Less than two years ago, the Indiana Supreme Court issued two injury law opinions that reshaped the foreseeability criteria courts consider when weighing premises liability lawsuits.
Premises liability is predicated on the legal theory that businesses and/ or property owners have a duty of care to shield invited customers or guests from an unreasonable risk of harm. The element of a “duty of care” is the foundation for any lawsuit alleging negligence, as is the breach of duty and the fact that the breach caused the injury. In premises liability cases in particular, foreseeability of danger is what establishes the duty.
The new test model was outlined in a pair of 2016 rulings – Goodwin v. Yeakle’s Sports Bar & Grills, Inc. and Rogers v. Martin. It’s particularly relevant to those cases stemming from a third-party criminal attack on someone else’s property. In both cases, the state high court established that courts must decide as a matter of law (by the judge) rather than as a matter of fact (by the jury) whether the injury in question was foreseeable by analyzing a broad type of harm and a broad type of plaintiff. This differs substantially from the previous approach, which relied on fact-sensitive inquiries. Those two cases have been cited as precedent-setting in a number of recent Indiana premises liability cases. Continue reading