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Shaw Law Offices

Slip and Falls FAQs

Am I Suing the Business or its Insurance Company? Almost every single time, it's the insurance company. Some injured people worry that suing a business or person could hurt it financially after a slip and fall. Attorney Jeff JJ Shaw has heard a lot of different questions in his 30+ years of experience from clients who are worried that "suing" a business is immoral or just wrong. Being injured on another person's property is a confusing life event. You must deal with medical bills, other expenses tied to the accident and lost wages. This is in addition to the physical discomfort and pain. You might not know who is responsible, if anyone.
But, Shaw comforts client fears by reminding them that almost every business and property owner has property insurance -- just like you do when you drive a car or own a home. And that insurance policy was purchased and designed for exactly the type of event that caused your injury or forced you to miss time from work.
At Shaw Law Offices, we’ll handle the insurance company for you. We’ll work to get you back on your feet again. You are likely curious about who is responsible for paying the cost for your damages and medical care. The most common route to pursue in Indiana after a slip and fall injury claim on someone else's property is filing a legal claim with the property owner's insurance policy. Shaw Law Offices will notify the insurer, acquire all medical bills and records, and make a demand for settlement once the injuries have healed. In the meantime, the property owner and its insurance company have NO obligation to pay ANYTHING until a settlement is reached or a verdict is rendered. This is due to the idea of "negligence" and "fault" under Indiana law. An injured person has no "right" to any payments before a settlement is reached or a judgment is issued in her favor. (There are some exceptions for "Medical Payments" which some businesses do have, but it is usually for a small amount and does not take the place of a settlement, but rather just adds a little payment for medical expenses regardless of fault).T The most common type of third-party claim filed against business or homeowner's insurance policies is for slip and fall accidents. There are numerous different ways that you could fall and be injured on another person's property and other ways that you could get hurt as well. If you are hurt on someone else's property, you need to treat the accident as you would any other type of personal injury incident. You should get medical care as soon as possible to document your injury and to outline a course of treatment. The best thing to do is to call or text Shaw Law Offices at (877) 225-5742. We will contact the insurance company to report the accident and file a claim. If we don't hear back from a claims adjuster within a few days, we will file a lawsuit on your behalf. We do not allow businesses to ignore your claim. You should be aware that insurance adjusters often ask for a statement from you, before you call an attorney. Remember, the adjusters and insurance company representatives do not have your best interests in mind. The primary purpose of the insurance adjuster is to investigate the accident to verify whether or not liability exists that would be covered under the policy. He might attempt to get you to say "you didn't see what you fell upon" or that you are "not sure what you fell upon." These comments can be used later in court in an attempt to convince a jury or Judge that you do not deserve compensation for your injury. Anything you say to the insurance adjuster could be used to devalue your claim. You will never be able to convince an insurance adjuster or claims investigator that you deserve compensation for a slip and fall injury on business property. They are paid to diminish or deny your claim. Before you agree to speak to any insurance adjuster or investigator, have Shaw Law Offices on your side. We will sit with you through any claims interview and prepare you for the most common anticipated questions. An experienced Indiana personal injury lawyer like Attorney Jeff JJ Shaw has over 30+ years of experience in handling in representing slip and fall cases like ours. The insurance company has many different professionals protecting their bottom line and interests and you deserve to have the same. Hiring an experienced attorney is helpful for moving forward with your case and giving you a better overview of what to expect. Don't wait to get help from a lawyer. Make sure you retain someone who has been practicing in this field for a long period of time and one who is dedicated to your best interests. Attorney Jeff JJ Shaw has the experience to help you fight.
