In many situations, owners and managers of property open to the public can be held financially liable for any injury to a visitor stemming from an unreasonably dangerous condition on the property in question. However, just because an accident occurs on private property does not mean the landowner will be automatically liable, nor is it a simple matter to achieve fair financial recovery in a case like this even if a property owner’s negligence is seemingly obvious.
Working with a Gary premises liability lawyer could give you the best chances of a positive case result. With a knowledgeable personal injury attorney’s support, you could more completely understand how state law governs cases of this nature, more efficiently collect evidence of fault for your injuries, and more proactively seek the restitution you deserve through settlement negotiations or—if necessary—a lawsuit in civil court.
What Duties Do Property Owners Owe to Visitors?
Like most other types of personal injury litigation, civil claims pursued under premises liability law are generally based on the legal principle of negligence. In other words, the argument that the defendant property owner’s breach of a duty owed to the plaintiff was the direct and primary cause of that plaintiff’s injuries. As a Gary property liability attorney could explain, the “duty” that a landowner owes to a particular visitor can change significantly depending on why that visitor is on the landowner’s property to begin with.
First and foremost, landowners generally owe no duty whatsoever to people who are trespassing on their land without authorization or permission. There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule, most notably in situations where a property owner deliberately causes injury to a trespasser by knowingly creating a hazardous condition that the trespasser was unlikely to notice themselves.
Conversely, landowners do have a duty to protect “licensees”—people visiting with the landowner’s permission for their own personal benefit—from harm. Specifically, landowners must make licensees aware of all hazards they know about but which the visitor would likely not notice themselves, as well as take prompt action to fix non-obvious hazards once they become aware of them.
Finally, property owners owe the most substantial duty to “invitees” who are visiting with the owner’s express invitation or implicit permission in order to directly benefit the owner. In addition to warning invitees of known hazards, property owners also must regularly inspect their property to discover unknown hazards and then take corrective action against any hazards they discover.
Overcoming Obstacles to Comprehensive Recovery
Through a successful premises liability claim and with help from a knowledgeable lawyer, an injured Gary resident could potentially recover compensation not only for economic losses like personal property damage and medical bills, but also various non-economic damages such as physical pain, lost enjoyment of life, and lingering effects of permanent disfigurement or disability. Unfortunately, there are numerous legal roadblocks to maximizing the value of a claim that unprepared plaintiffs may have trouble overcoming, especially without support from seasoned legal counsel.
For example, Indiana Code §34-51-2-6 prohibits any financial recovery whatsoever by a plaintiff who is more to blame for causing their own injuries than all named defendants in their claim combined. A plaintiff who bears any lesser percentage of fault may be subject to a proportional reduction in the value of their final damage award.
Furthermore, I.C. §34-11-2-4 sets a two-year statutory filing deadline on just about every form of personal injury litigation, including cases governed by premises liability law. Failure to file a claim within this time limit will almost always lead to that case being time-barred and the plaintiff being denied any form of civil restitution for those particular injuries.
Get in Touch with a Gary Premises Liability Attorney Today
Premises liability claims work like other personal injury cases to some extent, but they are very different in several other key ways. Making the most of a lawsuit or settlement demand of this nature often requires guidance from a legal professional familiar with property liability law through extensive practical experience.
After getting hurt on property owned and/or operated by someone else, contacting a Gary premises liability lawyer should be your top priority. Schedule a consultation by calling today.