No tragedy can match the pain of losing a loved one due to an unexpected accident. While no amount of money will ease your heartbreak, you have the right to seek compensation and financial stability through a wrongful death claim.
Putting a price on a human life is complex at best. The sad fact is that insurance companies will be quick to either deny your claim or offer you something that is far less than you deserve. For this reason alone, we recommend that you speak with an experienced personal injury attorney about your rights as quickly as possible.
What is Wrongful Death in Mississippi?
Mississippi Code section 11-7-13 defines wrongful death as death that is caused by:
- any real, negligent, or wrongful act or omission
- unsafe way, machinery, or appliances, or
- any breach of warranty of fitness of an item meant for human consumption.
A wrongful death case can be initiated if death resulted from a wrongful or negligent act that would otherwise have allowed the deceased person to bring a personal injury case had they lived. Viewed this way, wrongful death cases have similarities with personal injury cases. The difference is that they are brought on behalf of the victim since that person is no longer living to do this themselves.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Mississippi?
While it’s terribly painful to lose a close friend or partner to wrongful death, this won’t necessarily entitle you to sue the responsible party for damages. According to Mississippi law, only certain people can bring a wrongful death case. These include:
- The deceased’s person’s surviving spouse
- The deceased’s person’s child or surviving parent
- The deceased’s person’s personal representative, and
- The deceased’s person’s surviving siblings.
Regardless of who files the lawsuit, any and all of these interested parties can join the suit once it’s been filed. Mississippi law dictates how any award is divided among the interested survivors:
- The spouse will receive everything if there are no children
- If there are a spouse and children, the award is divided equally
- If there are children but no spouse, the award is divided equally
- If there is no spouse or children, the award is divided between any living parents and siblings
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Worth in Mississippi?
It’s not possible to determine the types of damages you can claim or their amounts without a thorough evaluation of your case. While Mississippi attorneys are forbidden from guaranteeing results to clients, there are certain types of damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death case. These include:
- Medical bills resulting from the fatal illness or injury
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Value of lost or destroyed property
- Lifetime loss of income if the decedent was a family breadwinner
- Loss of benefits and retirement pension
- Pain and suffering that your loved one endured before death
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Loss of companionship, care, and protection
- Punitive damages in some cases.
Other Constraints in Wrongful Death Cases
Unfortunately, the state of Mississippi has placed a cap, or limit, on several types of wrongful death cases. The caps only affect non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and emotional distress but not economic damages such as lost wages, funeral expenses, and medical bills. The caps in place for non-economic damages include:
- Product liability claims: $1 million
- Pharmaceutical claims: $1 million
- Medical malpractice claims: $500,000
Because Mississippi is a comparative negligence state, it’s possible that any award for damages could be reduced if the decedent played a role in their death. According to this standard, damages would be reduced according to the percentage at fault that a jury assigns to the decedent.
Anyone impacted by a wrongful death in Mississippi must also be aware of the state’s time limits to file a lawsuit. These vary depending on the circumstances of the case. If the death was the result of negligence, you have three years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim. But, if it was the result of assault or battery, that time limit is just one year.
Speak with a Qualified Biloxi Wrongful Death Attorney
It’s difficult if not impossible to figure out the value of a wrongful death case based on a few facts that you pick up online. These are complex matters, and every case has its own set of unique circumstances. At Reeves & Mestayer, we believe that grieving family members deserve just compensation in cases involving wrongful death. Our goal is to build the strongest case possible so that you and your loved ones receive the full and fair compensation you need and deserve. We offer a free consultation to all clients and invite you to contact us to discuss your case. Call us today at (855) 558-2977.