Mississippi Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
The Mississippi wrongful death statute of limitations governs when you must file a lawsuit to recover damages if you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s wrongful act. The champions for the injured at NST Law can ensure your case is filed in a timely manner.
The death of a family member caused by the intentional or negligent acts and omissions of another gives rise to a wrongful death lawsuit. The state of Mississippi imposes time limits on when wrongful death cases can be filed, known as the statute of limitations.
Filing your case in a timely manner is crucial to recovering the financial compensation to which your family is entitled. The Mississippi personal injury attorneys at NST Law can ensure your case is filed on time.
What is the Mississippi statute of limitations for wrongful death claims?
Mississippi wrongful death cases must be filed within three years of the date of death in most cases, according to Miss. Code Ann § 15-1-49. Mississippi codes also provide for exceptions in specific circumstances.
If the death is the result of an intentional act, the statute of limitations is decreased to one year after the injury causing the death occurred. This includes cases that result in criminal prosecution.
If the death is the result of medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is reduced to two years after the date of death. The statute governing medical malpractice limitations also requires the plaintiff to serve the defendant a written notification of the intention to file the claim, describing the injuries.
If the 60-day notice is served within 60 days of the expiration of the statute of limitations, the deadline can be extended by 60 days. When contacted promptly after your loved one’s death, our medical malpractice attorneys can provide the required notice and file your case well ahead of the deadline.
Survivorship lawsuits are different from wrongful death suits. A survivorship case is the pursuit of damages that the deceased was entitled to claim, whether or not the deceased had filed the case.
The Mississippi survivorship law allows families to pursue these claims only if the decedent was not time-barred prior to death. The statute of limitations for survivorship cases is one year after the date of death.
What does it mean for the statute of limitations to be tolled?
A statute of limitations is said to be tolled when the clock is paused for any duration before the statute of limitations expires.
Prohibited to Sue
If at any time for any reason a plaintiff is prohibited from suing, Mississippi law tolls the statute of limitations until the eligibility to sue is restored.
Lack of Capacity
If the only party eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit lacks the legal capacity to sue, the clock stops until the period of incapacity ends — for no longer than 21 years.
Mississippi defines “lack of legal capacity” for this purpose as follows:
- An unemancipated minor
- A person of unsound mind
Defendant’s Absence from the State
If the defendant resides outside the state, the statute of limitations is tolled until such a time as the defendant returns.
If the responsible party resorts to fraudulent means to conceal the true cause of death, the state resets the statute of limitations to the date the true cause is or reasonably should have been discovered.
Do wrongful death cases always require a lawsuit?
In some cases, you may be able to resolve your wrongful death case through an insurance filing rather than through the Mississippi court system. Filing an insurance claim is typically the first step in a wrongful death action. If the insurance company takes responsibility and offers a reasonable settlement, a lawsuit will not be necessary.
Insurance companies have their own filing deadlines, which may be sooner than the statute of limitations. Waiting too long to file an insurance claim could prevent you from recovering the compensation your family needs and deserves.
What happens if I file my case after the statute of limitations has expired?
Missing your filing deadline limits your options and could preclude recovering compensation altogether. On the other hand, filing well ahead of the deadline will shore up your right to do the following:
- Present evidence to a jury
- Confront those responsible for the death of your loved one
- Seek damages
- Get justice
- Prevent a similar event from happening to someone else
The damages you can recover if you file your case on time include:
- Economic damages, such as medical bills and funeral expenses
- Non-economic damages, such as pain, suffering, and loss of companionship
- Punitive damages in cases of intentional harm or flagrant recklessness
Filing a lawsuit on time does not mean your case will go to court. It just protects your right to try your case in court in the event the insurance company or other liable party refuses to offer a fair and reasonable settlement.
When should I contact an attorney?
Although a three-year statute of limitations may seem more than sufficient, this does not mean you should put off contacting a Mississippi wrongful death attorney. Early involvement by an experienced wrongful death attorney protects your rights and maximizes your recovery.
When you are faced with the wrongful death of your loved one, you may be dealing with an insurance company for the first time. The insurance company uses adjusters and expensive lawyers with decades of experience to evade responsibility by taking advantage of people in your situation.
As long as you are unrepresented, the insurance company will try to:
- Induce you to make statements it can use against you
- Pressure you to accept lowball settlements
- Persuade you to sign your rights away
No matter what the insurance company says, it is not on your side. An experienced personal injury attorney can provide the same advantages the insurance company enjoys and thwart these tactics.
Time to Prepare Your Case
Significant preparation is needed before your case can be filed. Once the case is filed, the defendant will respond, and a discovery process will begin. It is imperative that your attorney has ample time to investigate and build your case without the impediment of the statute of limitations approaching more quickly than necessary.
Case preparation includes the following:
- A detailed forensic investigation of a car accident
- The retrieval of medical records
- An extensive medical records review
- Consultations with expert witnesses
- Eyewitness interviews
Completing these steps prior to filing your case will ensure your attorney is well-prepared for any defense strategies.
Early Access to Evidence
Your attorney will need access to the evidence before it is lost, degraded, or inaccessible. Evidence that may be unavailable or unreliable if you wait too long includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Camera footage that can be erased
- Eyewitnesses that can forget important details
- Hazardous conditions, such as road conditions, which could be repaired
- Medical evidence that could degrade
- Automobiles that could be repaired, crushed, or sold
- Forensic evidence that could fade, such as skid marks
How can a Mississippi wrongful death lawyer ensure my case is filed ahead of the statute of limitations?
NST Law has been fighting for the rights of injury victims for more than 32 years. During that time, we have built an extensive network of 34 attorneys and 135 support staff members throughout the United States. Our network provides access to resources that allow us to investigate and prepare your case efficiently.
Our attorneys are passionate about the cause of the injured and go to every length necessary to pursue maximum compensation. As champions for the injured, we are committed to the six pillars of NST Law.
In the context of Mississippi’s statute of limitations for your wrongful death lawsuit, these pillars include:
- Determining applicable deadlines
- Promptly and thoroughly investigating the cause of death
- Interviewing eyewitnesses as early as possible
- Keeping you informed
Our commitment to excellence has paid off for our clients. We have recovered more than $2 billion on their behalf. With office locations in Jackson and Tupelo, our law firm serves all of Mississippi.
If your loved one’s passing was due to someone else’s negligence, our champions for justice are willing to fight so you don’t have to. Don’t wait for the statute of limitations to approach. Contact us today for a free consultation.