Injured on Someone Else’s Property? Our Premises Liability Lawyer is Here to Help
When you enter a home or business in Mississippi, you expect to be able to safely walk around and conduct business there. That is not always the case, however. A big box hardware store might leave a puddle of water on the floor without a warning sign, or a casino might miss an improperly placed rug in the lobby, creating a dangerous hazard. These threats could cause a visitor to slip or trip and seriously hurt themselves, causing injury, pain, and suffering.
In these cases, the owner of the premises may be responsible for compensating the victim, paying them damages for medical bills and emotional distress. The law is complicated, however, and liability can vary depending on the type of injury and who is ultimately judged to be at fault. For that reason, people in Jackson, Mississippi, who experience a premises liability injury—otherwise known as a “slip and fall” injury—should consult a law firm skilled in this specific area of law to ensure the best chance of maximizing their settlement with the property owner.
Giddens Law Firm specializes in premises liability law as one of its main areas of practice and recently won a $2.4 million settlement in a premises liability case. While most premises liability claims are in the tens of thousands, there is a wide range in settlement amount depending on how much pain and suffering was inflicted upon the victim in the accident. Giddens Law Firm is led by John D. Giddens, a Mississippi premises liability lawyer with 30 years of experience, who chooses to represent the interests of individuals over corporations. Giddens Law Firm fights for the rights of its clients from day one, ensuring that they receive the maximum compensation they deserve.
What is Premises Liability in Mississippi?
Property owners are required by Mississippi law to reasonably protect visitors to their residences or businesses and keep them relatively free from hazards that could cause serious injury. That means creating a safe environment or at least alerting guests with proper signage or other warnings of any potential dangers that could cause an accident. Any dangers should be clearly marked, and hazardous areas should be restricted, so visitors do not enter them unaware.
In addition, Mississippi property owners are expected to regularly inspect their premises and carry out any needed repairs to keep them in a safe condition. These laws apply equally to businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and casinos; as well as to office buildings and private homes. Anywhere someone is visiting property owned by another, it is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain a safe environment. Even if an individual employee causes a hazard, such as failing to clean up a spilled liquid, the owner can be held liable for not adequately training workers and putting safe procedures in place. Liability can also extend to a person or entity that rents or manages property for the owner, requiring that they also maintain the property safely.
Premises liability injuries are common in the United States, with more than half a million slip and fall incidents resulting in hospital care every year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Slip and fall incidents result in more than 20,000 deaths, mostly among the elderly.
Oftentimes, the owner or manager of a property tries to skirt responsibility for an accident, claiming that it was not their fault, or that the accident victim should have been able to avoid the hazard that caused the injury. For this reason, it is important that a person in Jackson, Mississippi suffering a premises liability injury consult a skilled Jackson premises liability lawyer such as John Giddens, who can evaluate the claim, and establish the best argument for holding the property owner accountable for the negligence that caused the accident to occur.
What Are the Common Types of Premises Liability Accidents in Jackson, MS?
The most common type of premises liability injury in Mississippi occurs as a result of slipping or falling on a hazardous floor surface, including wet or uneven ground, or loose rugs or mats. The ground covered with untreated ice or snow can also lead to a fall. These kinds of falls can lead to a variety of injuries, including head trauma such as a concussion; neck and back injuries; strains, sprains, or bruises; and broken or dislocated bones.
Slip and fall accidents are not the only kind of injuries that can result from dangerous properties, however. Other injuries can include:
- Bites from dogs or other animals not adequately tied or leashed
- Fires caused by faulty wiring or improper safety equipment
- Exposure to lead paint, asbestos, or other toxic substances
- Improperly functioning escalators or elevators
- Stairways with broken steps or handrails
- Malfunctioning doors, windows, or furniture
- Unfenced swimming pools can cause accidental drowning
- Food poisoning caused by improper food storage or preparation at a restaurant
- Poorly stacked or insecure merchandise, which can fall on patrons at a store
- Improperly loaded luggage on a shuttle bus or other transportation at a hotel or casino
Property owners or managers can also be held liable under some circumstances for damages caused by third parties if they fail to maintain a safe environment. For example, someone assaulted in a hotel parking lot could file a premises liability claim against the hotel if adequate lighting or security was not maintained. When in doubt, the experienced premises liability lawyers at Giddens Law Firm can help identify when a property owner was at fault.
What Is A Property Owner’s Duty Of Care?
By law, Mississippi property owners have a “duty of care” to provide a safe environment for visitors to their properties. Owners are not always at fault when a visitor is injured, however. The first step in any personal injury claim is to determine who is at fault in an accident, a process that a trained Jackson premises liability lawyer at Giddens Law Firm is an expert in conducting.
