Comparative Fault Reform in Mississippi

In Mississippi the law of negligence includes comparative fault or pure comparative negligence, which is a partial legal defense that has the effect of reducing the amount of damages that a plaintiff can recover in a negligence claim based upon the degree to which the plaintiff’s own negligence contributed to the injury.

Additionally in Mississippi the Defendant can “point to an empty chair” to attribute negligence to others who may not even be parties to the suit, but who may have had some hand in the negligence addressed in the lawsuit. In Mississippi this apportionment will also apply to parties who are potentially immune from liability meaning that whatever recovery would normally be assessed to this party will result in zero recovery from that source at trial.

It appears that the current system in Mississippi often results in confusion to the jury and awards that are not the actual intent of the jury. For example if a jury instruction is set up so that it awards an amount in damages and then reduces that amount by the fault attributable to the plaintiff then it is easy to see that the jury could award the amount they thought the plaintiff should receive and then that number is cut by a percentage due to comparative fault.