In 2002 and then again in 2004, Mississippi passed tort reform act with specific provisions related to medical malpractice. These acts, among other things placed caps on both non-economic and punitive damages. Non-economic damages (i.e. pain and suffering) are currently capped at $500,000, and punitive damages, rare in medical malpractice cases, are capped on a sliding scale based on the defendant’s net worth. In addition to these limits, Mississippi’s tort reform also forbade venue shopping, requiring malpractice suits to be filed in the county in which the alleged malpractice occurred. Since passing tort reform, the number of malpractice lawsuits has decreased dramatically. Further, that decrease in litigation has resulted in more insurance companies moving to the state which has driven down insurance premium rates.
In Mississippi the basic statute of limitations requires that a claim be brought within two years after the alleged malpractice is discovered, or should reasonably have been discovered. Beyond that however, Mississippi has a statute of repose that requires any case accruing on or after July 1, 1998 to be brought no more than seven years after the date of the alleged malpractice. The only exceptions to this are cases wherein a foreign object was left in the body and cases in which the malpractice has been concealed through deliberate fraud. In those instances the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the malpractice is discovered.
Further exceptions to the general rule are in place to extend the time for an action in cases involving minors or mentally incompetent persons. For a minor 6 years of age or younger an action may be brought within two years of the child’s death or sixth birthday, whichever comes first. Likewise in the case of a mentally disabled person, an action may also be brought within two years of death or the recovery of competency.
The statute of limitations is the same for wrongful death as for malpractice.
Mississippi’s minimum liability limit for Medical Malpractice Insurance is 1,000,000 per occurrence and 3,000,000 per policy period. This $1M/$3M limit is fairly standard across most states that have limits.
Medical malpractice insurance in Mississippi is moderately priced in comparison to the majority of other states. Before the year 2003, Mississippi experienced a rapid rise in premium rates, a destabilized market, a large number of frivolous lawsuits, and a looming shortage of doctors. Specifically high-risk medical specialties (ObGyn, Neurosurgery, etc.) were rapidly losing numbers as doctors decided to relocate to states with lower rates and a friendlier risk environment. In order to end this trend, Mississippi passed the mentioned above, and the results have been very positive for doctors. Today Mississippi has low premium rates, a stable, competitive market, limits on payouts, and a significantly reduced number of lawsuits being filed.
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