Building codes come in all shapes and sizes. Some codes are mandatory like city and state building codes for a landowner to follow.  Some are "suggested" guidelines such as those promulgated by ANSI or ASTM.  But all can be used in your slip and fall or trip and fall case to help establish the "standard of care" that the landowner should have been following before you fell or tripped at a business. Attorney Jeff "JJ" Shaw has over 30+ years of experience in reading and finding these codes.  Once located, Attorney Jeff "JJ" Shaw can find the right expert witness to help convince the landowner, its insurance company and defense counsel that guidelines were not followed in your particular case.  This helps establish fault or "negligence." If you've recently been hurt in a slip and fall accident in Indiana, you may be curious about what role building codes might play in the development of a legal case. There may be more than one entity responsible for the injuries you have sustained and gathering the evidence in your legal claim, and presenting it to Shaw Law can help you to prepare a comprehensive and compelling premises liability claim. We know it’s hard to figure out where to turn; getting help from Shaw Law is the first step on the path to recovery. Why Building Codes Matter in Some Slip and Fall Claims Building codes may become an important piece of evidence if you can show that someone's lack of attention to building codes ultimately caused a dangerous condition on the property that led to you suffering a devastating injury. Building code violations are used in Indiana slip and fall cases to prove that the premises owner is responsible for your trip and fall or slip and fall injuries. You will use this to illustrate that the owner was in some way negligent and breached the duty of care to you and this has illegally caused the injury you have sustained. Different cities have different codes, which is why it is imperative to schedule a consultation with a lawyer who practices in this field regularly. The set of building codes in your individual area and being able to illustrate that someone engaged in a violation can increase your chances of success in court. The building code violation, however, must be directly related to how the injury occurred. If it was the cause of your injury, then you may be able to argue that the defendant was negligent per say. This means that the defendant was negligent directly by definition and that the defendant is responsible for overcoming this presumption or he or she will lose the case. Some common building code violations include guide rails, smoke detectors, grout, chimneys and issues with decks and balconies. It is important to present your concerns regarding how the accident occurred and why you believe that this may have a connection to building code violations as soon as possible. The support of a lawyer goes a long way in illustrating the strength of your case and can help you to avoid many of the most common pitfalls that people experience when they are hurt in a trip and fall accident. The ball is in your court when you have been critically hurt, but your time is best spent attending doctor's appointments and focusing on recovery and other treatment options. That's why you need to leave the management of the legal end of your case to an experienced premises liability attorney. At Shaw Law Offices, it is our goal to help you get back on your feet as soon as possible and to hold the responsible parties accountable so that you can put this unfortunate incident behind you and move on with your life.
See the Value of Your Claim or Case 24/7 on Your SmartPhone With the "EasyCase" App -- The Only Personal Injury Law Firm That Shows the Estimated Value of Your Case and Conclusion Date at Your Convenience
The most common question I get asked is "How Much is My Case Worth?" And the answer is always the same: it depends upon you, the defendant and what happened. But, now you can check and see the estimated value of your case (and get push-button notifications every time it changes) with the "EasyCase" smartphone app. The EasyCase app was invented by Attorney JJ Shaw to help you see the estimated value of your case 24/7 simply by checking your smartphone. While every case is different and no results can be guaranteed, Attorney JJ Shaw has taken his 30+ years of legal experience handling cases like yours and will give you an estimated value of your case early on that you can check 24/7. As the case progresses and developments change, this estimated value will increase/decrease accordingly. And you will be informed each step of the way. In addition to seeing the estimated worth of your case, you can also check WHEN the case will be concluded (estimated). We are the only Indiana law firm that provides this service. So, how do we figure our the estimated value? The first issue to decide is the fault of the defendant compared to whether you had any role in causing your own injury (inattention, bad driving, etc.).
Think of Fault Like a Pizza the Jury Must Divide
In Indiana, a jury verdict for money is reduced by the amount of your own fault in causing the injury. The defendant's fault is then multiplied by your total damages. It's like a big pizza of "fault." If the Defendant's fault is 3/4 or 75% for causing the injury compared to 25% for you -- well, that reduces your recovery. So, if your verdict was for $100,000 but the Defendant was only 75% at fault for causing your injury, then your recovery would be (100,000 x. 75) or $75,000. That's one reason it is so very important to get an attorney who knows how to win a jury trial case -- it has a big impact on your recovery. Shaw Law Offices knows how to present a jury trial using the words that produce a psychological effect upon a jury. At the same time, we believe in the importance of technology and the use of audio-visual demonstrative exhibits to help the jury understand what happened and why the Defendant was "at fault."
The Second Biggest Factor in the Worth of Your Specific Case Depends Upon the Severity of Your Injuries -- See Your Doctor
This concept can be difficult for clients to understand. Yes, "fault" is a big deal. But, even if the Defendant was 100% at fault in causing your injuries, most cases still have a "range of value" that depends upon your injury. Broken legs are usually paid at a certain range. Spinal surgeries, too. That might sound crass, but in today's age of sharing copious amounts of information by computer, the defendant's insurance company knows the typical range of settlements. So, they rarely offer any settlement outside the "range" of your injury. So, your case worth depends upon your injury. In Indiana, a jury can award damages based upon:
  • The nature and extent of your injury
  • Whether the injury was permanent or temporary
  • The scars or disfigurement of the injury
  • Its effect upon your ability to earn income in the future
  • The pain involved that caused suffering or mental anguish
  • The amount of your medical bills
  • What do you do if you don't like or want to accept the offered amount?
