Do Their Actions Matter? Assessing Customer Responsibility in Mississippi Premises Liability Claims

Premises liability claims arise when a customer suffers an injury while lawfully on someone else’s property in Mississippi. If the property owner fails to take reasonable precautions to prevent foreseeable injuries, they can be held liable for damages. However, the customer’s own negligent actions will also be carefully analyzed. Their contribution to the accident could significantly reduce or even eliminate the property owner’s liability. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at premises liability claims in Mississippi and how to determine who was at fault.

Three Main Categories of Premises Liability Claims

There are three broad categories of premises liability claims recognized in Mississippi:

Slip and Fall Accidents

The most common claims involve customers slipping, tripping, or falling due to a hazardous condition on the premises. This includes wet floors, uneven walking surfaces, poor lighting, failure to clean up spills, lack of handrails on stairs, and other dangers. For example, a customer may slip on a greasy floor at a restaurant if staff members failed to clean up a spill quickly. Or a patron could trip over merchandise projecting into the aisle at a retail store due to careless restocking.

Property owners must regularly inspect their premises and either correct the issues or appropriately warn of discoverable hazards. If not, they can be deemed negligent. Damages may include medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other costs stemming from the customer’s injuries.

Inadequate Security

Customers also have claims when they are assaulted, shot, robbed, or attacked on someone else’s premises due to insufficient security measures. For example, a hotel may be liable if a guest gets attacked in a poorly lit parking lot without security cameras or guards. Or a bar could be responsible if a customer gets injured during a fight when the business failed to have adequate bouncer staffing.

The key is whether the criminal act was reasonably foreseeable under the circumstances and whether the property owner neglected basic security precautions. Damages can include medical costs, trauma counseling, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Dangerous Activities

Finally, customers may have claims if they are harmed while engaging in dangerous activities on someone else’s property. Examples include swimming in a pool without proper warnings or supervision, using playground equipment that is poorly maintained, or participating in high-risk sports without safety equipment.

Property owners who sponsor or permit risky activities on their land must take appropriate precautions to avoid foreseeable injuries. This includes having trained staff supervise the activity, establishing and enforcing safety rules, providing protective gear and warnings, and regularly inspecting equipment for hazards. Otherwise, they may be liable for any harm that results.

Showing the Property Owner’s Negligence

To succeed with a premises liability claim in Mississippi, the injured customer must prove:

  • The property owner owed them a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances
  • The owner breached this duty through negligent action or inaction
  • This negligence directly caused the customer’s injuries and damages
  • The injury was foreseeable and likely to occur in the absence of due care

The customer must show the owner failed to take precautions a reasonable person would expect under the situation. For example, wet floor injuries are often foreseeable at a restaurant. So, the owner must implement reasonable policies to quickly identify and clean spills to avoid accidents.

How Customer Negligence Can Reduce or Bar Recovery

Under Mississippi’s pure comparative negligence system, a customer’s own negligence directly reduces their damage recovery in proportion to their share of fault for the accident.

For example, suppose a jury awarded a customer $100,000 for injuries suffered in a slip and fall accident, but found the customer 25% liable for the incident. Their award would be lowered to $75,000 to account for their comparative negligence.

Specific customer actions that could decrease recovery include:

  • Ignoring reasonable safety precautions in place, like wet floor warning signs
  • Failing to pay adequate attention to their surroundings
  • Engaging in reckless behavior on the premises
  • Being intoxicated or impaired from drugs/alcohol at the time of injury
  • Entering restricted areas they should reasonably know are off-limits

Customers are also responsible for perceiving and avoiding “open and obvious” dangers – conditions that should be apparent to anyone paying reasonable attention. Property owners are not required to warn of these obvious hazards. For example, customers cannot claim ignorance of a large obstruction in the middle of a hallway.

When Customer Negligence Bars Recovery Entirely

In some cases, a customer’s negligent actions are so irresponsible that their conduct becomes the sole proximate cause of their injuries. This means the customer’s negligence alone, without regard to the property owner’s conduct, entirely caused the accident.

Examples of a customer’s negligence reaching this level include:

  • Intentionally injuring themselves on the premises, such as purposely jumping from a height
  • Knowingly sneaking onto the property after business hours, disabling alarms, and bypassing locked gates or doors, then becoming injured
  • Voluntarily consuming alcohol or drugs to the point of severe intoxication and incapacitation, then suffering an injury they could have avoided if sober
  • Ignoring clear verbal or posted warnings about extremely dangerous conditions on the premises, then deliberately proceeding anyway and getting injured
  • Engaging in recklessly dangerous activities on the premises with clear disregard for personal safety, such as jumping into shallow water

When a customer is solely at fault for their own injuries, they are barred from pursuing a premises liability claim under Mississippi law. Their negligence broke the chain of causation regarding the property owner’s actions.

Consult a Trusted Mississippi Personal Injury Attorney

Determining percentages of fault and relative negligence can be complex. An experienced Mississippi premises liability attorney can thoroughly investigate your accident, build the strongest case possible, and fight for maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.

Our skilled personal injury lawyers at Monge & Associates have successfully represented clients statewide. We have offices in 32 locations in 19 states, including Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and we are well-versed in fighting these claims against property owners.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury anywhere in Mississippi due to unsafe premises, contact us today for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597. Let us review your case, answer your questions, and discuss your legal options.