Injured on Someone’s Property? Your Right to Damages Depends on Who You Are

If you get hurt on someone else’s premises, you may be able to sue for compensation. Property owners and managers have a legal duty to maintain their premises as safe environments for people who may reasonably be expected to enter. When they fail to fulfill this responsibility, they may be liable for damages. However, your right to damages depends partly on your reason for being on the property in the first place.

The identity and status of the injured visitor play a key part in determining the level of duty owed by the property owner or manager. Under Indiana law, a visitor can fall into one of three categories:

  • Invitee — Certain individuals are commonly invited onto the property for the owner’s or manager’s benefit. Examples are customers on commercial property and social guests on residential property. Invitees are owed the highest level of duty, which means keeping them safe from all hazards.
  • Licensee — This term includes people who enter the property for an official purpose or for their own benefit or enjoyment, such as mail carriers, utility workers and sales people. Property owners and managers are required to alert licensees of any hidden dangers on the property and to refrain from intentionally harming these visitors.
  • Trespasser —The property owner or manager owes no duty to illegal entrants except to refrain from intentionally harming them. If the trespasser is a child, a higher legal duty exists. Factors considered include whether the hazardous structure or condition was likely to attract children, whether children’s presence on the property was foreseeable and whether the property owner or manager was aware or should have been aware of the hazard at the time the incident took place.

In a premises liability case, the injured visitor may be found partially to blame, such as by failing to stay away from an open and obvious hazard. Nevertheless, Indiana’s comparative fault law allows individuals to recover a portion of their damages if they are less than 51 percent at fault for the accident.

There are time limits for filing a lawsuit seeking compensation for an injury sustained on someone else’s property. Generally, a victim must file a complaint no later than two years from when the injury occurred, though a shorter time period may apply when the accident occurs on public property.

At Cooke Law Firm, we represent accident victims throughout Indiana, including Lafayette, White County and Benton County. Our experienced personal injury attorneys will analyze your case and determine if you have a valid premises liability claim. For a free initial consultation, call us today at 765-423-5628, or contact us online.