Well, you always have the ability to request that your amount be determined by a jury of your peers -- not the insurance company. And, remember, you might be exactly right. Not every case fits neatly into little cubbyholes of value. Attorney JJ Shaw has won two separate cases for over $1,000,000+ verdicts when the injured person was offered $5,000 and $35,000 on each case. Sometimes, juries see the worth and value of your personal injury case in a much different light than insurance companies who tend to get cynical and jaded over time handling these cases. For example, a scar on a child's face might not cost much in medical bills (after all, a few treatments might be all that can be done). But, it has a big impact on a jury's assessment of the case. That child will have to live with that disfigurement her entire life. That affects people and it affects juries. The mere fact an injury happens to a child rather than an adult also affects the value of a case greatly. After all, we all love children and juries are no different. But that doesn't mean your case has little value if you are an adult. The story of the impact the injury had upon your life is equally important. I'd much rather explain your pain to people of a jury -- people like you who know how hard it is to work and be injured. Who know how hard it is to support a family. Who knows how an injury affects those things and causes great emotional turmoil in addition to physical pain and medical bills. So, your lawyer's ability to explain pain, suffering and impact to a jury in a professional, persuasive manner matters greatly.
The Third Biggest Factor in the Worth of Your Specific Case Depends Upon You and Your Likeability -- So be Your Nice Self
Studies show that the "X" factor in almost every personal injury case is your "likeability." That might seem inconsistent with what was said above, but it's not. People are people and insurance companies and juries are still run by people. And people tend to reward other people they like and punish people they do not like. It's human nature. That's why it is so important to conduct yourself professionally and calmly in every situation in which the opposing side or jury sees you. This does not mean be a milquetoast, whimpering fool -- you can still explain forcefully how the injury affected your life forever. But, don't be overly-dramatic when the situation does not call for it. Do not argue with the opposing lawyer. And most of all, show the Judge and jury respect. Do not interrupt. Do not argue. Follow instructions. You will get your chance before court to explain what happened in a deposition. A deposition is an out-of-court statement that is recorded when the defense lawyer asks you questions about what happened and how it affected you. Dress properly. Do not argue. Do not twist words. Be yourself. The "likable" version of yourself. We all have one.
The Fourth Biggest Factor in the Worth of Your Specific Case Depends Upon the Conduct of the Defendant -- Tell Your Lawyer What Happened
What the defendant did to cause your injury and how he/she acted after you were injured matters greatly to a jury. This concept is difficult for even lawyers to understand. But, I have seen it happen over and over in my 30 years of personal injury experience. If the Defendant failed to do something very simple and very cheap in an effort to save money -- often called the "Putting Profits Over Safety" theme of cases -- the jury will tend to award higher damages in a quasi-punitive manner. Even though punitive damages are not to be awarded, a jury will increase the value of the case subconsciously. Similarly, if the Defendant showed no remorse after the injury or was callous to the injured victim immediately afterward, juries will also award higher amounts. The explanation for this could be that a jury is more receptive to your testimony because they imagine themselves in that situation or family members. They don't want other Defendants to treat their family harshly, so they award higher amounts to discourage future conduct -- even if it is not directly linked to this particular Defendant. It's just human nature. Here at Shaw Law Offices we believe that nearly every accident is preventable. You should not have to bear the brunt of the negligence of someone else. You can hire us to start working on your case in less than 10 minutes.
Yes, unless the landowner caused the dangerous condition in the first place.Remember, in order to prevail in a premises liability case (slip and fall, trip and fall, etc.), you must prove there was a dangerous condition (hazard) on the defendant's land. But, that isn't all -- you must also show the landowner knew about the dangerous condition of "should" have known about the dangerous condition.This requirement is called knowledge or "notice."Often, defendants will claim they had no notice of the defect and should not have known about it. This will defeat your claim before a trial is held if the defendant can show it did not have "notice" of the defect (a legal document entitled "Motion for Summary Judgment" asks the Judge to throw out the case before trial happens).In short, a defendant must know about the dangerous defect in order to fix it. The law will not hold the business or landowner responsible unless you can show the defendant knew or should have known about it. Obviously, it is much easier to prove a broken sidewalk existed for a long time on the defendant's property rather than a grape that was knocked from the produce cooler a minute earlier. The longer the defect existed, the more likely you are to persuade a jury that you deserve compensation for your injuries.
Defining Notice in a Premises Case
You must be able to illustrate notice in a slip and fall accident case, which means that you must be able to show that the responsible party should have known or knew that a dangerous condition existed and that in failing to correct this or to warn you about it, left you to suffer the consequences.
Kinds of Notice -- Actual Knowledge vs. Constructive Knowledge
One of the most challenging parts of proving a slip and fall injury claim is illustrating whether or not any duty was owed to the injured party. This refers to a term that many attorneys reference as the requirement for notice in these cases. The party that is bringing forth the claim of an injury bears the burden to prove that the owner or manager of the property had constructive or actual notice in order to fix the situation.Actual notice is much easier for victims to understand. This means that the owner of the property was indeed aware of a potential hazard and did not take the appropriate steps to remove the hazard or to notify you about it. If the accident happened on their property and you can show it was a breach of duty, the doors are open for compensation.Snow and ice hazardous conditions are a mixed bag. Obviously, it is easy to see when a snowfall occurs. The landowner should know when it is snowing, especially with smartphones to help aid weather forecasting for all people.But, it is common for a business owner to claim he or she did not realize there were icy conditions on the land. The business owner or landowner will allege that it is "impossible" to monitor a property 24/7 to check for snow and ice. While this is true, the landowner is not held to a standard of knowing the presence of ice or snow at all times, but rather whether a reasonable landowner would have known and done something about it to improve safety for customers.
