A 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.