Can I Be Fired for Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim in South Carolina?

September 9, 2014, by

workerinjury1.jpgIf you have been injured on the job, you may be wondering about your rights under South Carolina's workers' compensation laws. You may be scared to file a workers' compensation claim because you fear that your employer will fire you, demote you or cut your pay for doing so. This is called retaliation and is a very serious issue.

Under South Carolina law, employers are not allowed to fire or demote any employee because the employee has filed a workers' compensation claim or has testified or is going to testify in a workers' compensation hearing. It is illegal for employers to do so.
I believe this law is good public policy. It helps ensure that hurt workers are not afraid to report injuries so that they can receive the medical help and treatment they need.
Our law firm handles workers' compensation claims, and we are ready to discuss your case and protect your rights. Please call us today if you have a workers' compensation case or if you feel that you have been retaliated against for filing a workers' compensation claim.

What can I do if my employer fires or retaliates against me?
In South Carolina, any employer who violates the law by retaliating against an employee for filing a worker's compensation claim or for testifying in a hearing is "liable in a civil action for lost wages suffered by an employee." If the employee is demoted to a lower position, then he or she is "entitled to be reinstated to his former position."
In other words, you can bring a lawsuit against your employer for lost wages, and you have the right to get your old job back if you are demoted. It may be awkward for you to return to your position after you filed a lawsuit against your employer, but this is the remedy under the law.

Keep in mind that the burden is on you, as the employee, to prove the retaliation. Therefore, it is important for you to keep documents and other evidence that your employer wrongfully punished you for exercising your legal right to workers' compensation.

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The Amount of Disability Benefits a Veteran Receives Depends on How the Disability is Rated

August 11, 2014, by

veteran.jpgThe United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit says that a veteran must demonstrate the particular symptoms, or symptoms similar to, the symptoms listed in the rating schedule and with similar severity, frequency, and duration, in order to obtain a rating for a disability. It is not enough to simply present evidence that the veteran suffers from any requisite occupational and social impairment which might be included in the pertinent rating schedule.

For Example
A Vietnam veteran suffering from service-connected PTSD filed a claim, seeking a 70% disability rating. The VA denied his claim for a 70% rating and assigned him a rating of 50% instead. In giving the veteran this lower rating, the VA cited the fact that the veteran did not present the particular symptoms, or even similar symptoms, listed for the 70% rating. The applicable rating schedule lists the following criteria for 70%:
Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood, due to such symptoms as: suicidal ideation; obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities; speech intermittently illogical, obscure, or irrelevant; near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively; impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence); spatial disorientation; neglect of personal appearance and hygiene; difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances (including work or a worklike setting); inability to establish and maintain effective relationships.

The applicable rating schedule lists the follow criteria for 50%:
Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity due to such symptoms as: flattened affect; circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech; panic attacks more than once a week; difficulty in understanding complex commands; impairment of short- and long-term memory (e.g., retention of only highly learned material, forgetting to complete tasks); impaired judgment; impaired abstract thinking; disturbances of motivation and mood; difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships.

Continue reading "The Amount of Disability Benefits a Veteran Receives Depends on How the Disability is Rated" »

Who Should I Notify If I Get Hurt On The Job in South Carolina?

August 8, 2014, by

workerinjury.jpgIf you have been injured on the job, it is critically important that you notify your employer and take certain steps so that you can pursue your Workers' Compensation benefits in South Carolina.

As a Workers' Compensation Attorney, here are the two most common questions I get regarding notice:

Who do I need to notify of my work injury?

Giving notice to your employer of your job accident is the first step in obtaining the medical or compensation benefits you deserve. South Carolina requires that an injured worker must notify his or her employer of the accident. The employer representative that you give notice to should be one of your supervisors or managers rather than a co-worker.

Failure to notify your employer of your work injury could keep you from the medical care and compensation that you deserve. It important that every accident on the job, regardless of how insignificant it may seem at that time, is reported to your employer immediately. Sometimes, injuries that seem insignificant at first develop into serious injuries over time.

