The Court of Appeals of Indiana recently issued an opinion in a lawsuit stemming from injuries a woman suffered after she fell and hit her head outside of her apartment complex. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the apartment complex and rental company, alleging that they breached their duty of keeping the public walkways and entry areas safe from dangerous conditions. In response, the apartment company filed a motion for summary judgment and a motion to strike the plaintiff’s expert report. The trial court granted the defendant summary judgment, and the woman filed an appeal arguing that there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the apartment complex breached its duty to the plaintiff.
Under Indiana law, summary judgment is designed to terminate litigation when there is no dispute as to a genuine issue of material fact. A material fact is one that is relevant to the ultimate resolution of an issue in the case. In the context of negligence cases, summary judgment is frequently inappropriate because the cases are often fact-specific and governed by a “reasonable person” standard. However, the court may grant summary judgment motions when an undisputed piece of material evidence eliminates a critical element of a negligence claim. Plaintiffs who want to recover from a landlord must show that the landlord breached a duty that they owed the plaintiff. Moreover, typically, plaintiffs cannot succeed on a negligence claim merely by showing that they fell and suffered injuries; they must generally show that the landlord knew or should have known about the hazard.
In this case, the plaintiff argued that the apartment company failed to remove hazardous ice, which caused her to slip and fall. Further, in addition to evidence of her fall, the plaintiff testified that on the day of the accident, she tried to avoid a slippery area by walking on the service ramp. Although, she could not see the ice on the service ramp, she assumed she slipped because of the ice. The defendants maintain that the ramp was not icy, and they bolstered their position by pointing to the plaintiff’s statement that she did not see the ice. The court reasoned that because the plaintiff’s claim was not based on inferential speculation, there remained a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the apartment company breached its duty to maintain a safe walkway. Ultimately, the court reversed the trial court’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings.
Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Slip and Fall?
If you or someone you know has been injured in an Indiana slip and fall, contact the Indiana injury attorneys at Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse LLP. The attorneys at our law firm have decades of collective experience successfully handling a variety of personal injury lawsuits against negligent defendants. We have recovered significant amounts of compensation on behalf of our clients, including payments for medical bills, rehabilitative treatment, lost wages, funeral and burial costs, and pain and suffering. We continue to provide safe and diligent representation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Contact our office at 317.269.2509 to schedule a free initial consultation with an Indiana injury attorney at our office.