A recent Indiana Court of Appeals case deals with premises liability, a drunk driver, and injuries suffered by a couple after their shopping trip, but while still on the premises of the store. This case, Poppe v. Angell Enterprises, Inc., stems from an accident which occurred in 2015.
The Poppes were shopping at Baesler’s Market, owned by Angell Enterprises, in Sullivan, Indiana. After they had finished shopping, they walked out into the parking lot, where they saw a truck driving at them. They tried to get out of the path of the truck, but they were hit and pinned up against another vehicle, and both were injured.
The Poppes filed a negligence claim against Angell Enterprises, and based their claim on a theory of premises liability, stating that Angell Enterprises owed them a duty of care, and this was breached when they were injured on the premises. The Poppes alleged that this negligence resulted from the funneling of vehicular and pedestrian traffic into one area, which they stated was caused by the owners of the premises.
In this case, there was a question of whether the Poppes were injured by the above alleged conduct of the business, or the criminal conduct of a third party. The Court ruled that the Poppes were negligently injured by the criminal conduct of a third party, and that the premises design had nothing to do with their injuries.
How does this impact a premises liability case? Well, in other cases, Courts have ruled that if the criminal conduct of a third party had occurred on the premises before, and the business knew or should have known about the criminal conduct, then the business does have a duty to protect patrons from potential injury. This can occur if a business does not take proper care in creating a safe environment in a parking lot, for example. However, if a business does not foresee this conduct, or it has not happened before to their knowledge, as in this case, it is better for the plaintiff to file suit against the party that actually caused their injury or injuries.
In other prior cases involving similar sets of facts, Courts have held that unfortunate mishaps do not make the business liable for the injuries of plaintiffs. This case was also considered such a mishap by the Indiana Court of Appeals. Therefore, it is also important for attorneys to look at the facts of the case before determining whether or not the plaintiff was injured because of the negligence of a business, or because of the conduct of a third party unrelated to the business itself.
If the attorney determines that the plaintiff suffered an injury because of criminal conduct of the third party, they should look to see if that third party has insurance that would benefit the plaintiff. If the injury occurred because of negligence on behalf of a business, then the attorney could look to file a premises liability claim.
If you or a loved one have been affected by an injury, accident, or death, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Hurst Limontes, LLC. We have decades of combined experience fighting for our clients in any number of personal injury claims. Call 317-636-0808 or email us for a FREE and confidential consultation.