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golf courseA recent decision reached by the South Carolina Court of Appeals in Barilotti  v. Ocean Course Golf Club, LLC, S.C. Ct. App. (2014), offers several instructive points regarding the legal issues that commonly arise in South Carolina slip and fall cases. Slip and fall cases are just one sort of personal injury action that falls under the broad umbrella of premises liability.

The decision dealt with a premises liability case arising from a slip and fall on a golf course bridge. Since the opinion was limited, it did not present the facts of the case beyond the prior sentence’s basic characterization. It did, however, touch upon many South Carolina standards in premise liability cases. The first of these is the duty that landowners owe to patrons. “The property owner has a duty to warn an invitee only of latent or hidden dangers of which the property owner has or should have knowledge.” It went on to state further that “the showing that a defendant created a condition that led to a plaintiff’s injury is not . . . sufficient to survive a summary judgment motion unless there is evidence that in creating the condition, the defendant acted negligently.” This means that the fact that an accident occurred due to a condition that was present (e.g., a puddle) is not in and of itself sufficient to legally create blame or liability on behalf of the landowner. There must be some sort of extra factor, such as prior knowledge of an unsafe condition or latent defect.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhether you are forming a new business in South Carolina, or taking steps to formalize or change a pre-existing business, one of the most important decisions you will have to make is what sort of entity you want to be.

An entity is a word for the legal form of your business. The choice of entity is important because it can determine your status for federal and state taxes, and it can also shield you from liability as an an individual–or not. Additionally, certain forms require filings with the South Carolina Secretary of State. Business attorneys ensure that all of the proper forms are filed in order to set up your business properly and legally.

The following is a brief overview of the most common types of South Carolina business entities. Contact the Bostic Law Firm today in order to learn more about the different business entity choices, and determine which sort of entity is the right choice for your South Carolina business.

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filesThe federal district court for the District of South Carolina reached a ruling a few months ago that is instructive on the various requirements for medical malpractice cases filed in South Carolina.

In the opinion, PROZER v. United States of America, Dist. Ct. D. South Carolina (2014), the plaintiff inmate accused the United States, inter alia the prison in which he was incarcerated, of having committed medical malpractice. In filing his lawsuit, however, he neglected to include any medical expert witness testimony or evidence that the various healthcare professionals had failed to meet the relevant standard of care.

As a result, the court entered into a detailed discussion of the various elements required in all medical malpractice lawsuits. Since this particular suit was filed under a federal law that allows for suing of the federal government under certain circumstances, the preliminary elements necessary for establishing a medical malpractice case are as follows.

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The South Carolina Supreme Court entered an important decision early last year that has important implications for both workers’ compensation and estate planning purposes.

The case, Hudson v. Lancaster Convalescent Center, 754 SE 2d 486 (2014), stemmed from the decedent’s, Frances S. Hudson’s, workers’ compensation claim. The claim followed a leg injury she incurred while within the scope of her employment, for which her employer and its insurer accepted liability. Shortly after the injury, a commissioner found that Ms. Hudson was “permanently disabled and unable to perform any kind of work.” Thereafter, Ms. Hudson requested and was granted a lump sum payment for her workers’ compensation claim. The employer and insurer then appealed the lump sum award, during which time Ms. Hudson passed away because of a cause unrelated to her work injuryankle x ray. The relevant appeals agency affirmed the lump sum award. Thereafter, the insurer became insolvent, and the relevant state agency took over as guarantor for the workers’ compensation claim (Guaranty).

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rope knotA recent decision, Alford v. Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc., Dist. Ct. D. South Carolina (2014), provides an instructive lesson in the concept of summary judgment as it pertains to personal injury and defective product lawsuits.

In the case, the plaintiff had been using a certain rope he purchased from Lowe’s, which was manufactured by the other defendant in the case, Lehigh, as a life line while he worked to trim and cut trees. On the day of the incident, the plaintiff had climbed a tree, stepped out on a tree branch, and slipped and fallen. The Lehigh rope broke, and he fell 50 to 60 feet to the ground, suffering injuries. The plaintiff then filed suit, claiming the rope was defective and that the defendants were liable for his personal injuries suffered. Since the rope had a warning regarding its proper use and the potential risk of personal injury, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment.

