Unfortunately, many people die tragically each year in automobile accidents on Mississippi highways. Under such circumstances, survivors of the deceased, whose death was the fault of another, may be able to bring a claim of wrongful death under Mississippi law. For a lawful action to exist, the deceased person must have had a valid claim of personal injury. In other words, the person that caused the death would have been at fault for the victim’s injuries if death had not occurred.
Proving an auto accident wrongful death claim can become incredibly complicated and tedious. A plaintiff may be forced to confront many personal emotions rather quickly in the aftermath of the accident, being subjected to contentious, intrusive, and emotionally demanding defense tactics and strategies. For this reason, many families of victims killed in auto accidents avoid filing suit or investigating whether a claim of wrongful death. Eventually, when such parties regain themselves from grieving, they discover the statute of limitations to bring a lawsuit has elapsed, and that they lost their opportunity to recover damages through the legal system.
However, all fatal auto accidents do not require survivors to take legal action against a single defendant. To receive damages, a plaintiff must prove that an individual or other entity caused (or created the conditions for) the fatality. For example, in the common case of a drunk driving fatality, in which an intoxicated driver collides into another car at a red light and kills one of the passengers, the drunk driver’s recklessness and above legal alcohol limit may make him liable for damages. Nonetheless, many other parties may also be held liable under certain circumstances, including, but not limited to the manufacturer of a defective automobile or defective part, the state of Mississippi for failure to maintain safe road conditions, or a company that owns one of the vehicles in involved in the accident.
In assessing the amount of damages that are recoverable in a wrongful death suit, there are six types to consider that may be awarded:
- Loss of love, companionship, care and affection, guidance and protection. Such damages are often referred to as “loss of consortium” damages, and are generally non-mandatory, often awarded on a discretionary basis.
- Pain, sorrow, anguish, shock, and mental suffering. Survivors of the deceased may receive damages for their pain and suffering.
- Loss of services and income. Survivors may be awarded damages for their economic loss caused by the death. Generally, the calculation of these damages is the loss of economic assistance that each beneficiary would have obtained from the decedent. In situations where a wrongful death action is initiated on behalf of the estate, future earnings of the deceased can be used as the gauge of damages.
- Burial and funeral expenses. Such expenses are awarded if previously paid out by the beneficiary, or the beneficiary is responsible for payment.
- Medical expenses. Medical expense damages are awarded if the beneficiary previously paid out the costs or is responsible for payment.
- Punitive damages. Such damages are meant to punish the defendant, and may be awarded if the person that caused the death behaved with egregious and reckless disregard. Typically, the jury will assess the amount awarded by taking into consideration whether outside aggravating circumstances surrounded the wrongful act.
Wrongful death claims can be complex and difficult to navigate. The Giddens Law Firm can help to give you sound legal advice so that your investigation is handled efficiently and effectively. Most importantly we will help you get the recourse you deserve for loss of a loved one involved in a tragic auto accident. Call our offices at 601-355-2022 to receive a free consultation if you are involved in a Mississippi auto accident wrongful death case.