Mississippi Car Accident Laws and Resources
Whether you are in Jackson, Biloxi, or Natchez, you can find plenty of roads and activities to explore in Mississippi. You can see the Cumberland Mountains, Gulf of Mexico, Civil War battle sites and the heart of the Delta Blues. These roads are used by 1.9 million drivers, who drive 13,000 miles annually. If you are in an accident in this state, you should be aware of the rules and regulations in force, so you are prepared in case of an accident.
Statistics and Notable Accidents
According to state statistics, the number of car accident fatalities in Mississippi rose from 560 in 2014 to 677 in 2015. Mississippi children, especially teenagers, are approximately 10 times more likely today to be killed in a highway accident than are children in many other states, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It also has been noted that traffic death rates here are among the highest in the nation.
This is viewed as concerning news by safety advocates. US traffic deaths have been dropping for 40 years, after safety advances such as seatbelts and air bags. Also, the primary seatbelt laws in most states including this one has led to most people wearing their seatbelts or risk a fine. But the trend in Mississippi has been reversing. Why is this?
According to Mississippi’s Child Death Review Panel, it has been determined that children and teenagers who die in highway crashes are less likely to be wearing a seatbelt or in a car seat. Mississippi also has some work to do on its primary seatbelt law. Backseat passengers are not currently covered if they are old enough to not be in a car seat or booster seat.
Also, it is believed that an increase in crashes generally around the US is being caused by distracted driving and cell phones. In Mississippi there is a 2015 that bans texting or using any handheld cell phone while driving. But according to some investigative reports in the state, most law enforcement agencies are not enforcing the ban on texting. This could be because the texting ban fines go to the state and not the local government, so police have less incentive to ticket the act.
Further, a recent report from the Journal of Pediatrics determined that more children from this state in car accidents per capita per year than another other state. The mortality rate in car accidents is 3.23 children per 100,000. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, the car accident mortality rate for children is only 0.25 per 100,000.
However, some safety advocates believe Mississippi will begin to see a decline in these numbers in the next few years. The governor recently signed Harley’s Law, which mandates all car passengers to have on a seatbelt or be in a car seat if they of that age.
The Journal of Pediatrics also found that 3836 teens were injured in car accidents in 2015. These injuries ranged from bruises to being impaired for life.
A recent car accident in Mississippi that made the news was for Mississippi State football commit Nathaniel Watson, who got into a serious accident at the end of 2017 in a street racing crash. The teen hit a power pole in the serious accident in Maplesville. A passenger in the accident suffered a crushed femur, pelvis fractures and a broken right ankle.
Mississippi Negligence Laws
Mississippi features a legal doctrine to assign fault in an accident known as pure comparative negligence. This means whatever your personal injury compensation, it will be reduced by an amount that represents your percentage of fault. If you are entitled to $10,000 in damages and are 30% at fault, your potential award will be reduced by $3000.
Mississippi Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in this state is three years. The clock starts from the date of the accident.
Auto Insurance Requirements for Mississippi
If you drive in Mississippi, you are required to have a minimum level of car insurance. The minimum coverage required here is:
- $25,000 in bodily injury for each person in each accident
- $50,000 in bodily injury for every person in each accident
- $25,000 and $50,000 uninsured motorist coverage
If you do not have this minimum level of insurance, you can be fined up to $1000 and could have your license suspended for one year.
Other Mississippi Driving Laws
This state has a ban on texting for both novice and experience drivers. However, it is not enforced as regularly as it should be, according to some sources.
All Mississippi drivers and passengers must wear seatbelts. Children who are under two must be a car seat. You are fined $25 for every violation.
Nathan’s Law was passed in 2010, which requires drivers to stay at least 10 feet from a school bus that is stopped. Each violation can result in a fine of $750, and a second offense can get you a year in prison.
You can receive punitive damages in a car accident case, but you must prove malice, gross negligence that shows the willful disregard for the safety of others, or fraud. However, the statute in Mississippi does not allow the jury to consider punitive damages until after it has decided of you should receive compensatory damages.
Mississippi Accident Resources
Have you been in a car accident in Mississippi? This is probably a stressful time for you. Thus, we have provided some resources you can use to get you on the right track after your accident.
- To determine whether you want to file a claim or lawsuit, it is important to determine what your case could be worth. Lawsuit Info Center can help.
- To report an accident in Mississippi, a written accident report should be filed with the police within 10 days of the accident, if the accident resulted in damage of more than $250 and anyone was hurt.
- After an accident, you may need to obtain a copy of your collision report. You can get a copy of the report at the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.