When you get injured on someone else’s property because of dangers and defects on the premises, they should be responsible. Homeowners insurance is designed precisely to help cover injuries, and you can often file a claim through that policy. However, a lawsuit is often more effective.
When you sue someone for injuries on their property in South Carolina, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries, including pain and suffering. Getting an insurance claim paid might be difficult if the insurance company puts up a fight, and the best way to push for an appropriate settlement might be with a lawsuit.
When Can You Sue Someone for Injuries on Their Property in South Carolina?
To be able to sue someone for injuries you suffered on their property, you need to meet a few conditions.
Where the Injury Happened
To sue someone for an injury, it needs to have actually occurred on their property or in a place they are responsible for. Many people are confused about things like sidewalks since they are public areas. In many cases, the owner of the house or business along the sidewalk is actually responsible for injuries on the sidewalk from uneven cracks or other dangerous debris.
In most injury cases inside a house or a store, the owner will be responsible. However, if the property is rented, then the tenant is likely responsible instead, as the party who controls the premises’ day-to-day condition. This means that instead of suing the landlord (the owner), you’d sue the person who lives there or the business that operates in that space. If the injuries happened in a common area in a building – such as the lobby of an office building or the stairwell of an apartment building – then the injuries might be the owner’s fault instead of any individual tenant’s fault.
Elements Needed for a Lawsuit
For an injury on someone else’s property, you would file a “premises liability” lawsuit. This is a somewhat basic negligence lawsuit, which means that you need to prove 4 elements to be able to sue:
- The property owner owed you a duty – usually the duty to warn of hidden dangers and to keep the premises safe for guests.
- The property owner breached that duty by failing to clean or repair dangers (or at least warn you of them).
- The breach of duty actually caused your injuries.
- You suffered damages because of the accident, such as medical bills and pain and suffering.
If you can’t prove these elements, then you cannot file your lawsuit – or you would at least be unable to win your case.
You can only sue someone for injuries on their property after the injury happens. If you notice something dangerous, you should bring it to the attention of the store manager or the owner of the building. However, you usually cannot sue unless you were actually injured.
After the injury, you usually have 3 years to sue. This is because of a rule called the “statute of limitations” that blocks lawsuits filed more than 3 years after the accident. There are some extensions and loopholes that apply to this rule, such as a rule that gives children until they turn 21 to sue for injuries (3 years from the time they turn 18). Other rules might also extend the deadline to file if the cause of injury was illegally concealed from you or you have a mental disability that prevents you from being able to sue on your own.
How to Sue for Injuries at Someone Else’s House or Business in South Carolina
To get your lawsuit filed, you should speak with a Columbia personal injury lawyer. While you can always proceed “pro se” and represent yourself, doing so would mean you are responsible for all of the things a lawyer would be responsible for. It is often better to hire an attorney who is experienced with court filings, managing filing deadlines, making legal arguments, and producing evidence in court to support their clients’ claims.
Filing an Insurance Claim vs. Filing a Lawsuit
Once you have an attorney, your attorney can walk you through the process of filing a lawsuit. In many cases, you might have already filed an insurance claim or been in talks with the property owner’s insurance company. Insurance companies usually defend their policyholders in these kinds of cases, provide them with lawyers, and ultimately pay the damages. However, their legal teams are often aggressive and might deny your claims or try to settle for low dollar amounts that don’t cover your needs.
Settlement Negotiations and Discovery
Your personal injury attorneys can negotiate with the other side and, if a fair settlement cannot be reached, file your case in court. Once filed, there will be rounds of legal arguments to get the case to continue, then your case will enter the “discovery” stage. This is where both sides share evidence and take depositions to clarify the issues and find out what happened. Many cases settle at this stage once the defense knows the evidence against them is too strong.
If the case proceeds further, it can go to trial. Your attorney can walk you through how testifying and presenting evidence will work so that you are prepared. At trial, the jury decides your case and how much your damages are worth based on the claims you make and the evidence and arguments your attorney presents.
Interesting Related Article: “An Outline Of The Personal Injury Claim Process“