Recently in Premise Liability Category

August 11, 2014

Indiana Supreme Court Allows Injury Claims Against Fraternity to Move Forward

university-campus-964649-m.jpgThe Indiana Supreme Court both affirmed and reversed a trial court's grant of summary judgment in a fraternity injury case.

In Yost v. Wabash College, Brian Yost was a freshman at Wabash College who pledged at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and suffered injuries at the fraternity house in 2007. Yost claimed that these injuries were due to a fraternity hazing incident and filed a lawsuit against Wabash College, the local fraternity, the national fraternity, and one of the fraternity members. The college, which owns the fraternity house, and two defendants sought summary judgment against Yost's claims, which the trial court granted. Yost then appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court looked at each of the claims against the defendant to see whether they met the standard of summary judgment: whether there was no genuine issue of material fact, allowing the defendant to receive judgment as a matter of law. First, the Supreme Court looked at the claim against Wabash College. Wabash College argued that it did not have a duty as a college or landlord to protect Yost from a fraternity member's alleged negligence or criminal attack, and that it was not subject to vicarious liability for the actions of any codefendant. The Supreme Court concluded that Yost could not establish facts that Wabash College acted as a landlord and undertook duties designed to protect Yost from dangers on the property. Wabash College's policy on hazing was not enough to establish a landlord-guest special relationship.

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May 10, 2013

Children on Summer Vacation can Mean More Injuries on Amusement Rides

The June 2007 amusement park accident at Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville that severed a young girl's feet brought national attention to the safety of amusement park rides. Ever since the accident, her parents have been lobbying the federal government for stricter control over amusement park rides. However, even if laws are passed requiring more oversight of the nation's theme parks, it may not cover some of the other rides that kids encounter.

There are basically three types of amusement rides. "Fixed rides" are those found in amusement parks. They are built on a particular site and never move. "Mobile rides" are taken to carnivals and festivals for a week or two, then are partially disassembled and moved to another location. The last category is "mall rides," which is fairly self-explanatory. These smaller rides are sprinkled throughout malls and grocery stores as entertainment for kids who have been dragged along on a shopping trip. The last two categories of rides are generally tamer than those found at permanent amusement parks, but they can still lead to injury.

One of the leading causes of injuries on mobile rides is the very fact that they are mobile. The constant taking down and putting back up allows for plenty of opportunities for something to be incorrectly installed. It also creates additional wear and tear on certain components of a ride. Mall rides, which are generally geared toward very young children are dangerous simply because they seem so safe. Unsuspecting parents may put their child on a ride without even noticing there is no safety belt to keep the child in place or realizing that their child will hit a very hard floor if they do fall off.

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May 6, 2012

As Personal Injury Lawsuits in Indiana Stage Collapse Continue, New Regulations Take Effect

The 2011 tragic stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis continues to affect numerous people - those who lost loved ones, those who were injured, and those who may or may not have been at least partially responsible for the accident. In an attempt to figure out who other than Mother Nature was responsible, the State of Indiana contracted with two different firms, one to study the stage and the other to review what preparations were made in case of an emergency. The firms were also asked to give recommendations on how the state could prevent tragedies like this at future events.

According to one report, the fair board and Indiana police approached Sugarland, the band waiting to perform, about postponing the show more than once. Each time they asked, they were told the band did not want to postpone the show. However, during a deposition, one of the band members said she was never approached by anyone about cancelling or postponing the show, so attorneys are now looking at the band's touring manager as the one who may have put the concertgoers' lives at risk. The same report also faulted the fair board for not having a clear safety plan or chain of command in case of an emergency.

The other report found fault with the stage design. It was not built to withstand the high winds that brought down the stage rigging on the crowd. Over $80,000 in fines have been issued by the Indiana Department of Labor, including about $63,000 against Mid-America Sound, which built the stage for the fair. As a result of this accident, the Indiana Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission passed new regulations regarding temporary stages for outdoor events in Indiana at the beginning of May this year. Larger venues will be required to have their stages and rigging plans reviewed by an engineer and will have to provide documented emergency plans. Those smaller fairs or festivals that most likely could not afford the additional cost of an engineer's review would be required to leave additional space between the stage and the crowd. An eight-foot area between the between the crowd and the tallest height of the rigging would be necessary to avoid being in violation of the regulations.

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September 15, 2010

Kentucky Supreme Court Affirms Case for Plaintiff

Kentucky Premises Liability attorneys are pleased with the Kentucky Supreme Court decision in favor of an injured plaintiff.

The case of Kentucky River Medical Center v. McIntosh, decided August 26, 2010 held that the open and obvious doctrine did not prohibit plaintiff's recovery in a slip and fall over a hospital curb. In the case, McIntosh worked as a paramedic. As she escorted a patient into the hospital, she tripped over the wheelchair ramp. McIntosh suffered from a broken hip and sprained wrist as a result of the accident.

Even though she had negotiated over the curb in the past, the trial court held that whether she should have been aware of the curb was an the issue was one of fact for the jury. The trial court decision was upheld by the appellate court.

