South Carolina Slip and Fall Law: Premises Liability

Premises liability is often times referred to as "slip and fall" law. A general overview of South Carolina premises liability indicates that:

  • To establish negligence in a premises liability action, a plaintiff must prove the following three elements: (1) a duty of care owed by defendant to plaintiff; (2) defendant's breach of that duty by a negligent act or omission; and (3) damage proximately resulting from the breach of duty. See Hurst v. East Coast Hockey League, Inc., 371 S.C. 33, 37, 637 S.E.2d 560, 562 (2006). (emphasis added);
  • If you can't demonstrate how the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff then the defendant can move for what is called "summary judgment" and you will not even have your case heard by a jury but thrown out of court. Singleton v. Sherer, 377 S.C. 185, 200, 659 S.E.2d 196 (Ct.App. 2008). See also Hopson v. Clary, 321 S.C. 312, 314, 468 S.E.2d 305, 307 (Ct.App. 1996);
  • The nature and scope of duty in a premises liability action, if any, is determined based upon the status or classification of the person injured at the time of his or her injury. Singleton v. Sherer, 377 S.C. 185, 200, 659 S.E.2d 196 (Ct.App. 2008). See also Sims v. Giles, 343 S.C. 708, 715, 541 S.E.2d 857, 861 (Ct.App.2001);
  • South Carolina recognizes four general classifications of persons present on the property of another: adult trespassers, invitees, licensees, and children. Different standards of care apply depending upon the classification of the person present. Singleton v. Sherer, 377 S.C. 185, 200, 659 S.E.2d 196 (Ct.App. 2008). See also Larimore v. Carolina Power & Light, 340 S.C. 438, 444, 531 S.E.2d 535, 538 (Ct.App. 2000) ("The level of care owed is dependent upon the class of the person present.")

Understand premises liability in South Carolina now? I didn't think so. I haven't even had a chance to detail out the law on each one of the above mentioned categories of persons present on the property of another: (1) invitee (2) licensee (3) adult trespasser (4) child.

I didn't have a chance to mention "Assumption of the Risk" and "Open and Obvious" defenses the defendant's attorneys often times raise in an effort to downplay their client's negligence. 

Remember what makes these cases harder than the most common personal injury cases:

  • No highway patrolman or police officer shows up to the scene and listens to both sides and determines that one side is more at fault than the other;
  • No person usually admits guilt; 
  • There are usually no witnesses to the "slip and fall", and
  • There is usually no camera or surveillance footage available, contrary to those black bubbles you may see or thoughts that there should be a camera available.

Do some work to assist your attorney in helping you with these cases by:

  1. taking any pictures of the area in question to better illustrate the negligent condition of the property;
  2. getting a copy of any incident report filled out by the landowner or their agents, servants, and/or employees;
  3. write down names and contact numbers for any witnesses that may have seen the slip and fall or come to your aid; and
  4. if you are aware of any negligent conditions on someone's property notify them in writing with certified mail and share your concerns with them.


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Donnie Myrick - October 8, 2014 12:22 PM

We are staying at a resort in Myrtle Beach SC. The second night here I was giving my 4 year old daughter a shower. While showering she stepped back in the shower and slipped and fell. She fell with such force that she struck her head on the bottom of the tub , she has a large bruise on her hip shoulders . She also has an abrasion on the upper portion of her thigh . I notified the front desk and told them about how slippery the shower was. Their response , "we have anti skid mats available one you like one"? We are leaving Friday 10/10 going back home !

Charlie - December 2, 2015 5:59 PM

In defense of the Resort, you have a duty to insure that your child was safe and to look at any potential risks for a child.. before they happen. With you standing there and not noticing the slippery bathtub floor, not putting a towel down, allowing your 4 year old to stand and move about while in the shower constitutes in my mind that you were not properly supervising your 4 year old child. Bathtub bottoms get slippery when there is soap involved. To allow a small child to move about in a soapy tub without proper supervision and a tub mat is just dangerous and an accident waiting to happen. Children fall all the time but with a parent right there and not protecting them is a different story. I am sorry your child slipped in the bathtub and got hurt, I hope she has healed and feels better. I hope in the future, the child is not allowed to stand or step back or frontwards in a tub without a tub mat and that she takes baths instead of showers so she won't have to move about in a slippery tub. Sorry for this ordeal and hope the child has recovered!


We don't defend Resorts, companies, or insurance companies at this firm. Save your belly aching for your own Blog.

Thom Fulery - February 1, 2016 2:18 PM

I'm trying to find out what the pre existing condition statutes in slip and fall are in South Carolina?


Then pay a lawyer for his legal response. Good luck.

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