Mississippi Insurance Law – Part 10MISSISSIPPI Insurance-Related Law — An A to Z GuideThis is the last post of us sharing our 2016 update. If you like a full copy or have any questions, please email or call.Valued Policy LawMiss. Code Ann. § 83-13-5, known as the “Valued Policy Law” or “Valued Property Statute,” provides that no insurer may issue fire insurance on property in an amount that exceeds the fair market value of the property. The statute also provides that when property is totally destroyed by fire, the insurer may not deny that the destroyed property was worth the full amount of insurance, and that full amount of insurance shall be the damages for the insured.The valued property statute only operates in cases where the insured property is “totally destroyed by fire,” which means there is the lack of a “substantial, usable remnant of the building surviving.” Home Ins. Co. v. Greene, 229 So. 2d 576, 579 (Miss. 1969).In addition, “a building insured against fire is a ‘total loss’ where, though only partly burned, it is rendered unfit for the purpose for which it was constructed, and there is an ordinance or law prohibiting reconstruction.” Palantine Ins. Co. v. Nunn, 55 So. 44 (Miss. 1911).The statute provides that when the insured property is totally destroyed by fire, the insurer may not deny that the destroyed property was worth the amount of the insurance, which amount is the measure of damages for the insured. Mississippi Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Todd, 492 So. 2d 919, 932 (Miss. 1986).This statute is written into all fire insurance contracts as a matter of law and does not depend on specific language in the policy. Harrison v. American Motorists Ins. Co., 245 So. 2d 577 (Miss. 1971).The purpose of the statute is to prevent insurers from collecting premiums for an amount of coverage and then denying that the property’s value equals the amount of coverage. Todd, 492 So. 2d at 932. The statute will allow the principles of indemnity to be violated to the extent an insured may be allowed to recover in excess of the insured’s actual damages.The valued property statute applies only to real property and is not available to the insured to establish the value of personal property destroyed by fire. Home Ins. Co. v. Greene, 229 So. 2d 576, 579 (Miss. 1969). Vicarious LiabilityWithout some special relationship, an owner of an automobile is not liable for injuries negligently caused by a permissive driver. Wood v. Nichols, 416 So. 2d 659 (Miss. 1982).The methods in which liability may be imputed from a permissive user to owner are agency, employment, negligent entrustment, conspiracy, joint enterprise, and ownership liability statutes. Woods v. Nichols, 416 So. 2d 659, 663-64 (Miss. 1982) (agency); Dukes v. Sanders, 124 So. 2d 122, 128 (Miss. 1960) (negligent entrustment); Buford v. Horne, 300 So. 2d 913 (Miss. 1974) (joint enterprise); See Miss. Code Ann. § 63-1-25 (joint and several liability for the willful or negligent acts of a minor under seventeen while operating motor vehicle between minor and person who signed application for license or permit).Wrongful DeathBrought by a beneficiary or personal representative, the following damages can be recovered in a wrongful death action: expenses of last illness, any conscious pain and suffering of the deceased, funeral expenses, the present net cash value of the deceased’s work life expectancy (i.e. the total earnings the deceased would have realized throughout his lifetime, based on the average life expectancy) reduced to the present value and further reduced by the amount which the decedent would have spent on himself, and loss of society and companionship of the deceased (does not include ‘grief’). Miss. Code Ann. § 11-7-13.The Estate of the deceased person may or may not present a claim for damages in a wrongful death case. Generally, damages that an Estate may have are limited to funeral expenses and medical expenses incurred in treating the final illness or injury. See also Releases.______________________A word of caution is necessary whenever legal issues are at stake. The information contained in these posts is for general guidance on matters of interest only. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. Given the changing nature of laws, rules and regulations, there may be omissions or inaccuracies in information contained in this report or laws may have changed or been reinterpreted. Accordingly, the information in this report is provided with the understanding that the authors are not herein engaged in rendering legal, tax, or other professional advice and services. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with legal or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, particularly before denying any first-party claims, you should consult with your counsel or the attorneys at Holcomb Dunbar.
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