You have sustained serious injuries caused by the careless actions of others and are now considering filing a personal injury lawsuit. One of the first questions on many people’s minds is how long they have to do this. Under the statute of limitations enforced by Mississippi law, you have three years from the date of the accident to sue the responsible party. This is true even if you didn’t connect your injuries to the accident until sometime later, which often happens with whiplash and muscle and tissue injuries.
Injured people also want to know what to expect when filing an injury claim and how much money they might be able to recover. While an experienced personal injury attorney can only provide a general estimate on the second question, they are usually very happy to explain the process to you, so you feel confident moving forward.
What You Need to Know About Mississippi’s Comparative Fault Rule
You shouldn’t feel surprised if the other party claims that you’re fully or partially responsible for causing your own injuries. Many people don’t want to accept responsibility for their actions or face the financial consequences of them. However, he or she still needs to prove it. If you do share any responsibility, Mississippi enforces a pure comparative negligence rule. That means the judge can reduce the amount of your lawsuit proceeds based on your percentage of fault.
The First Step: Meeting with a Personal Injury Attorney
Even when you possibly share some blame for causing your injuries, that doesn’t prevent you from filing a lawsuit to collect damages. In some cases, the divide can be as small as the plaintiff sharing one percent of the responsibility. After deciding to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you should meet with a personal injury attorney to discuss your case. Almost all personal injury lawyers offer free consultations, so you pay nothing for this initial meeting.
We recommend that you come prepared to make the most of this appointment. Gather as much information about your accident as possible, including locating a copy of the original accident report, names and addresses of witnesses, and copies of medical expenses. The attorney you meet with will ask you detailed questions about the accident, your injuries, and how the actions of the other party affect you today. Once the attorney has a clear picture of what took place, they will recommend whether you should proceed with the lawsuit.
Gathering Evidence and Presenting the Lawsuit
The next step is for your lawyer to start collecting evidence to prove that the accident occurred as you said it did. This involves reviewing medical records and the accident report as well as interviewing witnesses at the scene. It could also include working with an accident reconstruction specialist or another type of expert witness. We call this the discovery stage and it typically takes the longest of any part of your claim.
When your attorney feels confident that they have gathered enough information in the discovery phase, it’s time to present the other party with your lawsuit. They typically hire a process server to hand-deliver the notice of legal action. This person also obtains a signature from the recipient of the lawsuit to prove that he or she did in fact receive it. The defendant to the lawsuit then has 30 days to respond.
Negotiating Your Settlement
If the other party doesn’t respond to the legal notice of lawsuit, you win the case by default. It’s more likely that he or she will also hire a lawyer to fight or negotiate the settlement. The best-case scenario is that the defendant admits fault and his or her insurance company offers you a fair settlement. Unfortunately, it’s not common.
Defendants in lawsuits tend to argue their innocence or their insurance agent offers a settlement far too low to meet your needs. Your attorney would take your personal injury case to court in that situation and allow a judge and jury to decide.
How is Pain and Suffering Calculated After an Accident in Mississippi?
Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be truly devastating. Bills for medical treatments will begin to pile up, and victims may find themselves unable to work for a period of time, or unable to return to work at all, leading to serious difficulties in covering costs for even the basic necessities, such as food and shelter.
Fortunately, with the help of a skilled personal injury attorney, Mississippi car accident victims will likely be able to quantify the amount of economic damages they have incurred and recover this compensation through a claim or lawsuit. Because these damages all have a related price tag, such as the cost of a medical procedure, or the amount of wages lost due to not being able to work, very little can be done to debate the amount reached through calculation.
But what about non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and the decrease in quality of life? How are these damages calculated in the aftermath of a serious car accident in Mississippi?
In general, it is far more difficult to determine the true cost of pain and suffering and other non-economic damages in the wake of a car accident in Mississippi. As such, if you have been injured, it is imperative that you reach out to a dedicated attorney immediately for assistance with your case.
Non-Economic Damages in Mississippi Car Accidents
As mentioned above, economic damages that are incurred after a car accident are those that have an associated price tag, such as medical bills and lost wages. And, in turn, non-economic damages are those that cannot be quantified, but still have a serious effect on the victim, such as loss of enjoyment of life or loss of consortium.
In general, non-economic damages are often simply termed pain and suffering and are a common occurrence after an accident. But how is it possible to put a number on this experience?
Overall, there are a number of different methods that may be used to determine a full calculation of pain and suffering damages, although two are generally utilized more than the rest: a per diem method and a multiplier method.
- Per diem method: The per diem method, which simply means “per day,” uses a daily rate of damages to determine how much an accident victim should be awarded. For example, if the victim earns, on average, $100 per day at their job, and they are forced to wear a cast and experience significant pain for 50 working days, they may be awarded $5,000 in pain and suffering. Of course, the daily amount may be modified for a variety of reasons.
- Multiplier method: In other cases, pain and suffering may be calculated using a multiplier, often between 1 and 5, based on the severity of the injury. For example, if an accident victim broke their leg in an accident and incurred $5,000 in medical bills, they may be awarded a multiplier of 3, and, in turn, recover $15,000 in additional non-economic damages. Of course, less serious injuries will have a smaller multiplier, and more serious injuries, including those that lead to permanent disabilities, will generally lead to greater awards.
How to Ensure You Recover the Compensation that You Deserve
Because damages for pain and suffering are incredibly difficult to quantify, many insurance companies will do as much as possible to deny you of your right to recover compensation. And in light of this, it is imperative that you take all precautions necessary to guarantee you are fully compensated for your injuries.
To begin, make sure that you attend all required doctor’s visits, and comply with suggestions made by any medical professionals. Failure to do so can be used as evidence by an insurance company that your pain and suffering is not truly that significant. Furthermore, consider keeping a “pain journal,” a daily record of the suffering you experience as you recover from your injuries. Even a simple daily amount of pain that you feel can be used as supporting evidence in your case.
These are only a handful of the many actions you should take (and avoid taking) in the aftermath of a car accident. And because recovering compensation for an accident is so complex, it is imperative that you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to get started on your case. Evidence has a tendency to disappear rapidly over time, and the sooner you get an attorney involved, the better your chances of obtaining the full and fair compensation you deserve.
Take the first step now by contacting a skilled and knowledgeable Mississippi personal injury attorney to discuss your case.