In a Mississippi negligence action, a plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant owed a duty to commit an act or refrain from committing an act; the defendant breached this duty; the breach of the duty caused an injury to the plaintiff; the defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of the injury and the plaintiff suffered damages.
Pure Comparative Negligence
Mississippi follows a pure comparative negligence standard per Miss. Code Ann. § 11-7-15, which means a plaintiff is able to recover from a defendant whose negligence contributed to his injuries, even if a trier of fact deems that the plaintiff contributed to his own injuries. However, after assigning a percentage of fault to a plaintiff for an injury, a court will reduce a plaintiff’s damages in proportion to that percentage.
For example, if a court finds that a plaintiff’s negligence was even as high as 99%, and a defendant’s fault was found to have been 1%, the plaintiff will still be able to recover 1% of the total damage award rendered by the court.
To prove the percentage of fault that should be attributed to the plaintiff, the defendant needs to prove that the negligent acts of the plaintiff were the cause of his own injuries.
Joint and Several Liability
Mississippi has abolished joint and several liability. Miss. Code. Ann. § 85-5-7(2) states that in a civil action, each tortfeasor is liable only for damages allocated to him in direct proportion to the percentage of fault attributed by a court.
Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for injuries suffered as a result of the negligence of the defendant(s). The award is meant to restore the plaintiff – as much as possible – to the condition they were in prior to the injury occurring.
Compensatory damages may reimburse the plaintiff for out-of-pocket expenses for items such as medical expenses in addition to an award for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of opportunity, and loss of future income.
In Mississippi, damages for personal injury are sought by petitioning a state court for compensatory damages under Miss. Code Ann. § 11-1-69
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant rather than to compensate the plaintiff.
In Mississippi, punitive damages may not be awarded if the claimant does not prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant against whom punitive damages are sought acted with actual malice, gross negligence which evidences a willful, wanton or reckless disregard for the safety of others, or committed actual fraud.
In determining whether the award is excessive, the following factors are taken into consideration:
1. Whether there is a reasonable relationship between the punitive damage award and the harm likely to result from the defendant’s conduct as well as the harm that actually occurred;
2. The degree of reprehensibility of the defendant’s conduct, the duration of that conduct, the defendant’s awareness, any concealment, and the existence and frequency of similar past conduct;
3. The financial condition and net worth of the defendant; and
4. In mitigation, the imposition of criminal sanctions on the defendant for its conduct and the existence of other civil awards against the defendant for the same conduct.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Mississippi. Should you have a question/concern specific to Mississippi law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Mississippi.