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Premises Liability in South Dakota: What Property Owners Must Know


Accidents happen, but what if that accident is on your property? When someone gets hurt on your property, you can face legal responsibility for their injuries and medical bills. This is known as premises liability. South Dakota laws require property owners to keep areas hazard-free and adhere to a certain duty of care to prevent injuries.

The team at Alvine Law Firm are highly experienced in managing all types of personal injury cases in Sioux Falls. Please call us at 605-275-0808 to book your free consultation with one of our lawyers. We’re here to help.

What Is Premises Liability? 

Premises liability is a legal concept that holds property owners accountable for certain injuries people sustain on their premises. These injuries must stem from an obstacle or hazard on the property or rise from the owner’s failure to exercise caution, e.g. leaving wet floors without a warning, having missing handrails, dimly lit hallways, broken staircases, dangerous dogs, etc. 

Property owners in South Dakota are legally required to keep their property free from hazards and potential dangers to anyone that steps foot on the premises. This includes taking reasonable necessary precautions to prevent injury to guests, customers, or visitors. Premises liability applies to both private properties and businesses. 

In South Dakota, owners are also typically responsible for keeping sidewalks in front of their property clear as well to prevent injuries to members of the public. This is considered a non-delegable duty, meaning it cannot be assigned but exists as a part of common law.

How Premises Liability Impacts Property Management 

Premises liability requires property owners to take reasonable measures to protect people on their property. Understanding premises liability is an essential aspect of risk management; when you know what your potential liabilities are, you can take necessary steps to avoid them and protect people on your property.

Property managers must perform thorough risk assessments to identify and mitigate hazards. Recognizing and managing risks proactively can help property managers lower their exposure to liabilities and potential legal consequences.

One of the greatest liability risks for property managers is poor maintenance. It is best to adhere to a strict maintenance policy and address any noticeable issues or reported concerns as soon as possible. 

Many people are injured in slip-and-fall accidents because of poor maintenance, lack of signage, and mismanaged hazards. If you have been harmed because of someone else’s negligence, call Alvine Law Firm at 605-275-0808 for a free consultation with a Sioux Falls injury lawyer. We recognize how traumatic and stressful an injury can be, and we want to make things easier for you. Our attorneys will fight tirelessly to help you recover the damages you’re legally entitled to. 

The Duty of Care for Property Owners

All property owners in South Dakota must take action to prevent others from being hurt. This includes labeling wet floors and fall hazards, securing potentially dangerous animals, enlisting proper security, and removing debris and obstacles that could cause harm. They must also dutifully warn people on their property of any potential risks they have to ensure the individual can protect themself.

There are specific duties that a property must uphold depending on the type of property they manage and the person on it. Invitees are individuals invited onto a property for a professional purpose; social licensees are people who are on the property for a non-commercial reason. These are typically friends, relatives, neighbors, etc., visiting a residence. 

Key Duties Toward Invitees 

  • Maintain the property by conducting routine maintenance and repairs to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition.
  • Warn invitees of any known threats or hazards so they can take appropriate measures to prevent injury.
  • Actively monitor the property for safety risks and take reasonably appropriate action to mitigate them.
  • Take proactive action against foreseeable risks to prevent future injuries.

Key Duties Toward Social Licensees 

  • Exercise reasonable care to keep friends, family members, and other guests safe from harm. 
  • Secure any dogs or other animals that could bite or injure someone.
  • Warn any licensee of potential dangers on the property. 
  • Address any known threats that could cause harm.

The duty of care property owners must take toward license is less comprehensive than the care they must exercise toward invitees. Operating a property for professional purposes naturally comes with greater liability risks and responsibilities. However, every property owner in South Dakota must take reasonable action to prevent others from being injured on their property. Their negligence can result in serious harm and lead to serious legal consequences. 

Personal injury attorneys understand the complexities of tort law and premises liability. If you need to speak with a lawyer, schedule a free consultation at Alvine Law Firm. We are happy to help both injured parties and accused property owners take necessary steps to fight for justice.

Common Premises Liability Cases

Common types of premises liability injuries include: 

  • Slip-and-fall injuries. These injuries, such as muscle sprains and tears, neck injuries, back injuries, and fractured or broken bones can lead to serious physical pain and emotional and financial hardship. 
  • Dog bites. Property owners may be held liable if their dog bites someone on their property, even if the animal initially seemed friendly. 
  • Defective property or equipment injuries. Accidents resulting from broken or unmaintained property or equipment can become legal cases. 
  • Swimming pool accidents. A property owner may be held liable for injuries if they do not maintain their pool or fail to warn swimmers of potential threats, such as noting shallow water to prevent dive injuries. 
  • Injuries from criminal acts. Third-parties that commit crimes on someone else’s property may not be the only ones held liable; the property owner may also be held responsible if they had negligent security or failed to create a safe environment for the invitee/licensee. 
  • Injuries to children. The attractive nuisance doctrine can hold property owners liable for injuries children sustain on their property, even if they were not invited. The property owner must take measures to secure potential threats to children. Attractive nuisance examples include swimming pools, trampolines, playground equipment, discarded appliances, abandoned vehicles, and construction equipment. 

What Factors Affect Premises Liability in South Dakota? 

A court will take various factors into consideration when determining fault in a personal injury or premises liability case. They will consider the relationship between the property owner and person suing them. For example, someone trespassing may not have the same level of protection as a person welcomed onto a property. 

The judge or jury will also consider the assumption of risk of the injured party. The assumption of risk doctrine waives a property owner’s liability if the person who was injured willingly exposed themselves to dangerous conditions. . 

Speak With an Experienced Sioux Falls Injury Lawyer 

Alvine Law Firm specializes in all types of personal injury cases. We have over 30 years of combined experience and are here to help you get the justice you deserve. Please call us at 605-275-0808 or book a free consultation online

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