In Mississippi, personal injury law governs a broad range of legal disputes stemming from incidents that result in bodily harm, emotional distress, or other damages. These may include car accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, etc.
When it comes to personal injury cases, understanding the potential settlement payouts and jury awards available to victims is essential. The amount of compensation awarded to a plaintiff in Mississippi can depend on various factors, such as the severity of the injuries, the degree of fault or negligence involved, and the case’s specific circumstances.
This page explores personal injury law in Mississippi, including the state’s laws and regulations, such as the statute of limitations, and examines recent cases to provide examples of typical settlement amounts and jury awards.
Mississippi Injury Verdicts and Settlements
- 2022, Mississippi: $1,286,244 Verdict. The plaintiffs (the driver and her mother who was a passenger) were hit on the driver’s side by a Department of Navy work truck. The collision caused the driver to suffer injuries to her chest, lower back, and shoulder. The passenger suffered a lacerated spleen, contused bowels, and a lung injured that required several surgeries.
- 2022, $632,687 Mississippi $628,287 Verdict. 81-year-old woman was killed in an accident that occurred when the defendant’s tractor-trailer rear-ended her at high speed on the highway. The jury awarded $628k, but it was reduced to $253,134 based on the finding that the decedent was 40% at-fault for the accident.
- 2021, Mississippi: $90,000 Verdict. A 50-something man was struck by a logging truck. He died at the scene. The man’s family alleged negligence against the truck driver. They claimed he failed to maintain a proper lookout and safely operate his vehicle. The jury awarded $90,000.
- 2021, Mississippi: $1,096,730 Verdict. Another truck driver rear-ended a 57-year-old truck driver. He suffered spinal disc and brain injuries. The man underwent epidural steroid injections. He had chronic headaches, memory loss, and executive function issues. The man alleged negligence against the other truck driver. He died during deliberation. The jury awarded $1,096,730.
- 2021, Mississippi: $2,785,000 Verdict. A tractor-trailer struck a 33-year-old man head-on. He subsequently hit several trees. The man’s vehicle flipped over. He suffered a cervical injury and a partially torn rotator cuff. The man alleged negligence against the truck driver. He claimed he negligently crossed the center line. The jury awarded a $2,785,000 verdict.
- 2020, Mississippi: $8,198,800 Verdict. A 30-year-old man was rear-ended. He suffered a severe collarbone fracture, a disc herniation with radiculopathy, an injured shoulder, an inner ear tear, and a concussion. He developed vertigo and post-concussive syndrome. The man underwent ear surgery and two shoulder surgeries. He subsequently underwent pain management therapy. He was now disabled and sedentary. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed he failed to maintain a proper lookout and timely brake. The jury awarded $8,198,800.
- 2020, Mississippi: $2,600,000 Verdict. An expectant mother at 20 weeks underwent a routine sonogram. She was told that her baby suffered from fetal growth restriction. However, the woman received no additional fetal monitoring. Her son suffered an intracranial hemorrhage at four days old. The now eight-year-old boy developed cerebral palsy. He cannot talk, walk, or use the bathroom by himself. The boy’s mother alleged negligence against the obstetrician. She claimed he mismanaged her pregnancy, failed to make a fetal medicine specialist referral, and failed to plan an earlier delivery. The woman received a $2,600,000 verdict.
- 2020, Mississippi: $639,000 Verdict. A tractor-trailer struck a man on I-55. He suffered chest wall bruising, a strain, a rotator cuff, and a C4-5 injury. The man underwent physical therapy and steroid injections. He now required a shoulder repair and a fusion. The man alleged negligence against the truck driver. He claimed he failed to maintain a proper lookout and timely brake. The jury awarded $639,000.
- 2019, Mississippi: $226,000 Verdict. A man was T-boned. He suffered severe injuries. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed he ran a stop sign and failed to yield the right-of-way. The jury awarded $226,000.
- 2019, Mississippi: $2,107,351 Verdict. A man underwent a total left hip arthroplasty. During the procedure, the surgeon inserted a long acetabular screw. The man suffered a left iliac vein injury. He underwent a vein reconstruction. The man alleged negligence against the surgeon. He claimed he inserted a screw of an inappropriate length, failed to consult a vascular surgeon, and ignored the vascular injury. The jury awarded $2,107,351.
- 2019, Mississippi: $3,500,000 Verdict. A tractor-trailer t-boned a woman. She suffered severe and permanent injuries. The woman alleged negligence against the truck driver. She claimed he ran a stop sign, excessively sped, and failed to yield the right-of-way. The jury awarded $3,500,000.
