Accidents can happen at any time, at any place. People slip and fall. Things fall onto people. Dogs bite. However, if you have been unjustly injured due to dangerous conditions on another person’s or entity’s property, you shouldn’t have to bear the financial burdens created by their negligence.
About Our Premises Liability Attorney in Indianapolis
Indiana premises liability law holds property owners responsible for injuries caused by preventable safety hazards at their buildings and on their grounds. Our experienced Indianapolis premises liability lawyer at the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson can immediately launch an investigation into an accident to build a strong case for the full compensation you need to recover.
Schedule a free consultation today to talk to a skilled Indiana premises liability lawyer about a potential personal injury claim. We do not charge anything upfront for our services until we have recovered a settlement or jury award in your favor.
What Is a Premises Liability Claim in Indiana?
“Premises liability” is not a phrase most people hear every day. It refers to a property owner’s legal responsibility (liability) for the safety of individuals who visit buildings or grounds (premises) he or she owns.
In general, property owners have a legal duty to ensure their premises are safe for visitors. When hazards arise, they are required to remedy them in a timely manner or, if a remedy is not possible right away, warn potential visitors of the danger. The warning must be one that a reasonable person would recognize and understand.
Property owners who neglect this responsibility may be required to compensate anyone who is injured due to their negligence. A premises liability claim for compensation would need to show:
- A duty of care owed to the plaintiff (injured person) by the defendant (property owner)
- A breach by the defendant of that duty (failure to remove or adequately warn about a hazard)
- Injury suffered by the plaintiff resulting from the defendant’s breach (an accident caused by a hazard the property owner neglected)
If you are wondering whether your accident qualifies as a premises liability case, contact our slip and fall attorney in Indianapolis today for a free consultation. Our Law Firm can answer all your questions and lay out your legal options.
Common Types of Premises Liability Cases
The dedicated Indianapolis premises liability attorney at the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson handles a wide range of cases involving dangerous properties, including:
- Slip-and-fall accidents. There are numerous reasons a person may slip (or trip) and fall and be seriously injured. They range from a spill in a grocery store aisle to potholes in parking lots, tools and equipment left on a walkway, snow and ice not cleared from a sidewalk or tracked into a building to create slippery floors, inadequate lighting, damaged flooring or floor covering (carpet, rugs, tile, etc.), and malfunctioning elevators or escalators. Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and broken hips. A TBI can be a permanent disability. A broken hip in elderly people typically puts them in a nursing home for what is an unnecessarily shortened life. A slip and fall lawyer can help pursue compensation for these types of accidents.
- Falling objects. Operators of retail stores, outlets, home improvement centers, and other businesses cause hazards when they overstock shelves with merchandise or improperly stack display items. Negligence at construction sites can also allow heavy objects to fall from above and strike innocent pedestrians, bicyclists, vehicles, etc., below. Such “struck by” injuries can cause TBIs, neck and spinal injuries, broken bones, and other catastrophic injuries.
- Amusement park and playground accidents. Equipment and rides at parks, playgrounds, and other attractions must be installed, maintained, and operated safely. Skipping the required maintenance is negligence. Amusement park owners must ensure that ride operators are properly trained and enforce regulations for passenger height, weight, etc. Sometimes the manufacturer of a ride or playground equipment may be liable for faulty design or manufacturing if it led to the failure that caused an accident.
- Swimming pool accidents. Commercial, public, and private swimming pool owners are subject to local ordinances and a variety of safety rules and regulations for the sake of those who use their facilities. Swimming pools represent a drowning hazard as well danger due to defective or improperly installed drains that can entrap small swimmers, bacteria or other infectious materials in pool water, and water-treatment chemicals that can burn when in direct contact with skin. Homeowners, resorts, hotels, motels, country clubs, local governments, and other property owners may be held liable if their negligence leads to swimming pool accidents.
- Dog bites. The state of Indiana has strict laws pertaining to the responsibility of an owner of a dog that bites, even if it has previously not been known to bite. If a person who has been bitten by a dog was not provoking the animal (or was a young child), the injured victim typically has a valid claim. Young children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to dog attacks, and maulings can lead to serious wounds that require surgical repair. Indiana law also specifically addresses dog owners’ obligation to government workers who are attacked while doing their jobs.
- Negligent security. Owners of apartment complexes, condos, hotels, motels, offices, malls, stores, parking garages, etc., may be held liable for assault (including rape and other sexual assault) or other crimes made possible by inadequate security precautions. Claims may arise from evidence of doors and windows that did not lock and keep an intruder out, inadequate lighting that allowed a perpetrator to go undetected, security cameras that were not operable, personnel who allowed loitering in areas known for criminal activity, or security guards or other personnel who were absent or who neglected surveillance duties.