What is Constructive Knowledge
The second type of notice -- constructive knowledge -- is more challenging to prove in a court of law and requires the experience of a dedicated lawyer like Attorney Jeff "JJ" Shaw to establish. This is known as constructive notice or construtive knowledge. This simply means the property owner or occupier "should have known" about the dangerous condition on the land and fixed it or warned about it."Should have known" means you may not be able to prove that the property owner himself actually knew about the hazard that caused you to slip and fall, but that a reasonable person would have.An important consideration in constructive knowledge cases is the identity of the defendant itself. It is a lot easier to prove that Walmart should have known about an upcoming ice storm than Jim's Local Grocery. Walmart, for example, has huge assets and lots of employees at its disposal to protect its property. Jim might be running the store himself. The law takes into consideration what a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances would do when deciding whether negligence took place.
How Does Shaw Law Offices Prove Actual or Constructive Knowledge
The best and only way to prove actual or constructive knowledge in a premises liability case comes through proper investigation. This investigation is called "discovery" under Indiana law. It includes written questions, requests to see documents and videotape, inspections and oral questioning of witnesses with knowledge.The best and easiest way to prove "actual" knowledge of a defect is an admission from the landowner himself that he knew the defect existed. In the case of a broken sidewalk, this can occur with regularity during the investigation. A statement out of court (called a deposition) allows Attorney Jeff "JJ" Shaw to ask the landowner directly if he knew about the broken sidewalk and what steps were taken to fix the danger or warn about it. The best way to prove "constructive knowledge" is to show the method of inspection by the landowner or business owner. Even if a dangerous condition of the land was temporary, the landowner must still inspect his property on a reasonable timely basis for problems. No longer can a landowner bury his head in the sand and put the onus of discovery upon the customer. Attorney Jeff "JJ" Shaw has over 30+ years of experience in performing investigations of landowners and business owners where people were injured on the property. Call or Text Shaw Law Offices at (877) 225-5742 and get Attorney Jeff "JJ" Shaw working on your case sometimes within 10 minutes of your call from the comfort of your own home.
No. Absolutely not. A business of landowner is only responsible to pay your bills after you prove they were "negligent" or "at fault" for causing your slip and fall injury. So, how do you prove the landowner was "at fault" or "negligent?" Many people mistakenly believe that if you fall on an owner's property, that it must pay for your medical bills and pain. That' simply not true. The property owner is not like an insurance company that must pay for your bad health -- you can only recover if you show that a hazardous condition caused your fall. That might seem unfair, but it's settled Indiana law.
The 2 Essential Things to Prove to Win a Slip and Fall Case
In order to win a slip and fall case, the injured person must be able to prove two things:
  • A hazardous condition on the property cause the fall; and
  • The defendant had "notice" of the hazard.
This might sound elementary, but it's amazing how many times the two elements can get confusing. Being able to prove these elements is necessary to move your case forward to a jury. Oftentimes, a defendant property owner's lawyer will file what is called a "Motion for Summary Judgment" which asks the Judge to throw the case out of court before a trial because one or both of these elements cannot be proven because Indiana law follows laws from a long time ago that require these two elements be shown in order to win. Let's look first at "hazardous condition." This is a legal term that simply means that "something" improper caused your fall. It can mean a foreign object on the floor like a BB or a pellet. It can mean a slippery substance on a floor like water or snow/ice or oil. It can mean a crack in pavement; uneven concrete; or even a pothole. It simply means that a condition of the land caused you to fall out of the ordinary and dangerous -- other than you tripping over your feet or fainting. That's why it's so important to attempt to document what caused your fall after you fall to try and remember. Indiana law does not require you to know exactly what type of item or substance caused your fall. For example, it is okay to fall and then realize it was ice that caused you to fall because you felt it with your hands while you tried to stand up. Or after a fall you feel your pants and they are greasy and you remember your shoes slipping like they were on grease. Also, your case can proceed if it was somebody else that saw what caused your fall or an incident report describes the foreign substance or item. Defects can be shown by people other than yourself. The second thing you must prove in order to win is "notice." Notice is often called "knowledge" of the Defendant of the dangerous condition of his land. The idea here is that it would be unfair to impose liability upon a landowner or business owner for a dangerous condition of his land if he did not know about or have time to fix it. There are two types of notice, however, that can suffice to a court of law. One is called "actual knowledge" -- this means the landowner knew of the dangerous condition, like snow and ice, but did nothing about it. The other notice that suffices is called "constructive knowledge" -- this means the landowner or business owner should have known of the dangerous condition when compared to a similarly situated, reasonable landowner. An example of this would be a large pothole in the middle of a parking lot. Potholes take many months to come into existence. Indiana law says a landowner must make reasonable periodic inspections