different places, including the following settings:
- Retail shops
- Grocery stores like Kroger or Walmart
- Shopping areas such as Barefoot Landing
- Public property
- Private property
In addition to the duties owed by businesses to visiting customers or guests, private individuals also owe a duty to protect visitors to their property from dangerous conditions that could injure them. For example, leaving a broken handrail in its state of disrepair could cause a homeowner to be liable if a guest falls as a result of it.
What can you do when you are injured in a fall?
If you slip and fall as a result of the negligence of another person or entity, you have the right to file a legal claim to seek the recovery of compensation to pay for your economic and noneconomic losses. Falls can cause serious injuries and death and can be especially risky for children and older adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of falls result in a serious injury such as a fracture or a traumatic brain injury. Three million elderly adults are treated in the hospital for fall injuries every year. Between 2007 and 2016, the CDC reports that deaths from falling among adults ages 65 and older increased by 30%. When older adults slip and fall, they may heal slower because of mobility problems.
Before you talk to a representative from an insurance company about your accident, it is important that you consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney can assess your potential claim and conduct an in-depth investigation of what caused your fall.
Premises liability in South Carolina
Premises liability is a subset of tort law in South Carolina. Property owners and possessors may be liable to pay damages to people who are injured on their property because of their negligence. The duty that a property owner owes to visitors depends on the status of the injured victims.
The different statuses of visitors to property can have include licensees, invitees, trespassers, and children. Invitees are business guests and are owed the highest duty of care. Licensees are people who are permitted to be on the property of others, and trespassers are people who are unlawfully present. Trespassers are owed the least duty of care.
Property owners have a duty to discover dangerous conditions on their properties, repair them, or warn people who are lawfully present about their existence. This duty might include a duty to conduct regular inspections of the property to find and to fix dangers. However, a property owner’s duty does not mean that the owner must absolutely ensure the safety of visitors.
In fall cases, it will not be sufficient to simply demonstrate that a dangerous condition existed. Injured victims must also be able to prove that the property’s owner or lessor had constructive or actual notice of the condition or that he or she created it. The victims must also show that the property owner failed to fix the dangerous condition or to warn them of its existence.
To prevail in a Myrtle Beach slip and fall premises liability action, a plaintiff must be able to prove the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff;
- The defendant breached the duty that was owed; and
- The breach was a proximate cause of the accident and harm to the plaintiff.
The International Building Code
The City of Myrtle Beach has adopted the International Building Code. The IBC includes detailed requirements for buildings, including provisions concerning adequate lighting in stairways, non-skid materials on slick floor surfaces, appropriate interior floor finishes, handrails, and others. Despite the city’s adoption of the IBC, many property owners have properties that do not comply with its provisions. When a business, hotel, or other property owner or lessor has failed to comply with the IBC, and the failure results in a fall injury, the victim may be able to hold them liable to pay damages.
Types of fall cases
Falls may be caused by a variety of different conditions, including the following:
- Missing, broken, or slippery steps
- Falls on floors with an uneven height
- Falls caused by building defects
- Elevator falls
- Falls on pool decks
- Falls down steps because of poor lighting in stairways
- Falls caused by broken or missing handrails
It is the responsibility of an HOA to maintain the common areas that are used by guests, including the grounds of condominium complexes, hallways, walkways, pool decks, and others to make certain that they are free of hazards. The owners of hotels and timeshares must also correct any building defects that could foreseeably result in falls and injuries. Failure to do so may result in liability for your Myrtle Beach slip and fall.
The IBC requires sloping of floors in areas of egress that have an uneven height when the difference is less than 12 inches and ramps when it is greater. It also includes an entire chapter concerning elevator requirements for buildings.
Proving notice in Slip and Falls
Premises liability claims can be difficult to prove. Unlike motor vehicle accidents, there normally will not be responding police officers. There might also not be witnesses or videotapes of what occurred.
Businesses often claim that they did not know about a hazard’s existence, and it can be hard to prove that a property owner had constructive or actual notice of the dangerous condition. Constructive notice may be legally inferred if a condition has existed for a long enough period of time that the owners or lessors should have reasonably known of its existence. Attorneys might gather evidence showing that the condition had existed for a lengthy period of time to show that the business owner had constructive knowledge that it was present. For example, an HOA of a condominium complex may be found to have constructive knowledge of a defect in a common area of the property if it is responsible for inspecting, maintaining, and repairing the area where the defect existed.
What to do if you have been injured in a Myrtle Beach slip-and-fall accident
If you have suffered an injury in a fall accident, the first thing that you should do is report the accident to the business where it happened. If you can, take photographs of the area where you fell, and seek medical attention as soon as possible. You should then consult with an experienced premises liability attorney in Myrtle Beach.
Myrtle Beach Slip-and-fall claims may be complex. Retaining an experienced lawyer may be crucial to your ability to recover reasonable damages for your losses. A lawyer may thoroughly investigate your claim to identify the potential defendants that should be named and to learn about how your accident and injury occurred. Contact our law firm today to schedule a consultation.