Slip and fall incidents are part of everyday life and can take you off guard. When you are on another person’s property, you place trust in them to ensure your safety. You could hold a property owner or manager liable for your injuries resulting from a slip and fall on their property. Under well-established Indiana law, a landowner or business owner holds the duty of maintaining safe and unhazardous conditions on its premises.
When pursuing a personal injury claim against a property owner or property manager, you should contact an Indianapolis slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible following the incident. A seasoned personal injury attorney could help you build a successful case against the defendant and fight to obtain fair and adequate compensation on your behalf. The person responsible for your injuries should be held accountable, and a seasoned trial lawyer can help with holding a wrongdoer accountable.
Establishing Liability For Slip and Fall Accidents
The plaintiff must prove the property owner or manager acted negligently to recover for a negligently induced slip and fall. The owner or managers owe their guest a duty to keep the premises in a safe condition, so no harm comes to visitors. A breach of this duty amounts to an act of negligence committed by the premise owner or property owner.
To recover damages, the breach of duty must cause the plaintiff’s injuries. A plaintiff with a pre-existing condition may have difficulty establishing a direct connection. An experienced Indianapolis attorney could help the plaintiff establish their right to damages in their slip and fall case.
Factors That Lead to Slip and Fall Accidents
There are many different factors that could go into a slip and fall accident. Some of these factors relate to the person involved in the accident, while others are exclusively tied to the property itself. Most successful injury claims resulting from a slip and fall accident involve avoidable hazards on the property that were left unresolved. Some of these factors could include:
- Broken steps or handrails
- Spilled liquid
- Uneven flooring
- Bunched rugs or carpet
- Poor lighting
- Accumulated ice
- Stray extension cords
No matter what causes a slip and fall, an injury victim could benefit from seeking out the opinion of a seasoned attorney. With the right approach, an injury attorney could hold a negligent property owner accountable for the dangerous conditions that exist on their property.
Common Slip and Fall Injuries
Some slip and fall accidents result in serious injuries, while others are relatively minor. In a best-case scenario, a person that suffers a fall could face little more than minor bruising. In more serious accidents, these injuries could be life-threatening. Some common injuries in these cases include:
- Fractured skulls
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Cracked ribs
- Cuts and bruises
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord damage
The severity of a fall injury will depend in large part on which part of the body absorbs the brunt of the fall. A person that lands on their arm or leg could be at risk of sprains or fractures, but these injuries pail in comparison to head or neck trauma. An injury to the head or neck could lead to paralysis or even be fatal in some cases.
Notice of a Dangerous Condition
Notice is the key element for establishing the owner or manager breached their duty to keep the premises safe. The manager must have known of the condition and had time to remedy it before the incident occurred. There are two types of notice, actual and constructive.
Actual notice arises when the owner or manager had direct knowledge of the dangerous condition. When an owner or manager has direct notice of a condition, they must remedy the dangerous condition to ensure their premise is safe.
Constructive notice is more difficult to establish as the plaintiff must establish the owner or manager should have known about the dangerous condition. Generally, this is dictated by the amount of time a condition existed before the slip and fall. The longer the condition existed, the easier it is to prove the owner should have discovered and remedied the condition.
Constructive notice exists when the condition is discoverable through a reasonable search. Given the difficulty of establishing constructive notice in a slip and fall accident, the plaintiff could hire an Indianapolis attorney to help.
Comparative Negligence In Slip and Falls
Once the defendants’ liability is established, the plaintiff could have their recovery reduced for their fault in the incident. Under Indiana Code § 34-51-2-6, if the plaintiff’s negligence is greater than the defendant’s, they are barred from recovery. An experienced attorney in Indianapolis could help the plaintiff avoid comparative negligence in their slip and fall lawsuit.
A defendant could establish the plaintiff’s negligence by demonstrating they failed to act responsibly. Actions that that are potentially irresponsible include:
- Not paying attention
- Failed to abide by warning signs
- Wearing inappropriate footwear
- The dangerous condition was visible
Potential Defendants in a Fall Accident Lawsuit
There are a few potential defendants in a slip and fall injury lawsuit. Ultimately, a person injured in a fall could be entitled to seek compensation from the owner of any property where a fall occurred. These lawsuits could target either the owner of a business or of private property, depending on the circumstances. It is also possible to file suit against the government when a fall occurs on public property.
In addition to suing an owner, an injured party could also have the ability to file suit against the operator of the premises as well. In cases where a business leases a building from an owner, the operator of that business could be on the hook for any damages from a fall. For example, a grocery store operating out of a rented space could face liability should someone slip on spilled milk within their store.
Compensation for a Slip and Fall Claim
After a fall, there could be substantial physical, financial, and emotional costs that the injured person must endure. A personal injury lawsuit could help that person recover compensation for those costs.
Medical bills are often a primary part of a slip and fall injury claim. Even when these injuries are relatively minor, the cost of medical care could be extensive. For serious injuries, a course of treatment could result in extensive debt that only grows over time. A civil lawsuit could help recover the cost of these medical expenses.
Pain and Suffering
Compensation could also be available for a person’s physical pain and suffering resulting from a fall. While this type of compensation is subjective, these claims are typically larger in cases where the injuries are severe. Many judges award pain and suffering compensation as a multiplier of the total amount of medical bills.
Many people that suffer injuries in a fall are physically unable to return to work right way. For some of them, it could be weeks or even months before they are able to draw a paycheck again. This can lead to unexpected financial hardship. By filing an injury lawsuit, it could be possible to recover compensation for those lost wages.
Filing a Slip and Fall Lawsuit on Time
State law places a time limit on a plaintiff’s ability to file a slip and fall injury lawsuit. This time limit—commonly known as the statute of limitations—is a hard deadline. In most cases, the failure to comply with the deadline will permanently end an injury victim’s chances of recovering compensation on their claim.
If a slip and fall victim files their lawsuit after the deadline has passed, the defendant is likely to seek an immediate dismissal of the case with prejudice. Dismissing the case with prejudice not only ends the lawsuit but prevents the injured party from ever filing it again. Outside of some rare exceptions, the court will typically grant motions to dismiss an injury lawsuit based on a statute of limitations defense.
In Indianapolis, the statute of limitations for a slip and fall injury lawsuit expires two years from the date of the fall. What’s more, the same two-year window applies to slip and fall claims that involve property damage. For example, if the plaintiff’s watch or laptop computer were damaged in the fall, they could pursue compensation for the cost of repairing those items. These claims must also comply with the statute of limitations.
Contact an Attorney in Indianapolis For Your Slip and Fall Lawsuit
If an owner’s lack of care caused your injury, do not wait to hold them responsible. You should meet with an Indianapolis slip and fall lawyer to begin your lawsuit shortly after the incident. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling slip and fall cases. We have successfully handled hundreds of unfortunate slip and fall incidents.
Our legal team understands the dynamics of a lawsuit and can help your case in the best way possible. Do not relinquish your right to a potential recovery for your injuries caused by a slip and fall. Call us today to schedule a consultation.