of his property. If a landowner failed to do this, it can be assumed he should have realized the pothole existed, so that he is imputed "constructive knowledge." This constructive knowledge is only afforded to invitees on Indiana property like invited guests and customers. Trespassers are not afforded "constructive knowledge" of the landowner. A landowner must only refrain from intentionally injuring a trespasser. Finally, how long the defect must exist before "constructive knowledge" is imputed to the landowner or business owner depends upon the facts of the case and the type of defect. Obviously, the pothole example takes a significant amount of time. On the other hand, a grocery store videotape might reveal that spilled milk in an aisle occurred only 10 minutes before a fall that injured a customer. In this circumstance, it might be difficult to prove the grocery store owner had "constructive knowledge" of the problem. On the other hand, if you can show the defect was caused by the landowner himself, there is no need to prove notice at all. An example is a leaking cooler or refrigerator that leaks water or cooling fluid into an aisle that injures a person. Because the business owner caused the dangerous condition, he cannot take the added protection of requiring the injured person to prove the landowner knew about it. There are an infinite amount of dangerous defects that cause a person to fall and get injured. Proving knowledge depends upon the facts of the case. You need an experienced lawyer like Attorney Jeff "JJ" Shaw to help with these difficult concepts. Call or text (877) 225-5742 to get Attorney Jeff "JJ" Shaw on your case within minutes from the comfort of your own home.
Yes and Yes. You can collect for more than just medical bills and lost wages under Indiana law. The exact amount is unknown, but Shaw Law Offices is the only Indiana personal injury law firm that shows you an estimate of your case value WHILE the case is pending on your cell phone with the "EasyCase" smartphone app. You can download it at Apple/Google and see an estimate any time you choose. In Indiana, a jury can award money damages after considering eight (8) separate and distinct categories. Some are easy mathematical calculations; others like pain and suffering are not capable of calculation but are numbers the jury thinks is “fair.” But first, in order to recover any money damages for a slip and fall or trip and fall incident under Indiana law, the injured person must prove two things:
  1. A hazardous condition on the property caused the fall; and
  2. The defendant had "notice" of the hazard.
These legal concepts can be difficult to pursue on your own. Finally, you must prove that the fall directly caused your injuries. If you can prove this concept of “proximate cause” then you can recover money damages. Under Indiana law, you are entitled to more than just medical expenses as a recovery. In fact, in deciding the amount of money a jury can award, they are required to consider the following 8 categories:
  1. The nature and extent of the injury and the effect of the injury on the plaintiff’s ability to function as a whole person;
  2. Whether the injury is temporary or permanent;
  3. The value of lost time and lost earnings and loss or impairment of earning capacity (in the future);
  4. The physical pain and mental suffering the plaintiff has experienced and will experience in the future as a result of the injury;
  5. The reasonable value of necessary medical care, treatment, and services plaintiff incurred and will incur in the future as a result of the injury;
  6. The aggravation of a pre-existing injury or condition;
  7. The disfigurement and or deformity resulting from the injury;
  8. And the life expectancy of the plaintiff.
Some of these categories require a strict mathematical calculation, e.g., lost wages can be determined by multiplying the days off work by an hourly wage or lost future earnings can be calculated by determining the amount of time to be lost in the future. Similarly, medical expenses can be determined by looking at the amount of the medical bills the plaintiff must pay back (either before or after health insurance payments are made, if any). But, some of the categories are not capable of being calculated mathematically. For example, the pain and suffering the plaintiff has experienced or will experience in the future is a very subjective figure that isn’t easily assigned a numerical figure. So, how does a jury determine the amount that would reasonably compensate pain and suffering in a slip and fall case? Well, witnesses help explain the amount of pain. Plaintiff’s doctors can testify as to the severity of the injury plaintiff experienced and assess the level of pain based upon his education and experience. Although juries cannot be told of other court cases where pain and suffering verdicts were reached, they can hear Attorney Jeff “JJ” Shaw explain different reasonable methods of determining the amount. Attorney Jeff “JJ” Shaw believes that juries should hear and be guided with real figures as to a variety of methods a jury can use to determine a reasonable amount of compensation for “pain and suffering” or scars (disfigurement) or a permanent injury versus a temporary injury that will heal over time. Finally, the Judge will instruct the jury that Plaintiff does not have to present evidence of the dollar value of his or her pain, suffering, or mental anguish or deformity or disfigurement. These types of damages need not be proven to a mathematical certainty. The Plaintiff must prove the nature and extent of these types of damages, however. The dollar value, if any, of these damages is left to the jury’s “good judgment.” Attorney Jeff “JJ” Shaw, who has over 30+ years of premises experience without a single jury verdict loss of any kind in a slip and fall case. As you can see, when it comes to instructing or helping a jury on determining a fair amount for your slip and fall case, it takes an experienced hand. Call or Text (877) 225-5742 and hire Attorney Jeff “JJ” Shaw to pursue your case within 10 minutes from the comfort of your own home.
