Losing a family member is never easy, but losing a loved one under wrongful circumstances may be almost too much to bear. In such a situation, contact a lawyer about getting fair financial compensation for you and your family.
Common situations that might lead to wrongful death cases include car accidents, medical treatment gone wrong, and intentional acts of harm or violence. Damages for wrongful death plaintiffs are often significant, considering the magnitude of the plaintiff’s loss. Pecuniary losses directly caused by wrongful death, various non-economic damages, and punitive damages might be available. A personal representative of the deceased person’s estate must actually file the case, but family members are typically beneficiaries of the claim. You should speak to a lawyer about your case as soon as possible, as the statute of limitations might already be counting down on your legal claim.
Call (844) 876-4357 to speak with our wrongful death attorneys at Howe Law about scheduling a free review of your case.
Common Situations Involving Wrongful Death Claims in Hattiesburg, MS
According to Miss. Code Ann., § 11-7-13, wrongful death is caused by a wrongful or negligent act or omission by another. You know you have a claim for wrongful death if the deceased person would have been entitled to sue for damages had they survived the accident or incident.
Auto accidents are very common reasons behind wrongful death claims. While most people have been in an accident at some point in their lives, many are not fortunate enough to survive. If you lose a loved one to a car accident, you and your family might have a wrongful death claim against the other driver. However, the other driver must be the one at fault for the crash.
Medical malpractice is another big reason for many wrongful death claims in Mississippi. While doctors are not expected to be perfect, and medical mistakes occasionally happen, treatment must always meet standards of care. If your loved one passed away because they received medical treatment that fell below the standards of care for their case, you might have a valid wrongful death claim against the doctor and the hospital.
Although it is very tragic, criminal acts of violence are another reason behind wrongful death lawsuits. Murder, robbery, assault, and other violent crimes are often wrapped up in criminal charges in addition to civil claims for wrongful death. Usually, plaintiffs must wait for criminal proceedings to complete before their civil case can commence. The good news is that you can use a guilty plea or guilty verdict against the defendant in your civil case.
Damages Available in Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Hattiesburg, MS
Damages available in claims for wrongful death are often more complicated than in typical injury cases. Not only do you have to consider the losses experienced by surviving family members, but you also must consider injuries and losses to the deceased individual and their estate.
Under Mississippi’s wrongful death statute, plaintiffs may claim various financial losses directly resulting from their loved one’s death. Property damage, funeral costs, medical bills, and other pecuniary losses should be evaluated.
Non-economic damages are those based on painful experiences rather than money. Pain, suffering, loss of consortium between spouses, loss of parental guidance for children, and other non-economic damages may be claimed. However, Mississippi law limits the amount of non-economic damages available.
According to Miss. Code Ann., § 11-1-60(2)(a), non-economic damages are limited in medical malpractice cases to no more than $500,000. As many claims for wrongful death are rooted in medical malpractice, this is an important rule to remember. Even if your case does not involve negligent medical care, your non-economic damages might still be limited. Any other injury claim that is not medical malpractice is limited to no more than $1,000,000 in non-economic damages.
Punitive damages are unique because they are not designed to make up for any losses suffered by the deceased person or surviving family members. Instead, punitive damages are meant to punish defendants for bad behavior and deter future wrongdoing. According to Miss. Code Ann., § 11-1-65(1)(a), punitive damages are only available if our wrongful death attorneys prove that the defendant’s actions consisted of actual malice, gross negligence, or fraud. This must be proven by clear and convincing evidence, which is not an easy bar to meet, making punitive damages somewhat rare.
Caps on punitive damages are based on the net worth of the defendant. The more money the defendant has to their name, the higher punitive damages may be. For defendants whose net worth is $50,000,000 or less, punitive damages may amount to no more than 2% of their entire net worth.
Who Can File a Lawsuit for Wrongful Death in Hattiesburg, MS?
Family members often spearhead wrongful death cases, but they are not necessarily the ones who file the claim. The laws regarding who can and cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit are a bit tricky. Typically, a wrongful death claim must be filed by someone named as a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.
In many cases, a personal representative or administrator is named in a deceased person’s will. However, if nobody is named, or the deceased person left no will, the court may appoint a representative for the purposes of filing the case.
While a personal representative is in charge of filing the case, only certain immediate family members can be named as beneficiaries. Generally, spouses, children, parents, and siblings may be parties to a wrongful death claim. Relatives that are a bit more distant or people not related by blood or marriage cannot usually be involved.
Call Our Hattiesburg, MS Wrongful Death Lawyers Today
To schedule a free review of your claims, call our wrongful death attorneys today at Howe Law at (844) 876-4357.