If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death, read these 5 wrongful death tips for guidance, then contact our Mississippi lawyer today.
1) Wrongful Death Lawsuits
As part of our practice, we regularly represent people who have lost family members or loved ones as a result of someone else’s wrongful conduct. Those types of cases generally are called wrongful death cases. What it means to have a wrongful death case is that someone died as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongful conduct. By way of example, a person who dies in a car crash that was the result of someone else’s driving, that’s a wrongful death case – it just happened in the context of a car wreck. The same could be true of a tractor trailer crash, where someone dies as a result of conduct by an 18-wheeler driver – that would be a wrongful death case, but in the context of a tractor trailer case. Someone dying as a result of medical malpractice, that too, technically, is a wrongful death claim, but it’s brought within the context of a medical negligence case. Wrongful death, in short, is when you bring a claim as a result of someone else’s bad conduct, no matter what the type of case, but where someone died as a result of those actions.
We’re frequently asked, “Our loved one died. We know that we want to bring a claim because the other party is responsible for this. How should we go about selecting an attorney for this situation?” What I always do is try to tell our potential clients or folks that are consulting with us in that situation that the process of looking for a wrongful death attorney in Mississippi is very similar to the process of looking for any personal injury attorney in Mississippi. Although wrongful death is sort of a special, unique kind of case in which you do want an attorney with particular experience in that area, the traits that you’re looking for are still going to be very similar.
First of all, you want an attorney with experience and a proven track record of success on personal injury cases, but particularly wrongful death cases. Under Mississippi law, the wrongful death beneficiaries and the wrongful death damages that can be recovered are defined by statute. That’s going to be different state to state, and it’s also going to be different than a regular personal injury case where death is not involved. Having someone who has worked through those types of cases, has experience of carrying them to conclusions, and is familiar with the details of how to work up a case like that is tremendously valuable and something that you want to be looking for.
As with any personal injury type case, I always advise people to talk with the attorneys that you’re consulting with about their caseload. A wrongful death case has enhanced damages, so to speak, and these can be, at times, complex cases. As I’ve already mentioned, there are certainly particular aspects of the law that come into play on a wrongful death case that are not involved in other cases. You ultimately want to make sure that the attorney that you hire on your wrongful death case has adequate time to be able to devote to your case and to give attention to your case to work it up properly. If an attorney is working a huge number of files on run of the mill car wrecks and other cases, they may not have the time to spend properly working up your wrongful death case, which is going to be likely a bigger, more complex, more nuanced case. Asking them about their caseload and making sure that the caseload for the attorney is small enough that your case will get the attention that it deserves is very important.
Third and finally, if you have a wrongful death case here in Mississippi, or really anywhere, you want to make sure to hire a true trial attorney— an attorney who is going to spend the time and do the work to work up that case but who has the training and the experience to get that case ready for trial. It’s only by preparing a case for trial and having the other side – the insurance company, the defendant, their adjusters, their defense counsel – know that you have an attorney who has worked up the case and is ready for trial comes is the only way you’re going to get full and fair value for your case. The only way that you’re going to get top dollar is by hiring an attorney with a reputation and a proven record for working up those cases right and getting top dollar.
If you’re in a situation where you or a family member are dealing with the death of a loved one in a wrongful death context and you have questions, we’re here at the Brad Morris Law firm ready and willing to answer those questions. We offer free consultations on all of our personal injury cases. Our main goal is making sure that you get the help you need to work through that situation and be treated and compensated fairly. I hope this helps.
2) Wrongful Death Attorney Fees
One of the first questions that almost any clients asks when they come in with a personal injury claim or wrongful death claim, where they’ve lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s bad conduct or negligence, is how much it costs to pursue a wrongful death claim here in Mississippi. If you come to a firm such as ours or really any true trial lawyer firm that works on a contingency basis, the answer for you should be zero. We, as trial lawyers who represent people on wrongful death cases or really any personal injury claim, typically work on what’s called a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t get paid unless we recover for you.
What do you get in that type of arrangement? What you get is the legal representation that you need to pursue your wrongful death claim, without having to put in any money up front. The law firm takes on the case and works the case on the chance that we’re going to recover. This means we’re going to screen your case and look at it, and have faith in your case and work hard to recover. If we don’t recover, that’s our loss, and you don’t have to pay anything for that. A trial firm that works on a contingency fee basis also fronts the cost of pursuing that case – the cost of hiring the experts, the cost of getting depositions, the cost of paying for copies, mail, court costs and filing fees, all of that. The trial lawyer firm will front that.
Be very wary or very careful about firms that want to get paid on a contingency fee but who will not commit to fronting the expenses to pursue your claim or who want you to cover the expenses but then pay them a percentage of the proceeds at the end. That’s just not typically how firms work. It’s not how our firm works. The contingency fee system is in place because people who have lost a loved one in a wrongful death case oftentimes have lost the breadwinner. They’ve lost the person who’s been bringing income into their household. It’s almost always an economic hit, and it’s certainly an emotional time. Spending money is just not always an option and, oftentimes, it is a bar to being able to pursue their claim and get justice.
This system allows the victim to not have to expend those funds. The victim does not have to lay any money out in pursuing their claim. If for some reason the claim falls through and there’s no recovery, that victim doesn’t have a lot of money tied up in it, and they’re not suffering an additional loss on top of the loss that they already had. The trial lawyer and the trial lawyer’s firm takes on that risk and fronts those expenses with an understanding of being compensated on the back end, of being reimbursed those expenses and getting a percentage of the recovery. It does not cost you anything out-of-pocket to pursue your wrongful death claim here in Mississippi if you go to an experienced firm knowledgeable in handling these cases and who works on a contingency fee basis. I hope these answers are helpful to you. We’re available at Brad Morris Law Firm to answer any other questions that you have, and we’re always available to consult with you on your wrongful death or personal injury case at no charge.
3) 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.
4) 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.
5) 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.
Have you lost a loved one or family member due to someone else’s negligence and have questions about our 5 wrongful death tips?
Contact the experienced Mississippi wrongful death attorneys at Brad Morris Law Firm, PLLC today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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