Surprisingly, the answer is a qualified "yes." But, not for the reason you might think. The reason why falling backward or forward is important to your case has to do with the requirement that you must prove a foreign object or dangerous defect of the land “caused” your fall. Sometimes, that is a difficult thing to know exactly what “caused” your fall. Remember, in order to win your case, you must show the landowner did something unreasonable that caused your slip and fall (or failed to do something reasonable). In other words, one cannot recover money damages simply because he or she fell upon somebody’s property – you must prove the landowner did something that caused your fall (or failed to do something). In order to recover money damages for a slip and fall or trip and fall incident under Indiana law, the injured person must prove two things:
  1. A hazardous condition on the property caused the fall; and
  2. The defendant had "notice" of the hazard.
This might sound easy, but it can end up being very difficult to prove, especially when you aren’t sure exactly why you fell. Showing whether you fell backward or forward might help prove that a “hazardous condition” was actually the cause of your fall and not simply losing your balance or tripping over one’s own feet. While knowing what caused your fall isn’t exactly a requirement, knowing it was “something” the landowner did or failed to do that caused the condition is required. Fortunately, Indiana law does not require that you know exactly what item or condition caused your fall – it’s okay to just know it was “something” and not simply losing one’s balance. In the case of Barz v. Shapiro’s Deli (Ind. App. 1992), Mrs. Barsz testified that she "slipped on something that was like I was outside on ice or maybe it was grease... ." Although Mrs. Barsz did not specifically identify the defect that caused her fall, she did say that she fell and slipped on "something." If she was to be believed, then this established the presence of a foreign object which caused her fall and not simply tripping. This was enough to see the case when to trial and was not thrown out beforehand by a Motion for Summary Judgment. Similarly, your case can also be strengthened or weakened depending upon whether you fell backward or forward. The idea is one of consistency – some dangerous defects like ice and snow usually result in a person slipping backward; obstructions and rises in elevation, on the other hand, usually cause a person to trip forward. The mechanics of a slip and fall on ice and snow usually demonstrates the foot of the person walking “slips” out in front of them, causing the pedestrian to fall backward, often on his or her buttocks. On the other hand, pedestrians who encounter an unlevel rise in a sidewalk or a defect that is in his or her path, will stub the toe and fall forward, often breaking a wrist or hurting the shoulder area. Consequently, if your allegation that the defect that caused your slip and fall was ice, your story is scientifically corroborated if you fell backward and landed on your buttocks. If your story involves tripping over a rise in elevation or an obstruction in your path like a wooden pallet in your pathway, you would be expected to fall forward as your momentum carries you to the ground. Your injury, too, can scientifically corroborate your allegations of what caused your fall. A shoulder and wrist injury can be assumed to be due to a tripping mechanism. A broken leg is often the cause of a twisting motion going backward or sideways. Of course, there are exceptions to these rules as the human body is a complex and unknowing thing. So, how does Shaw Law Offices and Attorney Jeff “JJ” Shaw attempt to prove the your fall was caused by a hazardous condition even when you don’t know exactly what caused your fall? It starts with a proper investigation. Shaw Law Offices is allowed to perform “discovery” under Indiana law. We review incident reports, inspection reports and other investigatory materials to search for what could have caused your fall. We interview witnesses and send both oral and written questions to determine what was seen, by whom and when. We also examine medical records and talk with your doctors to ask if the type of injury suffered is consistent with your story of what happened. There are many other facts that can prove what caused your slip and fall. These legal concepts can be difficult to pursue on your own. Hire Attorney Jeff “JJ” Shaw, who has over 30+ years of premises experience without a single jury verdict loss of any kind. Call or Text (877) 225-5742 and hire Attorney Jeff “JJ” Shaw to pursue your case within 10 minutes from the comfort of your own home.
