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Under Indiana law, the owners of dogs can be held liable for injuries caused by their pets. It is important to understand the type of Indiana dog bite claim that is being brought because the requirements vary depending on several factors.

Dog GrowlingIndiana Code section 15-20-1-3 discusses a situation in which a mail carrier, police officer, or other person carrying out official business is bitten by a dog. Under section 15-20-1-3, the owner of a dog can be held strictly liable, meaning that there does not need to be a showing that they were in any way negligent. However, strict liability will not be appropriate if the victim provoked the dog or if they were in a place where they were not required to be in order to perform their legal duties.

While section 15-20-1-3 applies in some cases, situations are more common when an ordinary citizen is bitten by a dog, not necessarily while they are in the performance of official duties. In these situations, a dog bite victim may still be able to recover compensation for their injuries under a common-law theory of negligence. In Indiana, most dog bite cases rely on the one-bite rule, which allows for a dog bite victim to hold an animal’s owner liable for injuries caused by the dog when the victim can establish that the owner knew or should have known that the animal was dangerous.

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Recently, a state supreme court issued an opinion in a personal injury case presenting an important issue for Indiana premises liability plaintiffs. The case raised the question of whether a landowner – in this case, a local government – is entitled to immunity under a recreational-use statute when the land in question is used for both recreational and non-recreational purposes. Ultimately, the court held that land need not be solely used for recreational purposes in order for immunity to attach.

Bike PathThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and her niece were riding their bicycles along a non-motorized asphalt trail. As the two were riding, they passed a ride-on lawnmower cutting grass along the trail’s edge. The mower was kicking up dust and debris, obscuring the riders’ vision.

As the plaintiff passed the mower, she covered her face and swerved, clipping the side of her niece’s bike. The plaintiff then lost control, fell, and injured her leg and knee. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the local government that owned and operated the trail.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the importance of being truthful in all testimony before the court. The case presented the court with the opportunity to determine whether a lower court was proper to dismiss a plaintiff’s case, based on the fact that he provided answers that were later determined to be misleading. Finding that the plaintiff’s answers were given with the intent to subvert the judicial process, the court held that the lower court was acting within its discretion to dismiss the plaintiff’s case.

Spine X-RayThe case is important to Indiana car accident plaintiffs because it illustrates the importance of a dedicated personal injury attorney who can advise a client on how to properly answer questions in a truthful manner without disclosing unnecessary facts that may ultimately harm their case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident that he claimed to have been caused by the defendant’s negligence. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that he sustained injuries to his neck, back, and shoulder.

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Recently, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a case involving a man who was seriously injured while skiing off-trail at a world-renowned ski resort. The case required the court to determine if the ski resort owed the plaintiff a duty of care to prevent this type of accident. Finding that the plaintiff assumed the risks involved in this type of activity, the court concluded that the resort owed him no duty. As a result, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

Ski ResortThis case is important to Indiana personal injury plaintiffs because it discusses the assumption-of-the-risk doctrine and illustrates how courts apply the doctrine in practice.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff, a ski instructor from California, was visiting Jackson Hole, Wyoming with friends on a ski trip. During their stay, the resort got about a foot of new snow. While much of the resort was machine-groomed, the plaintiff and his friends sought the resort’s ungroomed terrain.

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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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