What Comparative Negligence Means in Claims for Wrongful Deaths
Mississippi is a comparative fault state, which means that families who experience wrongful deaths of their loved ones may be able to recover compensation. Executors or other personal representatives of an estate may sue for damages when a family member died in an accident caused by another’s negligence or in a deliberate act. Wrongful death claims require proving that another’s wrongdoing caused the deadly incident. It is possible for the defendant, however, to counter that the decedent caused the accident in some way through negligence or some other wrongdoing.
What Does Comparative Negligence Mean?
The percentage of negligence on the part of the decedent (deceased person) in a wrongful death action reduces the amount of damages the family or estate can recover. For example, if the deceased person is found to have been responsible for 25 percent of the accident by the jury in the case, the family or estate can still recover 75 percent of the financial award in wrongful deaths. In other words, if $100,000 is awarded to the family for the loss of their loved one, they would still recover $75,000.
How Is the Award Distributed to Family Members?
Under Miss. Code Ann. § 11-7-13, the following family members may recover compensation when being awarded damages in wrongful deaths:
- Damages awarded to a surviving spouse and children are distributed equally.
- If there are no children in the family, the surviving spouse receives the awarded damages.
- If the deceased person has no spouse, the damages are awarded to the children to be distributed equally.
- If a child of the deceased is also dead, their children may be included in their stead.
- If the decedent has no spouse or children, it is distributed to the living parents and siblings.
- Should there be no surviving family members, the legal representative of the deceased receives the damages to distribute after paying off the decedent’s debts.
Filing Before the Statute of Limitations Expires
The statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim in Mississippi depends on the cause of death. If the death was caused by an intentional act, families have only one year to file claims for wrongful deaths. If the fatality was caused by negligence, then they have three years to file. However, keep in mind that the longer you wait, the more likely witnesses and evidence will either be covered over or disappear, so contacting a wrongful death lawyer quickly is a good idea to protect your claim and increase your chance of recovering the compensation you deserve.
Diaz Law Firm
You can turn to the Diaz Law Firm when your loved one is killed in a wrongful death accident caused by another’s negligence. Please call us at (800) 459-2222 as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation about your case. Our online contact form is also available. Remember, we work on a contingency basis. This means you owe us nothing until we win your case.