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In 2021, a Hinds County judge ruled in favor of a Flowood clinic patient who suffered severe complications after an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. The patient was awarded $6.1 million in damages to reflect the gravity of their injuries, which included a collapsed lung and a damaged pancreas.

The medical malpractice case hinged on the doctor's failure to obtain informed consent from the patient before proceeding with the ERCP. An ERCP is a complex diagnostic procedure that combines an endoscope and X-rays to examine the bile ducts and pancreas. Due to its inherent risks, it is crucial for healthcare providers to thoroughly explain its potential complications and obtain the patient's explicit consent before performing it.

While the $6.1 million award may suggest that medical malpractice cases in Mississippi typically result in significant compensation, this is not the norm. Data from January 2012 to June 2022 indicates that Mississippi paid $201.01 million in medical malpractice settlements. This figure is lower than that of neighboring Louisiana, which awarded over $640 million to plaintiffs during the same period.

Understanding the intricacies of medical malpractice law in Mississippi is essential for individuals who wish to pursue legal action against healthcare providers. As such, this article will discuss the eligibility criteria for filing a lawsuit, the applicable deadlines, and the associated expenses.

What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice in Mississippi?

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional's actions or omissions deviate from the accepted standards of care, resulting in harm or death to a patient. This can manifest in various ways, including:

  • Retained foreign objects: Surgical errors can lead to the inadvertent retention of surgical sponges, bandages, or other foreign objects within a patient's body. This risk is particularly elevated during surgeries involving excessive blood loss.

  • Concealed malpractice: Instances have arisen where healthcare professionals withhold crucial information from patients to avoid repercussions. In one such case, a doctor failed to inform a patient about a detected kidney mass, attributing their symptoms to digestive issues. This negligent act delayed the patient's diagnosis and treatment, allowing the mass to progress into cancer.

  • Inaccurate diagnoses: Erroneous diagnoses can have severe consequences for patients. Failure to accurately identify an ailment can lead to inappropriate or delayed treatment, potentially worsening the patient's condition.

  • Wrong prescriptions: Prescribing incorrect medications or dosages can harm patients. Thus, healthcare professionals must exercise utmost care, ensuring that the drugs they prescribe are appropriate for the patient and do not interact with any existing medication.

There is no distinction in Mississippi law between healthcare-related negligence and malpractice. Nevertheless, the two are not synonymous

  • Medical negligence refers to actions a healthcare provider takes that fall short of the standard of care seen in other providers. Misdiagnosis is one example.

  • Medical malpractice, on the other hand, involves a deliberate or reckless disregard for the patient's safety. It typically results in significant harm or injury. 

Not all instances of medical negligence constitute malpractice. This means healthcare providers may defend their actions by proving that their decisions did not directly cause harm to the patient.

Who Can You Sue for Medical Malpractice in Mississippi?

Under Mississippi law, multiple parties may be held accountable in a medical malpractice lawsuit. These include: 

  • Nurses. 

  • Dentists.

  • Hospitals. 

  • Podiatrists.

  • Physicians. 

  • Osteopaths.

  • Pharmacists. 

  • Optometrists. 

  • Chiropractors. 

  • Institutions for the aged or infirm. 

Keep in mind that hospitals are typically not liable for the negligent actions of medical professionals working as independent contractors unless they explicitly represent themselves as the service provider.


In Mississippi, some healthcare providers are shielded from medical malpractice lawsuits in specific situations. These include physicians, physician assistants, dentists, and certified nurse practitioners if they provide medical care without expecting payment. This immunity applies when there is a written waiver between the patient and the healthcare provider.

Outpatient medical clinics operated by churches are also exempt from liability. A clinic must only serve patients who cannot afford to pay for services and must receive less than $40,000 annually in patient payments. Note that plaintiffs can still sue these healthcare providers if they act with gross or willful negligence.

Sovereign immunity protects government-run hospitals and their employees from lawsuits. However, like those who perform charitable work, public employees may face claims for actions considered to be gross negligence or intentional misconduct.

In specific circumstances, individuals, hospitals, and clinics are not legally responsible for injuries resulting from chemical tests administered during DUI arrests. These qualified personnel include phlebotomists, doctors, and nurses.

Similarly, individuals who provide emergency medical assistance to those in need have legal protection from lawsuits, provided they act in good faith and exercise reasonable care. Nevertheless, liability may arise if the actions taken to assist individuals result in harm due to wanton misconduct or gross negligence.

