Mississippi Medical Malpractice Laws
Each state has their own set of medical malpractice laws in place, and it is important for patients to understand those laws and how they could affect their case. The following are the basics of the laws in Mississippi.
Medical Malpractice Mississippi
The laws regarding medical malpractice are complex, no matter where in the U.S. the problem occurs. When a victim of Mississippi medical malpractice needs help, the next logical step is to file a claim within the legal time limits. If the claim is not filed within the statute of limitations, the claim could be dismissed from court, meaning the injured party would not get any compensation for his or her injuries. Once the end of that time limit arrives, no more can be done to bring a suit to a court or recover any damages for any pain or suffering the injured party may have gone through because of a negligent health care provider.
To fully understand what a Mississippi medical malpractice claim consists of, much time in research would normally be required. However, by turning to an experienced medical malpractice attorney, injured parties can avoid this waste of time since attorneys with experience filing and winning medical malpractice cases are the option toward successful compensation awards.
Suing for Medical Malpractice in Mississippi
Injured parties have the opportunity to bring a case against any health care provider working with a state license. This can include a wide range of people, from doctors to nurses, physical therapists, and mental healthcare professionals. The option of joint liability is there, meaning more than one person can be considered to blame, and each is then responsible for his or her portion of the compensation at the end of the case.
Many medical malpractice cases that go to court with the help of a lawyer or law firm settle out of court, saving time and money for everyone involved. This is beneficial since the case is short, there is no trial litigation, and the legal battle is unnecessary. There are also damage caps placed on what can be won for injured parties in Mississippi.
Time Limits to File a Medical Malpractice Claim in Mississippi
So long as the healthcare provider is legally allowed to be sued for the wrongdoing, then the statute of limitations is two years. Anything that was not obvious immediately can be filed up to two years from when it became obvious to the injured party. The overall time limit to file a claim is seven years, and this is set up to cover those who could not possibly have known about their injury any sooner. This timeline applies to personal cases of injury and wrongful death lawsuits as well. Once the clock reaches seven years, whether the injury was discovered or not, the ability to file a claim is gone.
There is one more limit put in place for a medical malpractice suit in Mississippi. This is when a case is filed against a government agency or government-owned state hospital, or an employee that was working for one of these facilities at the time of the injury. If this is the accused, there is only one year to file the claim. Plus, there is a total cap of $500,000 put on any damages in these cases, no matter what type of damages are being sought.
Who Can Be Accused of Mississippi Medical Malpractice?
Any type of healthcare provider working with a state license can be accused of a personal injury like malpractice. However, it becomes the injured party’s responsibility to prove negligence, misconduct, or some other combination of medical errors. A claim can be filed against many medical professionals, including:
- Elderly care facilities
- Social workers
- Medical clinics
- Hospice centers
- Cosmetic surgeons
It is up to the injured party to provide proof that the injury occurred as a result of the accused’s action or negligence. It is up to the medical staff member to treat each patient properly. If the staff member does not live up to that level of care, negligence and injuries can be the result. If this is how an injury took place, a case of malpractice is likely to follow.
How Much Compensation Can an Injured Party Get If He or She Shares the Blame?
Mississippi is one of only 12 states that allow for an injured party to still get compensated if he or she is up to 99 percent at fault for the injury. If the injured party is 100 percent at fault, no compensation will occur. However, at 99 percent fault, the injured party could still get the remaining 1 percent of the award of the court from the accused.
An example of how this could work is if a pregnant woman is being seen by her doctor. The baby is born with an injury that could be partly due to a lack of oxygen during birth. If the mother is found to have been on drugs when the baby was born, the mother could be mostly at fault, but the provider she was seeing could still face a medical malpractice suit due to the lack of oxygen the baby endured.
It would be up to the court to decide if the mother was totally at fault or not. If the court found she was not 100 percent at fault, she could still get some compensation for the percentage of the injury that she did not cause. Many states cap the culpability of an injured party at 50 percent. If the injured party is over that, there will be no compensation.
What Is the Recovery Cap for Medical Negligence in Mississippi?
