Each state has their own laws which govern wrongful death claims. Mississippi allows specific members of the family of the deceased to file a wrongful death lawsuit when the death was due to the negligence of another person or entity. Negligence may take the form of reckless behavior or careless behavior, or a wrongful death could be the result of an intentional killing from an assault. Under Mississippi statutes, a spouse, parents, children, grandchildren and siblings are allowed to file a wrongful death claim when their loved one has been killed from another’s negligence or from an intentional act. The personal representative of the estate of the deceased is also allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit under Mississippi law.
Types of Wrongful Deaths
Wrongful deaths include the following:
- A death due to an unsafe appliance or piece of machinery;
- A death due to a wrongful or negligent act;
- A death due to a wrongful or negligent omission;
- A death due to a defective product;
- A death due to dangerous premises;
- A death due to medical malpractice;
- A death due to a motor vehicle accident;
- A death due to an intentional act such as a shooting or stabbing;
- A death due to nursing home neglect or abuse.
While clearly no amount of money can ever replace the life of a person you loved and shared your life with, money can help family members pay their regular monthly expenses, particularly when the deceased was the primary wage earner. Those filing the Mississippi wrongful death claim may be entitled to receive compensation for burial and funeral expenses, compensation for medical costs incurred to treat the deceased prior to their death, compensation for property damage, the value of lost wages and benefits the deceased could have reasonably been expected to earn, compensation for pain and suffering resulting from the death, and loss of companionship and guidance for spouses and children.
The education, income and work experience of the deceased will be looked at in order to determine the amount of lost wages and benefits which would have been earned if his or her life had not been cut short. Damages awarded in wrongful death claims are first used to pay the creditors of the deceased, then remaining funds are paid and distributed to the heirs of the deceased in a specific order, detailed below.
In the state of Mississippi, there is a cap to such damages as pain and suffering—considered non-economic damages, and more difficult to definitively put a number on. As an example, if the death of a loved one was the result of medical malpractice, the non-economic damages are capped at $500,000. If the death of a loved one was the result of a defective product, the non-economic damages are capped at $1 million. If the death of a loved one was the result of a pharmaceutical claim, non-economic damages are capped at $1 million Economic damages like medical expenses and lost wages have no cap, no matter how the death occurred.
Financial compensation which is awarded following a wrongful death claim in the state of Mississippi will be divided as follows:
- If there is a surviving spouse, and the deceased had no children, the surviving spouse receives everything.
- If there is a surviving spouse and the deceased did have children, the award will be divided equally between the spouse and the children.
- If the deceased had children, and no spouse, the compensation will be divided equally between the children.
- If the deceased had no spouse and no children, the compensation will be divided equally between the parents of the deceased and the siblings of the deceased (Siblings and parents only receive compensation when there is no surviving spouse or any children of the deceased).
Mississippi Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
The Mississippi statute of limitations governs the amount of time in which loved ones have to bring a wrongful death claim after the death of their loved one. Under Mississippi law, surviving family members have one year from the date of the death of a loved one to file a wrongful death claim if the death was the result of an intentional act such as an assault. If the death was the result of negligence, the family members have three years following the death of their loved one to bring a wrongful death claim. Due to the statutes of limitations, it is extremely important that family members of the deceased meet with an experienced Mississippi wrongful death attorney as quickly as possible in order to avoid going past the time limit.
A wrongful death claim, as a civil lawsuit, is different from a criminal case in two ways. A wrongful death claim is filed directly by surviving family members or by the personal representative of the estate of the deceased. A criminal case, on the other hand, is filed by the state of Mississippi, and prosecuted by the state’s prosecuting attorney. Liability in a wrongful death claim is expressed only monetarily—the defendant pays the plaintiff a sum of money for the “damages” associated with the wrongful death. In a criminal case, a conviction for the defendant can result in a number of penalties including jail or prison time, fines and fees, probation and a number of other criminal consequences.
How a Mississippi Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
If your loved one died as the result of the negligence of another person or entity, you may be entitled to compensation, garnered through a wrongful death claim. If you are one of the allowed relatives of the deceased, you could receive economic and non-economic damages through your wrongful death claim. Because the laws surrounding wrongful death claims can be complex, it is important to speak to a knowledgeable Mississippi wrongful death attorney as quickly as possible following the death.
At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe in fighting aggressively for grieving Mississippi families – to ensure that they receive the money they need to put their lives back together again. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at (601) 265-7766 or (601) 265-7766.
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