Ideally, notice of the accident should be given in writing and should specifically state how you were injured and should request that your employer send you for medical care and treatment. It is very important that you ensure that an accident report is filled out, that it correctly states how you were injured, and that you get a copy of the accident report. Too often, claimants are denied the benefits they deserve because their employer never documented the accident; don't let this happen to you.

How long do I have to give notice of my work injury?

Other than some exceptions, the rule is that you have 90 days from the date of your accident to report your on-the-job injury. Practically though, it is best to notify your employer as soon as possible after your work injury. The sooner you report the injury to your employer, get an accurate accident report filled out, and request medical care the better.

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Army Knew of Problems With Soldier But Is Not Responsible After He Rapes Woman

August 7, 2014, by

woodengavel.jpgThe United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has ruled that the United States had no duty to protect a woman, against a soldier who raped a woman in her house even though the soldier was in the process of being administratively separated by the Army for prior burglaries and sexual assaults.

What Happened
The victim was living on an Army Base in December, 2009, when United States Army Specialist Aaron Pernell unlawfully entered her home and raped her in front of her children. Earlier in March of 2009, Pernell had expressed to his supervising Non-Commissioned Officer that he could not control his alcohol and drug abuse that he desired to kill himself and other un-specified members of his unit. Despite this warning, this supervisor discouraged Pernell from seeking mental health treatment because of possible negative repercussions for Pernell. Pernell repeated this warning to his supervisors and was again discouraged from seeking any mental health treatment in September, 2009. Later in September of that same year, Pernell advised a fellow lower enlisted soldier that he wanted to kill himself and other un-specified soldiers he currently served with. This fellow soldier also advised Pernell not to seek mental health treatment. That same September, 2009, Pernell was convicted and jailed off base in the local county jail for over thirty days for burglarizing a home near the base and assaulting all of the home's occupants. In January, 2010, shortly after Pernell raped the Plaintiff, it came to light that Pernell was also involved in numerous other burglaries and sexual assaults throughout the area.

Victim Files Suit Claiming Negligence
The victim filed a claim under the Federal Torts Claim Act for negligence on behalf of the United States for breaching the duty to protect her from Pernell. She claimed in the suit that, at the time of her rape, the Army knew Pernell had a history of burglarizing and assaulting, that he was a threat to women who lived on base and in the vicinity of the base, and that the Army had a duty to protect the individuals living on base from Pernell. She also contended that Pernell was restricted to his quarters, a restriction which was negligently not enforced.

Continue reading "Army Knew of Problems With Soldier But Is Not Responsible After He Rapes Woman " »

Ten Questions You MUST Ask When Choosing a Nursing Home

August 4, 2014, by

nursinghomeabuse.jpgChoosing a nursing home isn't always easy. Many South Carolina families who need to find nursing home care for a loved one are launching the search for the first time. They love their family member, but they've never had to choose a nursing home before. They don't know what questions to ask or how to determine if the nursing homes will provide the care and dignity their loved one deserves. They desperately want to protect their loved one from nursing home abuse or neglect - but where to start?
If this sounds like your situation, start by asking friends and co-workers about their experiences with nursing homes - but then, launch your own investigation. Visit each nursing home on your list and ask these crucial 10 questions:

1. Are you accepting new residents? This question helps you cross potential nursing homes off your list quickly: if they have no space for new residents, they can't help your loved one. If they are accepting new residents, ask about the application and acceptance process and schedule a tour.

2. Does the nursing home use hospitals and specialists where my loved one's doctor practices? If the nursing home needs to rush your loved one to the hospital, it's best to go to a hospital at which your loved one's doctor has admitting privileges. This allows your loved one's medical care to be coordinated more effectively.

3. Does the nursing home provide the services my loved one needs? Does your loved one need specialized medical care for conditions like diabetes, breathing problems, or wound treatment? Make sure the nursing home has the trained and certified staff it needs to care for your loved one properly.

4. Do the nursing home residents appear clean, well-groomed, and content? Residents who seem unkempt or uncomfortable may not be getting the daily care they need. Talk to a few residents about their experiences - out of the presence of staff, if you can.

