Did you recently lose a loved one and have questions about your case? Read these 4 wrongful death tips, then call our Mississippi attorney now.
1. Wrongful Death Compensation
We regularly handle wrongful death claims as part of our practice of doing personal injury cases. Unfortunately, injuries in these cases sometimes result in death. A question that pretty much any family who comes to us with a wrongful death cases typically asks is what damages or what compensation they’re able to pursue as part of a wrongful death claim. In Mississippi, like a lot of states, we have a wrongful death statute that spells that out. It is important for me to point out at this point that, depending on whether a wrongful death claim is in the state of Mississippi or another state, the law is going to be different.
Wrongful death laws and recovery are very much driven by state-specific laws that have been adopted by the courts over the years or by statutes. It’s very important not only that you have counsel in that state, which you’re going to need to bring the claim anyway, but that you specifically have legal counsel who regularly handles wrongful death claims. This is because the law is going to be specific and nuanced on those particular type claims, as opposed to other personal injury claims where the person did not die.
What types of recoveries or damages are you able to get in Mississippi under a wrongful death claim, when a person dies as a result of someone else’s wrongful conduct? Those damages are going to include, for instance, all manner of economic damages that the decedent – the person who was killed – suffered, and also economic damage that the beneficiaries suffered as a result of their death. Let me clarify, too, that under Mississippi’s law, in a wrongful death action, you’re able to recover for all claims of both the decedent and the beneficiaries. The reason that’s important is that the person who died has certain types of claims that arise as a result of their death. For instance, any pain and suffering they had – they may not have died instantly, so any pain and suffering they had leading up to their death from the injury is recoverable – any economic loss that they had in terms of lost wages that they would’ve made over the course of the rest of their life, as well as the funeral expenses that are incurred. If they receive medical treatment from the time of the injury until the time of their death, then obviously those medical bills are economic damages that they incurred. Those are all things that arise directly related to that victim, that decedent.
Under Mississippi’s law, in a wrongful death claim, we don’t just bring the claims of that decedent, we also bring the claims of all the beneficiaries of that decedent. For instance, if the beneficiaries are the person’s spouse and their children, the spouse and each of those children may have particular economic loss. For instance, if that person who died was helping pay for two children who were in college at the time, and now they can’t pay for that because they’re dead, those children would have claims for the loss of their tuition. Normally, this may be folded in and part of the overall economic damages, but it’s a consideration because each beneficiary has a different relationship and may have economic claims that are separate. All of them certainly have different relationships in terms of non-economic claims – their loss of society, loss of companionship, and the emotional damage for the loss of that loved one. When we bring a wrongful death claim in Mississippi, under our statute, it’s a consolidated claim for both the decedent’s damages and all of the beneficiaries’ damages. We recover the economics that we just covered, but then also the non-economic, including the pain and suffering, for instance, of the decedent, and also the emotional loss that each of the beneficiaries experienced.
At the end of the day, you want an attorney who is experience in handling these types of claims so that they have a full understanding of all the different types of damages that you can recover under our wrongful death statute. You want your attorney to know what examples of those damages are so that you don’t overlook anything, and how to properly value or put a dollar figure on each line item of those damages to ensure that you’re getting full value for the claim. That’s why it’s so important to have someone who has experience and a record of success pursuing these claims working on your behalf. The Brad Morris Law Firm is here to answer any questions that you have. If you’re in a situation where you’re dealing with a wrongful death claim or any other type of personal injury, we’re available for a free consult on any type of case that you have questions or need assistance on. I hope this is helpful.
2. Value of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A question we get asked a lot in wrongful death claims is how you value wrongful death claims here in Mississippi. The answer to that question really goes back to our wrongful death statute. The laws, it must be said, vary from state to state when it comes to how wrongful death actions are pursued. Not every state even calls them wrongful death. They’ll have different names, or different types of actions. In Mississippi, we are one of the states who has a wrongful death statute.
Within our statute, the legislature has defined not only who the beneficiaries are who can bring a wrongful death claim and recover damages when a loved one has died as the result of someone else’s negligent conduct, but also the types of damages that can be paid. In Mississippi, those damages range from, for instance, funeral expenses for that loved one who was killed by another person’s conduct, to lost economic earnings and medical bills that the deceased incurred. There are also allowances for what we call non-economic damages, which would be any pain and suffering of the deceased, as well as loss of companionship, or loss of relationship for the beneficiaries who now do not have that relationship with the loved one that they lost. Those damages are spelled out by statute.
It is extremely important though – and this is a crucial point – that when you have a wrongful death claim, you really need an attorney who has experience and a proven record of success on those claims here in Mississippi. Because the law is nuanced, wrongful death claims are different from typical personal injury claims. There’s different aspects of the law that come into it, and the way you pursue them is different. Wrongful death claims have to go through not only the circuit court, where you’re bringing the claim itself, but also the chancery court to get approval and sign off on those claims for the wrongful death beneficiaries and the wrongful death estate. It’s very important that you have somebody who has experience dealing with those types of claims, not only for the procedural aspects of it, but for the experience and knowledge of how to value those claims within the context of the different categories of damages that you can recover. That only comes with experience and training.