- 2019, Mississippi: $2,000,000 Verdict. A woman was T-boned. She fractured her left wrist. The woman also sustained emotional distress and hearing loss. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed she ran a red light, failed to yield the right-of-way, and failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. The jury awarded $2,000,000.
- 2019, Mississippi: $2,500,000 Verdict. A 62-year-old man underwent a cervical fusion. He sustained a hematoma. The man subsequently went into cardiac arrest and respiratory failure. He suffered an anoxic brain injury. The man died from his injuries several years later. His family alleged negligence against the hospital. They claimed its staff failed to timely address respiratory distress, appreciate the man’s hematoma risk, and administer hypothermia treatments. The jury awarded the family $2,500,000.
Mississippi Personal Injury Law
Below is a summary of some critical points of Mississippi personal injury law.
Mississippi Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
The Mississippi personal injury statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a lawsuit suffering an injury or harm due to someone else’s negligence. In Mississippi, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is generally three years, with a lot of caveats. This means a negligence victim has three years from the accident date to file a lawsuit. If they do not file a lawsuit within that time frame, they may lose their right to seek compensation for their injuries.
Discovery Rule Exception
There are a few exceptions to the three-year statute of limitations in Mississippi. For example, if the injury is not discovered immediately or is discovered at a later time, the statute of limitations may be extended. This is known as the discovery rule. In cases where the injury was not immediately apparent, the statute of limitations begins to run from the date the injury was discovered or should have been discovered with reasonable diligence. Word of warning here: victims often think the discovery rule applies to them when it does not. It is rarely used in personal injury cases involving malpractice, car accidents, or premises liability claims like slip and falls.
Mississippi Malpractice Statute of Limitations
Another exception to Mississippi’s three-year statute of limitations is for injuries caused by medical malpractice. In these cases, the statute of limitations is two years from when the injury was discovered or should have been discovered.
Birth Injury Statute of Limitations
In cases where the injured party is a minor, the statute of limitations is extended until the minor reaches age 21. If a child is injured in an accident, their parents or guardians have until the child’s 21st birthday to file a lawsuit on their behalf. Our lawyers usually see this in the context of a birth injury lawsuit, which is a focus of our law firm. But this applies to any tort claim from a minor (excluding wrongful death claims).
Other Deadlines to File
The statute of limitations in Mississippi applies only to filing a lawsuit. It does not apply to filing an insurance claim. In many cases, it is advisable to file an insurance claim as soon as possible after an accident to receive compensation for medical bills and other expenses. Filing an insurance claim does not waive an individual’s right to file a lawsuit later if necessary.
The Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA) is a set of rules and regulations that govern how claims against the state and its political subdivisions are handled. The MTCA is, unfortunately, the exclusive route to suing any government entity in Mississippi and its employees for negligent acts committed within the scope of employment. The definition of “employees” encompasses physicians employed by the University of Mississippi Medical Center and specific physicians who have contracted with state health boards or local jails.
The MTCA was enacted in 1992 to provide a framework for resolving claims against the state and its political subdivisions, including counties, cities, and school districts. The real purpose is to make it harder to sue the government entities in Mississippi.
The following are some of the critical rules of the MTCA in Mississippi:
- Notice Requirement: To bring a claim against a political subdivision of the state under the MTCA, the claimant must first provide written notice of the claim to the appropriate government agency within one year of the incident. The notice must include the name and address of the claimant, the nature of the claim, and the time and place where the incident occurred.
- Time Limit for Filing a Claim: A claim must be filed within two years of the date of the incident. Failure to file a claim within this period will result in the claim being barred.
- Liability Limitations: The MTCA limits the liability of political subdivisions of the state to $500,000 per occurrence or $1,000,000 per occurrence in cases involving death or permanent disability.
- Exceptions to Liability Limitations: The limitations do not apply in cases of intentional misconduct, gross negligence, or where a statute imposes liability without regard to fault.
- Sovereign Immunity: The MTCA does not waive sovereign immunity for the state or its political subdivisions. Sovereign immunity protects the government from being sued without its consent. However, the MTCA does allow claims to be brought against the state and its political subdivisions in certain circumstances.
- Jury Trials: Claims brought under the MTCA are heard by a judge, not a jury.
