Legal Responsibilities Of An Indiana Property Owner In Winter Weather

Legal Responsibilities Of An Indiana Property Owner In Winter Weather
February 9, 2011 jamesludlow

During the recent awful winter weather that we’ve been experiencing here in Indiana, I have received many phone calls from individuals who have fallen on ice or snow while at a gas station, apartment complex, or other business and sustained an injury. As many of these individuals had significant injuries such as a broken arm or leg, they were calling me to find out what legal responsibility the property owner may have for their fall and resulting injury.

Under Indiana law, all property owners who invite individuals upon their property for business purposes owe these individuals a duty of reasonable care for their safety. As a practical matter, this means doing something to make the property reasonably safe for winter weather conditions, such as shoveling snow off a sidewalk, plowing a parking lot, and spreading salt or ice melting chemical or some abrasive material such as sand that improves traction for customers who are trying to make their way to or from the business. If the property owner has taken these steps, they likely have met the standard of reasonable care that the law requires.

On the other hand, if the property owner does nothing or does a poor job of clearing ice or snow, they may be legally liable for the injuries of someone who falls.

As every case depends on the facts, if a fall does occur, be sure to report the fall right away to the property’s manager or owner and request that a written report be made. It is also wise is to take pictures of the property where the fall occurred as soon as possible, as photographs taken shortly after an incident can be very helpful in proving whether the property was in a reasonably safe condition at the time. Although most people don’t carry a camera, many cell phones have good quality cameras. Moreover, most cell phones will automatically record the date and time that a photo was taken.

If you or a loved one have experienced a serious injury from a fall, give me a call for a free consultation to discuss whether you have a viable legal claim.  As an Indiana personal injury attorney, I offer free consultations with no obligation whatsoever. My law firm works on a contingency-fee basis, and I don’t get paid unless I obtain a successful recovery for you.