This time of year we at Grimes Teich Anderson get a lot of calls regarding falls on ice. Sometimes people fall in parking lots of businesses or outside of storefronts. Many times these falls result in fractures and serious injuries. With high deductibles or no health insurance, people sometimes want to know if they can sue owners for their medical bills or for pain and suffering.
In the state of North Carolina, landowners are required to exercise reasonable care to provide for the safety of those visitors who are lawfully on their property. Whether a landowner’s care is reasonable is judged against the conduct of a reasonably prudent person under the circumstances. What this means is that they are not held to higher standard, they must simply do what other reasonable people would do under the same circumstances. Additionally, landowners have no duty to protect a person from dangers which that person knows about, or dangers that are so obvious that it would be reasonable to think the person would discover those damages. Or to put it another way, the courts have said that a landowner doesn’t need to warn people of “apparent hazards or circumstances of which” the person has equal or superior knowledge.” Von Vicazy vs. Thoms. More specifically about store owners, the courts in North Carolina have even said that a “proprietor of a store is not an insurer of the safety of his customers” and that there is no presumption of negligence just because a customer sustains an injury on his premises. Skipper vs. Wayne Oil Co. Inc.