Before an Indiana premises liability lawsuit reaches trial, the plaintiff’s case will likely be challenged by the defendant through a process called summary judgment. Summary judgment is a procedural mechanism by which a court can summarily rule in one party’s favor when there are no factual disputes in the case, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
In order to survive a defense motion for summary judgment, a plaintiff must establish that there is a factual dispute that requires a fact-finder to make the ultimate determination. This likely means presenting evidence that contests some assertion made by the defense. For example, evidence showing that a traffic light was green when the defendant claims it was red may give rise to a factual dispute that needs resolution. Alternatively, if no factual dispute is present, a motion for summary judgment may be defeated by showing that the defendant is not entitled to judgment under the applicable law. A recent personal injury case illustrates how courts apply the summary judgment standard.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was a tenant in the defendant’s apartment complex. During a storm, a tree on an adjacent piece of property fell onto the apartment building where the plaintiff lived. The plaintiff attempted to get the defendant to remove the tree, but the defendant was not responsive to the plaintiff’s request. Eventually, the plaintiff contacted a fellow resident of the complex whom she knew to help the defendant out with maintenance around the complex.
The plaintiff met with the maintenance worker and arranged to have him remove the fallen tree. However, while the maintenance worker was removing the tree, it fell onto the plaintiff, resulting in serious injuries. The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant.
The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that there were no material issues of fact and that it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The court rejected the defendant’s argument, finding several issues of fact that would need to be resolved in order for the defendant to be successful. For example, the court noted that there was insufficient information presented to determine if the maintenance worker was acting as an employee of the defendant at the time he was removing the tree, and if the maintenance worker was determined to be an employee of the defendant, the defendant may be liable for the maintenance worker’s actions.
Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Indiana slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Premises liability law in Indiana can be complex, and the standard applied by the courts depends heavily on the facts as well as the relationship between the parties. The knowledgeable Indiana personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have extensive experience representing clients in a wide range of Indiana premises liability and other personal injury cases, and they know what it takes to be successful on their clients’ behalf. Call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.
Court Resolves Statute of Limitations Argument in Favor of Defendant in Recent Premises Liability Lawsuit, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, October 4, 2017
Court Upholds Jury’s Fault Determination in Favor of Plaintiff in Recent Product Liability Case Brought Against Vehicle Manufacturer, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, September 18, 2017