Wrongful Death | Van Cleave Law
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Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death

Losing a loved one because of someone else’s negligence or reckless behavior can feel like an insurmountable burden to bear. While nothing can bring your loved one back to you, obtaining just compensation for the losses you have suffered can help you and your family begin the long journey toward emotional healing. If you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence or reckless conduct,  reach out to a compassionate wrongful death lawyer in Biloxi today.

Mississippi’s Wrongful Death Statute

Mississippi’s wrongful death statute allows recovery of damages suffered by the decedent between the time of injury and time of death, recovery of expenses such as funeral costs, and compensation for family members’ loss of the society, companionship, and financial of the decedent. As such, wrongful death cases are similar to typical personal injury cases. The major distinction is that, because the deceased can no longer seek just compensation for the injuries he or she sustained as a result of someone else’s negligence, a family member does so on his or her behalf. Wrongful death cases in Mississippi are not limited to negligent acts such as traffic accidents and accidents predicated on property owner negligence but can also include cases related to defective foods, medications, or other consumer goods (product liability).

Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In the State of Mississippi, specific relatives of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim on his or her behalf (in addition to a personal representative of the deceased’s estate who will take care of specific expenses). The people who may file a claim include:

  • The deceased’s surviving spouse
  • The deceased’s surviving children
  • The deceased’s surviving parent
  • The deceased’s surviving siblings

When the deceased’s spouse brings a wrongful death claim, the damages awarded are split equally between the spouse and the deceased’s children. If he or she was not married and had no children, the deceased’s parents or siblings may forward the wrongful death claim. In such instances, the damages awarded are divided evenly between the surviving parents and/or siblings. A wrongful death lawyer in Mississippi can help identify who are “wrongful death beneficiaries” entitled to seek compensation as a result of a loved one’s death under Mississippi law.

Damages Covered

In Mississippi wrongful death cases, damages are paid to the surviving wrongful death beneficiaries. Recoverable damages include:

  • Medical Costs Incurred by the Decedent Prior to Death
  • Funeral and Burial Costs
  • Payments Related to Destroyed or Damaged Property: These could include, for example, damages to the deceased’s car if the accident involved was a car accident.
  • Non-Economic Damages to Compensate Suffering by the Decedent: Wrongful Death Beneficiaries can recover fair compensation for the physical pain and emotional suffering endured by the Decedent between the time of injury and time of death.

The above payments are all intended to cover the deceased’s final bills that were generated as a result of the fatal accident in question, and to provide compensation for suffering endured by the Decedent from the injury causing eventual death. In the past, these types of damages had to be recovered on behalf of the Estate, but under the current Mississippi Wrongful Death Statute all damages can be recovered by the Wrongful Death Beneficiaries.

Additional recoverable damages are meant to compensate Wrongful Death Beneficiaries directly for their losses related to the death:

  • Loss of Financial Support: The cash value of the net lost wages and benefits the deceased would have likely earned if he or she had lived to a natural age.
  • Loss of Society and Companionship: The compensation for the emotional loss and bereavement suffered by the wrongful death beneficiaries as a result of the death of a loved one.

Damage Caps

It is important to point out that the State of Mississippi imposes some damage caps that relate only to non-economic damages (damages that you cannot put an exact price tag on, such as pain and emotional suffering). These include:

  • There is a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages resulting from medical malpractice.
  • There is a $1,000,000 cap on non-economic damages resulting from any other type of personal injury or wrongful death claim.

Economic damages, such as medical bills, burial costs, and lost wages are not affected by these caps.

The Statute of Limitations

Statutes of limitations refer to the legal time limit by which one must bring a claim. If claims are not properly asserted in a Court of Law by that deadline, they are forever barred. Mississippi has four distinct wrongful death statutes of limitations that apply, and these are:

  • If your loved one’s death is deemed to be the result of the responsible party’s intentional act – such as assault or battery – you have only one year from the time of death to bring your wrongful death claim.
  • If your loved one’s death is deemed to be the result of negligence by a government affiliated Medical Provider (such as a County Hospital or its employee) – you have only one year from the time of death to bring your wrongful death claim. Similarly, if the death was caused by the negligence of any other government entity (such as a law enforcement officer running a red light), any claim must be brought within one year.
  • If your loved one’s death is deemed to be the result of negligence by a private Medical Provider – you have only two years from the time of death to bring your wrongful death claim.
  • If your loved one’s death was caused solely by the at-fault party’s negligence, you have three years from the time of death to bring your wrongful death claim.


