Property owners may be responsible for injuries that other people sustain while legally on their property—particularly if the injury resulted from the existence of a dangerous or unsafe condition on the property. A property owner’s legal liability will depend on various circumstances, such as whether the property owner knew of the issue that resulted in the injury and whether the injured person was legally on the property and in what capacity. Indiana premises liability law and the definition of premises liability, in general, are complicated, and the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney can help you best assess your claim.
Classifications in Indiana Premises Liability Law
For purposes of Indiana premises liability law determinations, it is necessary to classify the status of the injured person at the time they were on the property. There are generally three classes of people on another’s property: 1) invitee, 2) licensee, and 3) trespasser.
An invitee is, as the name suggests, someone who was invited to be on the property. This does not require an actual invitation, such as to a party, but can be an implicit invitation, such as one that is extended to shoppers welcome to enter a store. They are considered to be “invitees” of the store owner and are on the property for the benefit of the property owner.
Like invitees, licensees have permission to be on another’s property. They are not, however, there for the benefit of the owner, but rather for themselves. Photographers on the property of a botanical garden or hunters allowed to use another’s private property would be examples of this category.
Unlike invitees or licensees, trespassers do not have the permission of the property owner to be on their property for any purpose.
Indiana Property Owners’ Duty of Care to People on Their Property
Property owners have the duty to locate and fix any dangerous conditions on their property to protect their invitees from injury. For licensees, property owners must only fix dangerous conditions that they are already aware of; they do not have the additional duty of inspecting the property to find such conditions. They do, however, have the duty to warn of known dangerous conditions, such as posting a sign about a deep hole that a person could fall into. The dangerous conditions that an owner has an obligation to find and fix in order to protect their licensees can include things such as liquid on floors, icy walkways, weak or broken handrails on stairs, and inadequate lighting.
Property owners owe very little duty to trespassers beyond a duty to not intentionally injure them. Although property owners generally don’t owe a duty to trespassers to make dangerous conditions safe, there is an exception for children who trespass known as the “attractive nuisances” doctrine. Pursuant to Indiana Code § 34-31-11-3, a property owner would be liable for injuries to a minor trespasser if the dangerous condition were considered especially attractive to a child, such as a trampoline, and the possibility of injury to trespassing children was reasonably foreseeable.
Statute of Limitations for Filing an Indiana Premises Liability Claim
An Indiana statute of limitations sets a deadline for seeking bringing an action for compensation in premises liability cases. People injured on another person’s property have two years from the date of their injury in which to file a complaint, pursuant to Indiana Code § 34-11-2-4. Although the law allows two years to file premises liability claims in Indiana, acting quickly in these cases is the best choice. By contacting premises liability claim lawyers as soon as possible after an injury, you can allow your attorney to begin gathering and preserving evidence that may be critical to your claim.
Damages Available in an Indiana Premises Liability Action
A successful plaintiff in a premises liability action can recover for their economic expenses such as medical bills and lost wages as well as for their non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. In some situations, an injured party can also recover punitive damages if the property owner acted with malice, fraud, or gross negligence.
In addition, Indiana Code § 34-51-2-6 specifies that the injured person is barred from recovering damages if the injured person’s fault for the injury is greater than the fault of the other people contributing to his or her injury, which would be the property owner in the case of a premises liability action.
Contact the Carmel Fishers Premises Liability Claim Lawyers at Camden & Meridew, P.C.
If you have suffered an injury on another person’s property and believe you might be entitled to damages, the wisest course of action is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The Carmel Fishers premises liability claim lawyers at Camden & Meridew, P.C. help clients evaluate, preserve, and pursue Indiana premises liability claims. Contact David Allen at 317-770-0000 or complete the firm’s online contact form to discuss how you can get the compensation that you are entitled to for any injuries you have suffered while on another person’s property.