Articles Posted in Premises Liability

Businesses in Indiana have an obligation to their customers to ensure that the area accessible to customers is kept in a reasonably safe condition. Indiana grocery stores are no exception, and a large number of Indiana slip-and-fall accidents are the result of grocery store management failing to keep the store’s aisles safe for customers.

Of course, a grocery store will not be held responsible for every slip-and-fall accident that occurs in the store. Under Indiana law, a plaintiff must be able to show that the grocery store was negligent before they will be able to recover for their injuries. This includes showing that the store employees knew or should have known about the hazard. A few common types of negligence that may occur in a grocery store are:

  • the improper stacking of goods;
  • the failure to clean up the mess caused by a product that either fell off the shelf or was dropped by another customer; and
  • the failure to ensure areas of high pedestrian traffic are kept dry during wet weather.

A recent state appellate decision discussed whether a plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to find that the defendant grocery store knew or should have known about the hazard that caused her fall.

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The most commonly seen types of Indiana premises liability cases are slip-and-fall accidents occurring in the winter months due to accumulated snow or ice on the ground. Snow and ice that accumulates on a landowner’s property create a serious hazard, and Indiana lawmakers recognize as much.

A Business Owner’s Obligation to Clear Snow and Ice

In Indiana, business owners have a general duty to clear their premises of snow and ice. What precisely a landowner’s duty entails is determined on a case-by-case basis. Generally, courts will look to whether the landowner exercised reasonable care in the maintenance of their property.

Under Indiana case law, when courts consider a winter slip-and-fall accident occurring on commercial property, they look to 1.) how long the snow or ice was present on the property, and 2.) the amount of notice the landowner had of the upcoming storm. For example, if a sudden storm deposits a surprising amount of snow, it may be reasonable for a landowner to take slightly longer than one would typically expect to clear their property of the snow. Courts may also consider whether the landowner had prior notice of a problem that had occurred in the past.

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Under Indiana premises liability law, property owners are generally not liable for injuries caused to trespassers. However, through Indiana’s attractive nuisance doctrine, a property owner may be liable when a trespassing child is injured on their land due to a dangerous object that attracted the child onto the landowner’s property. A recent state appellate decision illustrates the attractive nuisance doctrine.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s recitation of the facts giving rise to the case, the plaintiff and some friends entered a construction site after hours. The teens spent several hours at the site, drinking whiskey and smoking marijuana. Evidently, the construction crew had left several pieces of heavy construction equipment on-site. Several of the pieces of equipment had the keys in the ignition. The plaintiff initially removed one set of keys to prevent his friends from starting the machine and potentially hurting themselves. However, as the group was leaving, the plaintiff climbed inside a machine and began to drive it up a floodwall. The machine flipped over, and the plaintiff was seriously injured.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the construction company, arguing that leaving the construction site unfenced created an attractive nuisance. In a pre-trial motion, the defendant argued that no reasonable juror could find that the plaintiff, a 16-year-old male, did not realize the risk playing with the machine. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

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When someone is injured in an Indiana car accident, the accident victim is entitled to pursue a claim for compensation against any of the parties they believe were responsible for causing the crash. In the majority of cases, car accidents occur on public roads. After an accident on a public road, the motorists involved in the collision should call the police. The police will then respond to the scene, investigate the accident, and issue any citations if they are determined to be necessary. The results of an investigation conducted by the police can be very beneficial to an Indiana car accident plaintiff.

In addition to accidents occurring on public roadways, there are a significant number of Indiana car accidents that occur in parking lots, parking garages, or on other privately owned property. Because these accidents are not on public roadways, police officers may not respond unless there are serious injuries. However, it is essential that motorists involved in a car accident on private property obtain all the necessary information from the other drivers involved in the crash, including the driver’s name, address, insurance information, as well as the vehicle information, including the name and address of the owner (if the owner is not the one driving the car).

An accident victim may also be able to pursue a claim against the owner of the property where the accident occurred if the owner’s negligence contributed to the accident. For example, parking garages are poorly designed or improperly marked, creating a misleading situation for motorists. However, an Indiana accident victim must be able to connect the landowner’s negligence to their injuries by establishing a causal relationship between the two. A recent state appellate decision discussed a plaintiff’s car accident claim against a private residential community.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a parent’s allegations against her daughter’s school. While the case arose in another jurisdiction, it raises important issues under Indiana personal injury law. Specifically, the duty that a school owes to its students.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff’s daughter sustained a serious cut to her thumb in woodshop class. Evidently, the student was trying to free a jammed piece of wood from a table saw when the student’s hand came into contact with the saw’s blade. At the time, the shop teacher was out of the shop supervising other students.

