Thomas E. Scifres PC - Attorney At Law.
Thomas E. Scifres PC - Attorney At Law.
  • 43 Public Square,
    Suite 103,
    Salem, IN 47167
  • Schedule Your Free Personal Injury Consultation.

    (812) 359-8007

    Call For An Appointment To Discuss Your Needs.

All About Premises Liability Cases

All About Premises Liability CasesIn this article, you can learn more about:

  • Which parties could be held responsible in a case where someone was injured on a piece of property.
  • When you can and cannot file a personal injury claim against your employer.
  • What duties of protection a business owes its customers.

Who Is Held Liable If Someone Falls And Is Injured On A City Sidewalk?

Depending on the situation, there are several parties who could potentially be held responsible for this type of injury, including:

  • The property owner or landlord
  • The property management company
  • The property tenant
  • The local government
  • A contractor
  • And more…

If the sidewalk is on a commercial property, then we first have to determine where the property line ends. Whether it is a private home on a city street or a downtown office building, the first step is to check public records to see who owns the sidewalk where the dangerous condition existed. The more complex situations involve commercial properties, where the owner leases out the property to several tenants. A commercial landlord may own property up to the center of the street, which includes the sidewalk, or the property line may be at the edge of the building. Where the owner/landlord owns the property on which the sidewalk exits, the commercial landlord is technically the legal owner of the property, including the sidewalk. However, the local municipality is likely to have an easement over the property for the purpose of maintaining the sidewalk. Also, the property owner may have a lease with a tenant that holds the tenant responsible for maintaining the sidewalks on their premises.

On the other hand, the municipality has a duty to install public sidewalks, and since they tend to retain control over that, it could be the city’s responsibility. There could also be a third-party involved, such as a contractor responsible for removing snow and ice, or applying salt to prevent snow and ice accumulation during certain weather conditions.

In addition, it is possible that multiple parties could share the fault. And finally, there could be a city ordinance that defines who is responsible and to what extent.

These complicated relationships can make the job of identifying the responsible party a tricky task.

If the city or state is potentially liable, it is imperative that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible. In Indiana, the Tort Claims Act states that you have a very short timeframe in which to put a governmental entity on notice of potential tort liability, which includes personal injury from negligence. The format of this notice is governed by Indiana statute, so consultation with an experienced attorney is essential. If you fail to give proper, timely notice under the statute, you waive your right to recover damages.

Understanding who is liable after an injury caused by a fall can be complicated. You should be able to focus on your recovery without the stress of figuring out these types of legal matters. Contacting a premises liability lawyer can help lift some of the weight off of your shoulders so you can concentrate on your well-being.

Who Is Liable For An Accident That Occurs At A Rental Property In Indiana Resulting In An Injury Or Slip-And-Fall Injury?

If the incident occurs on a rental property and not on public property, such as a sidewalk, then the liability is determined by the legal arrangement between landlord and tenant. This is generally based on their lease agreement.

If it is clearly on the rental property, the landlord and tenant lease agreement will have a division of legal responsibility that describes who is responsible for the outside maintenance. This includes everything from mowing the lawns and trimming the shrubs, to picking up trash and handling snow and ice removal. In the absence of such a specific provision, liability could fall on both of them. Generally, responsibility comes down to whoever was in control of that aspect of the propery and who was in the better position to keep the conditions safe. In most landlord tenant sitations, the insurance policy on the premises will name both the landlord and the tenant as insured parties. So, in the end, the same insurance carrier will defend both parties and pay out any damages.

If I Slipped On The Way Into My Office, Should I File Workers’ Compensation Or A Personal Injury Claim Against My Employer?

In Indiana, if you are working during the time of your injury, you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer for injuries occurring on the job. Most likely, an injury that occurs at work would fall under a workers’ compensation claim. If you sustain an injury while on company property and you have not yet clocked in, it may also be considered a workers’ compensation claim.

For other situations, it may depend on the facts of the specific case. A premises liability lawyer can help you determine whether your case qualifies for a personal injury claim.

What Duties Do Property Owners And Businesses Have Relating To Property Conditions And Premises Liability In Indiana?

When someone is injured on premises owned by another party, whether or not the party is responsible for damage, compensation depends on multiple factors. These will include not only the nature of the dangerous condition that caused the injury, but the status of the injured party and the nature of the right to be on the property.

There are generally three classes of individuals who may gain access to a property:

  1. Trespassers, or those who are uninvited
  2. Licensees
  3. Business invitees

The least duty the responsible party would owe is to a trespasser, and the highest duty would be to a business invitee.

A business invitee is someone who is on the property for the mutual benefit of the the business owner and the customer. The property owner or business owner has a duty to keep their premises safe for their customers. This means they must actively monitor for dangerous conditions, and where one exits, either repair or warn of dangerous conditions, so that the invitee receives notice and is not unnecessarily exposed to the risk of injury.

A good example of this type of notice is the yellow, collapsible signs in stores that warn you about a slippery floor when an area has just been mopped. This is a temporary condition that presents a hazard, and the sign warns business invitees of a dangerous condition that could cause harm.

The lowest duty is owed to a trespasser. The law does not provide much protection for someone who is not supposed to be where he got hurt. The duty a landowner has to trespassers is much lower, and that is simply to refrain from willfully hurting that person. However, there are some exceptions, such as when the situation involves minors.

What Are The Exceptions If A Trespasser Is A Minor?

A minor may be deemed a trespasser if they were not invited onto the property and they have violated “No Trespassing” signs, or similar warnings. Even so, the law recognizes that there are certain conditions on a property that are particularly attractive to children, regardless of whether they were invited onto the property. Because children don’t have the life experience that adults have, and because they are known to be drawn to certain areas or activities, the law yields in their favor.

This is called the attractive nuisance doctrine. The court determines whether something is classified as an attractive nuisance. If so, then the low duty that exists for a trespasser may become a higher duty when the injured party is a child. A common example is a swimming pool.

A landowner has a higher duty with respect to children because a landowner is expected to know that children are drawn to certain attractions, such as swimming pools. Landowners should take precautions to prevent injury to trespassing children where a pool or another attractive nuisance is involved. This is why swimming pools are required by almost all insurance companies to have fences around them.

With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Premises Liability Cases, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy. For more information on Premises Liability Law in Indiana, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (812) 359-8007 today.

Thomas E. Scifres

Schedule Your Free Personal Injury Consultation.
(812) 359-8007
Call For An Appointment To Discuss Your Needs.

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