Tupelo Personal Injury Lawyers Helping Clients Protect Their Rights to Receive Fair Compensation in Tupelo, MS
When you are caught by surprise and find yourself dealing with an injury after an accident, you may be wondering who will pay for your medical bills and how to hold the other party responsible for what happened. This is one of the roles of a Personal Injury attorney. Our firm helps clients injured due to someone else’s negligence to recover fair compensation for their losses. Here are a few important answers you need to know about personal injury cases in Mississippi.
What Is Considered a Personal Injury Case in Mississippi?
A personal injury case typically involves an individual who is owed a duty of care by another party (an individual or business organization). The other party, however, breached their duty of care by acting with recklessness or being negligent and thus creating (or failing to remedy) an unsafe situation that ultimately led to the plaintiff getting injured and suffering significant damages.
Slip-and-fall accidents, car accidents, and product liability claims are just a few examples of common personal injury cases. Most personal injury cases are based on negligence. As an example, let’s picture a car driver who has decided to go out to a bar with friends. He or she is fully aware of the risks (and illegality) of drinking and driving but decides to ignore that risk and orders a few more drinks than they should. If this person gets behind the wheel and causes an accident, it may be determined that he or she was mostly at fault because driving while intoxicated is a reckless and negligent action (not to mention illegal) that ultimately caused another driver to get injured.
A valid personal injury claim usually has all the aspects shown in the example above. First, one party owed a duty of care to another. Then, that duty of care was breached. The breach resulted in an unsafe situation that caused an accident. The accident caused significant injuries and damages to a victim, and the injuries and damages can thus be a direct consequence of breaching the duty of care owed to the victim. In contrast, an individual who gets injured due to his or her own recklessness (such as walking around while staring into their mobile device and tripping on a clearly marked step on the floor of a mall or retail store) and cannot prove that he or she was hurt due to someone else’s negligence may have a harder time building a personal injury case.
What Should I Do if I Have Delayed Symptoms After an Accident?
It can be common for certain accident-related injuries to not manifest themselves for several days or even weeks after the accident. For that reason, it is extremely important that you seek medical attention shortly after an accident, even if you don’t think you’ve been hurt. If you happen to begin showing delayed symptoms after some time has passed following the accident, you will already be under the supervision of a healthcare professional, and it may be easier to prove that the symptoms you are currently experiencing are a direct result of your accident.
However, if you haven’t been to the doctor yet and are now showing symptoms, it is recommended you see a doctor as soon as possible, not just for health reasons, but also to produce medical evidence that will be later necessary for your claim. Even though it is always best to be under the care of a physician immediately after the accident, you may still have a claim if you are able to present enough medical evidence documenting your injury and your current symptoms.
What Kind of Damages Can I Seek in a Personal Injury Case?
Plaintiffs in personal injury cases usually seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. When someone gets hurt after an accident, they may find themselves dealing with a number of financial losses and expenses, such as medical bills, lost wages due to being unable to work, property damage (such as the cost of repairing or replacing a vehicle), and future costs such as physical therapy or additional surgeries. These costs constitute economic damages and can be easily documented and quantified.
In addition to monetary losses, the experience of being injured in an accident can have a significant emotional impact on the victim. In addition to suffering physical pain due to the injury and sometimes even as a result of the recovery process, many accident victims suffer from emotional or psychological distress because of the accident and because of the difficult situation they have found themselves in as they face the prospect of a long and sometimes painful recovery. These subjective aspects are what constitute non-economic damages (sometimes informally referred to as “pain and suffering”), and while these may be a bit more challenging to prove, a skilled attorney can rely on expert witnesses, research papers, and many other sources of information to help the court understand that the accident caused repercussions that went much beyond monetary losses.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are additional damages that could be sought in personal injury cases involving extreme or gross negligence on the part of the defendant. Not all personal injury cases are considered severe enough to qualify for punitive damages, but in cases in which there is enough evidence to support a gross negligence claim, punitive damages may be available.