5. Is the nursing home itself clean and comfortable? Check for dirt, clutter, debris, broken lights or floor tiles, and odors. If you can't wait to leave, don't make your loved one stay.

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Can You Pass South Carolina's Motorcycle Skills Test?

July 25, 2014, by

Beginning June 3, 2013, motorcyclists in South Carolina who wanted to renew their beginner permit had to make a bona fide attempt to pass the state's motorcycle skills test.

You may be one of the motorcycle riders who is up for renewal. Are you up to the challenge?

Thumbnail image for motorcycle.jpgHere are a few questions based on the South Carolina Driver's Manual, which explains the motorcycle maneuvers you will be required to perform during the skills test and the knowledge you'll need to have in order to pass.

Test your own skills in a safe area of clean, dry pavement to prepare yourself and reduce your chances of a motorcycle accident. (The answers are at the bottom.)

1. Sharp Turns and U-Turns: The test requires you to perform sharp turns and U-turns to both the left and the right. Which maneuver will cause you to lose points on your skills test?
a. Keeping the motorcycle inside the boundaries marked by the yellow lines
b. Stopping after completing the U-turn
c. Putting a foot down while making either of the turns or completing the loop
d. Riding faster than 15 mph

2. Cone Weave: Which of the following mistakes will cost you points?
a. Hitting or skipping a cone
b. Putting a foot down during the maneuver
c. Stopping with your front tire outside the box or touching any painted lines
d. All of the above

3. Sudden Stops: Which of these "mistakes" is actually okay to make during the sudden-stop test?
a. Using only one of your brakes
b. Accelerating to less than 12 mph
c. Skidding during the stop
d. Taking as much distance as you need to stop

Continue reading "Can You Pass South Carolina's Motorcycle Skills Test?" »

5 Things You Didn't Know About Driving in South Carolina

July 21, 2014, by

From fender-benders to major catastrophes, car accidents are a fact of life on South Carolina roads. Nearly everyone knows somebody who has been in an accident, and we all know the basic rules for protecting ourselves: drive defensively, put down the cell phone, and always wear a seat belt.

carwreck.jpgBut there are plenty of things that South Carolina residents don't know about car accidents in our state - or the state of our roads and highways. You probably knew that rollover accidents were dangerous - but did you know that half of all car crash deaths occur when a vehicle leaves the roadway?

Here are five more things you probably didn't know about South Carolina car accidents:

1. One in every five fatal crashes in South Carolina involves hitting a tree. That's right: according to the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), 20 percent of car accident deaths in South Carolina occur when a vehicle hits a tree. This is more than twice the national average for tree-car fatalities; nationwide, only 8 percent of accidents claim lives this way.

2. Ten percent of the state-owned bridges in South Carolina have been declared "structurally deficient." South Carolina owns a total of 8,416 bridges, and 849 have been found "structurally deficient." By "structurally deficient," SCDOT means that the bridges' decks, superstructure, or substructure has been rated "in poor condition." Ten bridges are currently closed.

3. South Carolina set a record in 2013 for fewest traffic deaths...but the car accident death rate is still 50 percent higher than the national average. According to the SCDOT, 2013 saw the lowest recorded death rate since 1982, with 764 car accident deaths. Edgefield County didn't have a single traffic death last year, totaling 445 consecutive days without a fatal crash until early 2014.

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How a Small Hospital Mistake Can Cause a Big Infection

June 30, 2014, by

surgical instruments.jpgWorkers at Greenville Health System have identified a piece of equipment they believe is responsible for infecting 14 people with atypical mycobacterium during routine surgeries, according to a recent news report from WLTX 19.

The first infection was diagnosed in March 2014, although the surgery that introduced the infection may have happened much earlier because the bacterium has a long incubation period, according to hospital officials. One of the fourteen patients diagnosed with the infection died, although hospital officials believe the cause of death was another underlying medical condition, not the infection itself.

What is an Atypical Microbacterium?

