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Comparative liability in Mississippi lawsuits

Mississippi residents who have been involved in a motor vehicle accident will likely know that motorists who crash are rarely eager to admit that they were at fault. While the causes of some accidents may be clear, others are far more challenging for law enforcement officers, personal injury attorneys and the courts to untangle.

In a few states, including Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia, plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits are precluded from collecting any damages if they are determined to have contributed to their injury, loss or damage in any way. In 1910, Mississippi became the first U.S. state to pass a comparative negligence law. In states like Mississippi, New York and California, plaintiffs may still be able to collect modest damages even if they were largely responsible for causing the accident that injured them under the pure comparative fault doctrine.

While Mississippi residents may collect damages even if their injuries were suffered largely as a result of their own behavior, the damages that they will be awarded will be reduced according to their percentage of fault. For example, a Mississippi motorist who would have been awarded damages of $200,000 in a car accident lawsuit had they been faultless would be awarded $140,000 if the court determined that they bore 30 percent of the responsibility for the crash.

The comparative fault law can lead to highly contentious court arguments in personal injury cases, and this is particularly true when the evidence indicates that the plaintiff could have avoided injury entirely had they acted differently. Defendants may argue that cases should be dismissed or damages reduced if the plaintiff was not wearing a seat belt or failed to take evasive action. Experienced attorneys may anticipate these strategies and prepare for them by gathering data such as police reports, witness statements and security camera footage.

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