Under Indiana’s premises liability laws, homeowners and business owners are obligated to reasonably protect everyone who visits their property from conditions that could cause injury. Regardless of whether a property owner has been clearly negligent, or the property owner might not have been aware of the dangerous conditions on their property, they may be held liable for the injuries suffered on their premises.
Indiana has a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases, so if you have been injured on someone else’s property, call a premises liability lawyer as soon as possible. Contact The Law Office of William W. Hurst at (317) 636-0808 or email us to discuss the details of your case with one of our experienced lawyers.
Visitor Status in Indiana Premises Liability
The eligibility to recover damages after being injured on another’s property hinges on “visitor status.” Indiana recognizes three types of visitors: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Property owners owe various levels of duty of care to the different categories of visitors.
Invitees are visitors who have been explicitly or implicitly invited to another’s property. Under Indiana case law (Burrell v. Meads), invitees fall into three categories:
- A public invitee is a person who is invited on public property for public use. For example, people at a public park or playground are considered public invitees.
- A business invitee is a visitor who is invited on another’s property to participate in some type of direct or indirect business activity. Examples of business invitees include diners at a restaurant, customers at a grocery store, or visitors at an amusement park.
- A social guest is a friend or family member that goes to another’s property to enjoy their hospitality.
Property owners have a high duty of care to invitees. In Indiana, a property owner may be liable for damages if:
- The property knew or should have known if they were exercising reasonable care, that the safety hazard that caused the injury involved an unreasonable risk of harm to invitees.
- The property owner should have expected that visitors would not realize the hazard, or would fail to protect themselves from it.
- The property owner failed to protect invitees against the danger.
Licensees are those who visit another’s property for their own convenience or benefit. Indiana law treats licensees differently than many other states and distinguishes licensees from invitees, particularly concerning social guests. In most states, licensees may be invited or uninvited, and social guests are invited licensees to whom the property owner has a lesser duty of care than they would to an invitee.
Before the turn of the last century, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled (Burrell v. Meads) that social guests deserve the highest duty of care from the property owner, so they are considered invitees. Therefore, under Indiana law, a licensee is a visitor who has license, or permission to be on another’s property, but isn’t expressly invited. Examples of licensees include package deliverers, mail carriers, electric company employees reading meters, and hunters with permission to cross another’s land.
While property owners cannot willfully harm licensees, they don’t have to aggressively prevent licensees from injury. In Burrell, the Indiana Supreme Court held, “When a person has a license to go upon the grounds or the enclosure of another, he takes the premises as he finds them, and accepts whatever perils he incurs in the use of such license.”
Trespassers are anyone who does not have permission to be on another’s property. Property owners cannot willfully harm trespassers, but unless the trespassers are children, the owners don’t owe them a duty of care to maintain a safe environment.
Like many states, Indiana differentiates between child and adult trespassers. Property owners do have a duty of care toward children under the doctrine of attractive nuisance: one who maintains a dangerous condition that is likely to attract children on their property is under a duty to post a warning or take affirmative action to protect children from the dangers of that attraction. Examples of attractive nuisance include features such as swimming pools, trampolines, and accessible construction areas.
Premises Liability Claims
Slip and fall injuries are most common in premises liability accidents. Other sources of injuries include:
- Swimming pools
- Animal and dog bites
- Elevators and escalators
- Theme park rides
- Inadequate maintenance
Premises liability lawyers handle claims from a range of causes, including cases where intentional harm occurred on another’s property. Such claims may be prompted if a property owner had inadequate security or had insufficient safety precautions such as installed lighting, and a visitor was attacked, sexually assaulted, or otherwise intentionally harmed by another person.
Contact a Skilled Premises Liability Lawyer in Indianapolis
If you have been injured on another’s property, you may be entitled to recover for your damages, including economic and non-economic losses. Common damages include medical expenses, future treatment and care, lost wages, future lost wages, and pain and suffering. A skilled premises liability attorney can guide you through the legal process, advocate for you, and ensure that those who are liable are held accountable in order to get the best possible outcome for your circumstances.
Like most personal injury firms, we offer a free consultation so that you can discuss the details of your case with one of our lawyers. We will consider the merits of the case and all potential claims, and advise you of your options. Should our firm agree to represent you, your case may be handled on contingency, which means attorney fees and litigation costs will be paid out of any eventual settlement or verdict.
If you have been injured, you may need a lawyer on your side to help ensure that you get the compensation you deserve for your damages. Speak to an experienced premises liability lawyer at The Law Office of William W. Hurst and learn if we may be able to help. Contact us today at (317) 636-0808 or online for a free consultation.