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Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a written opinion in an Indiana slip-and-fall case involving a woman’s fall at a pharmacy chain. The case required the court to determine if a lower court was proper in granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant. Finding that the plaintiff failed to establish that the defendant had knowledge of the hazard that caused her fall, the court affirmed judgment in the defendant’s favor.

Spilled LiquidThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was visiting a Walgreen’s pharmacy when she slipped and fell on what she believed to be a puddle of water. However, witness accounts differed regarding whether there was water on the floor after the plaintiff’s fall. Several store employees claimed that no water was present. However, the plaintiff and her friend testified that there was a puddle of water present. The plaintiff also told responding paramedics that she had slipped on a puddle of water.

At trial, the court determined that the plaintiff’s statement to paramedics was inadmissible hearsay, precluding it from consideration. Thus, the court then held that the plaintiff failed to make out her case against the defendant. The plaintiff appealed.

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As a general matter, the state and local governments enjoy immunity from personal injury lawsuits. However, each state has a tort claims act that statutorily waives immunity in some situations. Each state’s tort claims act is a little different, with most states outlining the situations in which immunity is waived. Indiana’s Tort Claims Act, however, is different in that it is framed in terms of which actions are immune from liability.

Dead End SignOne area in which governments are entitled to immunity from Indiana personal injury lawsuits is in the design of roadways. Under Indiana Code section 34-13-3-3, government entities are immune from lawsuits based on the design of roadways when the claim arises 20 years or more after the roadway had been constructed or substantially redesigned. The statute does not apply to the government’s ongoing requirement to maintain roadways in a safe condition.

A recent case illustrates how courts view cases brought under the various tort claims acts.

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The legal theory of negligent entrustment allows for an Indiana car accident victim to seek compensation from the owner of a vehicle who negligently allowed another person to use the vehicle that was involved in the accident. Since a negligent entrustment claim allows for an accident victim to hold a third party (the vehicle’s owner) liable for the negligent actions of a party (the driver), it is a form of vicarious liability.

Sunny HighwayCommonly, negligent entrustment claims are brought against those who lend their cars to young or intoxicated drivers. Each state has its own laws when it comes to establishing a negligent entrustment claim, but a universal requirement is that the plaintiff be able to establish that the owner of the vehicle had some reason to believe that the person they allowed to use their car posed a danger to other motorists.

A federal appellate court recently issued a written opinion in a negligent entrustment case illustrating how courts analyze these claims.

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury lawsuit illustrating an issue that may have an impact on some Indiana premises liability cases involving children who have been injured while in the company of their parents. The case presented the court with an opportunity to discuss how a parent’s presence can act to reduce the duty a business owner has to protect minor children who accompany their parents.

Cuppa JoeThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a young boy who was seriously injured while he was playing on the metal poles used to create the line at a nationwide coffee chain. According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the boy was with his family, which included both his parents and his brother. After the family ordered their food and drinks, they used the restroom and then began to leave the store.

On the way out of the store, the parents were in the lead with the children in tow. However, as the parents were about to leave the store, they heard their son screaming. They turned around to find that one of the metal poles used to connect a series of chains that were used to create a line leading up to the register had fallen on their son.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a plaintiff who was mauled by a pack of four or five dogs. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss whether the state imposes strict liability on the owners of dogs and, if so, whether the doctrine of comparative fault should be applied to take into account the plaintiff’s own negligence.

Dog PackThe case is important for Indiana dog bite victims to understand because it shows the type of analysis that courts conduct when viewing these types of claims. However, it is important to keep in mind that Indiana’s dog bite law is somewhat different from the law discussed in this case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and her friend were walking along a path on the friend’s property while hunting for squirrels. At some point, a pack of several dogs approached the plaintiff and attacked her. A passing motorcyclist saw the plaintiff was being attacked and intervened. As a result of the attack, the plaintiff sustained serious injuries and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the dogs.

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As a general rule, landowners have a duty to ensure that their property is safe for those whom they invite onto their land. An invitation may be an explicit one, such as an invitation to join a neighbor for dinner, or it may be implicit given the circumstances, such as a customer who visits a business. In either case, a duty arises on the part of the property owner.