Surprisingly, the answer is yes. You might be surprised to learn this and that almost all safety people agree with this assessment. In fact, the ASTM International -- a safety organization formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials -- says so. Founded in 1898, the ASTM International is an organization that provides and publishes over 12,000 safety standards to be followed throughout the entire world. Those standards apply to a wide range of materials, services and products. The ASTM International has over 30,000 members, including over 1,150 organizations all devoted to safety. Its members originally included scientists and engineers, but today membership includes all types of individuals and groups. Although the standards are voluntary guidelines, there are many federal, state and municipal regulations that have adopted them. This includes ASTM Standard F1637, which reads “Short flight stairs shall be avoided when possible…[or] obvious visual cues shall be provided.” Most pedestrians will look ahead a few feet in the direction of travel and not stare perfectly at the ground. This causes missteps when it comes to short flight stairs. Short flight stairs (any stairway that is made up of 3 or less stairs) are dangerous because people tend to not visually recognize the short drop and end up taking a short step and falling. This can cause big injuries. It is very easy for the human eye to not notice a depth decrease of a few inches without a visual cue. To test this theory, imagine for a moment that you are descending stairs and approach a stairway with 7 or 8 risers downward. It is very easy for the human eye to detect such a large drop in elevation. But, when compared to a slight drop of a few inches or more, such as in a single riser situation, it is easy for the human eye to not be able to detect any descent whatsoever. Missteps can then occur; often with disastrous results. The ASTM International is not the only safety organization that recognizes the dangers of a single riser stairway. The “\Guidelines for Stair Safety, Guideline No. 2.5.6 “Accentuation of Single Steps” also comments “If there is a single step within a room…. then provide patterns of illumination, color or other cues to emphasize the location of the step.” This guideline, while voluntary in nature, warns business and landowners that single steps can go unrecognized by persons ascending or descending that single riser if a visual cue is not provided. This is why you might often see yellow paint or different colored carpets or floor textures on each side of the single step. The human brain simply has a difficult time appreciating small changes in elevation while walking. Similarly, the Life Safety Code Handbook, Guideline A-5-1.6.2, Small Changes in Elevation also goes on to remark “[S}mall changes of elevation of floors are best avoided because of the increased occurrence of missteps where…single steps [are]…not readily apparent.” Look at the example in the two photographs below. As you can see, the ability for the human brain to recognize a short descent pales in comparison to the ascending view. The simplest method of avoiding injuries in these examples is to simply eliminate single riser stairs. But, when that cannot be accomplished architects are recommended to use design features that increase safety. While codes vary from state to state and city to city, here are some design features that help.
  1. Landing and tread edges must be made visually apparent (paint, textures).
  2. In two riser stairs, use a minimum tread depth.
  3. Addition of a sloping handrail within 30” of the pedestrian’s path helps provide a visual cue of a descent.
  4. Replace the single riser with a ramp.
Attorney Jeff “JJ” Shaw has been handling single riser and short flight stair trip and fall cases for decades. Call or Text (877) 225-5742 to get Attorney Shaw working on your case within 10 minutes from the comfort of your own home.
Is Ice More Slippery in Indiana?
That might seem like a ridiculous allegation, at first, but the answer might be “perhaps.” But, before we can answer why, first we must determine why ice is slippery in the first place. Why ice is slippery might seem as elementary as “why is water wet?” But, it’s an important question for lawyers who engage in premises liability law with multiple clients injured on ice each winter. Surprisingly, the science on the issue is amazingly complex and there was no clear consensus among the experts as to why people slip and fall when walking upon ice until recently. Scientists assumed for decades that ice was slippery due to a thin layer of water melting by pressure whenever a step was made upon the ice. “Pressure melting” was the assumption that the pressure of our feet makes the top layer of ice melt into water. However, scientific testing was difficult to achieve at such a microscopic level involving humans and scientists eventually were able to conclude that people weren’t nearly heavy enough to melt ice by stepping on it. "I think everybody agrees that this cannot possibly be, " said Mischa Bonn, director of the molecular spectroscopy department at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (Germany). "The pressures would need to be so extreme, you can't even achieve it by putting an elephant on high heels." A similar, but different, theory alleged that “friction” movement by humans created a thin layer of ice upon the surface of the ice, thus causing it to be slippery. But, this was easily disproven as anybody who has worn a pair of ice skates on an ice rink will tell you – they tend to slip before moving their feet. Additionally, anybody who has spilled water on their kitchen floor can tell you the water is slippery – but not as “slippery” as ice. "The water-layer theory doesn't make much sense," said Daniel Bonn, a physicist at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. "If you spill some water on your kitchen floor, it becomes slippery but not very slippery ... Just a layer of water will not do it." So, the science moved on. Why is ice slippery? This led to the “loose molecules” theory. A paper was presented on May 9, 2018 by Mischa and Daniel Bonn (brothers in real life) to The Journal of Chemical Physics, which attempted to answer the question once and for all. The “loose molecules” theory started with a description of ice below the surface: it has a very orderly, neat crystal structure with each water molecule in the ice being attached to three others. But, on the surface, water molecules can only attach to two other molecules. This creates massive surface instability as the water molecules detach and reattach to other water molecules at a rapid rate whenever they move. But, these reattaching molecules are not the same thing as a thin layer of water: in fact, the rapid detachment and reattachment makesthe water molecules mimic a gas rather than a liquid according to the Bonn brothers. Even more fascinating is the fact that the “slipperiness” increases as the temperature of the ice approaches the melting point near 32 degrees. This is due to the movement being more frequent at warmer temperatures (molecules move more as they are heated up). In fact, scientists have determined that ice in the Antarctic in 40 below degree temperatures do not have “loose molecules” moving more freely, so the ice is not as slippery as ice near the melting point outside. The bottom line is this: be careful out there when walking in icy conditions, especially when walking when the temperature approaches 32 degrees (the freezing point). And the simple truth is that Indiana weather creates a lot of ice, but mostly near the freezing temperatures, and does not have freezing temperatures like that in Antarctica where ice loses its slippery nature due to the extreme cold. If you do fall, you need an experienced lawyer like Attorney Jeff JJ Shaw. He has over 30+ years of experience in handling personal injury cases of all kinds, especially in handling slip and fall cases on ice and icy parking lots and sidewalks in Indiana. Call or Text Shaw Law Offices at (877) 225-5742.