When a case comes back that the accused is guilty of medical malpractice, the caps then dictate some of what the injured party can receive. There are non-economic and monetary damages that an injured party can go after, but each cover different aspects of the injury and subsequent recovery. Monetary damages include coverage for things like:
- Lost wages due to the inability to work
- Medical bills to cover when the injury first took place, and any follow-up treatment the injured party required
- Prescription medications that the injured party needed to take to facilitate healing
- Nurses and therapists to help ease recovery
- Future medical bills to help allow for more healing, and ideally, a full recovery
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, involve coverage for the emotional side of the injury, including things like:
- Pain and suffering that came as a result of the injury
- Mental anguish for the injured person or his or her family if the injury caused death
- Loss of ability to enjoy living life
- Loss of future wages if the injury will not allow the injured party to return to his or her former job
- Loss of any type of missed promotions at work
- Loss of consortium, which is how someone went about his or her daily life, such as walking the dog, fixing the fence, or caring for his or her children
While rare, there can also be punitive damages that come as a result of a claim of medical malpractice. These are specifically meant to send a message to the accused not to make these mistakes again and are typically considered a financial punishment for his or her mistake. This happens only in cases of gross negligence, which means the medical professional went out of his or her way to act recklessly and willfully to the injured party or hid the injury through fraud. In these cases, the cap is $500,000.
Testimony From Expert Witnesses
One of the most valuable resources when filing a malpractice claim is what expert witnesses bring to the case. These experts establish the level of care a medical staff member should have used, what care was given based on evidence, and how that lack of care could have led to the injury. These witnesses work under similar circumstances as the accused, which gives them a perspective most others could not provide.
An expert can also attest that other staffers in the same basic circumstances would have treated the injured party differently, which means the injury would not have happened. Another part of the malpractice process in Mississippi is the Certificate of Consultation. This is a document that states the attorney representing the case has looked over each piece of evidence with some type of an expert in his or her field, and that the standard of care was not met. This expert needs to have relevant experience to make his or her testimony prudent to the case. Plus, it also needs to state that the evidence presented to the expert allows for the reasonable assumption that the case is not frivolously being filed.
The Nuances of a Medical Malpractice Claim in Mississippi
There are no pre-litigation requirements for a medical malpractice lawsuit at this time. Anyone that files a lawsuit can choose to go to trial, go through arbitration, or have mediation done in the case if he or she so chooses. To start a medical negligence case in Mississippi, the injured party first needs to file a Complaint and Summons that is served to the accused. Then, he or she must respond to these documents addressing the allegations and listing what defenses he or she plans to use to prove his or her innocence.
Cases begin by notifying every accused party that there is a medical malpractice suit about to be filed. This needs to be in writing, and include the basis of the lawsuit and the specific injury sustained. This must be served to the accused 60 days prior to filing the lawsuit.
In many instances, a settlement will be offered from the accused to the injured party before the case reaches civil court. If a settlement is not reached, next comes the formal complaint with the court’s clerk. This must include:
- Proper names of all accused parties in the case
- Statements that give the court permission to preside over the case
- Facts that back up the case
- A statement explaining how the injured can receive an award legally from the accused
- A demand for some type of resolution as the law would allow
From there, the court will issue a summons civilly that announces to the defendants that a lawsuit has been filed. This must be served to each defendant and responded to within 30 days. The response can be an admission of guilt or a denial statement that gets entered into court.
Next, it is time to investigate and gather evidence. This is the basis for all medical malpractice cases. The evidence necessary to win this type of case includes:
- Medical records that show everything surrounding the injury possible, including what the injured was being seen for and what treatment options have been sought out since
- Statements from everyone that witnessed any part of the injury
- Videos of the injury, including surveillance if there is any
- Photographs of the injury, ideally taken right away, and some as the healing has occurred showing its progress
Once the basic evidence is gathered, the next step is taking depositions from everyone involved in the case. These interviews are taken under oath, which makes them allowable in court. There is an attorney present for each side, so objections are an option if a question is inadmissible.
At this point, the medical malpractice lawyer is going to do whatever he or she can to bring about compensation for the injured party. Whether this means going to trial or negotiating a settlement, the lawyer is going to fight to get an amount that will ease the suffering this unexpected injury caused.
In Mississippi, a medical malpractice suit can be beneficial for the injured party. However, the only realistic way for an injured patient to get proper compensation is by hiring an experienced medical malpractice attorney. He or she will go to court and help bring the facts to light. That way, the accused is not as likely to injure another patient through neglect or misbehavior again. The injured party should take the time to find an attorney that he or she feels comfortable with. The better the attorney-client relationship is at the beginning, the stronger the bond will be as the case moves forward in the future.