Biloxi Wrongful Death Attorneys Helping Families of Wrongful Death Victims Fight for Compensation
Suddenly losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligent or reckless actions is a traumatic event, especially when it becomes obvious that the death could have been prevented if the other party had not acted with disregard for others. Surviving relatives of wrongful death victims may have options to hold the negligent party responsible for what happened and hold them financially liable for the accident. Our attorneys explain how wrongful death claims work in Mississippi and your options to receive compensation.
What Is Wrongful Death in Mississippi?
In Mississippi, a wrongful death case is one in which someone suffered a fatal injury or became terminally ill and passed away as a result of another party’s negligence. In other words, a wrongful death is one in which the victim would have grounds to initiate a personal injury lawsuit if they had survived. A wrongful death may result from a negligent act or omission, as well as due to unsafe equipment or machinery and breach of any warranty of fitness of a commodity intended for human consumption (such as food or medication).
Examples of situations in which a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed include (but are not limited to) auto accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, and even an intentional act, including a crime. Wrongful death claims are extremely important because they allow families to get justice and hold the at-fault parties responsible for causing a death that could have been prevented had the at-fault party not breached its duty of care toward the victim, and also provide a way for the surviving relatives to receive compensation for their damages.
Who Can File for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
As you can see, wrongful death cases in Mississippi are somewhat similar to personal injury cases because they are based on a negligent or reckless act that resulted in damages for the victim. However, the victim in a wrongful death case is deceased, and the surviving relatives of the wrongful death victim may initiate a lawsuit on behalf of that individual.
The surviving spouse, children, parents (including biological or adoptive parents), or any siblings of the decedent can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In addition, the executor (or personal representative) of the estate is also allowed to initiate the action. A wrongful death case is handled in civil court and may provide monetary compensation to surviving relatives of the victim.
What Do You Need to Prove in a Wrongful Death Case in Mississippi?
In order for a wrongful death case to be heard in court, a few key elements need to be present. These are very similar to those needed for a personal injury case. First, the party bringing the civil action needs to demonstrate that the defendant had a duty of care towards the victim – for example, a driver who decides to take his or her vehicle on public roadways has a duty of care to operate the vehicle safely without injuring other drivers, passengers or pedestrians.
Second, you need to show that the defendant breached their duty of care and acted with negligence or recklessness. In our example, suppose the driver of that vehicle was aware of the risks and illegality of drinking alcohol before driving but ignored those risks and decided to have several cocktails before getting behind the wheel.
Next, you need to demonstrate that the defendant’s negligent act (e.g., making the decision to get intoxicated before driving) caused your loved one’s death. If that drunk driver had not become intoxicated and had not crossed a red light while going 30 mph above the speed limit, your relative may have survived. Finally, you need to prove that the defendant’s actions caused damages to you and/or your family.
How Is a Wrongful Death Case Different From a Criminal Case?
The main difference between a wrongful death case and a criminal case is that a wrongful death case is handled by a civil court in accordance with tort laws. If the defendant in a wrongful death is found liable for what happened, that defendant will need to provide monetary compensation to the plaintiff, and there is no criminal sentence or jail time resulting from this type of case.
In a criminal case, it is the prosecutor’s job to come up with evidence to support the case and convince the court that the defendant is guilty of a criminal act. If the judge and/or jury agree, the defendant will be convicted of a crime and given a sentence that may range from paying fines to spending time in prison, depending on the crime.
In a civil case for wrongful death, it is the plaintiff’s job to come up with the evidence needed for the case. The burden of proof rests on the plaintiff. However, it is not uncommon for a criminal case to be followed by a wrongful death lawsuit if the victim’s death was caused by a criminal act such as murder or manslaughter, for example.
How Are Damages Calculated in a Wrongful Death Case?
The main goal of filing a wrongful death action is to provide restitution to the victim’s family for both economic and non-economic damages resulting from the death of their loved one. Losing a loved one can have a significant financial impact on a family – besides any medical expenses incurred before the death and final expenses for the funeral and burial service, the family can no longer count on the decedent’s income to make ends meet. The same is true for any benefits such as health insurance that the decedent provided for his or her family. These and other tangible financial losses are all included in the claim as economic damages.
In addition, the courts understand that losing a loved one prematurely is a traumatic and emotionally draining experience. For that reason, non-economic damages are also part of a wrongful death claim and cover aspects such as emotional pain and suffering endured by the decedent’s family, loss of consortium and enjoyment of life, and other emotional injuries. The courts understand nothing can reverse what happened and bring back a lost loved one, so they seek to do what is within their scope of action and provide financial restitution to the decedent’s family.
There is no exact price tag assigned to a wrongful death claim. Every case is unique and requires a thorough investigation in order to determine exactly what happened, who is financially liable for the wrongful death, and how much compensation the victim’s family may be entitled to. Some attorneys may be able to determine a certain dollar amount for wrongful death cases, while other cases may not carry an exact settlement amount, which may be later determined by the court. Either way, speaking to an attorney should be your first step to fully understanding the amount of damages compensation that may be available to you.
Why Should I Work With a Wrongful Death Attorney?
Grieving the loss of a loved one while trying to figure out how to hold the at-fault party responsible for what happened is an overwhelming and almost impossible task for most people. Wrongful death cases can quickly grow in complexity and require in-depth investigations in order to get a clear picture of the circumstances that led to the accident and how the other party’s negligence contributed to it. By working with an attorney, you can leverage the knowledge and skills of a professional that has handled countless cases like yours in the past and knows exactly what needs to be done for your case to reach a successful outcome and for the responsible party to pay for their negligent or reckless actions.
At the Rundlett Law Firm, PLLC, our attorneys can take care of all aspects of your wrongful death case for you, so you can focus on spending time with your loved ones and healing from your loss. We have helped many families in the Biloxi, MS area and vicinities to receive maximum compensation for their wrongful death cases and honor the memory of their loved one. We understand how hard it may be to lose a loved one in an accident that could potentially be prevented had the at-fault party not acted in a negligent and reckless manner. If you have lost a loved one and believe you may have the grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit, contact the Rundlett Law Firm, PLLC at 228-338-1515 and request a consultation to discuss your case.