WarehouseThe extent of the duty owed to a visitor depends largely on the relationship between the two parties and the purpose of the visit. For example, a business invitee, i.e., a customer, is owed the highest duty. When a landowner fails to take the necessary precautions to ensure their property is safe, they may be held liable through an Indiana premises liability lawsuit.

Of course, not all injuries occurring on another party’s property will result in the landowner being liable for the injuries. As a recent case illustrates, if a court determines that the hazard causing the plaintiff’s fall was “open and obvious,” the landowner does not owe the visitor a duty to warn them of the hazard.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case affirming the denial of the plaintiff’s motion for a new trial based on the alleged failure of the jury to consider what the plaintiff claimed to be uncontroverted evidence. The court, however, interpreted the evidence differently, finding that the evidence presented at trial was in conflict. That being the case, the court held that the jury was free to come to the conclusion that it did. Therefore, the trial court was proper in denying the plaintiff’s motion for a new trial.

Crashed CarThe case is relevant to Indiana car accident plaintiffs because it illustrates the analysis courts apply when determining whether a new trial is necessary. Additionally, a similar standard is applied by courts when determining whether a plaintiff’s case is sufficient to be submitted to a jury for trial in the first place.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and the defendant were involved in a car accident. Both parties believed that the accident was caused by the other’s negligence. However, only the plaintiff filed a lawsuit. The plaintiff testified at trial, claiming that the defendant changed lanes without signaling, resulting in the collision.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that clearly illustrates an issue that frequently arises in Indiana premises liability cases. The case involved a handyman who was seriously injured while moving a piece of glass while working at the defendant’s home. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff, who admitted to being aware of the risks involved with moving a sheet of glass, should be entitled to recover compensation for his injuries.

Broken GlassThe Facts of the Case

The defendant, a wheelchair-bound homeowner, hired the plaintiff to put in a bathroom in the defendant’s basement. Part of the job required the plaintiff to remove a large mirror that was glued to the basement’s wooden frame.

The plaintiff and the defendant decided that they would use a crowbar to remove the three wooden boards from the back of the glass. The first board was removed without incident. However, when the plaintiff removed the second board, the glass broke, leaving a sharp shard attached to the board. The plaintiff carried the board up to the front of the house and tossed it into a garbage can. However, somehow the glass that was attached to the wood sliced the plaintiff’s wrist, causing him serious and permanent injuries.

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Being involved in an Indiana car accident is a traumatic experience, and the road to recovery can be a long one. Initially, accident victims must deal with the physical and emotional injuries sustained in the crash. This can take months, if not longer. However, at some point, an Indiana car accident victim must also face the financial impact of the accident. Most often, this means filing a claim with an insurance company.

Cracked WindshieldWhile the purpose of car insurance is to make sure that accident victims are compensated for their injuries, insurance companies are for-profit enterprises that rely on taking in more money in premiums than they pay out in claims. This incentivizes insurance companies to deny coverage when possible, and to offer low settlement offers in hopes of resolving a claim in as inexpensive a manner as possible.

A recent case illustrates the difficulties one accident victim had when trying to file a claim with her father’s insurance company.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case requiring the court to interpret and apply the state’s recreational use statute. Ultimately, the court interpreted the statute as written to confer immunity to the defendant landowner, so the plaintiff’s case was dismissed. While the case was brought in a different state, it discusses concepts that may be relevant to Indiana premises liability claim.

Stadium SeatsRecreational Use Statutes

Under Indiana Code section 14-22-10-2-5, landowners who open up their land so that the general public can enjoy various recreational activities are not liable if someone engaging in a recreational activity is hurt while on the landowner’s property. However, the statute only confers immunity if the landowner does not require payment for the use of their land. Moreover, if the landowner’s conduct is malicious or constitutes an illegal act, immunity will not attach.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in the case mentioned above were the parents of a young girl who fell through the bleachers at a youth football game. In order to get into the game, the plaintiffs were required to pay the $2 admission fee; however, there was no fee for children under six years old. As a result of her fall, the plaintiffs’ daughter was seriously injured, and the plaintiffs filed a premises liability lawsuit against the city that owned and operated the stadium.

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