Wrongful death claims can be complicated – in addition to being emotionally harrowing. It is a good idea to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney sooner rather than later, to ensure that you are familiar with all your rights and the deadlines that apply to potential claims.

Civil vs. Criminal Charges

A wrongful death case is a civil case that is adjudicated in civil court. As such, it can only seek monetary damages – and cannot lead to prison time for the at-fault party. This can be very confusing for those who’ve lost a loved one to someone else’s negligence – or worse. The fact is, however, if the action that led to your loved one’s death was purposeful, such as an assault, the perpetrator can face both criminal charges and civil charges (your wrongful death claim). Even if the at-fault party is not convicted of a crime, he can be found liable in a civil court for damages caused by a wrongful death.

Don’t Put off Consulting with an Experienced Biloxi Wrongful Death Attorney

If you’ve lost a loved one to someone else’s negligence, you’re going through a difficult chapter in your life that can feel insurmountable. Christopher Van Cleave at Van Cleave Law – proudly serving Biloxi – is a compassionate wrongful death attorney who has the empathy, experience, and resources to help. While nothing will return your loved one to you, obtaining just damages can help you and your family move forward. To schedule a free initial consultation, please don’t hesitate to call us at (228) 432-7826 today.

Biloxi Wrongful Death Lawyer

Losing a loved one is always tragic, but if their death was unexpected, the resulting impact on you and your family’s life may be even worse. If another person’s careless or reckless behavior caused the wrongful death of a family member, you have a legal right to seek compensation on your loved one’s behalf.

A compassionate Biloxi wrongful death lawyer understands the emotional strain you may face following the passing of a loved one. If retained, a dedicated and caring personal injury lawyer could shoulder the legal burdens involved with a claim so that you may focus on healing with your family during this difficult time.

Defining Wrongful Death in Biloxi

For a death to be considered legally wrongful, it must fit within the definitions provided by Mississippi law. According to Mississippi Code Annotated §11-7-13, a lawsuit claiming wrongful and untimely death is appropriate in situations including:

  • A real, wrongful, or negligent act or omission that led to a fatality
  • Unsafe machinery or appliances that have resulted in a death
  • A breach of warranty for any product intended for human consumption that has fatal consequences for the user

As these provisions suggest, a wrongful death claim can exist in cases of malicious attack, medical malpractice, car accidents, defective products, and unsafe medicine, among others. Establishing that an individual or company was at fault for such an incident, however, may require the skill and experience of a Biloxi wrongful death attorney.

Who May Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim?

Pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. §11-7-13, there are numerous parties that may be able to pursue a wrongful death action in Biloxi. The primary factors to consider with regard to eligibility include the identity of the decedent and their surviving family members.

If, for example, the decedent left a will naming a personal representative, that representative may make the claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate. Additionally, the surviving spouse of the deceased, children of the deceased, siblings of the deceased and/or parents of the deceased (if a child) may be eligible to file a claim.

However, all interested parties must pursue damages under a single lawsuit, so any potential plaintiff should be sure to identify all potential co-claimants prior to filing a lawsuit. A detail-oriented wrongful death lawyer in Biloxi could assist with identifying all potential claimants and helping to pursue a single claim.

Compensation Available for an Untimely Death

Compensation in wrongful death cases is considered under two categories. The first category covers damages that should be paid to the estate. These are also known as economic damages and consider the costs incurred by the decedent prior—or subsequent—to their death.

For example, medical bills, funeral costs, and compensation for any damaged property following an incident may all be covered under the umbrella of economic damages. In Biloxi, there is no limit to the value of these economic claims.

The second category for compensation is intended to provide payments to the decedent’s family. These may include pain and suffering endured by the surviving family members, loss of companionship, and any lost wages or earnings now missing due to the decedent’s inability to work and provide for their family. Unlike the economic damages that may be requested in a claim, however, Mississippi law often limits these non-economic damages.

Reach Out to a Biloxi Wrongful Death Attorney

After losing a loved one, you are likely to be traumatized and unsure of how to proceed. Unfortunately, while the grieving process should move at your own pace, you may also be facing financial pressure in the wake of your loved one’s passing.

While the thought of seeking compensation may seem overwhelming during this difficult time, a successful claim may help alleviate your financial burden so that you can focus on spending time with your family and recovering. A persistent Biloxi wrongful death lawyer could work tirelessly to establish liability and build a claim that requests available compensation for your loss. Whenever you feel ready to proceed with a claim, contact us to speak with a caring legal professional and get started. Consultations are always free.


Van Cleave Law can begin to evaluate your case today.

Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation.