Slip & Fall FAQs
A person who is injured in a slip and fall in Indiana can have many questions, such as:
- How did this happen?
- Is it my fault?
- Can I recover for my injuries suffered from the landowner or somebody else?
These are all good questions. And we here at Shaw Law, Attorney Jeff JJ Shaw, try our best below to answer some of the most common and basic questions a person can have after a slip and fall, trip and fall, or premises liability case.
Also, feel free to refer to the 100 Top FAQs that we have developed from people just like you over the prior 30+ years of handling premises liability claims and lawsuits.
- Slip and Fall Frequently Asked Questions : Additional Questions
- Slip and Fall Frequently Asked Questions : Settlements
- Slip and Fall Frequently Asked Questions : Lawsuits
Shaw Law breaks the mold. In our over 30+ years of experience, we have not lost a single slip and fall or trip and fall verdict -- not one, not once, never. One reason for this incredible winning streak is our intense preparation before the trial. We use every discovery and investigation technique that is available to a personal injury law firm to determine if the landowner or business own did a reasonable attempt to keep its land free from dangerous defects. Remember, Indiana premises liability law does not require that a landowner keep its property free from "all" dangerous defects (for example, everyone can agree that snow and ice are dangerous substances to walk upon, but it is virtually impossible for an Indiana landowner to keep its property free from ice and snow). Indiana courts only require the landowner to make a "reasonable" effort to keep its property free from dangerous defects. This means that a person who falls on ice and snow in a parking lot must prove the landowner was not "reasonable" in its attempts to keep the property safe for customers.
As you read through the questions and answers below, you might start to have some of your own questions. Call or text Shaw Law at (877) 225-5742 to ask a question.
What Should I do After I'm Injured?
Time is of the essence because Indiana statute of limitations laws only allow you to pursue compensation within two years after the injury and accident has occurred.
Many injured customers underestimate the potential impact of a slip and fall accident and believe that their injuries are minor. Regardless of whether or not you perceive your injuries to be minor, far too many medical conditions such as internal organ damage or concussions might not be readily apparent to the naked eye at the scene of the accident.
Instead, you need to be evaluated carefully by a medical professional to rule out more serious diagnoses. After you have gotten medical attention, you also need to gather all the evidence surrounding the accident itself such as pictures or videos of the dangerous condition, any accident reports that you had to fill out at the scene of the incident, and your medical records.
Document anything and everything that affects your day-to-day life, including how difficult it is for you to carry out regular activities, how long you missed from work and any additional expense or challenges you face in your day-to-day life.
Who Is Liable in a Slip and Fall Accident?
The landowner or business where you were injured might be liable to you for damages including:
- lost wages
- medical bills
- pain and suffering
- the general loss of the quality of your life
A landowner owes the invitee the duty to keep its land reasonably safe for the customer. The landowner or business owner must try all reasonable measures to keep its land safe. This includes the duty to exercise reasonable care. This means the landowner must remedy (or clean up) all dangerous defects upon the land that it knows about or "should" know about. This requirement of "should know" means a landowner or business owner must perform reasonable inspections to discover dangerous conditions upon the land.
On the other hand, if you are a trespasser on another's property, then the landowner owes you the lowest duty under Indiana law. This duty to trespassers is only that the landowner must not intentionally hurt trespassers without a warning (for example, you might have seen stories about landowners who construct booby-traps like a trapdoor or a gun rigged to fire upon uninvited entrants).
Determining who is liable in a slip and fall injury is extremely important. More than one individual or entity could be held liable in a premises liability accident. This means determining that the person or persons involved knew about the dangerous condition and failed to fix it or post warnings about it or would have had reason to discover this dangerous condition.
Should I Sign a Release?
No. If a release is presented while you are still treating medically, you might be signing away your rights to fair compensation down the road.
