Each year, many Mississippi residents die after living a long, fulfilling life due to natural reasons such as old age, a longstanding illness, or another factor, but there are situations where countless other people here in Jackson lose their lives much sooner than they should. These unexpected, premature passings don’t often happen because a person falls ill or for reasons of their own doing, but instead due to someone else’s negligence. If you’re curious about what a wrongful death is, while we’ve given some hints above, there’s more to this legal construct that you need to know, which we’ll detail below.
How Does Mississippi Law Define Wrongful Death?
Mississippi’s wrongful death statute defines this legal construct as any death that stems from real, wrongful, or negligent acts, omissions, or unsafe appliances or machinery. This state statute applies to children (both alive and unborn) as well as adults.
The statute also includes language that describes how surviving family members may also file a wrongful death lawsuit if a breach of warranty, whether implied or expressed, of the “purity or fitness” of the following items occurs:
- Any other item intended for human consumption
What Are Some Examples of Wrongful Deaths?
As hinted at above, there are various factors that can result in wrongful deaths, such as:
- A physical assault
- Nursing home abuse
- A slip-and-fall accident
- Use of a defective product
- An auto accident, such as a tractor-trailer crash
- Medical malpractice
- A dangerous property situation
In short, any preventable incident that would not have occurred had it not been for someone neglecting to uphold their duty of care to others to keep them safe that ultimately resulted in a person’s death may fall under the umbrella of a wrongful death.
How Long Do You Have To File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Mississippi?
Surviving family members only have one year to file a wrongful death lawsuit after their loved one dies in Mississippi. However, that filing timeline increases to three years if negligence resulted in your relative’s death. Also, in a situation where a surgical error ultimately caused your family member’s passing sometime later, your ability to file a wrongful death lawsuit would begin counting down from the day your loved one died instead of from when the initial injury occurred.
Recovering Damages in Mississippi Wrongful Death Cases
Various types of damages are recoverable through the filing of a wrongful death claim; however, there are caps on how much you, as a surviving family member, can recover by taking legal action. While there’s no limit on the amount of economic damages you can recover, a cap of $500,000 applies to non-economic damages for wrongful deaths stemming from medical malpractice. Otherwise, a $1,000,000 limit applies to non-economic damages in most other cases.
Who Is Eligible to File a Mississippi Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Our state’s laws limit who can file a wrongful death lawsuit to the decedent’s:
- Personal representative
- Surviving spouse
Mississippi’s wrongful death statute also spells out how, if the decedent is married and also has kids at the time of their death, any damages awarded should be split between the surviving spouse and children. If they have no spouse but have kids, then any award should be split equally among them.
And, if the decedent doesn’t have a spouse or kids but has surviving parents or siblings, the wrongful death award should be split equally between those individuals. Last, if the decedent does not have any surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings, then the personal representative of their estate qualifies to use the award of damages to satisfy the decedent’s debts.
Where To Turn for Help When Suing for a Wrongful Death
It can be hard for anyone to cope with the sudden, unexpected loss of someone close to them. If you’ve lost a loved one prematurely, handling all your deceased loved one’s responsibilities alone and trying to stay financially afloat may leave you with very little energy to dedicate to thinking about much more. That’s when it can be beneficial to reach out to legal counsel like ours at Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC for help.
You can expect to receive compassionate care from our law firm staff from the initial time you contact our law office. And since our Jackson wrongful death attorneys are well-experienced in handling cases like these, you can rest assured knowing that the legal advice you receive is accurate and, if you decide to hire one of our lawyers, that a strong legal advocate will be fighting for you.
Let us help you navigate the legal system and assist you in recovering a just and fair settlement following your loved one’s wrongful death. Contact our firm today for a free initial consultation with a lawyer.