Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a case presenting an interesting issue for many Indiana personal injury accident victims. The case involved an Indiana premises liability lawsuit, and required the court determine whether a group of wires on a hospital room floor were an obvious hazard or, in the alternative, if the plaintiff knew of their presence. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff did not have actual knowledge of the cords, and also that the cords were not an “obvious” hazard.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was injured when she tripped on a cluster of wires that ran across the floor in the hospital room where her husband was staying after he was admitted to the hospital. The plaintiff first claimed that her fall was due to a “mess of wires” on the floor, and later stated that the fall was caused by a single telephone wire. The plaintiff later explained that she did not see any wires on the floor prior to her fall. However, she did acknowledge seeing a telephone in the room. The telephone wire ran from the wall to the telephone, which was on the plaintiff’s husband’s bedside table.
The case is unique in that it actually involves a legal malpractice claim made against a law firm that failed to timely file a complaint on behalf of the plaintiff. In order to succeed in her claim against the law firm, the plaintiff had to establish that her underlying claim against the hospital would have succeeded. The lower court granted the defendant law firm’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the plaintiff would not have been able to succeed in her claim because she knew of the hazard that caused her fall and that the hazard was obvious.
The appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision to grant summary judgement to the defendant. The court explained that the plaintiff’s testimony was clear in that she did not see the wire(s) prior to her fall. The court explained that the fact that the plaintiff acknowledged seeing a phone was not the same as knowing that wires ran across the floor.
The court then considered whether the wire(s) constituted an obvious hazard. If so, the plaintiff’s case would have failed; however, the court determined that the wires were not obviously a hazard. The court explained that the wires ran from under a table, flush across the floor, to the base of the desk. The court explained that, given the placement of the wires, as well as the plaintiff’s testimony, the wires were not so obvious as to put visitors on notice of their presence.
As a result of the court’s decision, the plaintiff’s case was permitted to proceed against the defendant law firm.
Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Personal Injury Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Indiana slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Indiana personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have decades of experience handling all kinds of Indiana personal injury cases, and know what it takes to succeed on their clients’ behalf. Call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation today.
Jury Must Determine if Plaintiff’s Delay in Notifying Insurance Company of Accident was Excused, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, July 5, 2018
Trial Judge Improperly Weighs Evidence During Summary Judgment Motion in Recent Premises Liability Lawsuit, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, June 18, 2018