It is common for insurance companies to "get statements" quickly after a slip and fall. They often offer menial amounts of money quickly, too, like $500 or $1000 to "help you on the way." But what the insurance company adjuster isn't telling you is that you might be waiving or giving up your rights to future compensation. Indiana does not do "piecemeal" settlements -- all monies must come at one time. And if you take your modest of money now -- you could be barred forever from getting more down the road and a fair settlement.
A release could be presented to you by a property owner or manager who is concerned about his or her liability in a legal claim. These releases may often absolve that person of liability entirely, and for this reason should always be avoided. You should never sign any piece of paper after a personal injury sustained on someone else's property in Indiana until you've had the opportunity to speak to your own personal injury lawyer.
At Shaw Law, we’ll help you figure out if your release is in your best interests. We want to get you back on your feet again with a fair and full settlement or award.
Why Does a Person Slip & Fall on Certain Types of Floors & Not Others?
One of the questions we get at Shaw Law most often is whether a business store floor or restaurant floor was “too slippery” to be negligence on the part of the landowner.
And, oftentimes, our answer of “that depends” can leave some people unimpressed. But the answer is a truthful one. “Slipperiness” can depend upon a wide variety of factors such as the composition of the floor, the type of footwear used, whether the floor was clear or dirty and if foreign substances or liquids were present on the floor and even the method of human locomotion at the time can affect the determination.
Can I Recover Against My Landlord?
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 to be held liable.
Can I Recover Damages if I Fell During a Snowstorm in Indiana?
Maybe. The real question isn’t whether the slip and fall occurred during a snowstorm, but rather how long the snow and ice that caused the slip and fall had been present on the property.
It’s important to remember to establish a claim for “negligence” on the part of a landowner or business like a store or restaurant for your slip and fall, 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.
For example, a 3-to-4-day period between the formation of an icy patch and the slip and fall of an injured person was held to be enough time to hold a business owner responsible for failing to clear an apartment complex’s common area when the injured party offered proof that the icy patches recurred over time and that complaints had been made about it prior to the fall.
If you've recently been hurt in a snow and ice slip and fall accident in Indiana, you might be eligible to pursue a liability claim against a property owner or manager if he or she was negligent in removing the snowy and icy hazards and failed to keep the property in a reasonable condition so as to avoid accidents.
Can I Recover if I'm Injured at a Friend's House?
Yes. You can recover against the homeowner if his or her fault led to your injury and if the dangerous condition was known to the homeowner. What can make the situation more difficult and challenging is if you were hurt on another person’s property and this person is a neighbor, a family member, or a friend. You might not want to sue your friend. You might feel as though you are harming them or causing their insurance rates to rise.
Can I Sue My Homeowners' Association?
Yes, you can. If the HOA played a role in causing the dangerous condition of its property, then you can pursue a claim against that HOA.
If you have been hurt in a premises liability accident that you believe was caused in whole or in part by a HOA, it is vital to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. At Shaw Law, we have a track record of fully investigating all possible avenues for you to recover compensation after a premises liability lawsuit. And we will also walk you through each phase of the case and advise you if obstacles arise so that you feel empowered and understand what to do next.
Do Cruise Ships Have Liability for Slip & Fall Accidents?
A great vacation can go awry when a cruise ship slip and fall accident occurs. A person who is hurt on a cruise ship, which is likely out in the open water or many miles away from their home country, could present unique challenges in terms of a premises liability lawsuit.
Most visitors to a cruise ship don't understand their legal rights or their responsibilities when it comes to a cruise ship accident. Most people choose to go on a cruise for the purpose of a relaxing vacation. However, there are many different opportunities aboard cruise ships for someone to be seriously hurt, and in fact, slip and fall accidents are some of the most common incidents aboard cruise ships.
Accidents that are caused by the negligence of the cruise line or its employees and agents can lead to a premises liability lawsuit. The cruise line becomes liable for a passenger's injury when that person suffers an injury due to the negligence of the cruise line. That company then becomes accountable for the passenger's pain and suffering, medical bills, future earning capacity, future medical treatment, and lost wages from missed work.
