Let’s say that you are in a supermarket, a department store, or a restaurant. You slip and fall on a wet or sticky floor, and you’re seriously injured. Will you be able to prove that the property owner or manager was negligent, so that you can be compensated for your personal injury or injuries? Keep reading, because a serious slip-and-fall accident could happen to anyone.

In the state of Indiana, property owners and managers are required by law to maintain their properties in a way that eliminates or reduces the risk of harm to visitors. When properties are not maintained in this way, property owners in Indiana become liable for any injuries that are sustained on their properties.

If you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident in Indiana due to a property owner’s negligence, you are entitled to full compensation for all of your accident-related medical expenses, lost wages, and related costs as well as compensation for the pain and suffering you’ll endure. However, you’ll have to prove the property owner was negligent, and you’ll also have to prove that the negligence was a direct cause of your personal injury or injuries.

WHERE CAN YOU TURN FOR LEGAL HELP AFTER A SLIP-AND-FALL INJURY?

What that means is that to be compensated for your personal injury or injuries arising from a slip-and-fall accident on someone else’s property, in Evansville and the surrounding communities, you’ll need the advice and representation of an experienced premises liability lawyer.

After a slip-and-fall accident, get medical attention at once, and then take your case immediately and directly to a premises liability lawyer who will explain your legal rights and options as an accident victim.

Prevailing with a premises liability lawsuit in a slip-and-fall case requires the injury victim and that victim’s attorney to prove each of these three claims or “elements” of the case:

– The owner of the property owed you a “duty of care.”
– That duty was breached by the owner’s negligent action or negligent lack of action.
– That breach was a direct cause of the victim’s personal injury or injuries.

A property owner may owe a duty of care in different degrees to different persons on different types of property. For example, a homeowner owes general visitors to the home – friends and family members, for example – a simple duty of care. Homeowners are basically only required to keep their properties reasonably safe, warn their visitors about any known hazards, and avoid doing anything that creates a risky or precarious condition for visitors.

ARE CUSTOMERS AND CLIENTS OWED A DIFFERENT DUTY OF CARE?

Visitors who are on a property to benefit that property’s owner – customers, clients, and contractors – are owed a more precise duty of care. Owners must take all reasonable measures to protect these guests from injuries and from potential or foreseeable dangers. You can tell visitors to your home to watch out for your cracked sidewalk, but if that sidewalk is a part of your business, it has to be repaired as quickly as possible.

Because trespassers have no permission to be on a property, for the most part, a trespasser is not owed any duty of care. However, if a property owner intentionally creates a danger designed to cause harm to trespassers, that property owner conceivably could be held accountable for a trespasser’s injuries. Property owners should stick with locks, alarm systems, and security services; if your business is guarded by a dog, “Beware of Dog” signs should be clearly visible.

WHAT MUST A PREMISES LIABILITY PLAINTIFF BE READY TO EXPLAIN?

The type of visitor to a property determines the extent of the property owner’s duty of care. If you sustain a slip-and-fall injury on someone else’s property, whether it’s a residence or a location open to the public – like a retail store – you need to be able to explain exactly what your relationship is with the property owner and why you were on the property at the time you slipped, fell, and became injured.

If you are the injury victim/plaintiff in a premises liability case, after your attorney spells out the extent of the duty of care that the property owner/defendant owed you, the alleged breach of that duty must be examined. In some cases, the exact breach of the duty can be tough to nail down – which is another reason why, if you sustain a slip-and-fall injury in this state, you must be represented by a skilled Evansville premises liability lawyer.

PRECISELY WHAT CONSTITUTES A BREACH OF THE DUTY OF CARE?

However, speaking generally, the duty of care is breached by a property owner if he or she does not take reasonable measures to keep visitors from being injured on the property.

Listed here are only a few examples that would constitute a property owner’s (or a property manager’s) breach of the duty of care:

– a failure to clean up quickly a spill in a supermarket aisle
– a failure to lock a swimming pool area to prevent toddlers from entering
– a failure to warn visitors that you own an aggressive guard dog
–  a failure to keep areas open to the public reasonably free of dangers and debris

The word “reasonable” appears frequently in any discussion of premises liability law. A property owner is not necessarily liable for every injury that may occur on a property. If you’re injured on someone else’s property by walking into something obvious – a wall, a swimming pool, or a barbecue pit, for example – because your eyes were glued to your smartphone, your own negligence, and not the property owner’s, caused your injury.

WHAT ELSE DOES AN INJURY VICTIM HAVE TO PROVE IN THESE CASES?

Establishing that a property owner owed a duty of care to visitors and breached that duty of care still is not enough for a premises liability lawsuit to prevail. An injury victim and his or her attorney must further prove that the breach of the duty of care was, in fact, an actual and direct cause of the personal injury or injuries.

In most cases, if a property owner’s action would have prevented a slip-and-fall injury from happening, and the property owner failed to take that action – after learning of the hazard and having a reasonable opportunity to repair it – the property owner will be considered liable for the slip-and-fall injury or injuries.

A plaintiff and his or her attorney must, of course, prove that an injury actually occurred. If you slip and fall on spilled orange juice at the supermarket, but you get up uninjured and walk away, the supermarket breached the duty of care that it owed you, but with no damages, there is no case.

If, however, you are injured in that kind of scenario or in any other slip-and-fall incident in the greater Evansville area – or anywhere in southwest Indiana – you must put your health and future first. Seek medical attention at once after a slip-and-fall accident, and then contact an experienced premises liability lawyer to discuss your legal options. If you’ve been injured by negligence, compensation is your right, and a premises liability attorney can help.