There are many factors that can complicate a wrongful death claim. One common example is if multiple parties share fault for the fatal accident.
If a man is struck by a drunk driver, for example, but he was speeding just before the wreck occurred, he could be deemed partially liable. Had he been traveling the posted speed limit, he might have had time to take evasive action and avoid the collision altogether.
If someone you love died in a preventable accident that he or she contributed to, you may be wondering if your family still has grounds for a wrongful death claim. Since every scenario is unique, it’s wise to consult a wrongful death attorney to find out if your case has merit.
Generally speaking, it is possible to bring a wrongful death claim even if the deceased was partially liable; however, the award of damages may be reduced by his or her percentage of fault.
Mississippi’s Pure Comparative Fault Law
Contributory negligence refers to the victim’s own negligent conduct that plays a role in causing a tort. When a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit involves contributory negligence, the court can address it in one of four ways, depending on the state.
In states with a pure contributory negligence law, plaintiffs are barred from recovering anything at all if the victim is found even 1 percent liable for the accident that caused their death. Thankfully, Mississippi is not one of these states.
Instead, Mississippi has a pure comparative fault law. Under this law, plaintiffs may be entitled to compensation even if the victim’s own negligence was a contributing factor; however, the payout they end up recovering will be reduced by the deceased’s own percentage of liability.
In other words, if your family incurred $100,000 in damages following your loved one’s death but the court finds him or her 20 percent liable, you would only be able to recover up to $80,000, or 80 percent of your total damages.
The third approach to handling contributory negligence is the modified comparative fault law. In states that follow this system, the payout is also reduced by the victim’s own percentage of fault; however, if the victim is found to be more than 49 percent or 50 percent liable (it varies depending on the state), the plaintiff is barred from recovering anything at all.
The fourth approach, the slight/gross negligence comparative fault system, has only been adopted in one state—South Dakota—and bars plaintiffs from recovering a payout if their conduct constituted anything more than slight negligence.
Contact Us at (877) 231-1600 to Discuss Your Case with a Jackson Wrongful Death Attorney
If a member of your family has died in a preventable accident, turn to Coxwell & Associates for representation. By letting us handle the logistics of your case, you can focus on more important matters like taking care of your family. Dial (877) 231-1600 or fill out our Contact Form to set up a free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer in Jackson.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.