What Is a Catastrophic Injury?
In Mississippi, a catastrophic injury is defined as an injury that has long-term or life-changing effects. Among the most common types of catastrophic injuries seen in Mississippi are the following.
- Spinal cord damage. This type of injury can lead to long-term or permanent loss of sensation or paralysis. That, in turn, can cause problems with the victim’s ability to move freely and independently.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). TBIs, which include concussions, can have long-lasting effects on the victim’s physical and mental processes, including memory loss and behavioral changes.
- Burns. Severe burns can lead to chronic pain and long-term symptoms that adversely affect the victim’s ability to handle everyday tasks.
- Amputations. Whether it’s a toe, finger, hand, foot, leg, or arm that’s been amputated, these can lead to the victim facing a greatly changed way of life and often needing therapy to learn how to manage everyday tasks without the previous number of limbs or digits.
What Legal Options Exist for the Victim of a Catastrophic Injury?
The legal options available depend on how and where the accident that caused the injury happened. If someone suffered a catastrophic injury at their workplace while working, they may be able to receive damages through the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Act (MWCA). The state of Mississippi requires all employers who have at least five regularly employed workers to provide workers’ compensation insurance. Employers with fewer than five employees have the option to provide it. Still, it’s not required of smaller companies or specific types of employers such as farmers, charitable, or religious organizations.
The MWCA can provide financial assistance to the injured person to cover lost wages, out-of-pocket medical expenses, retraining for new employment, or benefits to the survivors if the employee dies from the injury.
What if the Catastrophic Injury Wasn’t Work-Related?
When injuries occur outside of work, the victim will need to go through a claims process that may or may not involve court proceedings. The person or organization (such as a business) that was at fault for the accident that caused the injury will need to be approached to request financial compensation.
The vast majority of personal injury claims never go to court. Instead, both parties negotiate back and forth until they reach a settlement agreement that each party is satisfied with. There are many reasons negotiating a settlement is a good way to go, chief among them that they take less time and incur fewer legal fees than a protracted lawsuit that goes to court. There’s no guarantee that if something goes to court, it will be decided in the victim’s favor, so in many cases, a settlement is a known quantity that’s guaranteed. Deciding whether or not a settlement is the best approach is something best done with the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney.
While most cases can be settled out of court, there are times when pursuing the case in court might make more sense. As noted above, this isn’t a guaranteed method to be granted a larger settlement, but there are times when it makes sense. Talk to your personal injury attorney about your case to learn if yours would best be sent to court or not.
What Is Mississippi’s Comparative Negligence Law?
A significant factor in pursuing legal options for catastrophic injuries is how the state views comparative negligence. In Mississippi, the law follows pure comparative negligence. That means that the injured party is entitled to receive damages even if they’re deemed 99% at fault for the accident; they’d receive 1% of the damages awarded to them. However, that also means that the person or organization being pursued for damages is motivated to push as much fault onto the victim as possible so they can pay much less in compensation.
How Is Negligence Proven in Mississippi?
For a personal injury case to be successful, negligence must be proven. Negligence has four prongs, and each must be proven for the victim to be eligible for damages from the negligent party.
- Duty of care. The liable party had a duty to avoid causing harm to anyone else.
- Breach of duty. The liable party did not uphold that duty.
- Causation. The breach of the duty of care directly caused the accident, leading to the victim’s injuries.
- Damages. The victim suffered actual harm and damages because of the accident, including financial (out-of-pocket medical expenses, lost wages) and emotional (trauma, depression).
What Should I Do if I’ve Suffered a Catastrophic Injury?
Call the Rundlett Law Firm at 601-282-8426 for a free, in-depth, no-obligation case evaluation. Every catastrophic injury case is unique. We can guide you through the specifics of your case and devise an approach that could help you achieve the best possible outcomes. We know how traumatic and life-changing a catastrophic injury can be, and we’re here to help you get the financial compensation that could help you move forward with your life.
If the injury was not eligible for workers’ compensation under the MWCA, damages have to be pursued from the liable party, whether a person or organization. They might have insurance representatives or attorneys who will try to contact you with the hope of getting you to accept more fault for the accident than you should. They might also try to get you to sign a much lower settlement agreement than you might be eligible for. Don’t respond to them. Instead, forward their communications to your attorney.