Understanding the limitations of Indiana personal injury law is essential. A lack of understanding can result in filing a claim that is a waste of time and money. A state appellate court recently dismissed a personal injury case that the court found was filed two years too late. According to the court’s opinion, in June 2016, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint for damages that he claimed he sustained on about June 6, 2012.
Evidently, the plaintiff was climbing an attic ladder in a residential home in order to repair a leak when the ladder collapsed. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant construction company that built and sold the home and was negligent in failing to ensure that the ladder was secure and properly installed. The defendant argued that the suit was barred by the applicable ten-year statute of repose. Similar to statutes of limitations, statutes of repose limit the time during which a claim can be filed. Yet, unlike statutes of limitations, statutes of repose are construed more strictly to provide a finite period of time during which the claim must be filed.
The defendant claimed that in July 2003, it entered into an agreement with the home’s original owners, agreeing to build and sell the home to the owners. The construction was completed around April 30, 2004, and the owners took possession of the home on May 7, 2004. The plaintiff argued that the claim was not founded on the “construction of an improvement to real property.”
The court disagreed. It held that the attic ladder was an addition to real property that added value or utility, by allowing people to easily access the attic. Thus, it qualified as an improvement to the property. The court noted that this decision was in line with other cases, which generally held that improvements included installations that were carried out as part of the construction of the home, made the property more useful or valuable, required labor and money, were not merely a repair or replacement, and were affixed to the home. The court further found that the allegedly negligent installation of the ladder qualified as “construction of an improvement to real property,” because, according to the court, adding the pre-assembled ladder to the attic opening constituted construction. In this case, the owners took possession of the home on May 7, 2004, and the contract was completed on that date. Therefore, the statute of repose ran out on May 7, 2014, and the plaintiff’s claim was filed too late.
Under section 32-30-1-5 of the Indiana Code, claims stemming from injury or death related to “the design, planning, supervision, construction, or observation of construction of an improvement to real property” cannot be brought against a party unless the action is commenced within the earlier of ten years after the date of substantial completion of the improvement or twelve years after the completion and submission of plans and specifications to the owner if the action is for a deficiency in the design of the improvement.”
Have You Been Injured?
If you have been injured, contact an attorney who can knowledgeably advise you and help you pursue a successful claim. At the Indiana personal injury law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse, our personal injury attorneys will carefully assess your claim and advise you of your options. We provide aggressive advocacy to our clients in all types of personal injury claims, including Indiana slip and fall accidents and construction accidents. Our experienced attorneys have not only a passion for the law, but a commitment to obtaining the compensation that our clients need and deserve. To reach one of our attorneys, call us at 888-532-7766 or complete our online form today.