Tupelo Wrongful Death Attorneys Representing Families Fighting for Compensation After Losing a Loved One in Tupelo, MS
Grieving the premature loss of a loved one who passed away after being hurt in an accident caused by another party’s negligent or reckless actions can be painful and extremely difficult. While nothing can replace your lost family member, surviving relatives may seek justice by holding the responsible party financially liable for what happened. Here are a few key answers about wrongful death claims in Mississippi.
What Is Considered a Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death cases can arise from a variety of situations, including but not limited to auto accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, and even intentional criminal acts. Any situation that causes a fatal injury or illness could be considered wrongful death, including defective machinery or equipment or breach of warranty of fitness for human consumption of a product such as food or pharmaceutical products.
A wrongful death is similar to a personal injury case, which is based on the fact that the plaintiff was injured and sustained significant losses after being involved in an accident caused by another party’s negligence or recklessness. However, in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff’s injuries were fatal. Had the plaintiff survived, he or she would have had the grounds to initiate a personal injury lawsuit. Instead, his or her surviving relatives may take this step on their behalf.
Who Can Initiate a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Mississippi?
In Mississippi, wrongful death cases can be initiated by the decedent’s estate personal representative, as well as direct surviving relatives, including their spouse, children, siblings, or parents. Only one wrongful death action may be filed, but it is possible for all the above-mentioned parties to come together to file a claim.
It is worth mentioning that the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Mississippi also applies to wrongful death claims. The statute allows a wrongful death claim to be initiated not more than three years after the date the decedent passed away. If you are planning to file a claim, it is best to take action sooner than later because waiting too long may mean you might miss the deadline and be at risk of your case being dismissed.
What Are the Key Elements of a Wrongful Death Case?
A solid wrongful death claim is based on a few key elements that are very similar to a personal injury case. The decedent’s family or party bringing the action has to prove the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim. This means that the defendant was expected to act in a way as to not do harm to others and demonstrate responsible behavior. For example, a motorcyclist as well as other drivers on the road, are expected to follow traffic laws and operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner while on public roadways.
Another key element is to show that the defendant breached their duty of care by engaging in reckless or negligent behaviors. Using our example, let’s imagine the motorcyclist was speeding and engaging in dangerous practices such as weaving in and out of traffic and lane splitting. The motorcyclist knew their actions were dangerous but decided to do them anyway.
You will also need to show that the defendant’s negligence or recklessness was the direct cause of the circumstances that led to the death of your loved one. Let’s suppose that motorcyclist was driving 30 miles above the speed limit in a residential area and failed to stop at a pedestrian crosswalk, hitting and fatally injuring a pedestrian. If the motorcyclist had been mindful of the speed limit and traffic laws, your loved one would not have been hit while walking home. The final piece you need to prove is that the defendant’s actions resulted in significant damages that affected you and other family members.
Is Wrongful Death Considered a Criminal Case?
Wrongful death cases are not considered criminal cases because they are handled by a civil court. A wrongful death case is initiated by the victim (in this case, the relatives of the decedent) rather than by a prosecutor. A successful wrongful death claim results in a monetary award for the plaintiff from the defendant. However, in the case of a death resulting from a criminal action, a wrongful death case can be initiated in addition to a criminal action, but each of those case types is handled by different courts.
In a criminal case, the state relies on the work of a prosecutor to search and present compelling evidence against the defendant, seeking a conviction. If the prosecution is successful, the defendant will be convicted of a crime and sentenced accordingly, with penalties that may include jail or prison time and fines. In a wrongful death case, it is up to the plaintiff to come up with the evidence necessary to prove that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of their loved one’s death. For that reason, it is important to seek the help of a wrongful death attorney in order to build a strong case.
How Can a Wrongful Death Attorney Help?
Dealing with the premature loss of a loved one while trying to figure out how to cover bills and take care of your family is a burden, but adding to that, the stress of dealing with insurance phone calls and paperwork can make the situation overwhelming. Working with a wrongful death attorney is a sensible step if you are seeking to get justice on behalf of your loved one and receive compensation that can help pay for final expenses and balance your family’s finances so you can focus on healing and continuing on with life.
At Rundlett Law Firm, PLLC, our attorneys have fought for wrongful death victims and their families in Tupelo, MS, and surrounding areas, helping them hold the at-fault parties responsible for their actions and getting families the compensation they deserve. If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death case, contact us at (662) 502-5195 to discuss your options.