The Basics of Commercial Premises Liability in South Carolina

When someone gets injured on another person’s property, he or she has the right to pursue a negligence claim against the owner. The theory of recovery upon which the plaintiff will usually rely is known as premises liability. If you’re a business owner, it’s important to understand how these cases are decided in South Carolina. The civil litigation attorneys of Gaffney Lewis, LLC, are ready to help.

Premises liability generally covers injuries that occur on someone else’s property, including businesses. South Carolina laws require property owners to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe manner for visitors. In order to prevail on a premises liability claim, plaintiffs are required to prove that a business owner:

  • Did something on the property that created a hazard; or
  • Knew, or should reasonably have known, that a hazard existed on the property, but did not correct it.

Slip and fall cases are common examples of premises liability lawsuits. The owner, or an employee of the owner, might mop the floor and fail to warn customers about it being wet. If someone slips and gets hurt, there’s a good chance the business will be sued.

Another example is where a business has defective steps on the premises. Even though the owner didn’t take direct action that caused the steps to be hazardous, if it can be proven that he or she should reasonably have known about it, that knowledge can give rise to liability in a lawsuit. A business owner cannot turn a blind eye to obvious hazards on its property and is responsible for taking reasonable measures to identify hazards, including warning visitors and addressing the hazard expeditiously.

When considering a premises liability case against a business, the injured person’s status must be determined. Visitors to a business fall into four basic categories, each with corresponding duties owed by the business:

Invitees. These are people who are on the property with the express or implied permission of the business owner. In a case like this, the duty owed by the owner is one of reasonable care, which means keeping the property free of reasonably-foreseeable dangers. The owner is also obligated to warn the invitee of hidden dangers it knows or should know about. An invitee enjoys the highest protection under South Carolina premises liability law. A good example is a customer at a retail store.

Licensees. A licensee is someone who has the privilege of being on the property with the consent of the owner. They are on the property for their own benefit, and unlike an invitee, are not necessarily requested to be there. The owner must warn the licensee of hazards it knows about but is not required to search out and discover dangers or to otherwise make the premises safe. Someone who stops by your property to ask for directions is a licensee.

Adult trespassers. These individuals are owed the lowest duty of care in premises liability law. The owner of the property is required not to intentionally injure a trespasser, but otherwise owes no duty.

Children. Children, even child trespassers, enjoy a different set of protections that invoke the concept of attractive nuisance. An attractive nuisance is something that can attract a child to enter the property without your knowledge and get injured. Unfenced swimming pools are classic examples of an attractive nuisance. They require minimal effort to keep a child out versus the potential risk of injury, which is why the law holds owners liable if a child gets hurt.

As you can imagine, premises liability cases are highly fact-specific and no two cases are ever the same. Not only will the outcome turn on what type of visitor was injured, but the owner’s actions (or inaction) leading up to the injury will be critically examined. No matter what kind of premises liability case your business is facing, the potential damages could be substantial. A plaintiff may claim medical bills, lost wages, permanent disability, pain and suffering, and much more.

That is why it is important to have the premises liability defense team at Gaffney Lewis, LLC on your side. At our firm, your premises are our business. Working from offices in Columbia and Charleston, our dedicated trial lawyers will work with your business to gather evidence, investigate the facts, and develop a strategy that is tailored to the unique needs of your business. Contact us today to get started on your case.

SOUTH CAROLINA LAWYERS WHO WORK AS HARD AS YOU DO

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Three Partners Named to The Best Lawyers in America® 2021

Three GaffneyLewis LLC Partners Named to The Best Lawyers in America® 2021

GaffneyLewis LLC is pleased to announce that partners Amy L. Gaffney, Regina Hollins Lewis, and Randi Lynn Roberts have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America©2021.

Recognition by practice areas include:

Amy Gaffney (since 2012)

  • Employment Law – Individuals
  • Employment Law – Management
  • Litigation – Labor and Employment

Regina Hollins Lewis

  • Mediation

Randi Lynn Roberts

  • Commercial Litigation

Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. For the 2021 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©, 9.4 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in more than 67,000 leading lawyers being included in the new edition.

SOUTH CAROLINA LAWYERS WHO WORK AS HARD AS YOU DO

DEFENDING YOUR BUSINESS IS OUR BUSINESS

2020 Legal Elite of the Midlands

Columbia, SC (August 4, 2020) – Two attorneys from the law firm of GaffneyLewis, LLC have been included in the 2020 Legal Elite of the Midlands.

Attorneys recognized in the publication include:

  • Amy L. Gaffney (Charleston) – Labor and Employment
  • Regina Hollins Lewis (Columbia) – Labor and Employment

Gaffney, a founding partner working in the firm’s Charleston office, is a litigation attorney representing individuals and some companies throughout the state of South Carolina in employment and tort matters. Gaffney is also a certified mediator and has been involved in the resolution of hundreds of state and federal employment and tort cases.

