Nightclub Shootout in SC: Settlement of 1.3M Reached
Property owners need to take reasonable care to ensure the safety of visitors and invited guests to their premises. This includes providing routine maintenance, addressing unsafe conditions, and posting warnings about any hazards that exist. In certain situations, the duty to provide reasonable care can extend beyond the immediate premises and to surrounding areas. When property owners fail in this duty, they can be held liable for damages others suffer in a premises liability claim. A recently settled premises liability lawsuit—in which a woman suffered serious personal injuries due to a gang shooting—highlights the duty landlords have, and the rights of victims seeking compensation.
Victim Accepts Million Dollar Settlement in Premises Liability Lawsuit
A recent lawsuit filed against a commercial landlord highlights an important issue in premises liability. It emphasizes the legal duty property owners and managers have in taking reasonable precautions to prevent personal injuries—and how they can be held responsible even if an incident does not occur directly on their property.
An October 6, 2021 SC Lawyers Weekly report detailed the case, which stems from an incident involving a gang-related shooting at a nightclub. The victim—who was standing across the street from the building and was not a patron of the club—was caught in the crossfire when it spilled outside. She was struck in the face by a stray bullet fired by one of the gang members. Fortunately, she survived but was left with multiple jaw fractures. Even with the proper treatment, she will likely be left with permanent scarring and potentially long term disabilities.
In the aftermath of the incident, she hired a personal injury attorney and sued the landlord of the building in which the nightclub was housed. The landlord was reportedly aware of repeated incidents of gunfire and other acts of violence at the club, which would spill over into the surrounding community, yet he failed to take any actions to protect citizens or other precautions. After lengthy negotiations, she eventually accepted a settlement award offered in the case totalling $1.3 million dollars.
Property Owners and The Duty to Provide Reasonable Care
Under the South Carolina Statutes, property owners have a specific duty to protect people from potentially dangerous conditions on their premises. In cases involving negligence, where they fail in these duties, they can be held liable for any personal injuries that occur as a result.
Premises liability claims often focus on slip and fall accidents or situations in which people are struck by or against objects. Property owners and managers can be held responsible when their actions directly contribute to a person’s injuries. Common examples include allowing wet floors, torn carpeting, chipped flooring tiles, uneven sidewalks, cluttered aisles, and improperly secured fixtures or improperly stacked shelves.
In addition to protecting the general safety of guests or visitors and preventing accidents resulting in personal injuries, property owners have a legal duty to take reasonable care to prevent other situations which could create risks. This includes criminal activity. Generally referred to as negligent security, this includes:
Not providing proper lighting in outdoor areas;
Not having proper locks on doors or windows;
Holes and other problems in fencing;
Not providing security guards or cameras;
Lack of or malfunctioning alarm systems;
Not taking other actions to discourage criminals and criminal activity from the property.
Premises liability cases involving negligent security often involve people who were injured due to gunfire or during a robbery, sexual assault, or other violent attack. The case above, involving the nightclub building owner, is unique in that they were sued due to an incident that occurred off property.
Getting Compensation For Your Injuries
When someone’s reckless and negligent actions leave you suffering personal injuries, you have the right to hold them accountable. A key element in premises liability cases is proving negligence. In the nightclub shooting case, this involved proving that the nightclub had a history of violent altercations, how these spilled outside of the doors of the club and onto neighboring property, and that the landlord was aware of the situation but failed to take any action to prevent it from happening or to protect patrons and others involved.
Sadly, shootings and other acts of violence in bars or nightclubs in the Aiken area are not uncommon. When you suffer serious personal injuries as a result, you may be able to hold the property owner accountable in a lawsuit filed through the Aiken County Civil Court. The compensation you may be entitled to for your injuries include:
Economic damages, which cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other actual costs you incur;
Non-economic damages, which compensate you for pain and suffering;
Punitive damages, which is an additional amount we can push for if the at-fault property owner acted in a particularly negligent manner.
Seeking compensation in a premises liability lawsuit can help ensure you have the funds you need to pay for both current and future medical expenses, as well as any other losses you suffer due to your injuries. As in the above case illustrates, damages can add up to significant amounts of money.
Discuss Your Case with Our Aiken Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injuries you suffer can impact your health and financial security for years into the future. They not only affect you but also your family members. When they happen due to the reckless and negligent actions of property owners, you have the right to hold them accountable.
A premises liability claim allows you to hold negligent property owners responsible for failing to maintain their property, provide proper security, or take other actions to protect visitors and the surrounding community. If you or someone you love is injured due to a property owner’s negligence, reach out to The Surasky Law Firm, LLC. To discuss your case and how we can help, reach out and call or contact our Aiken personal injury attorney online to request a consultation today.