Mississippi Premises Liability Law and How to Prove Your Case
When you are visiting someone else’s property, whether it is residential or commercial, you have a right to move about without being put in harm’s way. Or, in other words, properties must be kept reasonably free of hazards to ensure the safety of their visitors. This includes retail establishments, residential homes, rental properties, office buildings, grocery stores, amusement parks, recreational facilities, and more.
Unfortunately, despite property owners being required to maintain safe premises, accidents still happen. Luckily, if you are a visitor and are injured due to the property owner’s negligence, you have a right to file a claim to recover damages. Premises settlements in these kinds of cases can help you cover medical expenses from injuries sustained in the accident as well as other damages such as loss of wages, emotional distress, and physical pain and suffering.
Keep in mind, however, that the total settlement amount will depend on the premises liability coverage the property owner has through their insurance policy. Premises liability insurance can help cover your damages as the injured party, but insurance companies will often look for ways to reduce settlement amounts in these cases.
As such, it is crucial for injured victims to work with a premises liability lawyer to ensure they get the full amount they deserve. At Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC, our Mississippi Premises Liability Lawyers have years of experience fighting for the rights of our clients in these types of cases. We are committed to providing superior legal services and delivering quality results.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability refers to the duty a property owner has to maintain reasonably safe and healthy premises. Thus, premises liability law requires property owners to uphold this duty by ensuring that their property is free of any known hazards or potential hazards that could cause a person to become injured.
However, a property owner cannot always be held responsible for every single accident that occurs on their property. Whether or not a property owner can be held liable will depend on the visitor’s purpose, how the accident happened, and if it is a matter of negligence.
Mississippi Premises Liability, Duty of Care, and Negligence
Mississippi premises liability law requires property owners to maintain reasonably safe premises by upholding their duty of care. This means that they must keep up with repairs and maintenance, regularly inspect the property for potential hazards, and warn guests of any known or potential hazards. The term “reasonably,” however, is important.
Property owners are not expected to be perfect and keep watch of their entire property 24/7. For example, if it starts snowing overnight, creating a slippery surface, property owners are not expected to wake up in the middle of the night to deal with this hazard. Instead, they are expected to take care of it in a reasonable amount of time.
Furthermore, visitors take on what is known as “assumption of risk” when they visit someone else’s property. This means that you should logically understand that accidents can happen, and you are putting yourself at some degree of risk by entering another person’s property. And, if you purposely put yourself at unnecessary risk and use poor judgment, you could be to blame instead of the property owner, or you could share in the liability.
Mississippi is a comparative negligence state, so you can potentially be found partially negligent in a premises liability case. This means that you are still eligible to file a claim, but the settlement you receive will be reduced based on your percentage of fault. So if you purposely or unnecessarily put yourself in harm’s way on someone else’s property—even if the owner also partially breached their duty of care—and you are found to be 40% at fault, your compensation will be reduced by that amount.
Understanding the Difference Between a Trespasser, a Licensee, and an Invitee
A person’s purpose for visiting a property can also play a role in their premises liability case. For example, if you were invited or given a license to be on someone else’s property, you have more protections, but if you were trespassing, you would have a much harder time proving your case.
- Invitee: This is a person who enters a property with expressed or implied invitation or permission. This can include being a customer at a retail establishment or place of business, a guest at a hotel or someone’s home, or someone visiting an office building for a meeting or an interview.
- Licensee: This is someone who enters onto a property for their own benefit pursuant to their license or implied permission of the owner. For example, this could be someone who visits door-to-door as a salesperson, entering someone’s property in an attempt to make a sale.
- Trespasser: Someone who is trespassing is thus entering onto a property without invitation, license, or another right. They enter for their own purpose without express or implied invitation and therefore are in the wrong and assume full risk. However, even a trespasser can file a claim if the property owner’s behavior was willful or wanton.
How to Prove a Premises Liability Case
To prove your premises liability case and hold the property owner liable, you must essentially prove that they breached their duty of care. To do so, you will need to gather sufficient evidence to show that it was the property owner’s negligence, not yours, that led to the accident and your injuries.
To specifically prove a breach of duty, you must:
- Prove that there was a duty owed to you;
- That the property owner breached this duty by failing to maintain reasonably safe premises free of hazards;
- That this breach of duty was the direct cause of the accident;
- That your injuries and other damages were results of this accident
Again, this will also depend on your purpose for visiting the premises and whether or not you share in the blame. This is why it is crucial to work with a premises liability lawyer who can help you and ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Connect with an Experienced Mississippi Premises Liability Attorney
If you need help filing a Mississippi premises liability claim and proving fault, the team at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC, can assist you. We know what it takes to gather enough evidence and fight against insurance companies to ensure our clients get the full settlement they deserve.
For a free consultation, contact one of our experienced Mississippi premises liability attorneys today. After-hours visits are available.