How are Damages Calculated in a Mississippi Personal Injury Case

An injury suffered in an accident that was due, at least in part, to another person’s negligence or reckless actions, can result in a claim for damages in Mississippi.

A serious injury can radically impact one’s health, well-being, and financial situation. Claims for injuries that have had a major effect on one’s life may involve significant sums.

But what exactly is the victim entitled to and how are claims calculated?

Under Mississippi law, victims may receive compensation for several types of damages: economic, non-economic and punitive damages. Let’s take a closer look at what these are and how damages are usually calculated in personal injury cases.

What is the purpose of personal injury compensation?

An individual injured in an accident due to the negligent or reckless actions of another party should not have to bear the full brunt of the impact on his or her life.

Mississippi law recognizes this and allows injured parties to claim compensation from the at-fault party. The purpose is to “make the plaintiff whole.” This means that the compensation awarded attempts to return the injured party to the same position in which they would have been without the injury ever occurring.

While financial compensation alone rarely makes up for the loss of quality of one’s life, adequate damages can at least reduce the financial burden on the individuals concerned.

What damages are available in a Mississippi injury case?

Most personal injury settlements are paid by the at-fault party’s insurer — but it can be challenging for victims to recover what they’re entitled to without assistance from an experienced personal injury lawyer.

The type(s) of compensation you can claim vary depending on the nature of your accident, the severity of your injuries, the financial losses you’ve incurred and more.

Two basic types of compensation are available under Mississippi law: compensatory damages and punitive damages.

Compensatory damages are the most commonly awarded type. They are intended to reimburse expenses incurred as a result of the injury, as well as the pain and suffering experienced:

  • Special damages (economic damages): compensation recovered from financial losses, including past, present and future medical expenses, lost income, property damage, the cost of home renovations to accommodate a new disability and diminished earning capacity (includes wages lost in the past or future).
  • General damages (non-economic damages): compensation received for the mental anguish caused by the injury, such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, etc. These damages are often contested by insurance companies, which attempt to get plaintiffs to settle for less than they are entitled to (sometimes prompting a lawsuit to be filed on behalf of the plaintiff).

Punitive damages may occasionally be awarded by Mississippi judges to punish defendants and deter them (and others) from being similarly reckless or negligent in the future. They are sometimes referred to as “exemplary” damages.

These damages can involve significant amounts, but such cases are rare in Mississippi. Most ordinary ”negligence” accidents, such as those caused by distracted driving or a slip and fall injury from a wet floor don’t qualify.

Punitive damages are generally reserved for cases with “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious, involving a willful, wanton, or reckless disregard for the safety of others.

How are damages calculated in personal injury cases?

It is common in Mississippi to adopt a “multiplier method” to determine how much compensation a plaintiff is entitled to in personal injury cases.

This first entails calculating the total economic damage incurred. In other words, you need to work out the amounts of the following types of economic expenses (plus others if appropriate):

  • Medical expenses (including transport to and from medical facilities)
  • Lost income
  • Other measurable economic losses like property damage
  • Modifications around the home to accommodate your accident-related injuries

The total figure is then multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5, depending on how serious the injuries are. For plaintiffs able to make a full recovery from their injuries, the multiplier will be at the lower end of the range while life-changing injury costs might be multiplied by five.

The final figure would account for all compensatory damages, including general damages (pain and suffering).

The multiplier method can offer a good indication of damages in personal injury cases but if the case goes to trial, a judge or jury will determine the final amounts awarded.

No cap exists for the amount of compensation recoverable in personal injury cases in Mississippi.

Can I recover damages even if I’m partially at fault?

Mississippi’s pure comparative negligence laws mean that you may be able to claim damages for your injuries even if you were partly at fault for the accident that caused them — even if your share of the fault was greater than 50 percent.

However, the damages awarded are reduced in proportion to your share of the fault.

For instance, say you’re awarded $150,000 in compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you are also deemed to be one-third responsible for the accident, you will receive a total of $100,000 from the claim.

Many accidents involving multiple vehicles have several at-fault parties and settlements can become complicated.

In addition to the potential complexity of claims, bear in mind the strict time limits imposed for claiming compensation in Mississippi…

Don’t delay your claim for damages

An injured party has three years from the date of the incident that caused their personal injuries in which to take legal action. While this may sound like a lengthy period, it sometimes takes considerable time to assess the full extent and impact of injuries.

It’s best to contact a personal injury as soon as possible after your accident so that the necessary legal action can be taken promptly and communications with the insurance company can begin.

If you’re in the Biloxi area of Mississippi, contact a personal injury attorney at Rushing & Guice, PLLC for legal advice and assistance with pursuing a claim. Call us at (228) 374-2313 or contact us online

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