- Statutory Defenses: The MTCA provides certain defenses that a political subdivision can use to avoid liability. For example, a political subdivision is not liable for injuries resulting from an act or omission of an employee if the employee was acting within the scope of their employment and was not engaged in intentional misconduct or gross negligence.
So it is just more hoops to jump through when suing the government in Mississippi, including a notice requirement, the time limit for filing a claim, liability limitations, exceptions to liability limitations, sovereign immunity, no jury trials, and statutory defenses.
Mississippi Cap on Damages
Mississippi has several types of damage caps that limit the amount of money a plaintiff can receive in certain types of legal cases. These caps include:
- Medical Malpractice: In Mississippi, non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases are capped at $500,000. This means that the amount of money a plaintiff can receive for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other non-economic damages is limited to $500,000.
- Non-Malpractice: Non-economic damages in cases that do not involve medical malpractice are capped at $1 million.
- Punitive Damages: Mississippi law limits punitive damages to the greater of $20 million or four times the compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff. In product liability cases, Mississippi limits punitive damages to the greater of $1 million or twice the amount of economic damages awarded to the plaintiff. (Economic damages or special damages are damages that are intended to compensate the plaintiff for actual financial losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.
- Government Liability: As mentioned earlier, the Mississippi Tort Claims Act limits damages that can be recovered against a political subdivision of the state, such as a county or school district. The liability limit is $500,000 per occurrence or $1,000,000 per occurrence in cases involving death or permanent disability.
Mississippi Wrongful Death Law
In Mississippi, wrongful death claims are governed by the Mississippi Wrongful Death Act, which can be found in Mississippi Code Annotated §§ 11-7-13 and 11-7-25. The Act allows for the recovery of damages when a person’s death is caused by another party’s wrongful act, neglect, or default. Mississippi’s wrongful death statutes outline who can file a claim, what damages can be recovered, and how the money will be distributed among the family members.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim and What Damages Can They Seek?
The people who can file a wrongful death claim include the deceased’s spouse, children, parents, siblings, or personal representative. The damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death claim may include money for the deceased’s medical and funeral expenses, lost wages, and any property damage. Any settlement amount or jury award received in a wrongful death lawsuit is divided among the family members according to their relationship to the deceased. For example, if the deceased was married with children, the damages would be split equally between the spouse and the children.
This law also applies to cases involving the death of an unborn child as long as the child was developed enough to survive outside the womb. Adopted children and their adoptive parents have the same rights under this law as biological children and their parents. Additionally, this law also covers illegitimate children and their parents.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
In Mississippi, a wrongful death claim must generally be filed within three years of the deceased person’s death date. Again, there are exceptions to this rule it is easy to get tripped up. Get a free consultation with a Mississippi wrongful death attorney early in the process to determine the specific time frame applicable to your case.
Mississippi Comparative Negligence
In Mississippi, comparative fault is a legal concept that can impact the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover in a personal injury lawsuit. Comparative fault is also sometimes referred to as comparative negligence, and it means that a plaintiff’s own negligence or fault can reduce the amount of damages they are entitled to receive.
Mississippi follows the pure comparative fault rule, which means that even if a plaintiff is partially at fault for an accident, they can still recover damages from the other at-fault parties. However, their damages will be reduced by the percentage of their own fault. Numerous legal cases in Mississippi have demonstrated that comparative fault may decrease compensation, but it cannot eliminate it, and the responsibility of determining fault lies with the jury. Courts frequently provide an extreme scenario to illustrate this point, using a breakdown of 99% and 1%. Even if the plaintiff is found to be 99% at fault and another party was only 1% at fault, the plaintiff would still have a successful case in proving their legal malpractice claim by meeting the standard of demonstrating recovery in the underlying suit.
For example, if a plaintiff is awarded $100,000 in damages but is found to be 90% at fault for the accident, their damages award will be reduced by 90% to $10,000. This reduction is based on the percentage of fault a Mississippi court or jury assigns to the plaintiff.
Mississippi’s comparative fault rule applies to economic and non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. However, it is essential to note that the reduction in damages can be significant if the plaintiff is found to be heavily at fault for the accident.
For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 90% at fault for an accident, their damages award will be reduced by 90%, leaving them with only 10% of the damages they would have received if they were not at fault.
In summary, comparative fault is a crucial consideration in personal injury lawsuits in Mississippi. The pure comparative fault rule means that even if a plaintiff is partially at fault for an accident, they can still recover damages, but the amount will be reduced based on the percentage of their own fault.