Who Can Pursue a Premises Liability Claim?
Premises liability law in Indiana is complex. Numerous court cases have established precedent and caveats about such factors as the “timeliness” of required remedies to a property hazard or how a “reasonable” person would react to a warning or the property hazard itself.
Indiana also recognizes different types of visitors to a property and a different level of property owner responsibility for their safety. Let’s consider each as they encounter a puddle on a walkway from a leaking water pipe, which caused them to slip and fall.
- An invitee is someone a property owner has asked onto the property, such as to a store or another business, a public park or playground, or into a private home. The property owner owes an invited guest or solicited patron a duty of reasonable care to ensure the premises are safe or else to warn about any hidden dangers.
The invitee could probably bring a claim if he or she could show the property owner knew about the puddle or the leaky pipe, and did not act in a timely manner to clean up the puddle, fix the pipe, or warn that the puddle was there.
- A licensee has access to a property by agreement with the owner for the licensee’s purposes and at their own convenience. This may be someone who has rented access, such as hotel guests allowed to use a private deck, or someone with standing permission, like someone whose neighbor allows them to regularly cross their property as a shortcut. The owner has a duty to warn a licensee of any known dangers on the property and to refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring a licensee.
The licensee may have a claim if the owner knew about the leak but did nothing to warn them of the puddle, such as with a prominent and clear sign or safety cone on the deck, patio, driveway, etc.
- A trespasser is someone on another person’s property without permission. A property owner may not willfully or wantonly injure a trespasser, such as upon discovering them on the property or by purposely creating hazards or “booby traps.” However, the owner has no further responsibility for a trespasser’s safety.
A trespasser — an unauthorized person in an office building or in a store after closing time — may not have a claim if he or she slipped and fell in the puddle, unless the trespasser can show that the owner purposely caused the puddle as a hazard meant to harm them.
Indiana also recognizes that children should be treated differently in premises liability cases. This includes determining whether the property owner took care to safeguard access to an “attractive nuisance,” such as a trampoline, a house under construction, or another a dangerous condition on their property that could attract children and present a risk of harm that the child would not fully understand.
It is important to question any accident on another person’s or organization’s property that left you or a loved one injured. The Indianapolis premises liability attorney of the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson can examine the circumstances of the accident and advise you as to whether you can pursue a claim under Indiana law. Schedule a free consultation now to discuss your legal options.
Understanding Indiana’s Comparative Fault Act and Premises Liability
If you have been injured on property someone else owns, a claim for compensation will be scrutinized in light of the doctrine of “comparative fault.” Under the Comparative Fault Act in Indiana, a person cannot recover compensation (or “damages”) if he or she is more than 50 percent at fault for the accident that caused the injury. If the plaintiff is 50 percent at fault or less, the number of damages will be reduced proportionately. For example, if the plaintiff is found to be 25 percent at fault for an accident, he or she may recover 75 percent of the total damages.
A plaintiff’s fault under the Comparative Fault Act may include “unreasonable assumption of risk, … incurred risk, and unreasonable failure to avoid an injury or to mitigate damages.”
The defense may claim the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury if it can demonstrate the plaintiff knew the risk existed and:
- Expressed consent to assume the risk in the form of having signed a written waiver
- The implied primary assumption of risk by voluntarily entering a relationship with the defendant that he or she knew would involve risk
- Implied secondary assumption of risk, where a plaintiff was aware of a risk created by the defendant’s negligence but proceeded voluntarily to encounter it
- Showed unreasonable assumption of risk, where a plaintiff voluntarily took on a known risk in a manner that was unreasonable and amounts to contributory negligence
Insurance companies will try to use comparative fault to pin some of the blame on you after an accident. Your dedicated premises liability lawyer will compile evidence in your favor and work to mitigate or refute any evidence or false allegations that put undue blame on you for an accident.
Talk to Our Indiana Premises Liability Lawyer Today for Free
If you or a loved one has been injured in a fall or another accident caused by a property owner’s negligence, you may be able to obtain compensation for your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages. You should have the accident investigated by a knowledgeable and experienced Indianapolis premises liability attorney from the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson.
Attorney Kelley J. Johnson has more than 16 years of legal experience, and we know how hard it can be to pursue a personal injury claim against a local business owner, neighbor, or acquaintance you are friendly with after an accident on their property. However, it is important to remember that the compensation you deserve comes from insurance, which is purchased just in case of accidents like yours.
Let us take the burden of questions about how to pay for losses in an accident off you. Call or fill out our online form to schedule a free legal consultation now and let our slip and fall attorney in Indianapolis review your case today.