Atypical microbacterium are a group of bacteria in the same family as the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. While atypical microbacteria do not cause tuberculosis, they can cause other infections and illnesses. They can be found in water, soil, some unpasteurized food items like raw milk, and in animals.

How Do People Become Infected with Atypical Microbacteria?

Some people carry the bacteria naturally within their bodies and show no signs of disease. It is also possible to "catch" an atypical microbacterium from a number of sources. A simple failure to observe proper sterilization and hygiene procedures can cause an infection, especially in a hospital or medical setting. It's also possible to get the infection from food that has not been properly prepared, from exposure to infected animals, or from other sources.

Atypical microbacterium infections are rarely transmitted from person to person. If a loved one has such an infection, however, proper hygiene procedures like regular handwashing are essential.

Continue reading "How a Small Hospital Mistake Can Cause a Big Infection" »

Is a Landlord Liable if a Tenant's Dog Bites Someone on Their Property?

June 26, 2014, by

dogbite.jpgThe North Carolina Supreme Court has clarified the issue saying that a dog bite victim must show that the landlord had knowledge that the tenant's dog posed a danger; and that the landlord had control over the dangerous dog's presence on the property.

The Incident

The eight-year-old Plaintiff, Joshua Stephens was bitten repeatedly by a Rottweiler owned by tenants of the Defendant landlord, sustaining "extremely severe" injuries to both his shoulder and leg. Although the landlord had, prior to the bite, contacted animal control and inquired about safety of this specific dog and had erected a fence in the backyard and posted signs reading "Beware of Dog," Stephens was still unable to show that the landlord had any knowledge that the tenants' dog was dangerous and that the landlord had any control over the dog.

The tenants leased a home in Wilmington, North Carolina, from the Defendants. Because the houses in the neighborhood were close together, the Defendants, knowing the tenants owned a Rottweiler, contacted animal control regarding safety measures that should be taken. Animal control recommended fencing the yard and posting signs "Beware of Dog." On January 25, 1996, when Plaintiff was eight-years-old, he visited the tenants son and entered the gate to the tenant's back yard. The dog almost immediately attacked the Plaintiff's lower leg and shoulder. A neighbor was able to pull Plaintiff over the fence to safety after the tenants beat the dog with a stick. The dog was later euthanized at the request of the tenants.

The Lawsuit

When the Plaintiff reached majority age, he filed suit against both landlord and tenants. Ultimately a verdict of $500,000.00 was reached against the dog's owners, the tenants, but the trial court granted summary judgment for the Defendant landlord, holding that a third party victim who is seeking to recover damages from a landlord for an attack by a dog owned by a tenant must specifically establish both: (1) that the landlord had knowledge that a tenant's dog posed a danger; and (2) that the landlord had control over the dangerous dog's presence on the property in order to be held liable for the dog attacking a third party.

Stephens appealed, citing Holcomb v. Colonial Assocs., LLC., (358 N.C. 510, 2004) which had previously found a landlord liable for a tenant's Rottweiler's aggression. The North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment and held that, unlike Holcomb, where the landlord knew of previous aggression by the Rottweiler and placed a provision in the lease which allowed the landlord to have the dog removed, the landlord in this case at hand had no knowledge of the dog's previous aggression and had no authority or control over the dog.

The Court of Appeals reasoned that in Holcombe, there was undisputed evidence that the landlord had direct knowledge of the dogs' previous attacks and dangerous propensities. Regarding the current case, the Court found no evidence that the landlord Defendants knew or had reason to know that the dog was dangerous. All measures taken regarding contacting animal control, raising the fence and posting warning signage were reasoned as wise and reasonable precautions for any dog and were viewed by the Court in a positive light. The Court also noted that, prior to the attack, there had been neither any reported incidents of aggression nor complaints about the dog to either Animal Control or to the Defendants.

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog belonging to someone else, contact an experienced attorney at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP who can answer questions you may have. For a free case evaluation call today 1-800-533-6845.


FDA May Tighten Scrutiny of Transvaginal Mesh Surgical Products - But Is That Too Little, Too Late?

