Articles Posted in Premises Liability

After suffering from an Indiana workplace accident, you may be unsure of your next steps. You could pursue a workers’ compensation claim, but that might not fully compensate for your injuries. In particular, workers’ compensation may not provide relief for the emotional harm you have suffered as a result of the accident. At the same time, there are limits to bringing a negligence lawsuit after a workplace accident. Most notably, you may not be able to directly sue your employer. However, there are a few other ways you can still recover damages after an Indiana workplace accident.

As a recent article sadly reported, a construction worker was killed in a workplace accident in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. At the time of the accident, the victim was working to remove a stretch of transit tracks for a demolition and land repurposing company. Then, a section of the track suddenly fell, which killed the construction worker. The cause of the track collapse remains under investigation.

Can You Sue Your Employer for A Workplace Accident?

If you suffered injuries while performing a job for your employer, your first course of action will likely be pursuing workers’ compensation rather than suing the employer. Indiana law requires most employers to provide workers’ compensation. Often, an employee cannot sue their employer for on-the-job injuries if they receive workers’ compensation. On the other hand, if fault for the workplace accident lies with a third party rather than the employer, an employee may be able to sue the third party for their injuries. Examples of a liable third party include manufacturers of construction equipment that injured the employee or an individual with no tie to the employer who acted negligently.

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Many people who have never filed a lawsuit before assume that it is a simple process—file the case, present your medical bills, and then resolve the claim. Lawsuits, however, are almost never that simple. In Indiana, like other states, there are specific procedural rules and requirements that parties to a lawsuit must adhere to when proceeding through the stages of a claim. When these procedural requirements are not followed, it can often derail your entire case and subject parties to unnecessary headaches, additional costs, and unexpected outcomes. This is why before filing or responding to a lawsuit, it is crucial that parties consult an experienced Indiana personal injury lawyer.

In a recent opinion involving an Indiana slip and fall accident, the plaintiff was injured when she fell in the defendant’s restaurant. She subsequently filed a negligence complaint against the restaurant, and the restaurant filed a motion for summary judgment. After the defendant’s motion was denied by the lower court, it moved to appeal the decision. The Court of Appeals accepted the appeal on February 12th and required that any Notice of Appeal be due by February 27th. The defendant did not file their Notice of Appeal until March 3rd. On March 20th, the plaintiff moved to dismiss the defendant’s appeal on timeliness grounds, but the defendant argued that their appeal presented a substantial question of law and should be allowed to proceed. The Court of Appeals denied the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss without explanation and reversed the denial of summary judgment issued by the lower court. There was no discussion by the Court of Appeals of the untimeliness of the Notice of Appeal.

On appeal, the Indiana Supreme Court disagreed with the Court of Appeals decision and dismissed the defendant’s appeal. Because the defendant failed to meet the procedural requirements necessary to show that the Court of Appeals should still hear the case despite their delay in filing the Notice of Appeal, the Supreme Court remanded the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.

To many, playing sports is more than just a recreational pastime. However, when someone gets hurt playing on an unsafe field, the injury can often be severe. Property owners, including those who own a sports field, have a responsibility to maintain a safe environment for people to practice and play on. When an individual is injured on another’s property, the injured party can bring a premise liability claim against the owner. In Indiana, an owner is liable for physical harm caused to a person invited onto his land if: (a) he knows his land is unreasonably dangerous; (b) the person would not likely realize the danger or fail to protect themselves from it; (c) he fails to attempt to protect them from the danger.

In a recent opinion, a state appellate court discussed whether the owner of a horse racing track could be held liable under premises liability theory after the plaintiff was injured while riding a horse on the track. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff could not raise a successful premises liability claim because he should have anticipated the risk that comes with horse racing.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured as he was exercising his horse on the track. Evidently, a jockey lost control of his horse and it collided with the plaintiff, who was thrown to the ground and injured. The plaintiff brought a premises liability claim against the owners of the race track, arguing that the racetrack owner owed him a duty to keep him safe and that the condition at the racetrack caused his injuries.

The Court of Appeals of Indiana issued an opinion addressing common issues that many residents face after falling at an apartment complex. The case stems from injuries a woman suffered after falling and hitting her head outside of her Indiana apartment. She filed a negligence lawsuit against the apartment complex and rental company, alleging that they were liable under Indiana’s premises liability laws. She argued that her injuries were a result of the company’s failure to keep public areas of the apartment complex free from dangerous hazards. At trial, the court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff appealed.

Under Indiana law, a lessee who wishes to recover from a negligent landlord must be able to establish that the landlord breached a duty that they owed to the tenant. Merely alleging that a fall took place is insufficient to prove that the landlord or property manager was negligent. Although inferential speculation is not enough to prove negligence, plaintiffs can overcome a summary judgment motion if they provide enough details to show a genuine issue of material fact that needs resolution. For the purposes of summary judgment, a material fact is one that is relevant to the ultimate resolution of a pertinent issue.

In this case, the plaintiff argued that she fell because the apartment complex failed to clear the public area of ice and snow. In support of her allegation, she provided testimony that indicated that the day she fell, “it was pretty cold,” and she noticed that the entry of her building looked “slippery and icy.” She further testified that a close-by service ramp did not look slippery; however, she fell as soon as she stepped onto the ramp. The defendants argued that the plaintiff’s inference that the ramp was slippery was based on inferential speculation. However, the appellate court found that the plaintiff’s observation of icy conditions creates a genuine issue of material fact. The appellate court ultimately reversed the trial court’s summary judgment order and remanded the case.

Recently, the Indiana Supreme Court released an opinion in a case involving the devastating murder of a student after he left school grounds without permission. The case illustrates important concepts of government liability and comparative fault, both of which are frequently at issue in Indiana personal injury lawsuits.

According to the court’s opinion, the young man’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Indiana school district, claiming that the school was responsible because it did not ensure that the young man stayed on school grounds. Reports indicated that the young man was frequently truant, and on the day of the murder, he came to school late and subsequently left through an unsecured exit while school was still in session. It is unclear why the student left school, but there was evidence to suggest that the young man left to engage in unlawful activities. Tragically, he was shot and murdered shortly after he left school.

The family’s lawsuit alleged that the school was responsible for the wrongful death of the young man because they did not adequately supervise the student during school hours. In response, the school district moved to dismiss the claim based on the Indiana Tort Claims Act (ITCA) as well as the doctrine of contributory negligence. The appeals court found that there were issues of material fact regarding whether the student was contributorily negligent in his death.

Earlier this month, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a product liability case discussing whether the lower court properly prevented the plaintiff’s expert from testifying. While the case did not arise in Indiana, it raises important issues for Indiana personal injury victims regarding the use and selection of expert witnesses. Additionally, the case provides some guidance for Indiana litigants, in that Indiana is in the Seventh Circuit.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was seriously injured at work while getting off a “car crushing” machine. Evidently, he slipped on a puddle of hydraulic fluid that had leaked from the machine. The plaintiff could not pursue a personal injury case against his employer due to the availability of workers’ compensation benefits. However, the plaintiff filed a claim against the manufacturer of the machine, as well as the company that leased the machine to the plaintiff’s employer. The plaintiff claimed that the machine was defectively designed.

In support of his claim, the plaintiff presented a professor in mechanical engineering as an expert witness. The expert planned to testify that the machine should have had a ladder, toe boards, and a guardrail installed to make it safe for users. The expert presented a safer proposed design in theory, but did not offer any sketches or elaborate on the concept.

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