Slip and fall injuries account for a large portion of personal injury claims in Indianapolis. Maybe you slipped and lost your balance or tripped over something, causing you to fall. The big question is whether or not you have a personal injury claim against the owner of the property. The answer to this question, however, will only become clear once you’ve established a few facts and asked a few more questions. For example, you may have a claim if there was an apparent risk that the owner was aware of and neglected or if the property is in general disrepair. Yet, you must also consider the steps taken by the property owner to prevent accidents and whether or not he or she upheld a duty of care to yourself.
To determine whether you might have a personal injury claim or premises liability claim, consider the following questions. Then, contact Rowe & Hamilton attorneys for a free consultation of your case.
Personal Injury Claim vs Premises Liability Claim
Are you owed a duty of care by the property owner?
The very first thing that you’ve got to determine in a personal injury claim that involves premises liability, such as a slip and fall injury, is which category you fit into as the visitor, which will tell you what sort of duty of care is owed to you by the property owner.
There are three categories that might apply to you, and they are the invited, the licensed, and the trespasser. If you were invited onto the property, then the property owner owes you a very high duty of care. They must check to ensure that there are no risks to your health or well-being on the property, beyond simply removing the most obvious of hazards. If your personal injury claim came about after an accident at a restaurant, in a store, or at the home of someone who invited you onto their property, then you fit into this category.
The next category is the licensees, which includes anyone who typically frequents the property, such as family and friends who often visit. The property owner owes these visitors a duty of care that is reasonable, but not inclusive of hidden dangers that the owner isn’t aware of.
Then, there are the trespassers who are on the property without permission. Naturally, these individuals are not owed a high duty of care because they are not authorized to be there. Still, a general duty of care is owed, especially in situations where the property owner knows that the person or persons are there, with or without permission.
Was the hazard something that the property owner should have known about?
Some hazards are more obvious than others. For example, a significant amount of ice at the entrance to the property should be noticed and addressed by the property owner. A building that is clearly about to collapse is another example. Some property owners will place warning signs to increase awareness of hazards and prevent injuries. In other cases, there are conditions that the property owner is not aware of and might not be expected to know about. It is possible for the property owners to defend themselves by claiming that they were not aware of the hazard, if it is reasonable to believe that this is the case.
Should the hazard have been addressed and the risk prevented?
There are some situations where the property owner is aware of a hazard and has simply refused to fix it or postponed the necessary repairs. Yet, in other cases, the property owner may not know about it, so will be unable to address it. A common example is found in situations where the injured party is renting a home or building from the property owner. If you have repeatedly requested that repairs be made to unsafe conditions, yet these requests have been ignored or put off, then you certainly may have a case when an injury occurs.
Was the hazard caused by the property owner?
There are many situations where the property owner or someone acting on their behalf directly causes an accidental injury on their premises. For example, if the property owner spilled a drink and didn’t clean it up, that may have directly caused your slip and fall. However, if you lost your footing due to ordinary clumsiness, intoxication, or an existing injury, then this may not be the fault of the property owner. Once you’ve considered these factors and questions, call Rowe & Hamilton attorneys to discuss the details of your case.