If a family member dies because of the negligence or reckless actions of another person or party, it may be possible for those closest to the victim to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death claim is a civil action that is entirely separate from any criminal charge that those responsible for the death may be facing. And in fact, a wrongful death civil lawsuit can be filed even if the defendant is not charged criminally in the incident that resulted in the person’s death.
Each state has its own set of laws that govern wrongful death lawsuits, Mississippi included.
Mississippi Wrongful Death Laws
Under Mississippi law, a wrongful death can include any real, wrongful, or negligent act or omission, unsafe machinery or appliance, or breach of any warranty of fitness of an item that is meant for human consumption that results in someone’s death.
Essentially, any case in which the decedent would have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party (had they lived) can qualify for a wrongful death lawsuit. The main difference being that the action is brought on the decedent’s behalf by someone close to them.
Examples of events a wrongful death claim can be filed for include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Nursing home negligence and abuse
- Premises liability accidents
- Animal attacks
- Workplace accidents
- Fatal illness from exposure to toxic substances
- Deaths caused by defective products
- Medical malpractice
- Intentional attacks (such as shaking, punching, stabbing, or shooting)
Every case is different, and the totality of the circumstances must be taken into account in determining whether or not a wrongful death lawsuit would have merit. Before proceeding that this type of action, it is always best to speak with an experienced Mississippi personal injury lawyer about your case.
Who can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Mississippi?
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by certain close relatives of the decedent, these include:
- A surviving spouse;
- A surviving child or descendant;
- A surviving parent;
- A surviving sibling.
In addition to any of the above-mentioned relatives, a claim can also be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate (if one has been appointed in the decedent’s will). But regardless of who initiates the lawsuit, all interested parties can join the suit once it is filed.
How Much Compensation Can I Get from a Wrongful Death Claim?
The legal system acknowledges that no amount of money can replace a human life, but although it is far from a perfect solution, financial compensation is the only suitable way to attempt to make up for the untimely loss of a loved one.
During a wrongful death lawsuit, the decedent’s estate or close relatives can seek damages for:
- Property damage;
- Medical expenses incurred prior to the decedent’s death;
- Funeral and burial costs;
- Lost wages and benefits the decedent would have been reasonably expected to earn;
- Loss of companionship, comfort, guidance and support due to the decedent’s death;
- Pain and suffering that was caused by the death of a loved one.
Mississippi caps non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering) for most wrongful death cases and $1 million. With medical malpractice claims, the cap is lowered to $500,000.
Proceeds from a wrongful death claim are divided among family members in the following manner:
- If there is a surviving spouse but no children, the spouse receives everything;
- If there is a surviving spouse and surviving children, proceeds are divided equally between each of these survivors;
- If there is no spouse but there are surviving children, proceeds are divided equally among the children;
- If there is no spouse and no surviving children, proceeds are divided equally between any surviving parents and siblings.
What is the Deadline in Mississippi to File the Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
There are two separate deadlines for Mississippi wrongful death claims, depending on the cause of death. If a loved one was killed by an intentional act (such as assault), survivors have just one year from the date of death to file a lawsuit. If the death was caused by another party’s negligence, the deadline is three years.
Regardless of which deadline applies to your case, however, it is best to retain the services of a skilled attorney as soon as possible. The more time that lapses, the greater the chances of critical evidence being lost or destroyed, witnesses forgetting what happened, and other impediments arising that could make it more difficult to recover the just compensation you deserve.
Contact the Knowledgeable and Compassionate Mississippi Wrongful Death Lawyers at Reeves & Mestayer
If you lost someone close to you because of the actions or
omissions of another person or party, contact Reeves & Mestayer for a free
consultation and case assessment. Call us today at 1-855-558-2977 or send us a
message through our online contact form. You may also stop by our Biloxi, MS office
in person at your convenience.