Medical Malpractice Liability Insurance Requirements

While Mississippi does not mandate medical malpractice insurance for healthcare providers, certain hospitals and insurers may demand it as a prerequisite for admitting patients.

Given the significant risk of malpractice lawsuits, medical malpractice liability insurance is essential for healthcare practitioners. Over 30% of physicians have faced at least one lawsuit during their careers, with male practitioners facing a higher risk than their female counterparts. In line with this, medical specialties in Mississippi heavily represented by men — like dentistry — have an increased risk of malpractice claims.

Before the 2002 reforms, insurance premiums in the Magnolia State were exceedingly high, leading to physician shortages in certain regions. Mississippi lawmakers passed bills to address this issue that capped some damages and increased lawsuit requirements. Despite these measures, the state ranks second lowest in the nation in active physicians per 100,000 population, with a rate of 203.7.

What Is the Statute of Limitations in Mississippi for Medical Malpractice Cases?

In Mississippi, medical malpractice claims must be filed within two years of when the injury was or should have been discovered. This applies to wrongful death cases as well. However, there are some exceptions to this two-year deadline:

  • If a child below the age of six is harmed by medical malpractice, their parents or guardians can file a claim on their behalf within two years of the child's sixth birthday or death, whichever comes first.

  • If a minor does not have a parent or legal guardian, a claim can be filed on their behalf within two years of them passing away or acquiring a parent or legal guardian, whichever comes first.

  • If an individual is mentally incapacitated due to medical malpractice, a claim can be filed on their behalf within two years of the individual dying or regaining mental capacity, whichever comes first.

In addition to the two-year deadline, Mississippi has a seven-year statute of repose. This means that a medical malpractice lawsuit cannot be filed more than seven years after the date of the malpractice, even if the patient did not discover the malpractice until later. However, there are a few exceptions to this ordinance: 

  • If a healthcare provider fraudulently conceals their malpractice, the patient may file a claim even if the seven-year deadline has passed. 

  • If a medical object is left inside a patient's body during a procedure, the patient may still take legal action after seven years. 

Note that Mississippi has passed a law that allows minors to sue doctors who provide gender-affirming surgeries within 30 years of the procedure. This law aims to protect minors who may not fully understand the risks of gender transition before pushing through with an operation.

What Do You Need to Prove in a Mississippi Medical Malpractice Case?

To successfully show that a healthcare provider engaged in medical malpractice, the plaintiff needs to prove four key elements. These are: 

  • Duty of care: Plaintiffs must demonstrate that the healthcare provider owed them a specific standard of care. 

  • Breach of duty: Plaintiffs must prove that the healthcare provider failed to meet the expected standard of care. This could include failing to obtain informed consent or making a misdiagnosis. 

  • Causation: Plaintiffs must establish a direct link between the healthcare provider's breach of duty and their resulting injuries. 

  • Damages: Plaintiffs must demonstrate that they suffered actual injuries due to the healthcare provider's negligence. Damages could include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. 

In addition to proving these elements, plaintiffs must meet three requirements:

  • Pre-suit notice: Plaintiffs must inform the healthcare provider of the legal basis for their claim by submitting a pre-suit notice at least 60 days before filing a lawsuit.

  • Certificate of consultation: Plaintiffs must attach a certificate to their lawsuit, either:

  • Affirming that their attorney consulted a qualified expert who found a reasonable basis for the claim.

  • Demonstrating that their attorney made reasonable efforts to obtain a consultation within the 60-day deadline but was unable to do so. In this case, they must attach a certificate showing they consulted an expert within 60 days of filing the lawsuit.

  • Affirming that their attorney made good-faith efforts to secure consultations with three different experts but was unable to do so.

  • Expert witness: Plaintiffs must present an expert witness, typically a licensed physician, who can testify on their behalf. The expert witness should be familiar with the standard of care applicable to the defendant's specialty. 

One thing to note is that Mississippi does not have “I’m Sorry” laws. These protect healthcare providers from having their apology for a medical malpractice incident used as evidence against them.

How Much Can You Sue for Medical Malpractice in Mississippi?

The damages one can receive from a medical malpractice lawsuit depend on various factors, including the level of negligence involved and the severity of the injury incurred by the patient. 

Given this, it is ideal to consult a medical malpractice attorney. Doing so can lead to a better understanding of the potential compensation for such claims. 

Types of Damages

Plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits may obtain two types of damages: compensatory and punitive.

