What happens if you’re in a restaurant, department store, or supermarket, you slip and fall on a sticky or wet floor, and you are severely injured? Can you be reimbursed for your medical bills and lost wages? Will you need to be represented by an Evansville premises liability attorney?
Keep reading to learn more about your rights as an injured victim of negligence in Indiana, because anyone could be seriously injured in a slip-and-fall accident.
Indiana homeowners, landlords, and businesses must maintain their properties to keep them reasonably free of hazards to customers, employees, residents, and visitors. If a property is not properly maintained, the owner may be liable for injuries if a slip-and-fall accident occurs there.
WHO QUALIFIES TO RECEIVE COMPENSATION?
Under Indiana state law, you have the right to receive full compensation for your lost wages, medical expenses, and more if:
1. You’re injured in a slip-and-fall accident on someone else’s property.
2. You were injured because of the owner’s negligence.
3. You and your premises liability lawyer can prove both of these claims.
If you suffer a personal injury or injuries in a slip-and-fall accident on private property, have an Indiana premises liability lawyer spell out your options and explain how the law applies in your own situation. Every injured victim of negligence will need sound, personalized legal advice.
Slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents on private property happen far too frequently. These kinds of accidents are responsible for traumatic brain injuries, back, head, and neck injuries, severe spinal cord injuries, and other injuries that can be temporarily or permanently disabling.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF SLIP AND FALL INJURIES?
What are the causes of these catastrophic slip-and-fall injuries? In other words, what hazards should property owners know about and repair promptly? Some of the most common causes include:
1. Wet, slippery, or sticky floors
2. Uneven stairs
3. Cracked or uneven sidewalks or pavement
4. Accumulated rain and slush
5. Insufficient lighting in hallways, staircases, garages, and parking lots
6. Curled-up rugs, carpets, or floor mats
7. Cluttered and debris-strewn hallways, staircases, and aisles
Because a property owner can’t possibly keep every conceivable accident from happening, the law in Indiana tries to achieve fairness and justice for all parties involved.
WHAT’S THE CENTRAL QUESTION IN A PREMISES LIABILITY CASE?
For example, if a visitor is injured on private property, did the owner know about the hazard or have a “reasonable” amount of time to repair it? That is the central question in a premises liability dispute.
Let’s say someone spills milk at the supermarket, and ten minutes later, you slip, fall, and you’re injured. In that case, the store probably will be held liable. However, if you slip and fall fifteen seconds after a spill, the store may not be liable, as there wasn’t “reasonable” time for a clean-up.
WHAT DO INJURY VICTIMS HAVE TO PROVE TO RECOVER COMPENSATION?
To succeed with a premises liability claim requires an injury victim and his or her accident attorney to prove these “elements” of the claim:
1. The property owner owed visitors a “duty of care.”
2. That property owner breached that duty through negligence.
3. That breach directly caused a visitor’s personal injury or injuries.
Property owners owe a different duty of care to different people at different times and on different properties. A homeowner can usually warn visitors about a hazard – bad lighting or cracks in the sidewalk – but a business property owner must repair those hazards at once.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BREACH THE DUTY OF CARE?
A property owner breaches the duty of care by failing to take reasonable steps to keep visitors safe. Businesses must clean up spills, leaks, and debris. Homeowners should keep swimming pools locked, warn visitors about and aggressive dog, and keep sidewalks unobstructed.
Slip-and-fall accident victims should understand that if they seek to recover damages after being injured on someone else’s property, a property owner can dispute your injury claim and may offer one or all three of these defenses:
1. You were not paying attention to where you were walking.
2. You were trespassing.
3. The hazard was marked clearly with warning signs and/or yellow cones.
HOW ARE SLIP AND FALL CASES RESOLVED?
Overwhelmingly, most premises liability cases in Indiana are settled before any trial can begin. If your claim cannot be settled privately, your lawyer may recommend going to trial and asking jurors to determine if a property owner’s negligence caused your slip-and-fall injury.
If you slip and fall, and you’re injured, seek medical help at once. If a property owner’s negligence was the cause, after you’ve been examined by a medical professional, arrange to meet with an Evansville premises liability attorney.
After a slip-and-fall accident, you may be contacted by the property owner’s insurance company. Do not make a statement or accept a first settlement offer. Instead, let your attorney do the talking and negotiating for you.
WHAT IS THE TIME LIMIT FOR FILING AN INJURY CLAIM?
There is a time limit – a statute of limitations – for premises liability claims in Indiana. If you fail to take legal action within two years of the date of your injury, you lose the right to file an injury claim, and you will not be compensated.
But you should not wait two years to file a claim. In fact, as soon as you’ve been treated for your slip-and-fall injury, arrange to speak with an Indiana premises liability lawyer. Evidence can get lost. Memories can fade. Put your case in the right attorney’s hands as quickly as you can.
WHAT WILL IT COST TO SEEK JUSTICE?
If you qualify to file a premises liability claim, it does not cost anything to get started. Indiana’s personal injury lawyers work on a contingent fee basis; you pay no attorney’s fee until and unless your premises liability claim prevails.
The contingent fee system allows every injured victim of negligence – the modest as well as the affluent – to have a day in court and contend for justice. It “levels the playing field” so that there is equal justice for all.
Anyone can be injured in a slip-and-fall accident or a trip-and-fall accident, but if it happens because a property owner was negligent, you have the right to full compensation and the right to justice.
You also have the right to a good attorney, and you should know that if you are injured on private property in Indiana because a property owner was negligent, the law will be on your side.