Mississippi Wrongful Death Attorneys
With Personal Injury Law Offices in Oxford and Tupelo
When you lose someone due to the carelessness of another, it can be indescribably painful. We are very sorry you have to experience this. It is so important that you have skilled Mississippi wrongful death attorneys on your side. Please call us today to learn more.
Basics of Wrongful Death
You would be eligible to bring a wrongful death claim if someone caused the death of your loved one through carelessness or intent to harm your loved one.
These claims of wrongful death can help you close your loved one’s estate. It also lets you file a lawsuit against the person or entity that harmed and killed your loved one. That person or group is legally responsible for this death.
The person who brings this claim acts as the liaison of the claim on behalf of the deceased and their family. These claims can be really powerful.
How to Determine If it’s Wrongful Death
When someone dies, and it’s caused by the actions of another party, it’s typically wrongful death. If you can prove that your loved one would still be alive without the actions of the defendant, you likely have a strong wrongful death claim. Here are some examples:
When someone is killed because of intent to harm, that is wrongful death. We all likely know of the murders O.J. Simpson was tried for. He was acquitted in criminal court, but a wrongful death claim found him liable for the deaths of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown. The families of the victims chose to bring justice through a wrongful death claim, which they won.
Another scenario would be a death that was a result of medical malpractice. There are many ways medical malpractice can cause death. Missed diagnosis, surgical errors, and more are all reasons someone could die due to medical malpractice. You may find that there is an individual liable, or there is an entity responsible, such as a hospital.
Another very common way wrongful death occurs is through collisions involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, pedestrians, bicycles, etc.
The list could continue on. The best way to ensure you have the correct knowledge is to talk to a Mississippi wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.
To have a successful outcome for your wrongful death claim, you have to have proof that the defendant was liable for your loved one’s death. This is called the burden of proof, which you must put unto the party you are bringing the claim against.
If negligent behavior caused the death, you’d have to prove that the defendant could have or should have acted in a different way to protect your loved one. For example, a doctor using unsafe methods of treatment on a patient would be negligent.
Who Brings the Wrongful Death Claim?
If you are related to the victim, you usually will be the one who is allowed to bring the claim. It is brought on behalf of the surviving relatives of the deceased one. You can officially determine the person who is allowed to bring your claim with our Mississippi wrongful death attorneys.
Typically, a spouse would be the first person in line to bring the claim and receive the compensation award to then keep or disperse among relative parties, such as children. In other cases, the deceased may not have been married. They may have children who can bring the claim. It varies from case to case. It might be completely different every time. That’s why it’s so important to consult with a lawyer. It’s not common, but not impossible that the person who brings the claim is an aunt, sibling, parent, etc. It can be trickier for those types of cases to succeed.
We’ve even come across claims where the closest person to the deceased was a boyfriend or girlfriend. These cases can be discussed in a consultation with a Mississippi wrongful death attorney. Whatever peculiarities you are dealing with, we can sort them out.
The damages that are involved in a wrongful death claim are tricky. There are several different factors that go into compensation for these claims, including:
- the pain and suffering your loved one went through before they died (also known as survival claim);
- medical bills that were a result of your loved one getting injured and treated in hopes to preserve life;
- funeral and burial expenses;
- loss of wages your loved one would have provided in their lifetime;
- inheritance you would have gotten had they lived;
- loss of a companion;
- loss of a relationship that they provided; and,
- loss of consortium.
As you can imagine some of these damages are impossible to put a price on.
Frequently Asked Wrongful Death Questions
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.
What type of compensation is available in a wrongful death claim?
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.
How much is a wrongful death lawsuit worth?
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.
How long does a wrongful death lawsuit take to settle?
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.
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.
What is important to know about a partial fault wrongful death claim?
Very frequently, when we’re dealing with personal injury and wrongful death cases, clients come to us with situations in which maybe the client or their loved one was potentially partially at fault for the injury. In other words, there’s a defendant involved that has primary responsibility or certainly some fault. Maybe an accusation has been made or just the reality is that the client or their family member who died share some portion of fault for what happened. The question that they ask is, in Mississippi, if a decedent in a wrongful death claim or a plaintiff in a personal injury claim is partially at fault, can you still proceed with that claim? The answer is yes.
In a wrongful death claim, even if that decedent shares some fault or any fault, they can still recover from the defendants that portion of fault that the defendants are liable for. Mississippi is what’s called a pure comparative fault state. To really understand what that is we would have to compare it to the other option, which is a comparative negligence state, or contributory negligence state. In those states, under the law, if the plaintiff/victim were injured and had any fault whatsoever, even just one percent of fault, they would not be allowed to recover anything from the defendant.
Some states modified that to where as long as the plaintiff wasn’t more responsible than the defendant, they could recover. In other words, as long as the plaintiff was anywhere from 1 to 49% at fault, they could still recover from the defendant, as long as the defendant was more than half at fault. What Mississippi has now is called pure comparative fault. What that means is that under any scenario, if a person is injured and another person or company has some portion of fault for that injury, the injured person can recover for the percentage of fault that that other defendant is liable for. Let me give you an example.
Say in a car wreck there is a situation where in looking at a case you can assign that there is 50/50 fault between the two parties for what happened. One party was not injured, but one party was. Let’s say the party that was injured had $100,000 in damages – medical bills, car damage, lost wages, etc. Because they were injured and the other party was not, that’s $100,000 in damages to the injured party, but they are both 50/50 liable. Under that scenario, the party who was injured would be entitled to recover half of the value of their injuries, 50%, from that other party who is 50% liable. The party who was injured would be able to recover $50,000 of the $100,000 in injuries from that other party who was 50% liable for the wreck – that’s pure comparative fault. That’s the law in Mississippi.
If you’re in a situation where you’ve been injured and where fault is contested and there could be some challenges to the recovery, then it’s important that you have legal counsel who understands the ins and outs of personal injury law in Mississippi and has some experience successfully getting recoveries for clients in those situations. You want adequate representation on your claim. The Brad Morris Law Firm is available to answer your questions, and we offer free consultations on any personal injury or wrongful death claims. We’re available if you need us.
Call Our Mississippi Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
We are sorry you’ve had to go through this terrible experience. Please call us as soon as you can to set up a consultation. You deserve support in this difficult moment. Contact our Mississippi wrongful death attorneys today for a free consultation.