Punitive damages (also called exemplary damages) are typically awarded at the court’s discretion when the defendant’s behavior is deemed to be especially harmful, reckless, or particularly egregious. When awarded, punitive damages are paid in addition to simple compensation (which is comprised of economic and non-economic damages, as discussed above). Punitive damages are not considered criminal per se but are designed to work in a similar fashion as a fine issued for a criminal offense – the goal of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for the grossly negligent behavior and dissuade the defendant from engaging in this type of conduct in the future. If you believe your accident may have been a result of someone else’s gross negligence, ask your attorney if you may be able to seek punitive damages compensation for your case.
How Do I Know How Much My Case May Be Worth?
Many victims of personal injury accidents worry about how they will pay for their bills and cover basic living expenses while they are injured and unable to work and thus are anxious to learn how much their case may be worth. However, each case is unique, and it is difficult to obtain an accurate estimate without the help of an attorney who can analyze the specific circumstances of your case. While there may be some online tools that promise to give you a monetary value of your case if you answer a few questions or fill out a form, those tools are often inaccurate and deliver a case value that is too low, or sometimes, too high.
In general terms, the severity of your injuries and the extent of financial damages you have suffered as a result of the accident are some of the variables used by an attorney to calculate how much your case may be worth. The more serious your injuries and the more significant your monetary losses, the higher your case value could be. In addition, the Mississippi courts do not place a cap or limit on how much money you may be able to receive as a personal injury settlement. In short, the only way to know your case value for sure is to speak to a personal injury attorney who can do an in-depth analysis of your case to produce a better estimate.
Is There a Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Mississippi?
Personal injury claims are typically subject to Mississippi’s statute of limitations, which limits how much time may pass between the date an accident occurs and the date a plaintiff may initiate a claim. In Mississippi, a plaintiff has three years from the date the accident occurred to initiate a personal injury claim. Failing to file in a timely manner within the three-year deadline may result in your case being dismissed, with very few exceptions.
It is worth noting that the burden of proof in a personal injury case lies on the plaintiff. This means it is up to the victim to prove all aspects of the case and produce enough evidence to support it. Three years may seem like a long time, but it is often counterproductive to wait for such a long time before filing a claim because it may be harder to access certain types of evidence that would be essential for your case. The sooner you can get started, the better your chances may be of reaching a favorable outcome.
What if I Am Partially at Fault for the Accident?
In cases involving shared fault (both sides involved in the accident may have partially contributed to it), Mississippi does not bar either side from recovering compensation, but the percentage of fault attributed to you affects how much money you receive in the end. The state follows a pure contributory negligence rule, which could say (for example) that you as a victim may have been 30% at fault for the accident. Therefore, you may still receive compensation, but whatever amount you are entitled to receive will be subtracted by 30%.
This is one of the reasons why it is important to be working with a seasoned personal injury attorney. Even if you are simply dealing with an out-of-court insurance claim, any admission of liability on your part could be used by the insurance company as a reason to reduce the value of your claim or deny it altogether. Having the right evidence and the right strategies to minimize your liability in an accident is key to helping you increase your chances of receiving maximum compensation.
Why Should I Work With a Personal Injury Attorney?
Being hurt in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence is an upsetting situation with significant consequences. You may find yourself dealing with endless forms to fill out and numerous insurance phone calls, all while you are trying to recover from your injury. Insurance companies will often try to talk you into accepting a low settlement or may insist on interviewing you just to try to obtain any type of statement that could be used as an admission of guilt for the accident. An attorney knows all the usual strategies insurance companies may use to try and protect their profits and, therefore, can use his or her negotiation skills to represent you and get them to treat you in a fair manner and give you the compensation you deserve.
Many cases end up settling before going to trial but may still require a lot of work before a settlement check is written. Your attorney can handle every aspect of your case on your behalf, from insurance phone calls to preparing you for a hearing in court if necessary. At Rundlett Law Firm, PLLC, our attorneys have assisted countless personal injury clients in Tupelo, MS, and surrounding areas to recover fair compensation for their injuries. Our legal team handles a wide variety of personal injury case types and is dedicated to providing aggressive representation while treating every client with the utmost respect and professionalism.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else, you could be entitled to compensation for your financial losses, pain, and suffering. The attorneys at Rundlett Law Firm, PLLC are ready to serve you and provide you with the legal help you need to get back on your feet and move on with your life. Contact our Tupelo, MS office at (662) 502-5195 and request a no-commitment case analysis to learn your options and see how we may be able to help you.