An Indianapolis Slip And Fall Attorney Can Answer Your Questions Today
One of the most common types of personal injury in the U.S. is the slip and fall accident, especially in children and elderly people, with approximately 320 emergency room visits per 10,000 people being due to falls as of the most recent available data. However, obtaining compensation from a landowner or business owner for your injuries is not a given. It requires an understanding of the facts of your case, as well as the relevant law.
Premises Liability Basics
In Indiana, your ability to successfully bring suit largely depends on your status on the relevant property. The law lists three different categories: invitee, licensee, and trespasser, and holds that different degrees of duty are owed to each person based on their reason for being on the land. For example, a trespasser has entered onto land without the owner’s permission – if the landowner had to compensate a trespasser for injuries sustained, it would be inequitable, because the trespasser would essentially be being rewarded for committing a crime.
Most business customers fall under the category of business invitee; in other words, they are permitted on a land or business owner’s property to (in theory) provide a benefit to the owner. Invitees, as a general rule, are owed the highest duty of care, meaning that an owner must make their property as safe as is reasonably possible, including correcting or warning about dangerous conditions that may not be immediately obvious.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and falls, also called trip and falls, are generally the most common type of premises liability case brought in Indiana courts. They tend to follow exactly the pattern one might think – a customer or other person on premises they do not own, slipping or tripping on some hazard and sustaining injury. Under premises liability theory, this can result in liability if three criteria are met:
- A duty of care must be owed to the plaintiff. Customers, as stated, are usually business invitees, and even licensees (people permitted, rather than invited, onto property) are owed a reasonable degree of care on the part of the landlord. Only trespassers are generally not owed any kind of duty except to avoid from deliberate injury;
- That duty must be breached by the defendant’s conduct, with no other intervening cause; and
- The plaintiff must suffer an actual injury (not necessarily physical, but not transitory in nature).
Breach is generally the most difficult element to establish. However, one of the simplest ways to demonstrate breach is to show that there was a danger on the land that was neither made safe, nor adequately warned for – the classic example is the spill on a grocery store floor, with no warning posted. If these criteria are met, the landowner will generally be held liable.
Be advised that regardless of which status you may fall under, there is a strict statute of limitations on bringing such a case in Indiana. You must bring a slip and fall case within two years of the date of the injury. The rationale is that after a certain period of time, evidence decays. Witness statements become hazy and unreliable. Documents may be shredded or otherwise disposed of. The court system generally wants to avoid instances in which ‘he said, she said’ is the only evidence offered.
Ask A Legal Professional For Assistance
Just because slip and fall accidents are common does not mean they are straightforward, nor does it mean they are easy to prevail in court upon. The Indianapolis premises liability attorneys at Holland & Holland can help answer your questions and suggest the best path forward for you and yours. Contact us at (317) 581-4400 today.