PREMISES LIABILITY ATTORNEY IN INDIANA
In Indiana, property owners have certain responsibilities to visitors. For instance, when a property owner invites someone onto his or her land, he or she is required to exercise reasonable care to ensure that the individual is protected while on the premises.
Property owners who fail to fulfill this duty can be held liable in court if their action or inaction caused a social guest or a business visitor to sustain an injury. Unfortunately, filing this type of claim can be difficult, especially for victims who suffered serious injury, so if you were injured on someone else’s property in Indiana, you should consider contacting a premises liability attorney in Fort Wayne who can ensure that you file your claim properly and on time.
WHAT IS A PROPERTY OWNER’S DUTY OF CARE IN INDIANA?
Indiana law requires property owners to take steps to ensure that their property is safe for visitors. However, the nature and extent of this duty depends largely on the visitor’s status as one of the following:
- An invitee;
- A licensee; or
- A trespasser.
Invitees, or those who have specifically been invited onto a person’s property, are owed the highest duty of care, which requires the owner to exercise reasonable care for the visitor’s protection. This includes a duty to fix any dangerous conditions on the property and to warn the guest about any non-obvious dangers. There are three main categories of invitee:
- The social guest, who has been specifically invited onto the property by the host;
- The business visitor, who is invited onto the property, such as a store or restaurant, for the owner’s economic benefit; and
- The public invitee, who is visiting the property because it is held open to the general public, like a city park or a playground.
DUTY TO WARN
Visitors who don’t fall under the category of an invitee are often classified as licensees if they entered onto someone else’s land for their own convenience, entertainment, or curiosity, but are privileged to do so by the owner’s permission or sufferance. A lesser duty is owed to these individuals, as property owners are only required to refrain from:
- Willfully or wantonly injuring them; or
- Acting in a manner that increases their danger.
This includes a duty to warn licensees of any latent, or non-obvious dangers, of which the owner has a prior knowledge. The final group of visitors recognized under Indiana law are trespassers. The only duty owed by landowners to this group is to refrain from purposeful injury. For instance, landowners are prohibited from intentionally placing hidden dangers or traps on their property to discourage trespassers. There is, however, an exception when it comes to child trespassers if the injured minor was enticed to enter the property because it contained an attractive nuisance, such as a trampoline or swimming pool. In these cases, a property owner could be held liable for the child’s injuries, if the accident was foreseeable and the owner failed to take steps to prevent it, like building a fence.
TYPES OF PREMISES LIABILITY CLAIMS
A failure to fulfill a duty owed to a visitor can open the property owner up to liability. Some of the most common examples of these types of premises liability cases involve:
- Slip and fall accidents, which occur when a visitor falls due to a hazard on the property, such as poor lighting, broken railings, uneven pavement, spilled liquid, or the presence of ice in a parking lot or on a sidewalk;
- Dog bites or animal attacks, which usually involve a dog biting a person because it was not properly leashed or was running at large;
- Falling objects from shelving or scaffolding at a construction site,
- Assault resulting from a property owner’s failure to provide reasonable security after becoming aware of similar crimes in the area;
- Exposure to toxic substances and other hazardous materials;
- Swimming pool accidents, if the public or private pool’s owner exhibited negligence that resulted in a drowning, near-drowning, a fall, or exposure to dangerous chemicals or bacteria; and
- Elevator and escalator accidents, if caused by a failure to maintain or inspect.
Whether or not a person is able to file a claim in these kinds of cases depends on his or her status as a visitor and the accompanying duty owed by the property owner.
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In order to succeed when filing a premises liability claim in court, plaintiffs must establish three elements, namely that:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff;
- The defendant breached that duty; and
- The defendant’s breach caused the plaintiff to suffer an injury.
Plaintiffs who are able to prove these elements are eligible for damages compensating them for:
- Past and future medical expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of earning capacity;
- Scarring or disfigurement;
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering endured by the victim;
- Mental anguish; and
- Emotional distress suffered by the injured party’s family.
In some cases, where a plaintiff can prove that an at-fault party’s behavior was malicious, he or she could even be awarded punitive damages, which are intended to punish the negligent or reckless party.
In many situations, an at-fault party’s homeowner’s or commercial liability insurance will agree to settle with the injured party out of court. This can save all parties a significant amount of time, money, and stress. However, these agreements are not always possible, especially if the insurer contends that the hazard was open or obvious or that the injured party assumed the risk of injury by entering onto the property. In these cases, the accident victims must usually take the other party to court.
CALL TODAY FOR HELP WITH YOUR PREMISES LIABILITY CASE
No one enters a store, parking lot, or friend’s home expecting to be injured. However, this is not an uncommon occurrence and can be both painful and expensive, so if you were injured on someone else’s property, please call Delventhal Law Office LLC at (260) 238-8608 to speak with an experienced Fort Wayne premises liability attorney about your case. Initial consultations are conducted free of charge, so please don’t hesitate to call or contact us online today.
AREAS WE PRACTICE
At the Delventhal Law office, our Fort Wayne personal injury attorneys are committed to fighting for the rights and interests of accident victims. If you or a family member was injured because of the carelessness or recklessness of another party, we can help. Our Indiana personal injury lawyers handle a wide array of legal cases, including:
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