Just like store managers and other commercial property owners have a duty under Indiana law to keep you and all other lawful visitors on their land reasonably safe from harm, private property owners can also be held liable for failing to protect visitors from preventable injuries. That said, the “duty of care” that private landowners owe to visitors is often significantly different from the duty owed by commercial property owners, as is the duty of care owed by a landlord to their tenants.
Put simply, getting a good result from this unique type of civil claim can be a complicated process, especially if you try to do it without support from a seasoned premises liability attorney. Fortunately, the help you may need is available from an Indianapolis private property premises liability lawyer with a track record of getting good results on behalf of people like you.
To briefly sum up premises liability law, landowners owe different “duties of care”—in other words, are expected to act in different ways in order to prevent accidental injuries—to different types of property visitors. While there are some exceptions which a skilled personal injury attorney can go into more detail about as needed, most people who have legal standing to sue a private property owner in Indianapolis can be categorized as “licensees.” These people are typically there lawfully and visiting for their own purposes as opposed to visiting for the financial benefit of the landowner.
Property owners are liable for injuries to licensees caused by hazards which were not “open and obvious” to any reasonable person. The property owner is also liable if they had direct knowledge of the hazard prior to the licensee’s visit but did not provide advance warning.
For example, if a homeowner knows there is a hole in their front yard that is obscured by grass and does not place warning signs, a houseguest who then fell and suffered an injury because of that hole might have grounds to sue over a breach in the duty of care.
Just like private homeowners inviting people onto their property for temporary visits, private property owners who allow people to reside on their property as paying tenants have a duty to warn those tenants about known hazards and to fix them reasonably quickly. Importantly, a landlord can be considered to have “discovered” a hazard if they have been sufficiently notified about it by a tenant even if that landlord has not personally observed the hazard with their own eyes.
Furthermore, it may be possible under certain situations to file suit against a landlord as an “invitee”—in other words, as a property visitor whose presence financially benefits the landowner, and who therefore is owed a greater duty of care than a licensee.
As a private property premises liability lawyer in Indianapolis can explain, this may allow a lawsuit to proceed over a hazard which the landowner did not have actual knowledge of but reasonably should have discovered already with regular inspection of their property.
Because of the different visitor categories (which both temporary guests and long-term tenants on private property may be classified as), premises liability claims involving this type of property can be uniquely difficult to pursue on your own. Even if you have lots of evidence on your side, representation from seasoned legal counsel will still be essential to navigate around procedural obstacles and get the maximum compensation possible.
An Indianapolis private property premises liability lawyer can discuss your possible case and offer advice about potential next steps during a confidential consultation. Schedule yours by calling today.