When you suffer an injury on someone else’s property, you might be able to pursue a premises liability claim in Indiana. However, for you to have a case, there are several factors that the courts will evaluate.
For your injuries to qualify as a personal injury claim, the courts will evaluate the following:
- Your status while on the property
- Whether or not the property owner was negligent leading to your injuries
- If the property owner knew about the hazard on the property or had a reasonable time to remedy the situation
Here’s what you need to know about premises liability in Indiana and how the courts will determine whether or not the property owner is liable for your injuries.
Determining Your Status While on the Premises
There are three types of visitors on a property. The courts will determine what your status was when you were injured on the premises. Each of these types of visitors has different rights when on someone else’s property. These are the three statuses you could have while on someone else’s property.
- Invitee: This is someone who is invited to the property out of a benefit to the property owner. Generally, this applies to customers where the property owner is going to receive a financial benefit of the invitee being there. Property owners must provide the highest duty of care to invitees. These owners must remove all hazards on the property and post warning signs for those hazards that the owner cannot reasonably remove at the time. Invitees can be classified as a customer shopping in a store, an individual dining at a restaurant, or someone who is hired and invited to a property to complete maintenance.
- Licensees: Individuals who are classified as licensees have the second-highest duty of care responsibility for premises owners, right behind invitees. These guests on a property have permission or implied permission to be on the premises. Generally, there is a mutual benefit to both the property owner and the licensee when on the property. This might be a family member or friends who visit the property owner’s land for a social gathering. Property owners still must inform their guests of hazards, such as worn-out steps or dangers that are not apparent to a visitor.
- Trespasser: Property owners have the lowest duty of care toward individuals whose status is that of a trespasser. A trespasser is someone who is prohibited from the property or there without the owner’s permission. Once a trespasser has been told to leave but chooses not to, their protections while on the property diminish. The one key thing to know about the duty of care required by property owners when it comes to trespassers is that the owner cannot intentionally harm these individuals unless acting in self-defense.
Negligence in Premises Liability Cases
To win a premises liability case, you and your attorney will need to prove negligence on behalf of the premises owner. Negligence includes four main elements.
- The property owner owed you a duty of care. As outlined above, if you were trespassing, the property owner might not have owed you a duty of care. However, if you were invited there in some form, the property owner had a duty of care toward you.
- There was a known hazard on the property or a hazard that had been there long enough to the point where a reasonable person caring for others would have known about it. This is known as a breach of the duty of care. In this part of your case, your attorney will work to prove that the property owner knew about the hazard that caused your injuries or that they should have known about it and they did not remove the hazard in a reasonable amount of time.
- You suffered an injury as a result of the hazard on the premises. You cannot seek a personal injury case if you did not suffer a documented injury. Visit your doctor and prove that you suffered an injury as a result of the hazard on the property.
- There is a direct causal relationship between your injuries, the property hazard, and the owner’s failure to act. The property owner’s negligence in the matter must be a significant part of your injuries. Your injuries should have been foreseeable and preventable had the property owner acted accordingly.
When to Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
Injury victims should get in contact with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident on someone else’s property. Soon after the accident, the case details will still be fresh in your mind, such as timelines, witnesses, and the conditions on the premises.
At Stewart & Stewart, we commit to being straightforward and honest with you. We’ll evaluate your case during a free consultation and give you the details you need to decide whether or not to move forward with filing a lawsuit against the property owner. Schedule a consultation now to get started.