If someone is injured on another’s property, they have the right to sue the negligent party for damages. There are many nuances of a case, so it is best to speak to a knowledgeable premises liability attorney.
For example, governments are mostly immune from premises liability and have a strict standard that injured persons must overcome before a governmental entity can be held liable. It is extremely hard to recover compensation from government for injuries on public property, unlike with cases involving private property. It is best to seek assistance from a diligent attorney who has experienced handling public property premises liability cases in Pascagoula.
Public property is government-owned property that is open for public use. The government has what is called governmental immunity in the State of Mississippi. However, there is a statute called the Mississippi Tort Claims Act, which specifically allows an injured person who was injured on government property to sue the government. First, there are strict notice requirement before any suit can be maintained. This requires a pre-suit notice to be sent to the governmental entity. There are different time requirements in the case of whether the governmental property is federal, state, or municipality or a county.
The pre-suit notice is simply a letter sent usually to the clerk or other administrative head of the governmental entity. The letter must state specifically the details of the injury. There are usually several other requirements that must be listed out, such as potential witnesses to the incident, when and where the incident occurred, the injuries that were sustained, and other important information. The purpose of this is that the governmental entity can determine any liability and attempt to resolve the case before suit is filed. In reality, governments rarely resolve cases before a suit is filed.
Once that pre-suit notice is sent, then the government usually has anywhere from 90 to 120 days, depending on the governmental entity, to respond to the letter before a lawsuit can be filed.
If somebody is injured on public premises, then they must sue in circuit or county courts against municipalities, county governments, and state entities. All of those suits must be filed in the county in which the injury occurred and must meet the noticing requirements that is set out above. Also, all of those cases must be filed in the circuit court only. No cases will be maintained in our chancery or county courts. And the circuit court has exclusive jurisdiction over cases against cities, counties, and state governments. Federal premises cases must be filed in federal courts and the jurisdiction in which the injury occurred.
Property classification could complicate a case depending on if the land is a common use area such as streets, sidewalks, or parks. The government is generally held to a higher standard in those common areas. But the government has to have notice, either actual or constructive notice, of a dangerous or unsafe premises. Notice means that someone has notified the government that a danger or unsafe premises exists. Further, the government should know of the dangerous premise or should have known of the danger. When a dangerous condition existed for so long that a government should have known of the danger, this is called constructive notice.
Liability may be harder to establish if the incident occurred on more remote locations such as national parks or governmental buildings that are not usually open to the public or have less traffic. Governments have a lot of area to cover with lots of ownership for these properties, therefore, they are not liable for all dangerous conditions on their property. It depends on the nature of the use of the property and whether there’s an immediate danger to the public for the unsafe condition.
Governments cannot be held liable for punitive damage. These are damages that seek to punish entities for intentional or grossly negligent conduct. However, governments can be held liable for medical bills, economic loss, and pain, and suffering, and other damages that are allowed by law. The caveat to there so is that all governments in the United States have caps on liability. These caps are established by state and federal law and put a maximum recovery on all actions against government.
In the State of Mississippi, the maximum amount of recovery is $250,000. This is the maximum that can be recovered against a state, county, or municipality for any injuries. There are also corresponding federal statutes that deal with federal properties. For serious injuries, this is an extremely low threshold. And there is no way to recover more than the statutory amount against the government entity.
Handling public property premises liability cases in Pascagoula can be extremely challenging without legal help. A local attorney could help you seek compensation for all of your injuries and damages. Schedule a consultation with an experienced premises liability attorney in your community today.