In too many cases of wrongful death, surviving family members become paralyzed by not only the debilitating grief of losing a loved one, but also by the avalanche of unforeseen financial complications that suddenly arise. Medical bills and funeral costs, together with the loss of income that formerly supported the family, can cause a family tremendous economic stress during a time that is already emotionally exhausting. This situation is neither just nor sustainable, and a wrongful death lawsuit is designed to prevent it from happening.
In this article, our firm of Jackson, MS wrongful death lawyers at Pittman, Roberts & Welsh, PLLC discusses the definition of a wrongful death lawsuit, who can file one in the state of Mississippi, and why this legal tool can be extremely valuable to families struggling to recover in the aftermath of a loss.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of civil action brought by surviving family members against the party which caused wrongful death through a negligent or intentional action. This provides the legal means for loved ones of the decedent to seek justice on behalf of the one they lost through the harm caused by another. Under Mississippi law, wrongful death is defined as the death of a person or unborn quick child (a fetus which has developed to such a stage that it can move within the mother’s womb) due to one of the following causes:
- A real, wrongful, or negligent act or omission
- Any unsafe machinery, way, or appliance
- The breach of any warranty, express or implied, of the purity or fitness of any foods, drugs, medicines, beverages, tobacco, or any other commodities intended for human consumption
The law specifies that in such cases, the injured party would have been eligible to recover damages if death had not ensued. In summary, a wrongful death occurs when an injury causes a person’s death, the injury is caused by another entity’s wrongful act, and the decedent would have been entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit if they had survived. Most wrongful deaths result from one of the following types of wrongful acts:
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Birth injuries
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Mississippi?
Each state has its own guidelines dictating which parties can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Mississippi, the following parties are legally permitted to file a wrongful death claim:
- Children, descendants of children, and unborn children
- A personal representative or executor of the decedent’s estate
Under state law, there can only be one lawsuit filed for a single incidence of wrongful death. It is most common in Mississippi for a surviving spouse to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their deceased partner. But no matter who files the wrongful death claim, all eligible parties can join the lawsuit once it has been filed.
Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Over a long career as Jackson, MS wrongful death lawyers, we have had countless conversations with clients who are contemplating whether or not to file a wrongful death lawsuit. What we have learned is that many people are initially hesitant to file a claim. There are understandable reasons for this. Firstly, grieving family members are sometimes unsure about how to begin legal procedures or what they will entail. Secondly, some individuals are uncomfortable with the thought of seeking damages on behalf of someone they have lost.
Through communicating with our clients, we have also learned that most surviving family members desire the outcomes that a wrongful death lawsuit can provide—justice, accountability, and positive change. Like most people who have lost a loved one, the clients who come to us for help want to know that the loss of their family member’s life will bring awareness to a dangerous problem, stop a negligent party from repeating their actions, and prevent any future incidents of harm to other people.
In cases of wrongful death, the negligent party must be held accountable and made to bear the financial burden their harmful actions caused. When we represent our clients, we make sure that the negligent party is made responsible for the consequential losses the family sustained. These losses can include:
- Medical bills for the decedent’s treatment
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering caused by the loss
- Lost wages and benefits the decedent is no longer able to earn to support the family
It is never easy to determine damages in a wrongful death case. The impact a loss has on surviving family members is incalculable. As wrongful death attorneys, we know that nothing will ever take the place of what you have lost. It is our duty to make sure that we offer the legal guidance, care, understanding, and support you need during a very difficult time. It is not the job of the surviving loved ones to handle legal matters during a period of intense grief.
To meet with our team at Pittman, Roberts & Welsh, PLLC, contact our office. We can schedule a discussion about how we can partner with your family as you prepare to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If you decide to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit with our firm, you will pay no legal fees until we recover compensation for your family.