One of the first steps in determining liability in a premises liability claim is clarifying the status of the injured person, whether they were an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser.
An invitee is someone with an invitation to be on another person’s property, whether that invitation is expressed or implied. These guests are present on the property for the mutual advantage of the owner and visitor. It could include a guest invited to a private home, as well as a patron of a restaurant, store, hotel, or casino who is taking advantage of services offered during opening hours. Property owners are generally responsible for the safety of invitees.
A licensee is a person who is on another person’s property with their consent, but who is there conducting business for their own convenience or benefit. For example, a salesman might be visiting a restaurant to sell new kitchen equipment. In these cases, the law recognizes a lower standard for duty of care, only holding the owner liable if they engaged in wanton or willful behavior.
A trespasser is someone who does not have permission to be on another person’s property, either expressed or implied. Again, in these cases, the property owner is only liable if they engaged in wanton or willful behavior.
The distinctions between these different visitors are not always hard and fast, and a trained premises liability attorney can argue this status in court.
How is Fault Determined in Premises Liability Claims?
No matter what the standard of care required, courts determine the liability of property owners based on four questions:
Did the Owner in Fact Own, Lease, or Occupy the Property?
In most cases, the answer to this question is relatively straightforward. However, it can be complicated by corporate ownership agreements in which another party was leasing or operating the property at the time of the accident. If the injury occurred while on government property, then a state or federal agency can be liable instead of a private individual or corporation. It is important to determine who was responsible for controlling the property at the time the injury occurred.
Was the Owner Negligent?
Negligence is the legal term for when someone is failing to take proper care, resulting in injury to another person. In this case, negligence is determined by an owner’s failure in the duty to maintain a safe environment on their property. However, the owner can be found not to be negligent if they provided a proper warning about a hazard, such as a sign indicating a dangerous floor surface.
Was the Victim Injured?
Not all injuries are liable for damages under the law. In order to win a claim, a person must show that they suffered due to the injury, for example, by having to pay medical bills or losing wages due to missed work because of the accident.
Was the Owner’s Negligence a Substantial Factor in Causing the Injury?
A victim must prove that their injuries were caused by a breach of the duty of care by the owner, such as a failure to repair a dangerous hazard. If a person is injured on another person’s property, it is not automatically assumed that the owner’s negligence caused the accident. For example, a third party such as another person or animal could have hurt the person. In these cases, it must be shown that the owner’s lack of care in providing reasonable security on the property, for example by installing lights or security cameras in a parking lot, led to the injury.
A victim of an accident or injury must succeed in adequately answering all of these questions in order to win a verdict in a premises liability claim, or be prepared to answer them in order to win an adequate settlement with an owner.
How Can a Jackson Premises Liability Lawyer Help Me?
Of course, as you put together the best case possible to ensure compensation for an injury, consulting an attorney experienced in premises liability cases can be crucial. Since every accident or injury is different, it helps to have a skilled personal injury lawyer to consider how the law may apply to the exact circumstances of the case. Giddens Law Firm has been fighting hard on behalf of clients for more than two decades to get them the compensation they deserve after a traumatic accident or injury, including a premises liability injury.
Sometimes people do not seek the guidance of a premises liability attorney for fear it would be too expensive or complicated. Giddens Law Firm alleviates those fears right away, but providing the first consultation for free, and afterward working on a contingency basis, meaning that we do not get paid for our services until we win your case. When a case is settled, our Jackson premises liability lawyers will take a small percentage of the settlement; if we are not successful, then you do not owe us anything.
As part of our commitment to clients, we work to respond quickly and carefully to concerns, balancing the speed our clients desire with the thoroughness necessary to win their cases. Oftentimes, owners insure their properties against claims, including those resulting from slip-and-fall accidents or other injuries. After an incident occurs, an insurer may reach out to the injured party, offering to settle the case. However, these offers are often significantly smaller than the amount that someone may achieve with the help of an experienced lawyer who can accurately measure the true damages involved in a case.
At Giddens Law Firm, we understand that someone who has experienced a slip-and-fall accident through the negligence of a property owner may be upset, frustrated, confused, or angry. Our premises liability attorneys work hard to explain the law and analyze each case on its own merits to file the best claim we can to maximize success. Throughout the process, we will work to provide you with the representation you need in order to reach a successful outcome for your claim. Call us today at (601) 355-2022 for a free consultation to learn more about how we can make a difference for you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Premises Liability Claims in Jackson, MS
What is Comparative Negligence?
Mississippi law recognizes that sometimes a person who suffers an accident is partially responsible for the injury, even if the property owner is also partially responsible. This concept is called “comparative negligence,” and could reduce the award that a plaintiff can achieve in a personal injury claim. According to Mississippi Code section 11-7-15, “damages shall be diminished by the jury in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the person injured, or the owner of the property, or the person having control over the property.”
