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Some important things to know about wrongful death suits

If a family member has died because of the actions or negligence of a person or entity, you may be able to seek compensation and justice through a wrongful death suit whether there is a criminal case or not. Even if the deceased person didn't contribute to the family income, you can seek damages.

You're not likely to get as much money as you would if the loss of a loved one's income would impact the family's financial situation. However, you may be able to seek compensation for your loved one's and your family's pain and suffering.

Wrongful death suits are filed in cases involving young children, elderly people and parents and spouses who don't work outside the home all the time. In fact, here in Mississippi, you can even file a wrongful death suit on behalf of an unborn child. State law allows these suits for what is called a "quick child." That's a fetus who has become developed to the point where it would be able to move if it weren't in the mother's womb.

This year, Mississippi changed the law regarding wrongful death actions. They no longer have to be filed through a deceased person's estate. Spouses, parents, children and siblings can file a suit without having to go through the Chancery Court where estates are handled -- whether the deceased person's "estate" had any assets or not.

The state representative who championed the legislation says this makes it easier and less expensive for families to seek justice in civil court for their loved ones. The representative, who's also an attorney, notes that a wrongful death suit is "not an estate matter."

If you believe that you may have grounds for a wrongful death suit, it's best to consult an attorney sooner rather than later. You want to take the necessary steps before the statute of limitations expires.

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