Mississippi Dog Bite Law
Mississippi adheres to the dangerous-propensity rule for causes of action based on animal attacks.
Under the dangerous-propensity rule, this Court has stated that an animal owner may be exposed to liability for an attack by his or her animal when: (1) There is some proof that the animal has exhibited some dangerous propensity or disposition that the owner was aware of prior to the attack complained of; and, (2) There is proof that the owner reasonably should have foreseen that the animal was likely to attack someone.
Said differently, Mississippi’s dog bite law is based on the “one free bite” rule, which presumes that dogs are harmless unless proven otherwise. However, if a pet owner observes warning signs of aggression, such as growling or snapping, they are responsible for controlling their pet. If a dog has previously bitten someone, the owner must take measures to prevent future harm.
Juries will get a lot of latitude in determining whether there was a dangerous propensity. In one case, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that that a reasonable jury could consider dogs growling – black labradors, of all dogs – at a trailer park resident as an exhibition of dangerous or vicious behavior. In another case, the court found a dog owner not liable when the dog that bit a garbage man had not exhibited any barking or growling tendencies.
Mississippi Premises Liability Law
Mississippi premises liability law deals with the legal obligations that property owners owe to people who enter their premises, including business invitees, licensees, and trespassers. The law holds property owners responsible for ensuring that their premises are reasonably safe for visitors and guests. The majoirty of premises liability claims in Mississippi are slip and fall claims.
Mississippi law models most states. Property owners have a duty to maintain their premises in a safe condition and to warn visitors of any hazards that are not obvious or would not be discovered by reasonable inspection. The duty of care owed by the property owner depends on the status of the visitor. Mississippi court will require strict proof if the plaintiff is alleging constructive notice of a defect.
Business invitees, the most common defendants in slip and fall cases, owe its customers the highest duty of care. Property owners must inspect their property for hidden hazards and dangerous conditions and take reasonable steps to address any hazards they discover. Owners must also warn invitees of any known or discoverable dangerous conditions.
Licensees are owed a slightly lower duty of care. Property owners must warn licensees of any known dangerous conditions that are not readily apparent or discoverable by the licensee.
Trespassers are owed the lowest duty of care. Property owners are only required to avoid willful or wanton injury to trespassers.
If a property owner breaches their duty of care and a visitor is injured as a result, the injured party may be able to recover damages in a premises liability lawsuit. Damages may include the same categories of injuries you see in any other Mississippi personal injury lawsuits: medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses related to the injury.
Mississippi Malpractice Law
What a Plaintiff Must Prove to Establish Malpractice
The Mississippi Supreme Court has emphasized the importance of expert testimony in establishing a prima facie case of medical malpractice. The court outlined that a plaintiff must prove the following three elements through expert testimony:
- Standard of care: The plaintiff must establish the applicable standard of care in the specific medical context of the case. The standard of care is the level of care, skill, and treatment that a reasonably competent and skilled healthcare professional, with a similar background and in the same medical community, would have provided under the same or similar circumstances.
- Breach of the standard of care: The plaintiff must prove that the health care provider failed to meet the established standard of care. This means that the provider’s actions or inactions fell below the level of care expected from a similarly situated medical professional.
- Causation: The plaintiff must demonstrate a causal connection between the defendant’s breach of the standard of care and the plaintiff’s injury. In other words, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s negligence directly caused or contributed to the injury suffered by the plaintiff.
An expert is not required to be a specialist in a specific subfield within the profession. But under Mississippi Rule of Evidence 702, the witness needs to have the knowledge, skill,
experience, training, or education to offer the opinion.
Do you need an expert in every single medical malpractice lawsuit? The “layman’s exception” refers to a rare circumstance in medical malpractice cases where an expert witness may not be necessary, as the negligence is so apparent that even a non-expert, or layperson, can understand it without expert testimony. (Although this 2022 case suggests otherwise.) Although numerous appellate cases mention the “layman’s exception” when analyzing the necessity for a medical expert in medical negligence cases, only a handful of cases genuinely implement the exception.
How to Start a Mississippi Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Mississippi Code Section 15-1-36(15) states that a lawsuit based on a health care provider’s professional negligence cannot be initiated unless the defendant has received at least 60 days’ prior written notice of the intention to begin the action. The notice should inform the defendant of the legal basis of the claim and the type of loss sustained, specifically outlining the nature of the injuries suffered.
