Say you've been injured in Mississippi—maybe by a careless driver, a negligent doctor, or on dangerous property—and you're thinking of bringing a personal injury (PI) claim or lawsuit. Before you do, take a few minutes to learn about some of the Mississippi laws that are likely to apply to your case.
Among other things, we'll explain lawsuit filing deadlines, the special steps involved in suing the government, what happens if you're partly to blame for your injuries, and more.
Mississippi, like every state, has deadlines called "statutes of limitations" that limit your time to file a personal injury lawsuit in court. Typically, the limitation clock starts running on the date you were injured—provided that you knew about your injury when it happened.
If you don't discover your injury until sometime after it happened, Mississippi's "discovery rule" might give you more time to file suit. Under the discovery rule, the limitation clock doesn't begin running until you discover your injury, or you should have discovered it had you been reasonably diligent.
Most personal injury cases. In most Mississippi PI cases, you have three years to file a lawsuit in court. (Miss. Code § 15-1-49(1) (2023).)
What happens if you don't file your case before the statute of limitations expires? If there's no rule extending the limitation period (see below), your right to sue is lost, forever. (See Miss. Code § 15-1-3(1) (2023).)
Someone intentionally harms you. When someone deliberately causes you harm, the law calls that an "intentional tort." Under Miss. Code § 15-1-35 (2023), you've got one year to file a lawsuit if you were injured by one of these intentional torts:
Medical malpractice. Mississippi's medical malpractice statute of limitations is complex and can be difficult to follow. If you're wondering how long you have to file a medical malpractice case in court, you should consult with an experienced lawyer right away.
As a general rule, you must file your malpractice lawsuit within two years after the earlier of:
Regardless of when (or if) you discover it, you can't sue more than seven years after the date the malpractice happened. This rule, called a "statute of repose," has two exceptions. You might be able to file more than seven years later if:
(Miss. Code § 15-1-36(2) (2023).)
Finally, note that you're not allowed to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Mississippi unless you first satisfy the state's pre-suit notice requirement. At least 60 days before you file your case in court, you must give the party you intend to sue (the "defendant") written notice of your intent.
(See Miss. Code § 15-1-36(15) (2023).)
Can the limitation period be extended? Sometimes, yes. Mississippi law might allow the statute of limitations to be "tolled" (temporarily paused) or extended in one of these circumstances:
Special rules apply if you want to sue Mississippi or a Mississippi local government for personal injuries. For starters, you have to send the government written notice of your claim. You're allowed to sue if the government denies your claim, but you'll need to act very quickly.
At least 90 days before you sue the government—state or local—you must provide written notice of your claim, by certified or registered mail, to the chief executive officer of the government entity you're planning to sue. The statute details what your notice must include.
(See Miss. Code § 11-46-11 (2023).)
After you give notice, you must wait while the government considers your claim. During this waiting period, the statute of limitations (see below) is tolled for 95 days. You're allowed to sue after the first of these to occur:
Keep in mind: Filing a notice of claim isn't the same as suing the government. After your claim is denied, if you still want to sue, you must file a lawsuit in court.
The Mississippi statute of limitations for suits against the government is very short—just one year from the date you were injured. This limitation period can be extended when the plaintiff is a minor or is legally disabled. (Miss. Code § 11-46-11(3) (2023).)
In a typical personal injury case, you must prove that the defendant was negligent in order to recover compensation (what the law calls "damages") for your injuries. Quite often, the defendant will claim that you, too, were negligent and that your negligence should reduce the damages you can collect.
This legal defense is called "comparative negligence," and it's available in Mississippi.
Mississippi's comparative negligence rule. Mississippi has adopted a "pure" comparative negligence rule. As long as you're not 100% to blame for an accident, you can still collect damages for your injuries. Your percentage share of the total negligence simply reduces the damages you can recover. (Miss. Code § 11-7-15 (2023).)
A personal injury case is a kind of civil lawsuit. It will be controlled by Mississippi law and a variety of Mississippi court rules. For example, you'll need to be familiar with the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. These rules are complex and difficult to understand. Your best chance for success will come from hiring an experienced Mississippi personal injury attorney to handle your case.
Where to file your case. Most personal injury lawsuits are filed in the Mississippi Circuit Court. Specifically, you'll likely file your case in the circuit court for the county where the defendant lives. If the defendant is a corporation, you'll probably file in the county where the corporation has its principal place of business. When the defendant doesn't live in Mississippi, you can file in the circuit court for the county where you live. (See Miss. Code § 11-11-3(1) (2023).)
How to file your case. You start a civil lawsuit by filing a complaint with the clerk of the court. (Miss. R. Civ. Proc. 3 (2023).) Generally speaking, in separately numbered paragraphs your complaint should describe:
When you file your case, you'll need to pay the filing fee. You also must pay a cost deposit. If you can't afford to pay, you can ask the court to waive fees and costs. (See Miss. Code § 11-53-17 (2023), Miss. R. Civ. Proc. 3(c) (2023).)
Once you file your case, the court clerk will issue a summons for the defendant. You'll need to make arrangements to serve the defendant with a copy of the complaint and a summons. If you don't serve a defendant within 120 days of filing, the court can dismiss them from the case. (See Miss. R. Civ. Proc. 4) (2023).)
A number of states—Mississippi included—have enacted limits (sometimes called "caps") on damages in personal injury cases. Mississippi caps:
Noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages compensate you for injuries like pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, and similar losses. In a PI case involving moderate or severe injuries, these damages are likely to be substantial.
In medical malpractice cases, noneconomic damages are capped at $500,000. In all other cases, they're capped at $1,000,000. If the case is tried by a jury, the jury can't be told about the caps. (Miss. Code § 11-1-60 (2023).)
Punitive damages. Punitive damages don't compensate you for your injuries. Instead, they punish the defendant for malicious conduct or gross negligence.
Mississippi law caps punitive damages based on the defendant's net worth. For example, punitive damages are capped at 3% of net worth for defendants whose net worth is $50 million or less. Different amounts or percentages are applied as the defendant's net worth increases. (See Miss. Code § 11-1-65 (2023).)
Because punitive damages rarely are awarded in PI cases, this cap isn't likely to impact your lawsuit.
Cases against the government. In a lawsuit against the government or its employees, all damages for all claims are capped at $500,000. You can't get punitive damages, and attorney's fees aren't recoverable unless they're specifically authorized by law. (Miss. Code § 11-46-15 (2023).)
If you're looking for legal advice that's tailored to your situation, talk to a personal injury lawyer in your area. You can also learn more about personal injury lawsuits, settlements, alternatives to resolving your case in court, and more:
- Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
- Determining Fault in a Personal Injury Case
- What Are Mediation and Arbitration?
- Tips for Getting the Best Personal Injury Settlement
- The Cost of Taking Your Personal Injury Case to Court
- The Deposition in a Personal Injury Case
- Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer or Handle Your Own Claim?
- Common Kinds of Personal Injury Cases