If you are injured while on property owned or occupied by someone else, you may have the right to sue that person for your losses. This is an area of the law known as “premises liability.” Navigating through the many premises liability rules under Indiana law can be highly complex, requiring the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Since 1985, Randall “Randy” Sevenish has helped those throughout Indianapolis and Indiana who were hurt on another’s property. He understands the nuances of these cases and the hurdles that must be overcome when seeking compensation for victims. He is available to speak with you about your case. Simply contact Sevenish Law Firm today and get started with a free consultation.
Types of Premises Liability Claims
It is important to know whether your case should be classified as a premises liability claim or as a different matter. A premises liability claim in general exists in cases involving:
- Slip and falls. These are the most common type of premises liability case. They occur when a person falls due to a hazard such as uneven pavement, defective lighting, broken handrails, and ice on a sidewalk or in a parking lot or spilled liquid in a store aisle. A slip and fall can cause brain injury, hip fractures, and other serious harm.
- Negligent security. These cases can arise when a property owner or occupier fails to take reasonable steps to prevent assaults. For example, a motel may be liable for failing to protect guests from harm after a string of parking lot muggings or room break-ins.
- Dog bites or other animal attacks. These cases often involve dogs biting others because the animal was improperly leashed or not leashed at all while running at large, usually in violation of local ordinances. They also often involve attacks on children who lack experience with dogs or other animals.
- Falling objects. These cases often involve merchandise falling on customers in stores or passers-by being struck by objects that come from construction sites.
- Swimming pool accidents. Public and private pool owners may be sued if their negligence allows drowning, near-drowning, falls or other types of harm to occur to visitors. In some cases, the injury may result from harmful chemicals or bacteria in a swimming pool.
- Elevators and escalators. These injuries arise when elevators and escalators are not properly designed, inspected and maintained.
- Amusement park and playground accidents. These cases tend to involve defectively designed or poorly maintained rides or equipment.
- Numerous other negligent acts on property. Whether premises liability law applies can be determined after a complete factual review on a case-by-case basis.
If your case is classified as a premises liability matter, specific laws will apply that will determine your eligibility for seeking compensation.
Who Can Bring a Premises Liability Claim in Indiana?
Under Indiana law, your ability to pursue a premises liability lawsuit will depend on your status as a visitor to the property and the duty that the owner or occupier owed to you based on that status.
As a visitor, you may fall within one of three categories:
This is a category of visitor that actually has three sub-categories:
- Public invitee. You are a member of the public who is on the property for the same reasons it is held open to the public. For example, you and your child are visitors to a city park or playground.
- Business invitee. You are “invited” to the property for the owner’s economic benefit. An example is a customer in a store or restaurant or a fan attending a concert or sports event at an arena.
- Social guest. You have been invited to the property by the host. For example, you are a friend who has been invited to a neighbor’s pool party.
A property owner or occupier owes you, as an invitee, a duty to exercise reasonable care. The owner or occupier must make conditions on the premises safe or else warn you about any hidden dangers.
If you are on another’s property with their permission for your own convenience, curiosity, or entertainment, you would fall in this category. For example, you were on hunting property with permission. The owner or occupier generally owes only a duty to refrain from willfully or wantonly hurting you or increasing the danger you face.
If you are on another’s property without permission, then you fall in this category. Generally, the owner’s only duty is to refrain from intentionally harming you upon discovering you are there. For example, a property owner or occupier can’t set “booby traps” on his or her land.
It’s important to note that child trespassers are treated differently under Indiana law. If a child trespasses on another’s property that contains an “attractive nuisance” such as a swimming pool or trampoline, the owner may be held liable for the child’s injuries in some circumstances.
Further, comparative fault or allegations a child was trespassing when he or she was bitten by a dog are relaxed as well based upon the age of the child. How to handle claims of this nature is challenging, but a prompt early investigation could prove beneficial to the child and allow an opportunity to overcome the typical insurance adjuster denials or legal defense alleged by a defense attorney.
What Can You Recover in an Indiana Premises Liability Claim?
As you can see, premises liability law can be complicated. Recovering compensation typically requires establishing your status, determining the duty that the owner or occupier owed to you and whether you suffered harm due to that party’s failure to live up to its duty.
The damages that may be pursued in a premises liability claim include:
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Lost wages (past and future as well as impaired earning capacity)
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering (physical and emotional)
- Mental anguish
- Punitive damages (if the at-fault party’s conduct was malicious).
Generally, you will turn to the homeowner’s insurance or commercial liability insurance when seeking compensation. However, the insurance defense attorneys may challenge your right to a recovery. For example, the insurance company may claim that you walked into an “open and obvious” hazard or you “assumed the risk” of being injured.
Under Indiana law, you can be barred from recovering anything if you are more than 50 percent at fault for an accident. However, if you are 50 percent or less at fault, you can still recover compensation. Your award, however, will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault.
Contact an Indiana Premises Liability Attorney
At Sevenish Law Firm, we not only understand the nuances of Indiana premises liability law, but we also know how to aggressively stand up for our clients when dealing with insurance companies. We will work hard to investigate your case and pursue a settlement that justly compensates you and your family for your losses.
To discuss your case, contact us today by phone or online. We will provide a free consultation. We can learn more about your case, review your rights and options and explain our approach to serving clients with integrity, honor and discipline.