“Whose Responsibility is This Mess?”

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trace of the tire tread vehicles

In the North Carolina city of Salisbury, recent news focused on construction of a rail line that, when combined with rainfall in the area, created a mess for some local businesses. Before workers with the North Carolina Department of Transportation cleaned up the business’s lots and driveways, rain and construction had caused mud, dirt, and water to collect in certain business’s parking lots. This caused some owners to be concerned that customers might slip and fall while walking on the business’s property. But should the business owners have waited for NCDOT to clean up its own mess?

A Property Owner’s Responsibility Toward Others

If you are a business or homeowner and someone else creates a mess that causes a hazard to form on your property, you may feel as if the person who created the mess should be responsible for cleaning it up. However, if a hazard exists on your property, you – the property owner – have the legal obligation to take reasonable measures to clean the mess and/or warn visitors and those who come onto your property to conduct business about the dangerous condition. (For example, in the case of the Salisbury businesses, the business owners themselves would have a legal obligation to either clean up the mess in their parking lots or warn customers about the dangerous conditions.)

What Happens if the Creator of the Mess Does Not Clean It Up?

Suppose NCDOT did not clean up the mess its construction activities had created and a customer of one of the businesses had a slip and fall accident in the business’s parking lot. Who could the customer sue? Even though the property owner did not create the mess, the property owner could be held responsible for the customer’s slip and fall injuries?
What about the construction company, the creator of the mess (assume it was a private construction company as there are additional complications in suing a government agency)? The customer may choose to name the construction company as an additional defendant and sue both the property owner and the construction company. Or the property owner may bring the construction company into the lawsuit and seek indemnification from the construction company. In either case, regardless of what liability the construction company is determined to have, if the property owner does not take “reasonable measures” to clean up the mess or warn others about the dangerous condition, the property owner is on the hook.

What To Do if You Suffer a Slip and Fall in South Carolina

If you or a loved one was visiting or conducting business on a property in South Carolina and you suffer a slip and fall injury, you should contact South Carolina premise liability attorney David R. Price, Jr. for immediate assistance. He will assist you in identifying the parties responsible for your injuries and holding them accountable for their careless acts. Contact his office and schedule a free consultation by calling (864) 271-2636 or contacting his office online.


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