If you're thinking about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Mississippi, there are a number of state laws that could have an impact on the outcome of your claim. These cases are typically extremely complicated, and you'll almost always need the help of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. But it's also useful to understand the basics before you get started. Read on for some highlights of Mississippi's medical malpractice laws, including:
All states have laws called "statutes of limitations" that set time limits for getting a lawsuit filed in the state's civil court system. Like most other states, Mississippi has a specific statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases. Under Mississippi law, you have two years from the date of the alleged malpractice, or from the date "with reasonable diligence" you might have first known about or discovered the malpractice.
However, Mississippi also has what's called a "statute of repose" that applies to medical malpractice cases. This law says that no medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed more than seven years from the date of the underlying medical error—even if you couldn't have discovered the malpractice during those seven years. The only exceptions to the seven-year deadline are for cases based on a foreign object left in the patient's body during a surgical or medical procedure, or when the health care provider "fraudulently concealed" the malpractice. In those situations, the two-year "clock" starts running when the patient discovers, or "with "reasonable diligence" should have discovered, the malpractice.
No matter which time limit applies to your case, it's important to know that statutes of limitations are always strictly enforced. If you miss the deadline and try to file the case anyway, the defendant (the health care provider you're trying to sue) will almost certainly ask the court to dismiss the lawsuit as time-barred, and the court will almost certainly do so. At that point, you will have lost any right for the court to hear your case.
Note that this is just a general outline of Mississippi's statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims. The state also has specific rules for cases involving young children and people "under the disability of unsoundness of mind." For all of Mississippi's filing deadlines for this type of case, see Miss. Code § 15-1-36.
As part of broader tort-reform efforts, many states have passed laws requiring potential plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases to provide some type of proof of the health care provider's medical negligence at the beginning of the case, often in the form of a document called a "certificate of merit." In particular, Mississippi has laws requiring a prospective medical malpractice plaintiff to notify the potential defendant before filing the lawsuit and to obtain and file a "certificate of expert consultation." We'll discuss the basics of those requirements here. But note that this process can be quite complex. For questions about how these rules might apply to your specific situation, it could be time to check with a qualified medical malpractice attorney.
Under Mississippi law, a prospective plaintiff in a medical malpractice case must give 60-days' notice to the defendant health care provider of their intent to file the lawsuit. The law doesn't mandate a specific form for the notice, but it must:
If the plaintiff sends the notice within 60 days of the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations, the filing deadline can be extended for another 60 days from the date the notice is delivered.
(Miss. Code § 15-1-36 (2022).)
Mississippi law also states that, in almost all cases, the complaint (the document that starts the lawsuit) must be accompanied by a "certificate of expert consultation," executed by the injured patient's attorney, declaring that:
The law provides a few exceptions to this requirement, but only in certain situations—such as when three "good faith attempts" fail to gain a consultation with an expert. And the certificate isn't required for cases where the health care provider's error can "speak for itself" or when the case is based on the lack of a patient's "informed consent."
(Miss. Code § 11-1-58 (2022).)
Mississippi "caps" (limits) the amount of noneconomic damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice cases at $500,000. Noneconomic damages are "subjective" damages that are hard to quantify with a specific dollar amount. Mississippi's definition of noneconomic damages includes losses such as pain and suffering, physical impairment, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and embarrassment.
On the other hand, economic damages, such as compensation for lost wages, lost earning capacity, and the costs of past or future medical care, are not affected by the damage cap. There are no limits on the amount of economic damages that can be awarded in a Mississippi medical malpractice case.
(Miss. Code § 11-1-60 (2022).)