The pain of losing a loved due to an accident is immeasurable. The pain is magnified if the fatal accident was the result of someone’s negligent actions. You may be wondering how you will move forward. The wrongful death attorneys of Brown Bass & Jeter, PLLC want to help you seek justice for your loved one.
We understand that you may have mixed emotions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit. We also understand that money will never bring back your loved one nor will it ease the pain and grief you are suffering. Unfortunately, the only remedy the law can offer in these situations is a monetary award against the person or company at fault for the death of your loved one to compensate you for your loss.
What Is a “Wrongful Death?”
When someone dies through the negligent act of another, a wrongful death claim may result. Our attorneys will review the evidence of your case and help you determine the cause of your loved one’s fatal accident and who to hold responsible.
There may be many different reasons that a wrongful death occurs. The following are some common types of accidents that can lead to a wrongful death claim:
- Premises liability accident – when a loved one is injured on someone else property
- Automobile accident
- Motorcycle crashes
- Commercial truck, semi-truck, or other large truck accidents
- Abuse or negligence in a nursing or long-term care facility
- Medical mistakes
- Workplace injuries
- Products liability – dangerous products and prescription drugs
What Is the Difference Between a “Wrongful Death Claim” and “Criminal Case?”
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit. A wrongful death claim is different from a criminal case in two ways. First, a wrongful death claim is filed by the personal representative or the surviving family members. Whereas, a criminal case, is filed by the prosecuting attorney’s office. Second, liability in a wrongful death claim is expressed solely in terms of money damages paid by the defendant. In a criminal case, however, a conviction may include a sentence to jail or prison time, probation, or other penalties.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury claim. The only difference is in a wrongful death claim, the injured party unfortunately is not alive to bring his or her own case. Instead, another party must bring the case to court on the deceased person’s behalf. In determining the class of wrongful death beneficiaries, the wrongful death statute closely follows Mississippi’s scheme for intestate distribution. The wrongful death statute, Miss. Code. Ann. § 11-7-13, gives highest priority to those close relatives, namely the children and surviving spouse of the deceased, who typically receive support from the deceased.
Mississippi wrongful death statute, § 11-7-13, specifically states:
The action for such damages may be brought in the name of the personal representative of the deceased person or unborn quick child for the benefit of all persons entitled under the law to recover, or by widow for the death of her husband, or by the husband for the death of the wife, or by the parent for the death of a child or unborn quick child, or in the name of a child, or in the name of a child for the death of a parent, or by a brother for the death of a sister, or by a sister for the death of a brother, or by a sister for the death of a sister, or a brother for the death of a brother, or all parties interested may join in the suit…
Under Mississippi wrongful death law, the following persons can bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased:
- Personal representative of the deceased person’s estate
- Siblings are allowed to bring wrongful death actions
When the surviving spouse of a deceased person brings a wrongful death claim, the damages are split equally between the surviving spouse and the children. If there is no surviving spouse or children, a surviving parent or sibling of the deceased person may bring the claim to court. In this case, any damages awarded are divided between the surviving parents and children.
Can There Be More Than One Wrongful Death Claim?
No. Mississippi wrongful death law provides that there can only be one wrongful death lawsuit. The experienced wrongful death attorneys at Brown Bass & Jeter, PLLC can help you file a wrongful death claim on behalf of your deceased family member. Our Mississippi wrongful death attorneys will help you file the legal paperwork with the chancery court to become appointed as the personal representative of your deceased family member’s estate. Although there can only be wrongful death claim, all interested parties may join the lawsuit once it becomes filed. You will need to file paperwork with the civil court asking permission to join, so obtaining the assistance of our knowledgeable wrongful death attorneys is indispensable to make sure that all the required court filings are correct and make the most appropriate legal arguments depending on the specific facts of your wrongful death claim.
What Are Deadlines to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death action based on a negligence must be filed within three years of the date of death. In cases where the claim arose from an intentional tort, such as assault and battery, suit must be filed within one year of the date of death. If a wrongful death action is based upon the negligent actions of a health care provider, it must be filed within two years of the date of the death.
What Damages Are Recoverable in Wrongful Death Claim?