As a federal case, the standard for deciding a summary judgment is whether the moving party demonstrates that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is [therefore] entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”

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statute section symbolThe United States District Court for the District of South Carolina recently entered a decision in a federal case that is illustrative of the importance of being cognizant of statutes of limitations and how they can adversely affect your legal rights.

While the underlying analysis in the case, El-Bey v. Clover Police Department, Dist. Court, D. South Carolina (2014) dealt with a federal claim under 42 USC § 1983, the court had to determine whether the case could proceed at all due to a question that arose in regards to the relevant statute of limitations. The court held that because the underlying federal claim did not provide a statute of limitations, the state law, that of South Carolina, was binding. Therefore, because the plaintiff in the case did not file her claim within the relevant South Carolina statute of limitations, the motion to dismiss her case was granted.

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For most people, their home is their most valuable asset.  Real estate transactions in Charleston, South Carolina are on an upward trend this summer.  Going through a real estate purchase or a refinance can be overwhelming: dealing with realtors, lenders, homeowners’ associations, sellers, buyers, etc. can be daunting.  However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

In South Carolina, a real estate transaction must be supervised at all points by a South Carolina-licensed attorney.  In fact, the South Carolina Supreme Court has refused to honor mortgages when a South Carolina licensed attorney did not supervise every aspect of the real estate transaction: from title search to execution of the documents.  This practice is meant to protect consumers who may be unfamiliar with reviewing title searches and with understanding loan documents and real estate law.  In the case cited, the lender lost the right to enforce its mortgage and was unable to foreclose against the borrower.  It is likely that a borrower could then have a cause of action against the lender for improperly foreclosing the loan.

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When an employee is injured at work, workers compensation benefits may be available to compensate for that employee’s medical costs and lost wages. Examples of such cases involve workers being hurt from falling equipment, or slip and falls on work sites. However, a somewhat new example has shown itself in the “company field day.” The South Carolina Supreme Court recently held that a man was owed workers compensation benefits from injuries he suffered during a company kickball game.

Stephen Whigham shattered two bones in his leg on the last play of the kickball game, and after being denied workers’ compensation benefits multiple times, the Supreme Court, in August 2014 decided that because he was required to attend the game as a part of his job, and because he was injured as a result of being part of that game, he was entitled to receive benefits for that injury.

South Carolina has the Workers’ Compensation Act, law which was enacted to help provide coverage and benefits for injuries that “arise out of and in the course of employment.” Coverage could be clearly met when someone is actively engaged in the performance of their job duties, especially if they are on site. However, in the instant case, the employee was at a company kickball game, away from the place of work, and involved in a recreational activity.

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With fall creeping in, the weather can be something to enjoy this time of year.  However, there are dangers, even in this late summer environment.  Unfortunately, one such danger, specifically for children walking to and from school or to bus stops, people jogging, and all other manner of late summer outdoor activities, are animal attacks, specifically dog bites.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in this country, and in 2012, more than 27,000 people required reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten.

The injuries associated with these attacks often result in exorbitant medical expenses.  And just who would be responsible for these medical expenses?  South Carolina law imposes liability not only on the dog owner but also possibly on the property owner if the dog is in his/her care or control when a dog attacks a person without provocation.

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When clients come in for estate planning, one of the most commonly asked for documents is a power of attorney.  At its heart, a power of attorney is rooted in the concept of agency.  A person creating a power of attorney, known as the Principal, names someone else, known as the Agent, who is then able to authorize (i.e. sign) decisions, documents, etc. for the Principal under the circumstances outlined in the power of attorney.  The Agent is always bound to act in the best interests of the Principal: this duty is called a fiduciary duty, and there can be legal consequences, civil and/or criminal, for breaching that duty.  If you are considering a Power of Attorney, there are several types, one or more of which may be applicable for your current situation.

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