Personal injury is a legal claim made by an injured victim against another person or entity alleging that the party was negligent or acted intentionally to cause physical injury and damages to the victim. Examples of personal injury claims include medical malpractice, product liability, premises liability or slip and fall, and various actions involving motor vehicle accidents. It also includes civil claims against those who commit criminal acts against the claimant.
Each state has its own laws on how to prosecute and defend against personal injury claims.
What You Should Expect
Most injury claims in Mississippi begin with a notice or letter of representation to the defendant or its insurance company informing it that you were injured and suffered damages because of the negligent or wrongful conduct of the defendant. If your claim cannot be settled without court action, you have to file a Summons and Complaint in the Mississippi court where either the accident or injury occurred or where the defendant resides.
A Summons is a document listing the parties as plaintiff and defendant along with your attorney’s name and address and the court where the action will be heard. A defendant has 30 days to file a written Answer to the allegations presented in the Complaint, which sets forth the facts of the accident and injury, the elements of the personal injury cause of action and the damages claimed.
A defendant can also respond to your Complaint by filing a demurrer. A demurrer challenges the sufficiency and legal basis of the cause of action alleged in the Complaint. If the defendant has any counterclaims for its own damages against you, it generally must allege them as part of the Answer.
Mississippi Statute of Limitations
There is a time limit for filing a personal injury action in the Mississippi courts. Most personal injury actions must be filed within three years from discovery of the injury. Medical malpractice claims must be filed within two years from discovery of the injury, but no more than seven years after the medical act or omission that caused the injury.
Is Mississippi a Comparative Fault State?
Mississippi is one of 13 states that have a pure comparative fault law. This means that you may still collect compensation even if your percentage of fault exceeds 50 percent. For instance, you may have contributed to the chain of events that led to your injury such as by not paying attention to your surroundings. If you are entitled to compensation but you were 80 percent at fault, your award will be reduced by your degree or percentage of fault.
Going to Trial
If your case proceeds to trial, there are certain procedural steps it will follow:
- Jury selection
- Opening statements
- Plaintiff’s presentation of its case
- Cross-examination of witnesses by the defense
- Presentation of any defense witnesses by the defendant
- Cross-examination of defense witnesses by the plaintiff
- Rebuttal witnesses by the plaintiff
- Closing statements
- Reading of jury instructions by the judge
- Deliberation by the jury
- Motion for new trial or for judgment notwithstanding the verdict
During a trial, there will be objections to certain testimony and to the introduction of evidence by either party. If you or the defendant wishes to preserve an objection for appeal purposes, the objection must be made on the record.
Speak to a Mississippi Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal injury laws and rules are not simple. Your failure to follow a state’s laws could adversely affect your claim for damages. Speak to a Mississippi personal injury lawyer today about legal representation and protecting your legal rights.