The pre-suit notice does not need to follow a specific format but must inform the defendant of the legal grounds for the claim and the type of loss sustained, including the precise nature of the injuries suffered. Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-36(15). The courts have held that the pre-suit notice requirement is mandatory. However, in the cases cited, the plaintiffs failed to provide any notice of their intention to file a lawsuit 60 days before filing a complaint. The court did not consider the adequacy of the pre-suit notice when the notice was addressed only to the defendant employer and not to the defendant employees.
The penalty for failure to comply with this notice requirement is the dismissal of the malpractice lawsuit. But while you should not bank on this, if a plaintiff overlooks providing the required notice, they may have the chance to “cure” the issue by promptly serving the notice and then filing an amended complaint or a new complaint—provided the statute of limitations has not yet expired.
Statute of Limitations for Malpractice in Mississippi
As we said above, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Mississippi is two years. This law sets time limits for filing malpractice lawsuits against healthcare professionals, such as doctors, dentists, nurses, and others.
Quirks in Malpractice Statute of Limitations
If the injured person is a child who is six years old or younger when the injury is discovered, they or their legal representative can file a lawsuit within two years after their sixth birthday or their death, whichever comes first. This is really important in birth injury lawsuits. Some Mississippi birth injury lawyers assume that they have until the child is 20 years old – two years after the child’s 18th birthday. but that is not the law.
If the injured person is a child without a parent or legal guardian, they or their legal representative can file a lawsuit within two years after they have a parent or legal guardian, or after their death, whichever comes first. The time limit doesn’t start running until the child’s sixth birthday unless they die before then.
If the injured person has a mental disability, they or their legal representative can file a lawsuit within two years after the disability ends or their death, whichever comes first.
If the injured person dies while still under a disability mentioned above, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within the normal time limit set by other laws.
Cap on Damages for Malpractice in Mississippi
As we said above, the medical malpractice cap for pain and suffering damages in Mississippi is $500,000. There is no cap on economic damages.
Product Liability Law in Mississippi
Mississippi product liability law governs claims relating to defective or dangerous products that cause injury or harm to consumers. The legal framework for these claims is based on a combination of statutes and case law. This summary provides an overview of Mississippi product liability law in 500 words, touching on the key aspects of liability, defenses, and procedural requirements.
The foundation of Mississippi product liability law is found in the Mississippi Products Liability Act (MPLA). Under the MPLA, a manufacturer, distributor, or seller of a product can be held liable for injuries or damages caused by a defective product. The MPLA recognizes three main types of defects:
a. Manufacturing defects: Flaws in a product that result from errors during the manufacturing process, making the product different from its intended design.
b. Design defects: Inherent flaws in a product’s design that render it unreasonably dangerous even when manufactured correctly.
c. Inadequate warnings or instructions: Failure to provide proper warnings or instructions about a product’s potential risks or hazards, leading to injury or harm.
Strict Liability and Negligence
Mississippi product liability claims are generally based on strict liability, which means that a plaintiff does not need to prove the defendant’s negligence to establish liability. However, some claims may also involve allegations of negligence, such as when a manufacturer fails to exercise reasonable care in designing or manufacturing a product or in providing warnings or instructions.
Product Liability Damages
In Mississippi product liability cases, plaintiffs may be awarded various types of damages, including:
a. Economic damages: Compensation for financial losses, such as medical expenses and lost wages.
b. Non-economic damages: Compensation for non-financial losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
c. Punitive damages: In some cases, a plaintiff may also be awarded punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious or reckless.
Mississippi Mass Tort Claims
Like every state, there are major mass tort clams that are being filed by Mississippi residents, including claims our law firm is handling nationally:
- Hair relaxer lawsuit: There has been growing concern in recent years about a possible correlation between the usage of hair relaxers and cancer and other uterine injuries such as fibroids, especially among African American and minority women.
- Tylenol autism lawsuit: Claims are being filed by families whose children have developed autism or ADHD after taking acetaminophen medications
- Camp Lejeune lawsuit: Many former Mississippi marines served at Camp Lejeune where they were exposed to toxic water
Hiring a Mississippi Personal Injury Lawyer
Our firm handles serious injury and wrongful death lawsuits in Mississippi, working with trusted colleagues in Mississippi. We compensate our Mississippi lawyers out of our attorneys’ fees. You pay no additional contingency fees for having two law firms instead of one. And you only owe a fee if you get settlement compensation or a jury payout for you.
If you were hurt and believe you have a potential civil tort claim, click here for a free no-obligation consultation or call us today at 800-553-8082 or get a free consultation online.