Mississippi Negligence Laws
Negligence can be a confusing legal concept. In basic terms, negligence is when a person acts carelessly and his or her actions harm someone else. Some of the common examples of negligence are car accidents and slip-and-fall accidents, such as uneven flooring in heavily trafficked areas or wet floors. These are accidents, but ones where a person or company can be found at fault, at least partially, because they weren't acting at the standard of care expected of them.
This article provides a general overview of negligence laws in the state of Mississippi.
Contributory and Comparative Negligence
State laws were developed to regulate negligence. The two main negligence legal doctrines are comparative negligence and contributory negligence. Few states still have the traditional contributory negligence, where any fault on the part of the plaintiff will prevent them from recovering for their losses, even if they were only 1% at fault and the defendant was 99% at fault. Fortunately for plaintiffs, most states, Mississippi included, no longer have this harsh negligence regime and have moved on to using comparative negligence.
Comparative negligence allows a plaintiff to recover even if they were partially at fault. The two types of comparative negligence are pure and modified. In a state with “pure" comparative negligence, the claimant can collect from a defendant, even if they were found 99% at fault by the judge or jury. The defendant would still be liable for their 1% fault. Mississippi has a pure comparative negligence system. This means that you can still recover damages even if you are 99% at fault for your injuries.
In a “modified comparative fault" court system, used by the majority of states now, the plaintiff only recovers if they are found less than 50% or 51% at fault. The exact percentage depends on the laws of the state.
Contribution Among Defendants
Defendants usually pay the amount corresponding to the percentage of fault the judge or jury assigns to them. However, sometimes a defendant can't be collected against, either because they are poor and have no assets or the defendant is an immune government entity like a public school (but understands that's not always true!). In some states, a wealthy defendant may have to cover the portion of a judgment-proof or immune defendant. In Mississippi, defendants typically only have to pay for the percentage of fault for which the judge or jury found them responsible, unless the tortfeasors acted in concert (or together) to commit the act or intentionally committed the act.
Mississippi Negligence Laws: At a Glance
The table below outlines the negligence laws in Mississippi.
|Mississippi Code Sections 11-7-15: Contributory Negligence No Bar to Recovery of Damages, Jury May Reduce Damages and 85-5-7: Limitation of Joint & Several Liability, Contribution Between Joint Tortfeasors|
|Mississippi is a pure comparative negligence state where the plaintiff can recover from a defendant or defendants no matter how at fault the plaintiff was|
|Contributory negligence isn't a bar to recovering damages or financial losses from an accident or injury caused by negligence. However, the compensation a plaintiff receives is reduced by the amount he or she was considered negligent|
Contribution Among Tortfeasors
|Generally, a “tortfeasor" (defendant found liable for causing the “tort" or injury) is only responsible for the percentage of fault that was attributed to him or her. However, if the tortious acts were intentional or or two or more defendants acted collectively to commit the tort, then the defendants are “jointly and severally liable" and they can seek contribution for the damages they have paid from other tortfeasors.|
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Get Legal Help with Your Negligence Claim in Mississippi
Mississippi has complex personal injury laws. Finding a Mississippi attorney who understands Mississippi's tortfeasor contribution rules and Mississippi's pure comparative negligence statute can ensure that you maximize your financial award.
If you're dealing with a personal injury matter that you think may merit compensation, it's a good idea to contact a local personal injury attorney who will know how Mississippi negligence laws will affect your case.
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