June 24, 2014, by

We are happy to hear that the FDA is taking a serious look at transvaginal mesh devices. But that action may be too little and too late for thousands of women who have been harmed by these medical products.

Our product injury lawyers at Grimes Teich Anderson may be able to help you if you or someone you love has been injured by transvaginal mesh.

Transvaginal mesh surgical products have come under fire in recent years for causing severe injuries and complications as a result of erosion and disintegration of the mesh support, which can cut through the vaginal lining and perforate the bladder, bowels, and other organs.

Makers of transvaginal mesh (TVM) medical devices would have to seek federal approval before being allowed to sell and distribute certain products if a regulatory proposal under review is finalized.

The Food and Drug Administration proposal would re-classify certain TVM devices from the current "moderate-risk" category to "high-risk." If the FDA authorizes this change in category, TVM manufacturers would for the first time have to submit a pre-market application for a product safety evaluation and approval. The current rule allows distribution and sales without federal pre-approval.

Uses of TVM Products

A hysterectomy, menopause or child birth can cause a woman's uterus, bladder or rectum to drop out of place due to weakened muscles or ligaments. This increased stress on the woman's vagina can cause pain and discomfort, as well as urinary incontinence in some cases.

One treatment for pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or incontinence involves implanting a surgical mesh device in the pelvis. The sling-like device supports weak or damaged muscle and organs. The mesh is made of synthetic or biological material.

Thousands of personal injury lawsuits involving TVM devices are pending in state courts around the country, and the approximately 50,000 pending federal cases have been consolidated in federal court in West Virginia.

FDA: Current Regulations Not Enough

The FDA proposal would require TVM manufacturers to provide clinical data to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of the surgical mesh used to treat transvaginal POP. In making the proposal, the FDA said current regulations do not provide sufficient safety assurances for these devices.

The FDA based its proposal on safety concerns raised by clinicians and individuals, as well as published information about the medical problems TVM surgical products have caused. The FDA is particularly concerned about multiple surgeries some women have had to undergo to remove mesh that has eroded or has perforated tissue and organs.

In its summary of the proposal, the FDA indicates that while transvaginal mesh repair can successfully restore anatomy, the procedure does not appear to provide superior clinical benefit to traditional non-mesh treatments, and its risks are greater than traditional treatments.

Defective TVM devices can lead to irreversible complications, and may worsen the treated medical conditions.

The FDA is accepting public comments up to July 30, after which it will determine whether to make the regulatory proposal final.

Transvaginal Mesh Complications

In addition to organ or tissue perforation, complications from defective TVM devices include:

• Pelvic bleeding
• Chronic pain
• Recurring prolapse
• Infections
• Vaginal scarring and shrinkage
• Vaginal discharge
• Abdominal pressure
• Pain during sexual intercourse

Questions About Transvaginal Mesh Injuries?

If you have been harmed by a TVM product, remember that you are not alone. In one recent year, nearly 300,000 women suffered from POP, and 70,000 women underwent TVM surgery. Grimes Teich Anderson LLP handles product liability cases. We represent people in Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina and can answer any questions you have about your legal options. Call us today for a free case evaluation. 1-800-533-6845

Grimes Teich Anderson Injury Lawyers Wish You a Safe Memorial Day Weekend

May 19, 2014, by

Memorial Day Weekend is a busy one for many reasons. First and foremost, it incorporates a day set aside to honor and remember the military men and women who died during service to the United States. People hang flags and visit memorials and cemeteries.

It's also the weekend traditionally seen as the start of summer, when people hit the road to visit friends and families for picnics and other outdoor activities.

If you and your family are planning to take a road trip for the holiday weekend, our Asheville car accident lawyers remind you that you won't be alone. AAA Travel predicts 36 million people, a 1.5 percent increase over last year, will be on the roads during the coming weekend.

Some of those drivers will be drunk others might be texting while driving, talking on the phone or have other distractions that keep them from paying attention to the road. Some of those drivers will be aggressive.

