Common Questions About Wrongful Death

Common Questions About Wrongful DeathIf you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, we want to help. Learn from these common questions about wrongful death and contact us today.

What is important to know about wrongful death lawsuits in Mississippi?

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.

How much does it cost to hire a wrongful death attorney?

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.

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?

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.

Contact Our Mississippi Wrongful Death Attorneys

Have you lost a loved one in an accident due to someone else’s negligence and have questions about wrongful death lawsuits?
Contact the experienced Mississippi wrongful death attorneys at Brad Morris Law Firm, PLLC today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
Let our experience work for you.

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