MISSISSIPPI’S MALPRACTICE STATUTES

1 31 14 139The current statutory requirements in Mississippi applicable to medical malpractice cases are set out in Miss. Code. Ann. §§ 11-1-58, 11-1-59, 11-1-60 and 15-1-36. Through these statutes the Mississippi legislature has provided physicians and hospitals with special protections while making it more difficult and more expensive for patients to receive compensation when they are harmed by medical negligence.

Who do these statutes cover?

All licensed physicians, osteopaths, dentists, hospitals, institutions for the aged or infirm, nurses, pharmacists, podiatrists, optometrists or chiropractors for any claims arising out of the course of medical, surgical or other professional services.

How long do I have to file a lawsuit?

When your claim involves private health care providers, you normally have to file a lawsuit within two (2) years from the date of the alleged negligence. If you were not immediately aware that you were harmed by negligence, the time does not start to run until the date the negligence was or should have been discovered through the exercise of reasonable diligence. With only a few exceptions you may not file a lawsuit more than seven (7) years after the alleged act, omission or neglect occurred. Some of these exceptions include:

  1. foreign object is left in a patient’s body;
  2. the negligence has been fraudulently concealed;
  3. the injured person is six (6) years of age or younger;
  4. an injured minor does not have a parent or legal guardian; and,
  5. the injured person is under the disability of unsoundness of mind;

The statute of limitations for a health care professional employed by a government entity or agency is only one (1) year. Because of the complexity of many medical cases, the actual start date of the legislatively enacted limitations period requires a case-by-case analysis by an experienced Mississippi attorney.

How do I find out if I have a claim?

If you suspect that you have been harmed as a result of the failure to provide proper medical care, you must exercise due diligence in determining whether you have a claim. Therefore, if you have questions about the quality of the medical care you received; you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

Is pre-lawsuit notice required?

A medical malpractice lawsuit may only be filed after you have given all defendants at least sixty (60) days’ prior written notice. To comply with this requirement, there must be a good faith effort to provide a written notice indicating (1) the intent to bring suit, (2) the legal basis for the suit, and (3) the nature of the damages suffered, with any medical injuries described with specificity. No notice is required with respect to any defendant whose name is unknown at the time of filing the complaint and who is identified therein by a fictitious name.

How is the pre-suit notice delivered?

Rule 5 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil procedure controls service of the pre-suit notice. Rule 5 states that “every written notice” shall be served by “mailing it to [an attorney or party] at his last known address,” and that “service by mail is complete upon mailing.”

What must be included with the Complaint?

According Miss. Code. Ann. § 11-1-58, the complaint must include a certificate executed by the patient’s lawyer that verifies certain facts as well as the fact that the lawyer has determined that there is a reasonable basis for filing the lawsuit after consulting with a qualified expert familiar with the standard of care.

What may not be included in the Complaint?

According to Miss. Code. Ann. § 11-1-59, the complaint or counterclaim shall not specify the amount of damages claimed, but shall only state that the damages claimed are within the jurisdictional limits of the court.

Is there a limitation on the amount of damages that can be awarded?

According to Miss. Code Ann. §11-1-60, the plaintiff shall not be awarded more than Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000.00) for non-economic damages.

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