Returning to Evansville this winter: salted streets, black ice, and precarious icicles dangling above your head. Not exactly the winter wonderland so many singers had promised.
With cold weather comes fresh hazards on both the road and the sidewalk, which make even the walk from your car to the office a dangerous journey. If you familiarize yourself with your Indiana’s liability laws before the snow starts to fall, you’ll know when to hold Evansville property owners accountable for your personal injury.
Here’s what you need to know about cold weather liability laws in Indiana.
In general, Indiana holds businesses responsible for clearing ice and snow from their property to prevent injury. But the circumstances in each slip and fall case are far from standard, and winter weather is far from predictable. Property managers are allowed reasonable amounts of time to clear hazards once they form, which is a major factor in many winter weather personal injury cases.
For example, a business owner may be held liable for failing to clear a pile of snow that has remained in front of the building for a week, but not for failing to keep the sidewalk clear in the middle of a blizzard.
In one case, a hotel owner was cleared of liability for causing personal injury because the claimant fell not 25 minutes after the sidewalk was previously shoveled. That day, the snow fell so fast that workers couldn’t keep up with it, so the business didn’t have to pay for the injured person’s claim.
Many personal injury claims during the winter involve black ice. Because this hazard is so hard to see, it is both particularly dangerous and rarely the property owner’s fault for failing to address. This applies for business owners and home owners in Indiana.
Private residences may or may not own the sidewalk (if there is one) in front of their house. If they do, they may be held liable for injuries caused by negligence, especially in popular pedestrian areas.
If you own a home, be a good neighbor and shovel your walk. Though it’s a small risk, you might just save yourself from having to deal with a personal injury claim.
In Indiana, cities are not held duty-bound to keep every public sidewalk and street perfectly clear. Property owners who live nearby can be found responsible for negligence if they artificially caused hazards on public walkways.
This does not include natural accumulation of snow and ice, which means no one is at fault for failing to clear sidewalks owned by the city in Evansville.
Factors in Liability Claims
If you think a business or private property owner is liable for a personal injury, consider the following factors before filing a claim:
- Time: How long did the owner have to clear their property of snow or ice? This detail is important in personal injury cases because certain weather conditions make it hard to keep walkways clear. If the owner failed to clear known hazards in a reasonable amount of time, they may be held liable.
- Prior Notice: Did the owner know about the potential hazard? Proving a manager had been informed of a dangerous condition and yet failed to take action will likely make them liable rather than if they had not been informed of the danger.
- Recurring: Have similar accidents happened before? Property owners who fail to respond to a particular hazard that causes several personal injuries may be held liable similar to prior notice.
- Artificial: Was the dangerous condition caused by artificial means? Examples of artificial hazards could be a leak that forms a patch of ice or a weakened awning that collapses under the weight of heavy snow.
Help from Evansville Attorneys Who Care
With temperatures dropping and snow beginning to fall here in Evansville, knowing your rights in slip and fall injuries may help you recover compensation due to someone else’s negligence. If you have a personal injury claim like the situations described here, contact the Evansville personal injury lawyers at Hensley Legal Group today. Your first consultation with a local personal injury lawyer is on us.