If you have been injured because of dangerous premises, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

July 27, 2010

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Issues Kids Safety Education Effort

Each year hundreds of children are injured or die because of negligent safety measures in and around swimming pools and spas. This year alone, more than 210 children have died in the United States since Memorial Day in pool related accidents. A 2008 report by the Commission stated that the "average number of drowning deaths involving children younger than 5 in pools and spas has increased from a yearly average of 267 (for 2002-2004) to 283 (for 2003-2005)." Further, "the average number of emergency room treated pool and spa submersion injuries decreased from an annual average of 2,800 (for 2004-2006) to 2,700 (for 2005-2007)."

1224249_lesson_of_swimming_4.jpg In response, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has introduced a kids education program which includes a video series featured on the Safe Kids website and the NDPA website. The videos feature Ming-Na, the voice of Mulan in the Disney film.

Many pool accidents are preventable and a result of negligence. Drowning accidents can occur at public pools, rivers and lakes, in the backyard, and even in the bathtub. These accidents happen quickly; in fact, a short submersion of four or five minutes can cause lasting brain damage.

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August 27, 2009

In Hospital Elevator Accident, State Report Blames Mechanical Failure

Investigators from the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet on Wednesday, August 26, 2009 released a report which states that a mechanical failure on an elevator at a hospital in Elizabethtown, Kentucky is to blame for causing the elevator to stop between floors and an accident injuring an employee to occur.

The state report details that a restictor was out of adjustment and this caused the elevator to stop between floors. The doors to the elevator were able to be opened and an employee of Hardin Memorial Hospital who was trying to get out of the elevator, slipped and fell approximately 25 feet to the floor of the elevator shaft early Monday. The employee was said to be critically injured as a result of the accident.

Unfortunately, accidents involving elevators are not uncommon. Just this summer, on June 13, 2009, an 8-year-old was killed in an accident involving an elevator in western Kentucky.

June 2, 2009

Train Wreck at the Louisville Zoo injures over 20 passengers.

louisville zoo train.jpg

Yesterday, June 1, 2009, a train at the Louisville Zoo derailed injuring over 20 of the 30 passengers aboard, many of them children. Several of those injured were transported to area hospitals. Ride inspectors from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture have already begun investigating the incident to try and determine what caused the train to derail. The train, which allows visitors to ride a loop around the zoo, will be shut down until further notice. A Louisville Zoo spokesperson told the Courier-Journal that the train is driven by zoo employees who are certified by the zoo and are at least 18 years old. The train does not have safety belts. When asked about safety belts, the Louisville Zoo spokesperson stated that the train did not have safety belts because they are not required by the manufacturer. The procedures the Louisville Zoo follows for inspecting the trains and the tracks have not been made available as of yet by the Louisville Zoo

If you or your loved one was injured as a result of this accident at the Louisville Zoo or any other automobile or trucking accident, call the personal injury attorneys at Miller and Falkner to protect your rights.

Read more about the accident at the Louisville Zoo.

April 3, 2009

After Injury Individuals Find That Independent Medical Exams Are Not Really Independent

Whether you have been injured in a car accident or at work, if you have made a claim for benefits (whether or not your claim has resulted in suit being filed) you might be subject to an Independent Medical Exam (IME).  An IME is designed by insurance companies and employers to reexamine an injured person to see if the doctor performing the IME agrees with the diagnosis and recommended treatment which was given by the injured individual's doctor.  However, as discussed below, many problems arise from these IMEs.   

doctor.jpgThe title of Independent Medical Exam can be very misleading as they are not really independent.  As a New York Times article explains, their review of case files, medical records and patient interviews in New York worker compensation claims indicated that exam reports that results from these Independent Medical Exams are routinely bias towards and benefit insurers and employers over the injured individual by minimizing or dismissing altogether the injuries sustained. 

The main reason for this bias is that employers and insurance companies are the companies that pay for these IMEs and therefore, if a physician starts producing reports that do not benefit the company's position on the injuries, that physician will likely not receive further IMEs from that company. 

Many injured individuals have been able to contest the findings of these IMEs and prevailed, however resolution can take many months or years and many people simply give up.  A personal injury attorney can assist an injured individual not only after a biased IME has been given, but before any IME has been conducted. 

If you have been injured in an automobile/trucking accident or at work and your employer or an insurance company is requiring an IME for your claim, conduct the the personal injury attorneys are Miller & Falkner to help protect your rights against unfair IMEs.
March 31, 2009

Kentucky and Indiana Restaurant Playgrounds Create Hidden Dangers

For many parents, the bright and colorful playground at many fast food restaurants all over Kentucky and Indiana can be as alluring if not more alluring than the fast food itself.  However, as an article from MSN points out, there are many potential dangers in these fast food playgrounds that result in serious injury to a child. 

playground.jpgThe Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that emergency rooms treat more than 200,000 children every year for playground-related injuries. These playgrounds found at fast food restaurants like McDonalds and Burger King are referred to as "soft-contained playgrounds."  While the restaurants are the ones that will profit from the playgrounds as they attract customers, restaurants argue that since they hire independent contractors to build the play structures, they are not responsible for their customers' safety.    

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) sets the national standard for soft-contained playgrounds.  However, even if a restaurant complies with these standards, each chain is responsible for self-policing its playground for safety compliance.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sets guidelines and regulations but does not have the staff to enforce its rules.  They have created a Soft-Contained Play Equipment Safety Checklist which parents can use to help determine if playgrounds are safe for their children's use. 

In some cases action has been taken by CPSC against fast food restaurants for safety code violations.  The agency fined McDonald's $4 million in 1999 regarding its soft playgrounds. 

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