Our wrongful death lawsuit lawyers know that losing a loved one in an accident, leaves survivors coping with emotional and financial difficulties. The losses and potential financial consequences for surviving families are significant. Ongoing financial support for the family include the following:
- Medical bills for the deceased
- Funeral costs
- Assistance with children and household duties
- Pain and suffering
- Dissatisfaction with life
Survivors must go on supporting themselves, their children, or other dependents, and be able to plan for the future. You owe it to yourself, your beloved children, or other dependents to seek legal counsel for help with recovering damages for your loss. Our experienced wrongful death lawsuit attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve.
If a lawsuit is won, the victims of the wrongful death claim can receive compensation for both the financial loss of the loved one and the emotional loss.
The Mississippi Supreme Court has stated that “how to test the adequacy or inadequacy of verdicts in a wrongful death action is a most perplexing problem. This is true because the value of human life, even when considered along with applicable elements of damages, is difficult of proof.” On appeal, this uncertainty will often work in favor of any verdict the jury returns in favor of the plaintiff. The Fifth Circuit has observed that the Mississippi Supreme Court does not ordinarily disturb wrongful death awards unless the amount “bears no reasonable relation to the loss suffered and manifests a miscarriage of justice or is palpably against the weight of the evidence.
The Mississippi Supreme Court has written that the wrongful death statute must be strictly construed, although the Court has interpreted the statute somewhat expansively in favor of recovery in certain respects. The wrongful death statute is silent as to the elements of recovery, merely providing that the plaintiff is entitled to recover all damages “allowable by law as the jury may determine to be just, taking into consideration all the damages of every kind to the decedent and all damages of every kind to any and all parties interested in the suit.” The Supreme Court has judicially filled this void, holding that the proper elements of damages in a wrongful death suit may include:
- Expenses of last illness
- Any conscious pain and suffering of the deceased
- Funeral expenses
- The present net cash value of the deceased’s work life expectancy
- Loss of society and companionship of the deceased, although not “grief” as such
- Punitive damages, upon proof of gross negligence or willful misconduct.
Most of the elements of damages, such as expenses of last illness, pain and suffering of the deceased, and funeral expenses, are familiar elements of recovery which should not present any undue difficulties in a wrongful death context.
Who Is Entitled to Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim?
In a Mississippi wrongful death claim, damages are either paid to the estate or the wrongful death beneficiaries, depending on the type of loss.
Compensation may be given for health expenses, if you or a loved one has lost income due to the wrongful death, and for costs that you have while putting your loved one to rest.
Damages paid to the estate in a wrongful death case include the following:
- Medical expenses, including emergency care, related to the deceased’s final illness or injury
- Funeral and burial expenses, and
- Payments for damaged or destroyed property.
These damages are intended to pay the final bills the estate has incurred as a result of the deceased person’s death. Damages paid to the beneficiaries directly include:
- Pain and suffering incurred as a result of the loved one’s untimely death
- Loss of society and companionship of the deceased, and
- Net cash value of the lost wages and benefits the deceased would likely have earned if he or she had lived, reduced to present value.
If the deceased left no instructions for naming a personal representative, had no will, and has no surviving family members, the state may bring an action known as a “survival claim.” Any damages awarded in a survival claim are first used to pay the deceased person’s creditors. Any remaining damages after creditors are paid are distributed to the deceased person’s heirs at law.
Certain types of damages in Mississippi wrongful death claims are also “capped” as follows:
- Medical malpractice claims: $500,000
- Product liability claims: $1,000,000
- Pharmaceutical claims: $1,000,000
These caps affect only non-economic damages, like pain and suffering. They do not affect economic damages like medical bills, lost wages, or funeral and burial expenses.
Contact the Experienced Wrongful Death Attorneys at Brown Bass & Jeter, PLLC
Each wrongful death claim varies but the experienced Mississippi wrongful death lawyers of Brown Bass & Jeter, PLLC will make sure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to. We provide support, guidance, and legal counsel to families who have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one.
Filing a wrongful death suit is frequently a complicated, time-consuming process. We have the knowledge and expertise to help guide you in your wrongful death lawsuit and claim the damages to which you and your family are entitled. Contact us today to schedule a confidential, free consultation to discuss your claim. We can take your case to the insurance company or fight it out in court to get the compensation you deserve for your loss. Our attorneys have the compassion, dedication, resources, expertise, and knowledge to handle your wrongful death claim.
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