Lewis, a founding partner based out of the firm’s Columbia office, has over 32 years of civil litigation and appellate experience. She is also a certified mediator and regularly mediates employment and tort matters across the state of South Carolina.

Integrated Media Publishing, publishers of Greater Columbia Business Monthly, Greenville Business Magazine, and Charleston Business Magazine, have been honoring attorneys in its Legal Elite feature since 2010. Attorneys recognized as 2020 Legal Elite will be featured in the August issue of the three publications.

SOUTH CAROLINA LAWYERS WHO WORK AS HARD AS YOU DO

DEFENDING YOUR BUSINESS IS OUR BUSINESS

VC Summer Nuclear Station – Three Years Later

This Friday, July 31st, will be the three-year anniversary of the day when thousands of South Carolinians lost their jobs after SCANA, Fluor, and others decided to abandon the project that was supposed to result in the construction of two pressurized water reactors at the VC Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville, in Fairfield County.

Immediately after the project was discontinued, the employment lawyers at GaffneyLewis began to fight. For almost three years, GaffneyLewis’ employment team has worked to ensure that those who lost their jobs have been protected and that they will be paid all that they are due. Within days after the project ended, attorney Amy Gaffney held a public meeting in Winnsboro with over 800 former employees of SCANA, Fluor and other contractors to talk with them about possible claims they may have as a result of the loss of their jobs. Gaffney knew that the losses the employees and the local community felt would be significant. Click here for news coverage of the meeting in 2017.

Working with lawyers from the Charleston firm of Yarborough Applegate, GaffneyLewis employment lawyers fought and ultimately secured a settlement of over $1.5 million for a class of 60 Fluor employees who worked at VC Summer who had not been properly paid overtime wages as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act. That case settled less than one year after the project’s abrupt end.

Today, almost three years after the project’s demise, the employment team at GaffneyLewis continues to represent thousands of former employees of the failed project who are seeking payment of wages under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act of 1988. That case was filed in August 2017 and will ultimately go to trial in April 2021 in Columbia, South Carolina.

Disclaimer: Prior results achieved by Gaffney, Lewis & Edwards do not guarantee a similar outcome for other clients.

SOUTH CAROLINA LAWYERS WHO WORK AS HARD AS YOU DO

DEFENDING YOUR BUSINESS IS OUR BUSINESS

GaffneyLewis Attorney, Christina Summer, Receives AV Preeminent® Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®

GaffneyLewis, LLC is pleased to announce that attorney Christina Summer has received the AV Preeminent® rating from the Martindale-Hubbell® legal rating service. A litigation attorney in the firm’s Charleston office, Summer represents companies throughout the South Carolina in tort and insurance defense matters.

“Christina is an experienced litigator who ably represents clients in the tort and employment cases she handles,” said partner, Amy Gaffney.

The Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent® rating is the highest possible rating for an attorney for both ethical standards and legal ability. This rating represents the pinnacle of professional excellence. It is achieved only after an attorney has been reviewed and recommended by his or her peers.

SOUTH CAROLINA LAWYERS WHO WORK AS HARD AS YOU DO

DEFENDING YOUR BUSINESS IS OUR BUSINESS

GaffneyLewis Employment Team Challenges the Pay Practices of Hall’s Chop House – Charleston

GaffneyLewis, in partnership with Bruce E. Miller, PA of Charleston, SC, filed a collective action lawsuit against Hall’s Chop House-Charleston, alleging the restaurant has engaged in improper pay practices. The lawsuit claims that the well-known Charleston restaurant has improperly withheld amounts from the pay of servers, server assistants, and food runners, and that Hall’s has ignored the fact that servers frequently work ‘off the clock,’ resulting in their not being paid.

Employees of another Hall’s-owned restaurant, High Cotton, sued in 2019 for similar improprieties. That lawsuit was settled for $150,000.

Charleston’s “Post and Courier” wrote about the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks wages, overtime pay, and amounts that were withheld for laundering the uniforms that servers, server assistants and food runners were required to wear. It is brought on behalf of a group of current and former employees. (View Complaint) The lawsuit also asks that Hall’s pay for the servers’ attorneys’ fees and costs, as allowed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

If you believe you have a claim related to Hall’s Chop House-Charleston’s pay practices, or if you have questions about any employment concerns, contact the Employment Team at GaffneyLewis. Call 803-790-8838 or click here to send us an email.

SOUTH CAROLINA LAWYERS WHO WORK AS HARD AS YOU DO

DEFENDING YOUR BUSINESS IS OUR BUSINESS

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