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When cases of injury or wrongful death occur, understanding where it occurred is just as important as the how and the why. Indiana property owners have a duty to provide safe premises for everyone on their property. Indiana property managers are also responsible for visitor or passerby safety. Property owners, managers, renters, and more may all be considered negligent when someone is injured, depending on the circumstances.
But the fact is that if you have suffered an injury, what’s truly important is knowing you have the right legal team in your corner. The Indianapolis premises liability lawyers at Christie Farrell Lee & Bell are experienced and confident fighting for clients in premises liability cases.
To learn more about how we can assist you, call us at (317) 245-3709 to schedule a free initial consultation.
The Basics of Premises Liability in Indiana
In its simplest definition, an Indiana premises liability case comes about when a person gets injured on another party’s property. However, there is only a case when the Indiana property owner, manager, renter, or someone else responsible for safety was negligent or malicious in their behavior. Plus, that negligent behavior must be the cause of the injury.
There are many instances that could lead to a premises liability case. A shopper could slip on ice in a store’s parking lot. A partygoer may fall on a wet pool deck. A hiker could be injured by a tripwire on someone’s property. Regardless, in all cases, the injured person is either an Invitee, Licensee, or Trespassing.
An invitee is someone who has been specifically invited onto the premises by the property owner.
- For Indiana residential injury cases, this would be someone attending a party, fixing plumbing or wiring, or otherwise coming at the property owner’s request for a party or playdate.
- For Indiana commercial property injury cases, this would include customers and patrons of a business.
A licensee is an individual who steps foot on the property for their own convenience. They weren’t usually directly invited by the owner but are permitted to step foot on the premises. This permission can be written, spoken, or implied.
- For Indiana premises liability residential properties this might be someone who has been given permission to camp on someone’s land or use their pool.
- For Indiana premises liability commercial purposes, this would be someone passing through a public parking lot of a strip mall without looking to enter the businesses.
A trespasser is assigned to anyone who enters someone’s property without permission or implied consent. Whether or not someone intended to do harm or commit a crime while trespassing, this label still applies if the property owner does not know or implicitly allow the presence of another person. For instance, walking or hiking through someone’s private Indiana property (like a yard) without their permission or knowledge is trespassing, even if you are just passing through.
Indiana Property Owner Negligence – Slip & Falls
Slip and fall accidents can happen to nearly anyone, anywhere. According to statistics published by the National Floor Safety Institute, falls are the number one cause for emergency room visits, with slip and falls making up around 8 million ER trips. The same statistics found that the most common slip and fall injury is a bone fracture.
These accidents can occur in countless ways, both on private and public property. There may be uneven paving and sidewalks, an object left out, a hole, or walkways slick from rain or snow. Snow and ice removal is an essential duty of Indiana property owners. Even floor mats and other trip hazards can be a contribution. Regardless of how the fall occurred, there are two important laws in Indiana personal injury to keep in mind: the statute of limitations and “shared fault.”
Indiana Slip & Fall Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations law defines how long after an incident occurred may an individual file a claim. According to Indiana Code, an injured person must file a claim within two years of an injury.
Shared Fault in Indiana
Sometimes a slip and fall is entirely the fault of a negligent property owner. Other times, it’s a combination of unsafe conditions and lack of attention on both sides. Though it’s complex, the concept of shared fault in an Indiana personal injury case means that as long as an injured person is 50% or less responsible for the accident, they can make a case. This is exactly why finding the right Indianapolis premises liability attorney is so vital, because they can ensure your case is handled correctly.
Poor Maintenance of Indiana Premises
When someone owns or oversees a property, they need to ensure that the grounds are safe and properly maintained. If someone is injured on their property, there’s a chance they may be responsible and liable for damages.
Though these injuries can be caused by a wide array of issues, here are some common injuries seen due to poor upkeep of a property:
- Slip and falls due to icy conditions, faulty steps or handrails, or unsafe grounds.
- Electrocution due to badly maintained wiring
- Burns due to exposed wires or water pipes
- Exposure to hazardous materials or sewage leading to illness
- Injury due to falling objects like limbs or roofing materials
- Cuts on sharp metal edges like siding, gutters, and railings
To move forward with a personal injury case, you’ll need documentation and evidence. This could come in several forms, all of which a personal injury lawyer can help you assemble.
If you or someone you love has been injured due to unsafe conditions on a property, documenting your injuries and contacting a personal injury attorney is your best option.
In places where the public gathers, there may be a need for security officers. Bars are required to provide security at a reasonable level. If the bar is full of non-threatening people, this may be no security at all. In busy environments where a large group of unknown people is coming together, security is usually expected. The same applies to places where violence occurs more commonly. And security doesn’t just involve having a bouncer. Serving drinks in plastic cups instead of bottles and having tables and chairs secured to the floor might be necessary security in a certain kind of environment.
Swimming Pool Accidents
Whether it’s an outdoor pool during the summer or an indoor pool at a hotel or waterpark, injuries at pools are a risk. The owners and operators of these pools need to follow state laws to keep guests safe. There are several Indiana pool safety laws that are in place to ensure swimmers are not at risk of a personal injury or wrongful death. Some of those necessities are:
Lifeguards on Duty
Any semi-public pools over 2000 square feet at hotels, apartment complexes, and gyms must hire lifeguards as well. In order for a lifeguard to be considered “qualified” in the State of Indiana, they must have received certification in general lifeguard training; know CPR for adults, children, and infants; and be certified in First Aid.
State legislation determines the number of lifeguards that must be on duty per the number of swimmers at the pool:
- 0–75: 1 Lifeguard
- 76–150: 2 Lifeguards
- 151–225: 3 Lifeguards
- 226–300: 4 Lifeguards
- 301–375: 5 Lifeguards
Display Proper Signage
All public and semi-public pools must have the following signage in these various spots around the premises:
- DANGER – HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS: Must be posted on or near the entrances to the room where chemicals are stored or used
- Warning – No Lifeguard on Duty: These signs apply to semi-public pools
- No Swimming Alone. Children Under 14 Years of Age and Non-swimmers Shall Not Use the Pool Unless Accompanied by a Responsible Adult: This is a common sign for any state, and as such will need to be posted around Indiana pools.
- POOL CLOSED: These signs only need to hang after hours or during unexpected closings.
- No Diving: A very important sign, these should be displayed in all spots that water is 5 feet deep or less, or anywhere else diving is not allowed
Monitor Entrances & Exits
Pool owners and operators need to have a way to monitor and control those who enter and use the grounds. All pools, both public and semi-public, are required to be wholly enclosed by a barrier that is no less than six feet high, uses lockable gates that are equipped with both self-closing and self-latching mechanisms, and do not have any openings greater than four inches in diameter.
Maintain Proper Chemical & Chlorine Levels
A study by the Center for Disease Control found 80% of public pools had at least one health or safety violation. 58% of samples collected from filters at public pools tested positive for E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Both bacteria can cause significant illness. For that reason, Indiana pools must be set at very precise levels to reduce the chance of a waterborne illness.
Recoverable Damages in Indiana Premise Liability Claims
Injured plaintiffs in Indiana premises liability cases may be eligible to recover compensation for a wide range of economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and other income
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Wrongful death (if a property-related hazard caused the death of a loved one)
Contact Indianapolis Premises Liability Attorneys
If you have suffered an injury on public or private property in Indiana and believe the negligence of a property owner played a role in your injury, our team of Indianapolis premises liability attorneys wants to hear your story. Contact us today.