Many factors contribute to whether you can sue your friend if you’re injured on their property. But ultimately, if the courts find that your friend was negligent in creating a safe environment for visitors or negligent in making you aware of potential hazards, you could sue your friend to recover damages from the accident.
Some key things that an Indiana premises liability attorney will review from your case include:
- Your status on the property when you were injured
- The condition of the property and the property owner’s actions
- Whether you were partially at fault for the incident
We’ll explain each of these elements and describe their relevance in a property liability case.
1. Your Status When on Your Friend’s Property
When you’re on a piece of property that is not yours, you can assume one of four types of legal statuses: invitee, licensee, social guest, or trespasser.
- Invitee: This is someone who the property owner or other resident invites to the property or a customer at a store. Invitees can assume that the property owner is taking the necessary steps to keep the property safe.
- Licensee: Though similar to an invitee, a licensee isn’t necessarily invited to be on the property but the owner has consented to have the person visit their property. For example, a delivery person could be a licensee.
- Social guest: Generally, this is what your status would be if you are visiting your friend’s home. In this case, you would be welcomed to the property as a visitor.
- Trespasser: This is someone who has no right to be on the property. Therefore, the trespasser has no assumption that the property is safe for use.
Invitees, licensees, and social guests should be able to safely assume that the property is safe for use. So long as you were not trespassing on your friend’s property, you might have a case against them if you suffer injuries while visiting.
2. The Condition of the Property and the Property Owner’s Actions
Property owners have a responsibility to keep their property safe or alert visitors to hazards. For example, if the front steps are rotting, the homeowner should inform the visitor about the problem and ask them to come in through the garage or backdoor. Simply redirecting their visitor to another door isn’t enough because the visitor could unknowingly exit down those steps and suffer injury.
One key consideration for whether the homeowner is at fault for your injuries is whether the accident was foreseeable and whether the homeowner put in reasonable effort to resolve the issue or inform visitors of the dangerous condition.
3. Whether You Were Partially at Fault for the Incident
Indiana has a comparative fault rule. This states that if you were more than 50 percent responsible for an incident, you cannot pursue a lawsuit to obtain financial damages for the incident.
And whatever percentage the courts find you responsible for the accident, your final settlement amount will be reduced by that amount. So if the courts order your friend to pay you $10,000 for your injuries but find that you were 20 percent at fault for the accident, you’ll only get $8,000.
Should You Sue or File an Insurance Claim?
To preserve your friendship, you should start with attempting to resolve the situation with the homeowner’s insurance company. The company should cover medical expenses and missed work if you were a guest on the property and the homeowner was negligent in their care of the property or in warning you of hazards.
But if the insurance company won’t pay your expenses, you might have to work to resolve the issue through a lawsuit. Ultimately, you need financial coverage for the injuries you sustained due to the homeowner’s negligence.
If you’ve suffered an injury on another person’s property – whether that property is commercial or personal – contact Stewart & Stewart. We’ll review your case for free and provide advice as to the best next steps for protecting your finances.