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.
Is There a Duty to Clear the Sidewalk?
Unlike the duty imposed on Indiana business owners, there is no general duty for a landowner to clear a sidewalk of snow or ice. However, a landowner may assume such a duty if they attempt to clear the snow or ice, but end up increasing the risk of injury. In these cases, courts consider whether the landowner created an artificial risk of harm. It is important to note that, as a general matter, a landowner who attempts to clear their property of snow by shoveling the snow has not been held to have created an artificial risk of harm.
Indiana slip-and-fall plaintiffs may also have a difficult time establishing a landowner’s liability if they slipped on black ice that was invisible, or very difficult to see. The idea is that a landowner is not expected to remedy an unknown hazard. Of course, if black ice is a recurring problem in a specific area of a landowner’s property, or is the result of some condition of the property that the owner was aware of, the landowner may be found to have been on notice that black ice was a potential danger.
Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an Indiana slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you have sustained. At the Indiana personal injury law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse, we represent injury victims in all types of personal injury cases, including in Indiana slip-and-fall accidents caused by snowy or icy conditions. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 888-532-7766 to schedule your free consultation today.
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