Slip & Fall Injuries
Is a Business or Landowner Required to Pay My Medical Bills If I Slip and Fall, and Get Injured on Their Property in Indiana?
No. The landowner or business owner is not required to pay your medical bills at any time after you slip and fall, or trip and fall, on their property and get injured, until you prove “fault” on their part. This is often called “negligence” on the part of the landowner.
How do you prove the landowner was at fault? Well, let’s examine Indiana premises liability law from a slip and fall attorney in Indiana’s keen perspective.
Slip and Fall Laws in Indiana Explained
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 caused 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. This is because Indiana law follows specific laws from the distant past 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 something happened to cause your fall other than you tripping over your feet or fainting.
Many people mistakenly believe that if you fall on an owner’s property that the owner of that property must pay for your medical bills, pain and suffering, etc. That’s 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.
That’s why it’s so important to attempt to document what caused your fall, after it happens. Fortunately, Indiana law does not require that you know exactly what caused your fall before you fell; it’s okay to simply recognize it was “something” out of the ordinary and not a loss of balance on your own. A skilled slip and fall attorney can help you with any questions you may have about accident and injury law in Indiana.
This recognition of the foreign substance or defect can come after you fall. For example, it is okay to fall and then realize it was ice that caused your fall because you felt it with your hands as you attempted to stand up, or after the fall you realized that your clothes were cold and wet, so it must have been a liquid on the floor that caused you to fall. Indiana law says that it is okay to recognize the hazard—after you fell.
Additionally, it’s sufficient to recognize the hazard by means other than yourself—a witness, or a photograph, or an incident report that describes the hazard is sufficient to keep your case moving forward. Hazards can be proven by other means than your own account.
The second thing you must prove in order to win is “notice.” This is a trickier concept and when you work with us as your slip and fall attorney in Indiana, we’ll help you fully understand all the options available to you, and the complexity of each in regard to accomplishing your goal. Many people have a hard time understanding why “notice” to the defendant property owner is required to be proven by the injured person. Once again, it’s old Indiana law, rooted in a sense of fairness to the landowner. If the landowner did not know there was a hazard, why should he or she be held responsible for not fixing it?
Consequently, you must show the landowner knew about the hazard (actual knowledge or actual notice) or should have known about the hazard (constructive knowledge or constructive notice) and didn’t fix the problem or warn about it.
How long the hazard existed in that particular spot helps determine whether the defendant knew or should have known about the hazard. Clearly, if something is completely unknown to the defendant and impossible for him or her to discover, you cannot win your case. That wouldn’t be fair to the property owner.
On the other hand, if you can show the hazard was caused by the natural activities of the property owner itself (like a leaky cooler in a grocery store), you might not be required to prove “notice” at all. It might be assumed the landowner knew by law.
The idea of “notice” is designed to show fairness to the property owner. The law requires that a defendant property owner have a reasonable opportunity to remedy the defect. For example, if a pothole existed for a few months, that would probably be an unreasonable time period for the property owner to ignore it. The longer the defect was on the property, the more likely the law considers the landowner to have had “constructive knowledge.” Additionally, the landowner is required to do periodic timely inspections of his or her property. They can no longer simply ignore the property and let the customers fend for their own safety.
Temporary conditions like ice and snow can make it more difficult to prove that the landowner knew or should have known of the defect, and had time to remedy it. For example, Indiana law doesn’t require the property owner to plow his or her parking lot during a snowstorm because it would simply get snowed over again, even though snow is certainly a “hazardous condition” that can cause a fall.
There are millions of ways in which a person can fall. Proving “notice” is dependent upon the facts, and each situation is different. A jury will decide what is a “reasonable” amount of time to allow a defendant property owner to remedy her or his hazardous condition. It has been ruled by Indiana courts that overnight was not enough time for a landowner to inspect and plow his land before customers arrived. On the other hand, a matter of a few days was decided to be enough time. And it can be argued the size of the defendant also plays a role in how much time is appropriate.
We have now explained what steps you need to take to win a slip and fall case, a few of the many benefits of hiring a slip and fall attorney in Indiana, and how truly challenging these slip and fall cases can be to win in a court of law.
We highlighted what makes us different and what has allowed Shaw Law to be successful for over 50+ years of combined experience. As your slip and fall attorney in Indiana we will bring all of our knowledge and collective experience to your case.
Am I Limited in the Amount I can Recover?
Indiana law does establish an amount of damages that a person may recover in any jury trial in Indiana, from a business or individual who negligently caused his or her injuries.
But, of course, you can recover a settlement for your slip and fall injury in any amount the parties decide upon—and most cases do settle out-of-court.
You are not limited to just out-of-pocket expenses (normally called “economic” damages).
There are two types of damages that can be recovered under Indiana law: “economic” damages such as medical bills, lost wages, property damages, trips to the doctor and the like; and “non-economic” damages such as mental anguish, pain and suffering, and the loss of quality of life.
While economic damages can be relatively easy to calculate and recover (see the Stanley v. Walker case for an explanation of differing opinions about the value of medical services rendered), it is in the “non-economic” damages area which the truly big verdicts are won. And Shaw Law, as a top slip and fall attorney in Indiana, has won plenty of those big verdicts through the years. Our track record is difficult to beat by even the largest law firms, let alone the smaller, more intimate type offices that are similar in size to Shaw Law.
