Articles Posted in Premises Liability

Under South Carolina law, a property owner can be held legally liable for injuries suffered by visitors and others who are legally on the owner’s premises, if the injured person can prove that the property owner was negligent. Of course, the property owner will likely attempt to avoid liability in a South Carolina injury accident if at all possible.

Evidence can be subject to spoliation in any lawsuit, but this is especially so in premises liability cases. This can make proving liability more difficult later on. (If you find yourself injured after a slip and fall in at a business, even a quick cellphone picture of the scene taken by you or a friend may prove useful later on.)

If you have been hurt on another’s property, it is important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible regarding your potential claim. Gathering evidence sooner, rather than later, can make recovery of fair compensation much more likely.

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When filing a South Carolina premises liability claim against a store, restaurant, or other establishment, the plaintiff may have a choice of venue – that is, a choice between multiple courts in which his or her legal action can be filed. However, there may be some situations in which the plaintiff’s choice of venue may be overridden by the opposing party. One such situation is when both a federal court and a state court have jurisdiction over a case.

If the plaintiff chooses to file his or her suit in state court, the defendant can them “remove” the case to federal court. The only way to have the action moved back to state court after removal is for the plaintiff to show that the federal court is without jurisdiction.

Facts of the Case

In a recent federal case filed by a shopper against a supermarket and others, the plaintiff originally filed suit in the Bamberg County Court of Common Pleas, alleging that she had suffered significant injuries as a result of a trip and fall accident caused by the defendants’ negligence and seeking monetary compensation for her injuries. The defendants removed the plaintiff’s action to federal court, in response to which the plaintiff filed a motion to remand the case back to state court.

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In a South Carolina premises liability case, it is the plaintiff’s burden to prove that a dangerous condition on another’s property caused injury to him or her. The plaintiff must also prove that the defendant either directly caused the condition or that, in the exercise of due diligence, the defendant should have discovered and corrected the condition.

In many slip and fall cases, the defendant will argue that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the plaintiff has not met his or her initial burden of proof. In other words, the defendant asks the court to rule in its favor prior to trial because, even if everything the plaintiff has said in his or her complaint is true, the defendant cannot be held liable under the law. Talking to a lawyer early on and securing evidence such as photographs of the accident scene, video surveillance, and statements from eyewitnesses can be helpful in seeing that the plaintiff has his or her day in court.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case filed in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, Columbia Division, the plaintiff was a woman who filed suit against the defendant grocery store, seeking monetary compensation for a torn meniscus in her knee that she allegedly suffered when she slipped and fell in a “brown substance” (which looked like, and may have been, pudding) on the store’s floor while pushing her shopping cart through the dairy aisle in August 2015 . The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law because there was no competent evidence proving that it placed the brown substance on the floor or that it had actual or constructive notice of the allegedly dangerous condition.

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In a South Carolina personal injury lawsuit, it is not unusual for several individuals, businesses, or governmental entities to be named as defendants. By the time the trial rolls around, however, there may be significantly fewer defendants – perhaps, only one.

The reasons for this are numerous. Some defendants may have been dismissed from the lawsuit by the trial court on a motion for summary judgment. Others may have been voluntarily dismissed from the case by the plaintiff(s) for strategic reasons. A settlement may have occurred that dismissed some defendants from the lawsuit while retaining others.

If the reason for the dwindling number of defendants is a settlement, a question sometimes arises as to the nature and extent of the information about that settlement to which the remaining defendants are entitled.

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Trying a lawsuit, such as a South Carolina premises liability case, in front of a jury requires close attention to not only the state’s rules of civil procedure but also a particular judge’s local rules and even the scheduling orders in a particular case. A mistake or failure to take certain action in a timely fashion can be costly.

Of course, a trial court judge’s ruling on such matters is subject to review by the court of appeals in most instances. The appropriateness of a judge’s decision to exclude certain evidence based on a procedural failing is something that must be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Facts of the Case

When members of the general public think about lawsuits in which a person has been injured or killed due to another party’s negligence (such as a South Carolina premises liability case), they may envision the case going to trial and a jury deciding whether the defendant was negligent and, if so, the amount of compensation to which the plaintiff is entitled.

However, not every plaintiff gets to have a jury decide his or her case. Often, the defendant in a personal injury or wrongful death case will file what’s known as a “motion for summary judgment.” In reviewing such a motion, the trial court judge is called upon to decide whether, in viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, there are genuine issues of material fact. Only if the answer is “yes” does the case proceed to a jury trial.

Facts of the Case

It seems that everywhere one turns these days, there’s someone asking for a signature on a waiver, a release document, or a contract agreeing – in advance – to arbitration of a dispute that has not yet occurred.

The goal, of course, is to usurp the signer’s right to a trial by jury, thereby limiting or even eliminating liability for personal injuries or wrongful death caused by the negligence of the entity asking for the document.

Fortunately, not every such agreement is upheld by the courts. It all depends upon the particular situation and the language of a given document.

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Building a case of negligence against a person or business that one believes caused an accident (such as a car wreck or a slip and fall at a restaurant) is a multi-step process. The first step is establishing that the party from whom the plaintiff seeks to recover money damages owed a legal duty of care to the plaintiff. Whether or not a duty exists is usually a legal question that revolves around the relationship between the parties. The second step of a negligence claim is proving that the defendant breached the duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff; this is usually a factual question. The remaining elements are harm to the plaintiff and causation between the defendant’s breach of duty and the harm to the plaintiff.

When the parties disagree about whether the plaintiff has produced sufficient evidence of these elements to proceed to trial, the trial court may be called upon to decide (via a summary judgment motion) whether the defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, even if all of the plaintiff’s allegations are construed in the light most favorable to him or her. A party aggrieved by a trial court’s decision on a motion for summary judgment has a right to appeal the court’s order to a higher court.

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Everyone who drives an automobile should have liability insurance to pay medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering to a passenger, motorist, or pedestrian who is injured as a result of the driver’s own negligence. Otherwise, any judgment in a negligence lawsuit brought against the driver could be collected from his or her personal assets.

There are many types of liability insurance in addition to automobile liability polices. You might be interested to know that various types of businesses have special liability insurance policies to cover business-specific negligence claims. This includes businesses that sell or serve liquor. Bars and nightclubs may purchase this insurance to cover a judgment against them as a result of a “dram-shop” action based on the negligent sale or over-serving of alcohol that results in injuries or death to a third party.

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Those who own and operate places of business have a duty to keep their premises reasonably safe for customers and other business invitees. This includes the duty to protect guests from criminal activity in some situations. However, the burden is on the injured person to prove that the property owner acted negligently.

The issue in such cases is often whether the attack was reasonably foreseeable, given such factors as the location of the establishment and any history of violence in the area.

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