What Is a Statute of Limitation?
Indiana "statutes of limitation" laws say that a person must file a lawsuit (not just a claim) in the Indiana court system before 2 years or else the claim is forever "barred" or waived. Failure to do so timely is a jurisdictional defect under Indiana law. That means the defendant landowner, or his insurance company can allege this defense at any time during your lawsuit and, if true, the Court has no option but to throw the case out and dismiss it.
Consequently, it is important to schedule a consultation with a premises liability lawyer. Premises liability lawsuits are filed by people who have been injured in a slip and falls or trip and falls.
What Happens if I Slip & Fall in an Airbnb or VRBO Home?
Airbnb has quickly become a popular way for people to travel and stay in locations outside of traditional hotels, but problems may arise in the event of a premises liability accident. Who is responsible if you are hurt in an Airbnb property while traveling?
However, Airbnb’s may be more prone to accidents and guest injuries than hotels. This is because homeowners do not have lifeguards, maintenance crews, security cards, or regular fire inspections as a hotel would.
Liability is relatively straightforward in hotel cases because commercial businesses, such as resorts, motels and hotels are responsible for ensuring that their properties are free from hazards based on existing premises liability laws. Homeowner liability is the most common ending in current Airbnb cases since the company itself protects their individual interests in the terms of service when a user signs up to list their home on Airbnb.
Capturing evidence immediately after the incident is important, because unlike an exterior hazard that wouldn’t be easy for a property owner to remove quickly, whatever caused your AirBnB injury might have been removed from the property. Worse yet, the owner might block you from accessing the property once they know you have a claim.
A homeowner could be responsible for guest injuries that occurred in an Airbnb if the homeowner lied to the company when he or she joined. Airbnb does not check the safety of individual listings, but requests that homeowners’ complete certain steps to minimize the risks of accidents, including removing trip and fall hazards, checking smoke alarms, establishing limits for occupancy, fixing any exposed wires, and addressing other safety issues.
Must I Know Why the Floor Was Slippery?
One of the questions we get at Shaw Law most often is whether a business store floor or restaurant floor was “too slippery” to be negligent on the part of the landowner.
And oftentimes, our answer of “that depends” can leave some people unimpressed. But the answer is a truthful one. “Slipperiness” can depend upon a wide variety of factors such as the composition of the floor, the type of footwear used, whether the floor was clear or dirty and if foreign substances or liquids were present on the floor and even the method of human locomotion at the time can affect the determination.
Whether a floor was “too slippery” is an important consideration under Indiana law which requires the injured party to explain what he or she fell upon. It’s clearly not enough to merely say “I fell” upon somebody’s property and attempt to recover damages. Proving that a defect existed of some kind is an essential requirement before an injured person can recover – even though a slip and fall occurred, and injuries happened.
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. At Shaw Law, we’ll handle the insurance company for you. We’ll work to get you back on your feet again.
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 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.
Is Ice More Slippery in Indiana Than Other Places?
That might seem like a ridiculous question, at first, but the answer is “perhaps.”
Be careful 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.
Are Single Riser or Short Flight Stairs More Dangerous Than Multi-Step Stairways?
Surprisingly, the answer is yes. In fact, the ASTM International -- a safety organization formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials -- says so.
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.
Does It Matter Whether I Fell Backward or Forward?
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, 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).
To recover money damages for a slip and fall or trip and fall incident under Indiana law, the injured person must prove two things:
- A hazardous condition on the property caused the fall; and
- 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.
Can I Recover Money for More Than Just Medical Bills?
Yes. You can collect for more than just medical bills and lost wages under Indiana law. The exact amount is unknown, but Shaw Law 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.
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:
- A hazardous condition on the property caused the fall; and
- The defendant had "notice" of the hazard.
How Much Is My Case Worth?
It depends upon you, the defendant and what happened.
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. If the Defendant's fault is 3/4 or 75% for causing the injury compared to 25% for you -- well, that reduces your recovery.
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