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All business owners owe their customers a duty of care to keep areas accessible to customers in a reasonably safe condition. This generally means eliminating any known hazards, conducting frequent inspections to discover hazards, and warning customers of hazards that are either in the process of being fixed or cannot be fixed. If a business owner fails to live up to this duty, and a customer is injured as a result, the business may be liable for the customer’s injuries through an Indiana premises liability lawsuit.Legal News Gavel

In a recent case, a court considered a lawsuit that was filed against a grocery store by a customer who slipped and fell while shopping. The court had to consider whether the store could be held liable even though the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s fall was the fault of an independent contractor that was employed by a company that the grocery store had paid to keep the store clean.

Ultimately, the court concluded that the grocery store had a non-delegable duty to keep the store safe and free of hazards. Thus, although there was no evidence suggesting that the store was responsible for the hazard, it could still be held liable based on its non-delegable duty.

semi-truckRecently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing what the court called the “sudden emergency doctrine,” explaining how it may be applied to excuse what may otherwise be considered negligent behavior. The case is important to Indiana car accident victims because the doctrine is also applied by Indiana courts.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was driving in a line of cars, all of which were entering the highway. As one of the cars was proceeding up the on-ramp, another motorist pulled around the side of her vehicle, passed her at a high speed, and made an obscene gesture in her direction. The passing motorist then slammed on her brakes, causing the motorist to also suddenly brake.

The plaintiff was traveling immediately behind the motorist who had just been passed. When that motorist applied the brakes, so did the plaintiff. The plaintiff stopped in time to avoid a collision. However, the defendant truck driver was immediately behind the plaintiff and, as the cars in front of him quickly slowed down, the defendant also applied the brakes.

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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.

Hospital RoomThe 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.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Indiana car accident case discussing whether a man who was killed by an uninsured driver was covered under his employer’s car insurance policy. Finding that the policy did not include the employee as a covered person under the terms of the contract, and finding that the terms of the contract were clear, the court rejected the estate’s claim against the insurance company.

Legal News GavelThe Facts

The plaintiff was the estate of a man (“decedent”) who was killed while he was mowing his lawn. Evidently, the decedent was mowing his lawn when a driver who was high on methamphetamine struck him. The at-fault driver did not have car insurance.

The decedent’s employer had an insurance policy that contained uninsured motorist (UIM) protection. Additionally, the decedent was named as a “listed driver” in that policy. However, that policy provided that UIM coverage was extended only to “you and others we protect.” In this case, “you” referred to the decedent’s employer, as the insured.

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A state appellate court recently issued an opinion in a car accident case involving a plaintiff’s claim that was denied by the defendant insurance company. The case required the court to consider whether a lower court was proper to grant the insurance company’s motion for summary judgment based on the fact that the plaintiff waited eight months to notify the company of the accident.

Car AccidentThe case is important for Indiana car accident victims because it illustrates the importance of taking swift and appropriate action to preserve an accident victim’s right to recover in the wake of a serious Indiana car accident.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was struck by another driver in August, 2015 while driving her ex-husband’s car. The plaintiff’s ex-husband had a policy with the defendant insurance company that included underinsured motorist (UIM) protection.

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in an Indiana product liability case dismissing a plaintiff’s case for failing to file the required expert’s affidavit. The case is important for all Indiana product liability plaintiffs, because it explains when an expert witness may be required and also illustrates the potential consequences of not complying with the procedural requirements of the Indiana Product Liability Act (IPLA).

legalnewsThe Facts of the Case

In 2007, the plaintiff had her doctor implant an Intrauterine Device (IUD) in her uterus. The IUD, which was manufactured by the defendant, is a form of long-term birth control.

A few years later in 2013, the plaintiff asked her doctor to remove the IUD. When the doctor attempted to remove the IUD, however, only part of the device came out, leaving the rest of the device in the plaintiff’s uterus. The doctor advised the plaintiff that to remove the remaining portion of the IUD, the plaintiff would need a total hysterectomy.

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In many Indiana personal injury cases, one or more parties files a motion for summary judgment before the witnesses are sworn and the actual trial begins. By filing a motion for summary judgment, a party is asking the trial judge to make a determination that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In other words, the filing party is claiming that when the judge considers all of the uncontested evidence, the non-moving party could not prevail under the applicable law.

Legal News GavelImportantly, when there is conflicting evidence regarding a material issue in the case, summary judgment is not appropriate, and the case will be permitted to proceed toward a jury trial. A recent case illustrates how courts view defense summary judgment motions, and the type of evidence necessary to survive such a motion.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and her husband were shopping when at the defendant grocery store. At some point during their shopping trip, the plaintiff left her husband to use the restroom. On her way back to find her husband, the plaintiff slipped on a “brownish, oily substance.” As a result of the fall, the plaintiff suffered serious injuries and later filed a premises liability lawsuit against the store.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that raises an interesting issue confronting many Indiana car accident plaintiffs. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s insurance company was required to provide underinsured motorist coverage in an accident involving a horse-drawn carriage. Ultimately, the court took a close look at the insurance policy’s language before determining that the policy did not cover the accident.

Legal News GavelThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a passenger on a horse-drawn carriage that had just finished participating in a Christmas parade. After the parade, and while on the way back to the plaintiff’s vehicle, the carriage was rear-ended by another vehicle. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the collision.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against several parties, but relevant to this discussion, a claim was filed against his own insurance policy under the policy’s underinsured motorist clause. That clause provided coverage for an accident involving “a land motor vehicle or trailer of any type” with inadequate insurance coverage. The policy also defined the term “trailer” as a vehicle that was designed to be pulled by a car, truck, or van.

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In Indiana personal injury cases, before a case reaches trial, it will likely go through the summary judgment stage. Summary judgment is a process in which either party can ask the court to rule in their favor before witnesses are sworn or evidence is considered. Essentially, the court reviews the pleadings, accepting all uncontested facts as true, and then makes a determination if the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Legal News GavelIn order to survive a motion for summary judgment, a plaintiff must be able to show that there is some material fact that needs to be resolved by the jury. A recent case illustrates how a court’s job in determining whether summary judgment is appropriate can be a difficult one.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was grocery shopping with her husband at the defendant’s store. The plaintiff put a bottle of Sunny Delight into their cart, and the couple continued shopping. Shortly afterward, the plaintiff left to find a restroom. Her husband continued to shop. It wasn’t until later that he noticed that the Sunny Delight bottle had been leaking.

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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.

Legal News GavelIndiana 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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