The shop teacher testified that before a student was permitted to use the machine unsupervised, they had to pass a written test. Additionally, the teacher would observe students using the machine until he felt comfortable they could do so safely. He estimated that he observed the plaintiff use the table saw correctly 60 times.

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Winter is officially here, and along with the season comes the ability to participate in some of the most fun and exciting sports – skiing and snowboarding. Part of the reason why these sports are so thrilling is also what makes them so dangerous. High speeds, steep hills, moguls, tight turns, and trees all contribute to the overall experience of skiing, but also to the risks involved. The question often comes up, can a resort be held liable for an Indiana ski accident?

In theory, a ski resort can be held liable for injuries that occur while a guest is skiing. However, almost all ski resorts have taken precaution to ensure that they will not be held responsible for injuries that are caused due to the inherent risks of the sport. Determining what constitutes an “inherent risk” is subject to interpretation and is typically a job left to the courts. Notwithstanding the potential hurdles involved, anyone injured in an Indiana ski accident should reach out to a dedicated Indiana personal injury lawyer to discuss their situation.

A recent case illustrates the difficulties one plaintiff had attempting to bring a claim against a ski resort after an accident with a snowcat. Although it did not take place in this state, it may be illustrative of how an Indiana court would approach the topic.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing a defense that is commonly raised in response to an Indiana premises liability case. The case involved a defendant’s allegations that it was unaware of the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s fall and, thus, could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

Indiana Premises Liability Law

In Indiana, landowners owe a duty of care to those whom they invite onto their property. The extent of that duty depends largely on the reason for the plaintiff’s visit. Customers or others who are present on a defendant’s property for business purposes are owed the highest duty. In these cases, the landowner must fix any dangerous condition on their property or warn the visitor about hazards that may not be obvious. However, if the landowner is unaware of the hazard, they may not have a duty at all.

Case Facts

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was a patient at a doctor’s office. As the plaintiff walked by a desk, she felt something catch the leg of her pant. The plaintiff fell to the ground, resulting in serious injury. After the fall, as the plaintiff was prone on the ground, she noticed that a wheelchair was leaning up against the desk just a few feet from where she was.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing the res ipsa loquitor doctrine. Res Ipsa Loquitor is a legal doctrine that applies in some Indiana personal injury cases and allows the fact-finder to make an inference that the defendant was negligent although there is no direct evidence of the defendant’s negligence.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was exiting an elevator when the elevator’s doors inexplicably closed on her. The plaintiff suffered injuries as a result and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the condo association where the elevator was located. The plaintiff’s claim was brought under the theory of res ipsa loquitor.

Both the plaintiff and defendant presented expert witness testimony supporting their respective side. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s case, arguing that the res ipsa loquitor doctrine did not apply.

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Some of the most difficult jobs of a lawmaker is to weigh legitimate but competing interests and develop a reasonable compromise that everyone can live with. The Indiana recreational-use statute is a good example of Indiana lawmakers attempting to secure ample outdoor space for recreational activity while at the same time ensuring that Indianans remain safe while at play.

A recreational-use statute is a law under which qualifying landowners cannot be held liable for injuries that occur as the result of another party’s recreational use of the property. Indiana’s recreational-use statute is contained in Indiana Code section 14-22-10-2, and provides that landowners who do not charge a fee for others to use their property for “swimming, camping, hiking, sightseeing, or any other purpose,” do not assume responsibility for injuries occurring on their property.

Of course, the recreational-use statute does not apply to willful or intentional conduct on the part of the landowner. Thus, landowners who open up their land for public use but refuse to fix known hazards may still be liable for a visitor’s injuries. In order to get around the application of the recreational-use statute, an injury victim must be able to first prove that the landowner knew of the hazard’s existence. A recent slip-and-fall case discusses this requirement.

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Recently, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving competing theories of how the plaintiff’s injury occurred, requiring the court to determine which of the two proposed alternatives were more likely. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s version of events was the only plausible version, and thus permitted his case to proceed.

The case presents an important issue for Indiana personal injury accident victims because it illustrates a common defense that defendants frequently raise in Indiana slip-and-fall cases.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured after he slipped and fell in a Wal-Mart aisle. The accident was caught on video, and showed that prior to the plaintiff’s fall, a Wal-Mart employee came through the area with an automated floor-cleaning machine. The machine was designed to dispense soapy liquid, scrub the floor, and squeegee the remaining liquid before sucking it back up into the machine.

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