How are Damages Calculated in Mississippi Accident Cases?
When someone is seriously injured in an accident, it can put a major physical, emotional, and financial strain on victims and their families. The injured party may have to spend some time in the hospital, and once they are released, there are often additional treatments and procedures required. During this time, medical bills start piling up and time missed from work for hospitalization and treatment can make finances pretty tight. If an injury happens because of someone else’s negligence or reckless actions, the victim deserves to be compensated.
The legal term for compensation from accident injury cases is “damages”. Compensatory damages for personal injury cases can be for actual costs incurred by the injured party, as well as losses that are intangible and more difficult to assign a dollar figure to.
Economic losses are those that are quantifiable. These are also known as “special damages”. Examples include:
- Property Damage: Certain accidents, such as vehicle crashes, result in damage to personal property. Oftentimes, vehicles are totaled or sustain severe damage from an accident. Injured parties should be reimbursed the cost to restore damaged property to their pre-accident condition.
- Medical Costs: Reimbursement for medical-related expenses such as hospitalization costs, procedures and treatments, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical care.
- Lost Wages: When injured parties are forced to miss work to treat their injuries, they should be reimbursed for lost wages.
- Loss of Earning Capacity: Some accident injuries can be severe and catastrophic. In such cases, injured parties are often unable to go back to their previous job or perform any type of gainful work. When this happens, they should be compensated for loss of future earning capacity.
- Funeral and Burial Expenses: If the accident resulted in a fatality, the victim’s family should be reimbursed for funeral and burial costs.
This is compensation for general damages the injured party suffers that are not easy to quantify. Typically, these damages are calculated based on a specified multiplier. Damages in this category may include:
- Physical Discomfort, Pain and Suffering: An accident injury victim often has to endure excruciating physical pain on an ongoing basis. Pain and suffering may be temporary until the victim is fully recovered, or indefinite in the case of a permanent debilitating injury.
- Emotional Distress: A physical injury takes an emotional toll on the victims and those closest to them. For example, it is not uncommon for injury victims to experience stress, fear, anxiety, sleepless nights, and similar issues.
- Reduced Quality of Life: Many injured parties are unable to participate in activities they once enjoyed. When this occurs, they should be compensated for their diminished quality of life.
In Mississippi, non-economic damages are capped at $1 million.
In extreme cases in which the actions of the responsible party were especially egregious, punitive damages may be awarded. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate the victim, but rather to “punish” the wrongdoer and help deter them (and others) from similarly egregious behavior in the future.
To be awarded punitive damages, a plaintiff must present “clear and convincing evidence” that the party responsible “acted with actual malice, gross negligence which evidences a willful, wanton or reckless disregard for the safety of others, or committed actual fraud” (Mississippi Code §11-1-65). Mississippi caps punitive damages based on the defendant’s net worth. However, these caps do not apply to injury cases in which the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or the defendant was convicted of a felony for the actions that caused the injury.
Shared Liability in Mississippi Accident Cases
In cases in which the injured party was partially liable for the accident, damages may be affected by Mississippi’s “pure comparative negligence” legal doctrine. Under this doctrine, damages are reduced in proportion to the percentage the victim is determined to be at-fault. For example, if the total amount of damages is $100,000 and the victim is 20% at-fault, damages would be reduced by $20,000.
Injured in an Accident in Mississippi? Contact a Seasoned Personal Injury Attorney
No two cases are exactly alike, and the amount of damages awarded depends on the specific circumstances in each case. One of the deciding factors in how much compensation you will end up with is whether or not you choose to obtain legal representation, and who you choose to represent you. With so much at stake, it is important to work with an attorney who has a successful track record with these types of cases.
At Gardner Law Firm, we have over 40 years of experience representing personal injury victims in Mississippi. We have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and we work closely with our clients to ensure that they receive full and fair compensation for their injuries, and that those responsible are held fully accountable.
For a free consultation with one of our experienced Mississippi personal injury attorneys, call our office today at 228-436-6555. You may also send us a message through our online contact form.