For example, if you are at a retail store and slip and fall on a wet floor, leading to a serious injury, you might suffer $50,000 in medical damages and lost wages. However, the owner could argue that you were texting at the time, and therefore distracted; otherwise, you would have noticed the spill and avoided it. A court might rule that you were therefore 20 percent responsible for the accident, lowering the amount you receive to $40,000.
Property owners in Mississippi will often argue that the victim was responsible at least in part for their own injury, frequently claiming that a hazard was obvious and therefore avoidable, even when it was not, or that you were engaging in unsafe behavior such as running in a hallway, contributing to the accident. That is one reason why it can be important to have a trained premises liability attorney to represent you at trial or in settlement negotiations to effectively push back against these claims.
On the other hand, Mississippi’s status as a “comparative negligence” state can also sometimes benefit plaintiffs, by allowing partial recovery of damages in cases where they are more than half responsible for the accident, and therefore might not receive any compensation in another state.
What is a Landowners Protection Act?
Mississippi law around slip-and-fall cases became more complicated in 2019 with the passage of Mississippi Code 11-1-66, a law called the “Landowner’s Protection Act.” The law has made it harder to sue owners for injuries caused by a third party, such as a criminal assault, on their property. According to the new law, a victim must prove that the owner “impelled the conduct” of the third party “actively and affirmatively, with a degree of conscious decision-making.”
While a property owner could still be held liable if they negligently failed to provide adequate security, the law requires that a successful claim proves that an “atmosphere of violence” existed on the property that would precipitate the property owner to provide that extra security. That “atmosphere” is defined as three or more violent incidents within the previous three years, occurring in the immediate vicinity of the property.”
These new requirements make it very difficult for a victim of an assault to hold the property owner accountable, and therefore more crucial that they consult an attorney knowledgeable in Mississippi law to ensure the best chances of success.
What Type of Damages Can I Receive After a Premises Liability?
Someone suffering an injury on another person’s property in Jackson, Mississippi, may be entitled to compensation for a variety of damages. Chief among them are the medical bills associated with recovery from the injury; those bills might include charges from an emergency room visit on the day of the accident, as well as ongoing doctor’s visits or physical therapy to recover from injuries sustained in the accident going forward. It is important to obtain an accurate accounting from medical professionals of treatments received as a result of the accident, as well as estimates for future care.
Damages for slip and fall accidents are not solely limited to direct medical care from the accident. They can also include lost wages from work, or compensation for the use of paid vacation days if you had to take time off from your job to recover and rest after the accident. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, premises liability injuries cause the loss of more than 100 million workdays nationwide each year. The lost compensation from these days can be taken into account in calculating the overall reward an injured party receives. In cases of more serious accidents, victims can also receive damages for loss of future earning capacity.
Sometimes, damages from these types of injuries can also include more intangible aspects such as “pain and suffering.” That could include anguish from the accident itself, such as trauma after being attacked by an unleashed dog or after being assaulted by a stranger in a poorly lit parking lot. It could also include mental health issues stemming from the recovery after an accident, such as depression caused by an extended period of time being incapacitated at home and unable to engage in normal life activities because of physical distress.
These kinds of non-economic damages are not as easy to recover as damages that can be financially measured more easily through a specific bill from a doctor. A trained attorney can assist in providing the needed backup documentation, such as testimony from experts, or evidence of mental health counseling needed to recover from a traumatic accident, to ensure that the victim receives the full compensation to which they are entitled.
What Should I Do After an Accident on Someone’s Property?
If you are injured on another person’s property and believe that they are at fault, it is important to file a claim as soon as possible. Mississippi has a three-year statute of limitation on premises liability injuries. According to Mississippi Code 15-1-49, if a claim is not filed within that period, then it will be dismissed.
To file the strongest claim possible, you must gather the best and most persuasive evidence to prove all aspects of the case, including that an injury occurred, and that the owner was at fault through their negligence. It’s important, first and foremost, to obtain medical treatment as soon as possible, both to ensure that you recover as quickly as possible from injuries and to ensure that there is an accurate record of the injuries that occurred and any treatment you received that could be subject to compensation.
In addition, it can be important to document the accident, either at the time it occurs or soon after the fact. Documentation can include: photographs of the accident scene showing the factors that contributed to it; video footage maintained by the property owner or nearby properties; statements and contact information from any witnesses who saw the injury occur; and physical evidence such as clothes or shoes you were wearing at the time of the accident. It can also be wise to file a police report soon after the accident occurred in order to create an official record that can be used later.