Are Trespassers Covered Under Premises Liability Laws in Mississippi Gulf Coast

Premises liability laws in Mississippi make it essential for property owners to meet their duty of care to tenants and visitors by identifying and removing hazards on their premises as soon as possible.

If a property owner neglects this duty of care and their actions result in losses or injuries to another party, that party can sue the property owner to seek compensation.

But what happens if the visitor to the property is a trespasser without permission to be there? What rules apply then?

Here is what you need to know about premises liability and trespasser injuries.

What is premises liability in Mississippi?

Under the premises liability laws in Mississippi, property owners may be held accountable for any accidents and injuries that happen on their property due to their negligence.

This could be a slip and fall injury due to a wet floor, inadequate security leading to an accident or other dangerous conditions that leads to almost any type of injury for a visitor, guest, customer, tenant, or person hired to work on the property.

For instance, if a wet floor in a supermarket is not cordoned off or has no sign warning of the hazard, and a customer slips, hits their head, and is concussed, the supermarket may be held liable for the injuries caused.

Compensation may be awarded by the court, but most premises liability claims are handled out of court through negotiations between the injured party and the insurance company of the at-fault party.

What is “duty of care”?

The duty of care concept is central to personal injury law in Mississippi. Property owners owe a varying level of duty of care to different categories of visitors just as a driver on the roads has a duty of care to other road users or medical staff in a healthcare facility have a duty of care to patients.

For property owners, the duty of care may be broken down into three main categories of “visitors”:

  • Invitees: individuals invited onto the premises for business purposes, such as customers in a store or clients in an office, are owed the highest duty of care from property owners. As part of the duty of care, regular inspections should be made, and potential hazards should be fixed or flagged for visitors unfamiliar with them.
  • Licensees: anyone who enters the property for social purposes or with the owner’s permission, such as guests at a party, must be warned of any known hazards or the property owner may be held liable for any injuries caused.
  • Trespassers: trespassers are owed the lowest duty of care by landowners, but no intentional harm can be legally caused to a trespasser by the landowner, and it is prohibited to set traps that could cause trespasser injuries.
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How do you prove negligence in Mississippi?

For a successful personal injury claim against a negligent property owner, the negligence must be proven. This can be challenging without the aid of a skilled personal injury lawyer.

To prove negligence, you will need to demonstrate each of the following four elements:

  1. Duty of care: the property owner owed a duty of care to you as a visitor to the property.
  2. Breach of duty: the property owner failed to fulfill their duty by either creating or allowing a dangerous condition to exist on the premises.
  3. Causation: the dangerous condition directly caused your injuries.
  4. Damages: you suffered actual damages, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost earnings, or other related losses.

What is the statute of limitations on premises liability claims?

A statute of limitations imposes a time limit on making claims through the legal system in Mississippi.

For premises liability claims, the timeframe within which a lawsuit can be filed is generally three years from the date of the accident and injury. After this time limit has passed, the right to file a lawsuit is generally waived.

Failing to file a lawsuit within this timeframe may result in losing the right to seek compensation.

Are trespasser injuries covered under premises liability in Mississippi?

As stated above, a duty of care is still owed by a landowner to trespassers on the property. Accordingly, the landowner is not permitted to deliberately injure a visitor even if they are on their land without permission.

In this sense, trespassers are covered by premises liability laws in Mississippi. However, because that individual is on the property illegally, the law generally favors the landowner. More specifically, the general rule is that the trespasser would not have been injured if they had not violated the law by trespassing.

Where the law may favor the trespasser is, for example, if the landowner is aware of a particular hazard that could cause injury but makes no attempt to warn intruders of the hazard or actively uses it to trap trespassers.

If, for instance, a swimming pool is unsecure without a fence around it and a child drowns, the landowner may be liable even if the child was there without permission.

Remember, landowners still have a duty NOT to create hazardous conditions for visitors, even if the visitor is a trespasser.

If you are a property owner who is concerned about trespassers on your property but also concerned about liability for injuries, it is best to take all necessary precautions to ensure anyone coming onto your property is safe from all hazardous conditions.

If you have been injured as a visitor to a property in Mississippi, a seasoned premises liability lawyer can help you prove liability and maximize your personal injury claim. These cases require considerable detail, and each case is only as strong as the supporting arguments and documentation. Legal experience in such cases counts for plenty when pursuing the appropriate damages.

For personal injury claims in the Biloxi area of Mississippi, contact a premises liability lawyer at Rushing & Guice, PLLC for legal advice and assistance.

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