And further, those non-economic damages can be very difficult to quantify. In fact, a judge will tell a jury that the non-economic damages in any verdict must be reasonable —but are not required to be based upon a strict mathematical calculation.
So, how does Shaw Law, as your slip and fall attorney in Indiana, help you recover pain and suffering damages in any lawsuit?
The first thing we do is gather evidence.
Related and relevant evidence needs to be preserved and gathered to prove those damages. One thing is clear: the more evidence you are able to gather to support your claim, the better your chances to recover adequate compensation.
Types of evidence that are most effective in proving pain and suffering damages after a slip and fall can include:
- Photographs (and videos) of you and your injuries both before and after the accident;
- Personal diaries or journals describing your experiences;
- Testimony from family, friends, or co-workers that persuasively explains your hardships, i.e. friends and family explaining how the personal injury has negatively impacted your life;
- Proof of physical and mental health treatment.
The value of pain and suffering damages is difficult to define because these damages are not entirely calculable like medical bills, invoices, billing statements, receipts and other items with a hard mathematical number attached to them.
Pain and suffering damages are usually determined based upon common sense of the jury, taking into account how the slip and fall happened and why it happened. It also takes into account the nature and extent of your injury: was it permanent? did it leave a scar? will you require future medical care? will the injury result in further limitations? will it cause pain on a daily basis?
The Private Attorney or Firm You Choose Could Make a Significant Difference in Your Settlement.
Reputation and experience matter, and so does an Indiana slip and fall attorney’s track record of success. It’s a smaller community than you might think—insurance adjusters, attorneys, and judges work in the same areas on similar cases and claims again and again and again. Everyone gets to know each other a bit, and you can guarantee that insurance companies keep track of how attorneys handle slip and fall cases, what they tend to go for in terms of type of a settlement, and above all… how successful they are at getting what they ask or demand for their clients.
Savvy insurance adjusters will already know exactly what a particular slip and fall attorney in Indiana typically seeks to attain. If an attorney is well known for avoiding trial and going for an out of court settlement, even a low one, the case can be valued lower. What does this mean for you? It means that if your attorney has a reputation for being a ‘court avoider’ then the defendant in the case, which is often the insurance company, will probably draw their line in the sand at a very low settlement amount. They know that this type of attorney will do whatever it takes to avoid court, either because it is easier for them, or simply because they don’t feel they have the skills to win in court, especially against a well heeled defendant that may have extremely strong legal resources.
On the contrary, if the defendant is aware, which they usually will be, that the plaintiff has hired an attorney that has taken many cases to court and won big, the overall valuation of the case will certainly go up. Many insurers make the pragmatic choice to avoid having too many cooks in the kitchen, meaning they would rather negotiate a reasonable settlement with the plaintiff outside of court than risk having many parties involved in a court proceeding and face an attorney with a winning track record, especially if that attorney has proven he or she can get jurors to empathize with a plaintiff.
When you’ve been injured, a lot is at stake. You’ll be facing medical bills, lost wages, and possibly even the end of your career if the injury is severe. Think about how much money you’ll lose over time if you have to change careers due to your injury. If you’ve been working making good money at a company for many years, starting over in a new job probably doesn’t sound appealing. But the fact is, every year, debilitating slip and fall injuries impact people’s lives permanently. This is why you’ll want to do your research before hiring an attorney in Indiana. Ask your potential new slip and fall attorney about their track record of success, and if they lead you quickly to another area of discussion that will tell you all you need to know. At Shaw Law, we welcome questions about our firm and our track record. We’re proud of our record because we win cases and have a stellar reputation for taking down giants. We excel in slip and fall cases and insurers know this. Don’t trust your financial future to a green attorney, or a firm that goes for the low hanging fruit. Work with Shaw Law and we’ll get you the maximum compensation for your injuries, to protect you and your family’s security.
How Long do I Have to File?
Indiana Torts (Personal Injuries) Give an Injured Person Only Two Years to File a Lawsuit.
FACT: Many people are afraid to file a lawsuit.
They think it is a form of “causing trouble” so they learn to live with their pain. Then later, they discover they can no longer live the life-changing effects of the slip and fall (or other) injury and contact a slip and fall attorney in Indiana—only to find out it’s too late to pursue the claim because it’s been more than 2 years since the date of the injury-causing event.
You don’t have to file a lawsuit to recover compensation. In fact, statistics show that most people settle their claim with an insurance company without filing a lawsuit. But, failure to file the lawsuit within 2 years bars and estops (prevents/ends) your ability to seek compensation later.
Your best course of action: see a slip and fall attorney in Indiana right away. Let your slip and fall attorney in Indiana handle the claims process.
We’ve found that when it comes to slip and falls, the best thing to do is to file a lawsuit as quickly as possible. That’s because 99.9% of all slip and falls are denied by the insurance company on behalf of the landowner anyway. Therefore, trying to settle an “unsettleable” case for nearly 2 years and then filing a lawsuit will only delay matters.
As the famous saying goes, by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
We’ll Get You Back on Your Feet.
- How to Win Your Case
- What You Need to Know to Win a Case
- Is a Business or Landowner Obligated to Pay My Medical Bills?
- What if Walmart Loses the Videotape of My Evidence?
- Your Landlord Can be Responsible for Your Slip and Fall
- Slip and Falls Common Places and Causes
- Slip & Fall FAQs
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