We’re here to answer any questions you have about wrongful death claims or other personal injury claims at the Brad Morris Law Firm. Here at the Brad Morris Law Firm, we always offer free consultations on any type of personal injury claim, including wrongful death claims. I hope you find this information helpful.
3. Wrongful Death Settlement Timeline
It’s a sad but very real part of our legal practice that we frequently represent clients who are involved in wrongful death claims in which they have lost a family member as the result of someone else’s bad conduct. This could include car wrecks, tractor trailer accidents, medical malpractice, and more, but the point is they lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s bad conduct or negligence. A question that almost always comes up with every client in a wrongful death case is how long it takes for a wrongful death case to go to conclusion here in Mississippi. The answer to that question is it really depends. That’s not me or any other lawyer being evasive on the question— it’s just that it really does depend on the facts of the case.
Several factors impact how quickly a wrongful death case moves along. In reality, in some instances, wrongful death cases are among the fastest cases to resolve. When you have a case where the wrongful conduct of the defendant is clear— there’s clear liability, the person died instantly, and there’s a fixed amount of money available under an insurance policy— in those situations, oftentimes, we can get the claim resolved very quickly. It’s just a matter of having competent counsel who’s handled those types of claims before to make sure that you get full value of the available policy limits.
In other instances, a wrongful death case could be among the cases that take longest. When you have a case that involves circumstances where you have a really high recovery, for example, the sheer value of that claim means that the defendants, their insurance carriers, the adjusters and their defense lawyers will want to dig in their heels to fight the claim harder and drag it out to at least delay and, if not delay, reduce the amount of that figure that they ultimately have to pay out. Also, in cases where liability is contested, where it’s the other person’s fault but perhaps they’re trying to shift liability on to some other defendants or accuse the victim of having some liability, it can take longer to put all the pieces together in discovery and get the case ready. In that situation, it drags out. Additionally, the more parties that are involved in a case involving wrongful death, whether that be multiple defendants or whether it be multiple plaintiffs, including multiple family members, the longer it can take to work through a wrongful death claim.
What I always advise to clients and what I would say to those reading this is that, especially in the context of a wrongful death claim, it is much more important to make sure that you get full value on that claim versus just getting it fast. When you try to move too fast, you potentially undercut yourself and you potentially lose out on significantly more than when you stick with it and have a lawyer who works up that claim the right way and really gets ready for trial and positions that case to get full and fair value. In wrongful death cases it is almost always in the best interest of the client to focus on full and fair value versus fast payout. That’s not to say that some cases can’t be paid sooner than others, but, particularly in the context of a wrongful death case, I think that’s the best and soundest advice, because time periods vary just depending on the circumstances.
Bottom line, at the Brad Morris Law Firm, we’re here to answer your questions, whether it be a wrongful death claim or any other type of personal injury case that you have. We will answer your questions, and we’re always available for a free consult on any potential case.
4. Wrongful Death Survivor
In Mississippi, when we pursue wrongful death claims, I’ve been asked from time to time what a wrongful death survivor is. That’s a fair, question for wrongful death claims, so let me try to answer that here. What it means to be a wrongful death survivor, in common parlance, is just a family member of the person who died— a legal beneficiary or heir to the person. Over time, the law has evolved on that in Mississippi. At one time, who exactly the survivors were or who exactly the beneficiaries were under a wrongful death claim was somewhat in dispute. It evolved over many years, but ultimately these issues were addressed by statute. The legislature in Mississippi passed a wrongful death statute, and under that statute the legislature has spelled out who the beneficiaries of a wrongful death claim are and what the damages are that they can recover.
In Mississippi, the way that our wrongful death statute is set up is that there are tiers of beneficiaries. The first tier is the deceased person’s spouse and children. If a person dies as a result of another person’s negligence – whether they die by car wreck, or whether they die in an 18-wheeler accident, or whether they die as a result of medical malpractice – if there’s a wrongful death claim for that, the first group of people who would be the survivors (or, as Mississippi’s statute defines it, the beneficiaries) would be the spouse and children. If that person does not have a spouse or children, then the second tier is their parents or their siblings. If there’s no parents and no siblings, then it goes on to a broader definition of kin. These are similar but not exact parallels to our heir and descent laws, which just means the way that people’s property is divided up if they died without a will. It’s very similar to that structure, but a little bit different. It’s also important to understand in Mississippi that any of those folks defined under our statute as a beneficiary, whether in first tier, second tier or third tier, can bring a wrongful death claim; it’s just they may not ultimately get paid a share out of it.
All of that goes to say, if you believe that you’re a beneficiary to a wrongful death claim, if you’ve lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence or bad acts, you need to consult with a Mississippi attorney who has experience pursuing wrongful death claims in Mississippi. The law is nuanced. There are some specialty parts of our wrongful death laws and how you pursue those claims that you really need an attorney who has experience in those areas. If you have a claim or a potential case involving wrongful death and you have questions, the Brad Morris Law Firm is here to try to help you get answers to those questions. Rest assured, on our wrongful death cases or any other types of personal injury claims, we always offer free consultations to try to help people get the help they need. I hope this answers that question and that this information is useful to you.
Have you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence and have questions about our 4 wrongful death tips?
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