Negligence, under Indiana law, is the fault. In a negligence claim, you must prove that the other person or the landowner is at fault for causing your injury. You prove it by showing that the other person acted unreasonably under the circumstances. Unreasonable is defined as an individual or landowner who acts differently than other people or landowners who would have acted under the same or similar circumstances. The reason car crashes are often settled is because investigators and police officers produce a written report that clearly displays their conclusions as to who caused the crash.
Under Indiana law, an Indiana crash report cannot be entered into evidence but the officer can be called before the jury, as a witness, to talk about what the conclusions were. When you are dealing with an insurance company adjuster in the course of the auto crash claim, you will have the advantage of being able to produce the written report of disinterested persons: the accident investigator and the police officer. It is a very persuasive tool. Most insurance company adjusters will accept the written report as a determination of liability.
A slip and fall incident does not have an investigator. It might have an incident report. I highly recommend that after a slip and fall, if you are physically and mentally able to make an incident report, that you do so. It is important to document it. However, that incident report is not performed by a person with special skills. The reason slip and fall claims are denied at much higher rates than automobile crashes is that there is no written report determining who is at fault. Consequently, insurance companies, who are in the business of hoarding money, will deny your claim.
The insurance company also knows that when it comes to determining who is at fault when a person slips and falls, it is easy to determine that the individual might bear some responsibility. When it comes to denial or acceptance of liability by an insurance company that represents the landowner or the business where you fall, it is easy for that insurance company to deny liability based on the idea that it was your own fault. If you give a recorded statement, the insurance company adjuster will seize the opportunity to take those answers and use them as the basis for denial of the claim.
We do not recommend giving oral recorded statements at any time prior to the filing of a lawsuit. One must be able to give answers perfectly or else the claim will be denied. We have found that often, landowners fail to remedy dangerous temporary conditions, such as by not following a routine snow and ice maintenance program, like regular plowing or salting their sidewalks. Many landowners fail to make reasonable inspections at periodic intervals to determine whether dangerous conditions exist upon their land.
Indiana law requires landowners to do reasonable inspections of their property in order to determine dangerous conditions. We have numerous clients who have slipped on potholes in parking lots or on uneven sidewalks. Just because 90 percent of slip and fall claims are denied at the starting phase does not mean that slip and fall lawsuits will result in not recovering by the plaintiff. In fact, in 30 years, we have never lost a jury trial. When we go to a jury trial, we fully expect to win your case.