Indiana Slip and Fall Lawyers

Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

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The answer is “sort of.”

While this answer might not satisfy those people who require a simple “yes” or “no” answer to tough questions, let me try to explain Indiana premises liability case law.

In order to prevail on a slip and fall case in Indiana, the injured person must prove:

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One of the common complaints about lawyers by the public is that “legalese” makes it impossible to understand the clear intent of parties to a contract.  The public believes that “magic language” exists in contracts and that failure to comply with makes a contract invalid or a will have no effect.

This type of belief is not good for the legal justice system.  There is a movement to make the law more accessible for the public at large.  For example, jury instructions are being modified to “clear language” for jurors.  Small claims courts do not require an attorney to represent a party.  And there is more.

But, there are times when strict adherence to precise language is still necessary for a contract to have effect under Indiana law and one of those situations involves “waiver of the right to sue” often found in leases and other membership contracts.

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Although the title of this blog post might seem ridiculous at first blush, I’m personally surprised that businesses who invite customers upon their land for products or services have not tried to sneak “waivers of liability” into receipts…yet.  And, as you can see from my photo above, I spend a lot more time at McDonald’s than I do at a local gym.  Keep reading…you’ll see why that’s important below in our 3-part series on Exculpatory Clauses under Indiana law.

First, let’s examine Indiana law with regard to whether individuals can “waive” or “forfeit” the right to sue a landowner for accidents that occur on that property that injure others.  These waivers are called “exculpatory clauses” under Indiana law and under certain circumstances, Indiana courts have ruled “yes,” exculpatory clauses are valid in contracts.

The most common “waiver to sue” (exculpatory clause) occurs when a person signs a lease to rent a property to live or to run a business.  Often, the lease will contain waivers to sue the landlord in the event of an injury that occurs on the property.  Other times, a waiver is inserted into other contracts where a person uses the land of another – like a member of a health club, gym, country club or sports activity participant.  In both circumstances, Indiana courts have held that exculpatory clauses are not void as against public policy.

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Not very often.  But, automatic exclusion by a Judge is not always the right legal ruling.

Usually this topic comes up when clients ask if I can mention other similar trips or falls on the defendant’s property that occurred before our incident at an upcoming trial.  The most common situation involves “another fall” involving a different person who fell on the same day — often overheard by my client from store employees.

When I try to explain that other falls and prior incidents are difficult to allow a jury to hear, I am often met with quizzical looks from my clients.  I try to explain the success of being able to mention a prior slip and fall to a jury is slim (and that it might not be in our best interest).

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