We're asking you not to be any of those drivers and to keep your cool behind the wheel. We don't want you or your loved ones to be one of the tragic statistics.
Last year during Memorial Weekend, there was an increase in highway fatalities in North and South Carolina. Thirteen people were killed on North Carolina roads, twice as many as on Memorial weekend in 2012. In South Carolina, 12 people were killed, an increase in the Palmetto State compared to 2012.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), aggressive driving is "speeding and driving carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others while committing at least two of the following violations: running a red light or stop sign, illegal passing, failing to yield right of way, following too closely."

There are simple ways to avoid aggressive driving, even when the conditions can get, well, aggravating:

-Plan your route in advance. Know the roads to travel that will be less congested and whether they might provide easier alternatives to reaching your destination.

-Keep your anger in check. Never take your emotions on the road with you. Listen to soothing music and breathe deeply when you start to get emotional behind the wheel.

-Be polite and courteous to other drivers and treat them the way you would like to be treated.

-Follow all road laws and traffic devices.

-Avoid tailgating other vehicles and cutting off cars and trucks. Keep a safe distance to avoid accidents and to keep from angering other drivers.

-Keep an eye on your speed.

-Don't make aggressive hand gestures to the other drivers if they offend you with their driving.

-Always use your turn signal. Make sure that other drivers are aware of your intended maneuvers.

-Tell drivers "sorry" if you happen to make a mistake behind the wheel.

-Don't take other drivers' mistakes personally.

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Child Car Seat Safety Target of Study, Recent Recall

According to a recent government study, motor vehicle deaths of children have fallen 43 percent over the last 10 years, largely attributed to the increased use of child safety restraints.
cardamaged.jpg
The bad news is that there were still more than 9,000 children who died in crashes during that time, and what's more, the child safety seats that millions of children are currently using may not be as safe as manufacturers purport.

Our Spruce Pine car accident attorneys note motor vehicle accidents remain a leading cause of death and serious injury for children under the age of 12 in this country. In North Carolina, children are required to be restrained in either a car or booster seat on every trip through the age of 7 or until they reach 80 pounds. Beyond that, they have to be strapped into a regular adult safety belt. The law also requires children under 5 and weighing less than 40 pounds be seated in the back seat of the vehicle.

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North Carolina Chain Reaction Crashes: Determining Fault

February 28, 2014, by

A mile-long stretch of busy interstate was blocked by mangled metal that ground traffic to a halt. Nearly four dozen vehicles - many of those tractor-trailers - were involved in a chain-reaction wreck on I-94 in Indiana that was eerily similar to the I-77 pileup on the Virginia-North Carolina border last year. snowroad2.jpg

In the latter case, there were some 17 crashes involving 95 vehicles within a one-mile span of the southbound lanes. There, three were killed and 25 injured. In the Indiana crash, there were also three killed, while 20 were seriously injured.

Both of those wrecks were caused by sudden, inclement weather. Asheville car accident attorneys know that anytime you have a chain-reaction crash like this, it can be very difficult to determine who is at-fault.

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Dogra v. Liles - Determining Jurisdiction in Asheville Traffic Injury Claims

January 20, 2014, by

Almost universally, if you are injured in an Asheville car accident, the claim is going to end up in state court. usamap1.jpg

That's because state courts have well established that they have jurisdiction over the incidents that occur on their roads. This is generally true even when the person who caused the crash is from out-of-state.

The primary exception would be if the party you are suing is from out-of-state and you are seeking damages in excess of $75,000. In these situations, which are questions of personal jurisdiction (as opposed to subject-matter jurisdiction), it's possible that the defendant could request to have the case moved to federal court.

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Premises Liability & Duty of Care

January 13, 2014, by

Successful premise liability claims are going to be predicated on the ability of your attorney to establish a strong link between your quantifiable injury and the defendant's breach of legal duty. cautionwetfloor.jpg

The very first step in determining whether you have a claim is figuring out whether the defendant owed you a legal duty, and then further the legal extent of that duty. Property owners who oversee the operation of spaces open to the general public are going to owe a high duty of care to patrons to ensure the premises is safe for routine use.

In some cases, that duty of care extends beyond simply the property owner. It may involve a construction firm or contractor or even manufacturers of certain products.

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