Have you been injured in a slip and fall incident on someone else’s property? When this happens, is the landowner or business owner required to pay your medical bills?
The answer is no. They are not required to pay your medical bills at any time after your accident and injuries until you prove “fault” on their part. This is often called “negligence” on the part of the landowner.
How do you prove the landowner was at fault?
Below we examine Indiana premises liability law pertaining to slip and fall accidents and injuries.
Explanation of Slip & Fall Laws in Indiana
In order to win a slip and fall case, the injured person must be able to prove two things:
- A hazardous condition on the property caused the fall and
- The defendant (the property owner) had “notice” of the hazard.
This might sound elementary but it’s amazing how many times the two elements can get confusing. Being able to prove these elements is necessary to move your case forward to a jury.
Avoiding Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment
Oftentimes, a defendant property owner’s lawyer will file what is called a “Motion for Summary Judgment” that asks the judge to throw the case out of court before a trial because one or both of these elements cannot be proven. This is because Indiana follows laws from a long time ago that require these two elements be shown in order to win.
“Hazardous condition” is a legal term that simply means that “something” improper caused your fall. It can mean a foreign object on the floor like a pellet or a BB. It can mean a slippery substance on a floor like snow, ice, water, or oil. It could mean a crack in payment, uneven concrete, or even a pothole.
It simply means that something happened to cause your fall other than you tripping over your own feet or fainting.
What Caused Your Fall
That’s why it’s so important to try to document what caused your fall after it happens. Fortunately, Indiana law does not require that you know exactly what caused your fall before you fell. It’s okay to simply recognize it was “something” out of the ordinary and not a loss of balance on your part.
This recognition of the foreign substance or defect can come after you fall. For example, it is okay to fall and then realize it was ice that caused your fall because you felt it with your hands as you attempt to stand up.
Or after you fall, you realize that your clothes are cold and wet so it must have been a liquid on the floor that caused you to fall. Indiana law says that it’s okay to recognize the hazard after you fell.
What Do We Mean by the Word “Notice?”
The second thing you must prove in order to win is “notice.” This is a trickier concept. Many people have a hard time understanding why notice to the defendant property owner is required to be proven by the injured person.
Once again, it’s old Indiana law. It’s rooted in a sense of fairness to the landowner. If the landowner did not know there was a hazard, why should he be held responsible for not fixing it?
Consequently, you must show the landowner knew about the hazard. This means the owner had actual knowledge or actual notice or the owner should have known about the hazard (known as constructive knowledge or constructive notice) and didn’t fix the problem or warn others about it.
Proving Landowner Knew
How long the hazard existed in its particular spot helps determine whether the defendant knew or should have known about the hazard. Clearly, if something is completely unknown to the defendant and impossible for him to discover, you cannot win your case. That wouldn’t be fair to the property owner.
On the other hand, if you can show the hazard was caused by the natural activities of the property owner, like a leaky cooler in a grocery store, you might not be required to prove “notice” at all. It might be assumed the landowner knew by law.
Were you injured in a slip and fall?
Were you injured in a slip and fall or trip and fall on a landowner’s or business owner’s property in Indiana? For legal help, call The Lockwood Legal Group, LLC
Contact The Lockwood Legal Group, LLC today!
If you think you might have a case, it is crucial you contact a qualified attorney right away. We understand litigation is often daunting to those who are not attorneys. but rest assured, we will be here for you all throughout the process. No one fights harder for their clients then attorneys of The Lockwood Legal Group, LLC.
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