Recently, a Mississippi man was killed in a cargo lift accident in Bay St. Louis, and two others were injured. This was the third such accident in Hanover County, and the city has called for routine safety inspections in response, telling homeowners to inspect their lifts at least once a year. Among other things, cargo lifts may need greasing and their cables checked at the inspection. The city makes sure that the lifts and the hookups are within the code, but it recommends that cargo lifts be restricted to lifting cargo.
The accident happened on a Saturday night. The decedent built the utility lift that was attached to his home after Hurricane Katrina. Shortly before the accident, he had tack welded a new floor to the bottom of the lift. The floor fell out under the utility lift, and they fell on concrete. The decedent's friend and his friend's son survived the accident with minor injuries.
In Mississippi, if you are hurt on somebody else's property in a cargo lift or other accident, your ability to recover depends partly on your status on the property. Your status may be as an invitee, licensee, or trespasser. An invitee is somebody who enters property in response to an express or implied invitation of the owner for mutual advantage.
While the property owner is not an insurer of an invitee's safety, it does owe a duty to an invitee to keep the premises reasonably safe and if it's not reasonably safe, warn of hidden dangers or perils that are not in plain view. Duty is a legal question.
A cargo lift accident like the one described above, where the cargo lift was designed by the owner, may involve a hidden danger. In general, how foreseeable the injury is determines whether a premises owner can be held liable.
Foreseeability is determined by the specific facts of the case, and what is required to be foreseeable is the general nature of the harm, not the exact accident that did happen. Was it reasonable for the decedent in the example above to construct his own cargo lift or invite others to ride on it? It would probably depend at least in part on whether he had any experience with construction. He may have depended on the city's inspection to catch any mistakes in his construction. On the other hand, he had recently replaced the floor, and it is unknown whether he had gotten his repair inspected.
If you're hurt in a cargo accident or other premises liability accident, and you are able to prove your premises liability case, you may be able to recover compensatory damages, including medical bills, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering. Your ability to actually recover these damages may depend on whether the homeowner (or occupier) has homeowners' insurance. It is also possible to place a lien on the property to recover the amount of the judgment, assuming the defendant is the homeowner and not a renter.
If you are hurt or a loved one is killed in a serious accident on somebody else's property, the experienced Mississippi personal injury attorneys of Coxwell & Associates may be able to build a strong case on your behalf. Contact us for a consultation.
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