Compensatory damages aim to reimburse plaintiffs for both economic and non-economic damages caused by malpractice. Economic damages include medical expenses, lost wages, and physical therapy bills. Meanwhile, non-economic damages include pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. Although there is no cap on economic damages, non-economic damages are limited to $500,000 per case.

Punitive damages, on the other hand, are intended to punish defendants for particularly egregious or intentional misconduct. The cap on punitive damages depends on the defendant's net worth. For instance, if their net worth is $50 million or less, the punitive damages cap is 2% of that value. If their net worth is between $50 million and $100 million, the punitive damages cap is $2.5 million.

It is also important to remember that the limits are different in lawsuits involving government-run healthcare centers or their employees. In these cases, the cap on damages is $500,000. 

Negligence System

In medical malpractice cases, patients must prove they deserve full compensation for their injuries. However, some plaintiffs may share some responsibility for the malpractice. Mississippi courts allow them to recover damages, but their degree of fault reduces their compensation.

To understand how damages can be reduced, consider a situation where a patient's delayed diagnosis results in injuries. Their damages are assessed at $100,000, but during the trial, it was revealed that they engaged in activities that worsened their condition. Consequently, the court determines that the patient is 70% responsible for the malpractice. The latter’s recoverable damages are reduced by $70,000, and their final compensation is $30,000.

Essentially, Mississippi courts apply the pure comparative fault rule to decide whether damages should be awarded. This allows plaintiffs to receive compensation even if they are 99% at fault for the malpractice.

Methods of Obtaining Compensation

Unlike Louisiana, Mississippi does not require pre-trial review panels in medical malpractice cases. Moreover, the state offers alternative dispute resolution methods to those who wish to avoid litigation. These include: 

  • Mediation: This involves a neutral third-party mediator facilitating negotiations between the parties to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. Mediation offers the advantage of direct communication between the parties but is non-binding unless both parties voluntarily agree to the settlement.

  • Arbitration: This involves a neutral third-party arbitrator presiding over a hearing where both parties present their arguments. Arbitration results in a binding decision, but it requires cooperation from both parties to proceed effectively.

Litigation is the final option if ADR methods fail to resolve the dispute. While going to court is more expensive, it can compel parties to disclose information and establish legal precedents. 

How Much Does It Cost to Pursue a Medical Malpractice Case in Mississippi?

Mississippi does not cap attorney's fees, but the latter must be considered reasonable. Multiple factors, like the complexity of the case and the time invested, are used to determine fairness.

With that in mind, lawyers offer different fee arrangements, including:

  • Contingency fees: Often advertised as "no win, no fee," these are taken from plaintiffs if their attorney wins the case. The typical contingency fee is 33% of the damages awarded.

  • Flat fees: These are typically charged for straightforward legal matters, such as reviewing settlement agreements. This arrangement provides plaintiffs with predictable legal costs.

  • Retainer fees: These are upfront deposits paid to secure an attorney's services. They demonstrate that a client has the financial resources to pursue legal action.

In addition to attorney's fees, plaintiffs should be aware of court filing costs, which may depend on the court and the type of case. For instance, filing a complaint in Hinds County Circuit or County Court costs $161, while filing a petition with the Mississippi Supreme Court incurs a $200 fee.

Legal Resources for Medical Malpractice Victims in Mississippi

Overall, the process of filing for medical malpractice claims can be complicated, so different organizations provide solutions to help victims address their concerns. Here are some helpful resources: 

Mississippi State Department of Health

The Mississippi State Department of Health helps residents throughout the state facing issues related to diseases and standards of care. It provides various clinical services, enabling individuals to test for diseases like tuberculosis, breast cancer, and gonorrhea. The agency also offers blood sugar and pressure checks. One can schedule a health appointment by calling 855-767-0170. The number is accessible Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Brain Injury Association of Mississippi

The Brain Injury Association of Mississippi works with survivors of traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries across the state. It runs support groups for victims in areas like Jackson and Hattiesburg. The organization also provides resources for those seeking to learn about a range of topics, from alternative therapies to life-long accommodations. Individuals may contact the association through its helpline at 800-444-6443 or 

AIDS Services Coalition

The AIDS Services Coalition provides multiple solutions for people in Mississippi living with HIV/AIDS. One of these is free testing. The organization also runs Food for Life Pantry, which provides a box of food for eligible participants up to twice a year. To learn more about these programs, one can contact the coalition via phone at 601-450-4286 or send an email to

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