Frequently Asked Questions About Premise Liability in Indiana
What is premise liability?
Premise liability involves the liability of a property owner or possessor of land for injuries occurring as a result of unreasonably dangerous conditions or activities on the land. Such claims may arise from untreated snow or ice in parking lots and on sidewalks, spills or slippery substances that are not timely cleaned up in grocery stores or at shopping centers, objects falling from shelves or objects or merchandise improperly placed in aisles at stores, improperly constructed or maintained stairways or railings at apartment complexes or in commercial buildings, failure to provide appropriate security for or aide to hotel guests or restaurant or bar patrons, and any other unreasonably dangerous condition or activity on land that a property owner or possessor of land knew or should have known of and failed to appropriately address.
What do I have to prove to recover money in a premise liability claim in Indiana?
To prove negligence in a premise liability claim, an injured party must show (1) a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, (2) the defendant’s breach of that duty, and (3) an injury to the plaintiff proximately caused by the breach of the defendant’s duty. Peters v. Forster, 804 N.E.2d 736, 738 (Ind. 2004). The duty owed by a property owner or possessor of land depends on the status of the injured party while on the land. Burrell v. Meads, 569 N.E.2d 637, 639 (Ind. 1991). Indiana law divides the duties owed between trespassers, licensees, and invitees. Id.
Both trespassers and licensees enter upon land for their own convenience, curiosity, or entertainment and “take the premises as they find them.” Taylor v. Duke, 713 N.E.2d 877, 881 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999). However, licensees, as opposed to trespassers, have a privilege to enter or remain on land due to the landowner’s or occupier’s permission or sufferance. Id. If the injured party is a trespasser on land, a property owner or possessor of land only owes a duty to refrain from willfully or wantonly (i.e., intentionally) injuring the trespasser after discovering the trespasser’s presence on the land. Id. at 639. A landowner or occupier owes a licensee a duty to refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring them, but also from acting in a manner so as to increase the licensee’s peril, which includes a duty to warn a licensee of any latent danger of which the landowner or occupier has knowledge. Burrell, 569 N.E.2d at 639.
Invitees are persons who are invited upon the land by the landowner or occupier, and include public invitees, business invitees, and social guests. Id. at 642-643; see also Taylor, 713 N.E.2d at 881. A landowner or occupier owes the highest duty of care to an invitee, that duty being to exercise reasonable care for the invitee’s protection while the invitee is on the premises. Burrell, 569 N.E.2d at 637. This duty arises as a matter of law in all cases arising out of the inviter-invitee context. Bell v. Grandville Coop., Inc., 950 N.E.2d 747, 750 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011).
Indiana has adopted Restatement (Second) of Torts § 343, which provides that “A possessor of land is subject to liability for physical harm caused to his invitees by a condition on the land if, but only if, he (a) knows or by the exercise of reasonable care would discover the condition, and should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm to such invitees, and (b) should expect that they will not discover or realize the danger, or will fail to protect themselves against it, and (c) fails to exercise reasonable care to protect them against the danger.” Burrell, 569 at 639-640; Restatement (Second) of Torts §343. An inviter must exercise reasonable care to discover defects or dangerous conditions on the premises, and will be charged with knowledge of, and held liable for injuries resulting from, any dangerous conditions that could have been discovered in the exercise of reasonable care. Lutheran Hosp. of Indiana, Inc. v. Blaser, 634 N.E.2d 864, 868 (Ind. Ct. App. 1994). Inviters must also exercise reasonable care to warn invitees of hazards. Duffy v. Ben Dee, Inc., 651 N.E.2d 320, 322 (Ind. Ct. App. 1995).
Am I entitled to compensation if I was invited onto someone else’s property and injured?
Maybe. Inviters are not insurers of their invitees’ safety. Carmichael v. Kroger Co., 654 N.E.2d 1188, 1191 (Ind. Ct. App. 1995). Landowners or occupiers are not liable for injuries caused by dangers known or obvious to invitees, unless the landowner or occupier should have anticipated the harm despite such knowledge or obviousness. Smith v. Baxter, 796 N.E.2d 242, 244 (Ind. 2003); Restatement (Second) of Torts §343 A. The mere fact of a fall is insufficient in and of itself to prove liability. Hall v. Eastland Mall, 769 N.E.2d 198, 206 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002). Landowners and occupiers must have actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition or activity before liability will attach. Carmichael, 654 N.E.2d at 1191. If you were at fault in causing your fall, and your fault is found to be greater than that of the defendants, you will not be able to recovery any money. Ind. Code § 34-51-2-6.
What is the time limitation to file a premise liability lawsuit in Indiana?
The time limitation for filing a premise liability lawsuit in Indiana is generally two (2) years. Indiana law states that an action for injury to a person or personal property must be commenced within two (2) years after the cause of action accrues. Ind. Code § 34-11-2-4.
Other time limitations may also apply.
How can I get help in my premise liability claim or lawsuit?
Our law firm has extensive experience representing individuals injured in premise liability cases. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of untreated snow or ice, a spill at a grocery store, uneven property surfaces, dangerous construction or maintenance of stairs or railings, or any other dangerous condition or activity on someone else’s land or premises, you can contact us for a free consultation at (844) 268-7775 or you can submit your case information online at www.barsumianlaw.com. We work on a contingency-fee basis, which means there are no attorney’s fees or expenses unless you recover money.