Yes, you can. If the landlord was at fault in causing a dangerous condition on the rental property. There are many types of situations where a tenant is hurt while renting property. It’s important to remember to establish a claim for “negligence” on the part of a landlord or apartment complex, you must show that the duty of “reasonable care” was breached (not met). This means the property owner must have actual or constructive knowledge (knew or should have known) of the presence of the hazardous condition in order to be held liable. Schulz v. Kroger Co., 963 N.E.2d 1141, 1144 (Ind. Ct. App. 2012).
Types of Claims Against Landlords for Injuries on Rental Properties
Tenants can get hurt if they slip and fall on a hazardous condition on the landlord’s property – but only under certain circumstances. These include slip and falls in common areas (areas where all tenants are welcome like hallways or meeting areas); slip and falls in parking lots and sidewalks; or slip and falls due to defects within the apartment or rental property. Other cases include a dangerous condition on the property about which you've warned the landlord, such as missing handrail or cracked stairs. If you are attacked by another tenant or a criminal, that is called a “negligent security” case (see the section on “negligent security” on this website). Landlords can be held liable for tenants who slip on ice and snow on sidewalks and the parking lot that is potentially dangerous. A landlord or apartment complex owner simply cannot ignore snow and ice conditions and hope to avoid liability. Affirmative action must be taken -- a property owner has a general duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition – and this duty applies to the removal of natural accumulations of snow and ice. Hammond v. Allegretti, 262 Ind. 82, 311 N.E.2d 821 (1974).
How to Start an Indiana Slip and Fall Injury Landlord Case
In order to pursue a personal injury case for a slip and fall accident in Indiana, you must prove “negligence” to be successful. Negligence is the failure to exercise “reasonable care” under the circumstances. At Shaw Law, we believe it is never “reasonable” to do anything but the safest choice available to the landlord – especially if that choice costs nothing or a little bit more of money to make the property safe for everybody. Consult with us at Shaw Law to get straight talk and real answers whether you have a claim against your landlord.
When are Landlords Responsible for My Injuries in Indiana?
One way to hold a landlord responsible for a dangerous condition is if they would have discovered the condition based on a reasonable inspection of the property, or if you or another tenant informed them about the dangerous condition and they took no action to fix it. Another way to hold a landlord responsible is if the landlord was aware of the dangerous condition and didn't put up an appropriate warning sign to advise you of the potential danger.
Can I Recover for Slip and Falls in My own Apartment
Maybe. Sometimes a person can get injured slipping and falling in his own apartment – or be injured by deficient items within the apartment – such as a leaking dishwasher or tub which deposits water on floors to make them unsafe. “Notice” of the defect is important in cases where you are injured inside your own apartment. Keep track of all complaints made to a landlord and repairs made to your apartment or house. It might be important later if that item causes your injury. If you have informed the landlord and the landlord fails to correct this condition and you suffered injuries in an accident as a result, you can try to prove that the landlord was negligent. Another important consideration is the lease itself. Some leases surrender possession of the entire premises to you, the tenant, which attempts to relieve the landlord for any liability in a subsequent injury during the leasehold. Some leases have what is known as "exculpatory clauses" which attempts to relieve the landlord from his own negligence for all types of tenant injuries. Indiana allows these types of clauses -- that's why it is important to see Shaw Law Offices after an injury at a rental house caused by any landlord to see if the clause is valid or not. The bottom line is this – it’s difficult to navigate a personal injury case against a landlord or apartment complex without excellent legal assistance. Call us at Shaw Law Offices for real answers. We get you back on your feet.
Jeffrey Shaw, Esq.

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