Mississippi Auto Accident Laws

Mississippi Auto Accident Laws and Resources

If you have been in a car accident, you have rights under Mississippi auto accident laws. Mississippi roadways consistently rank among the deadliest in the nation. In 2019, 643 people died in car accidents in Mississippi. This represents 1.56 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Sadly, this is the highest rate in the United States.  

Many may be unfamiliar with Mississippi auto accident laws. This means navigating the insurance claims process and court system can be challenging. In this guide, we will discuss some important Mississippi auto accident laws. They may be important to your car accident case.  You may need more information about your rights under Mississippi law and the next steps to take in your car accident case. Contact an experienced Mississippi auto accident lawyer today.

Comparative Negligence in Mississippi Auto Accident Cases

Mississippi auto accident laws follow a pure “comparative negligence” standard. Under Mississippi Code Section 11-7-15, a party injured in a car accident can recover damages from the other party. But, the damage award will reduce based on the percentage that the victim is at-fault for the accident.

For example, suppose that you sustained injuries in a car accident. You sue the other driver and go to trial. The jury determines that your damages total $100,000. However, they also find that you were 25% at-fault for the accident. Your damages will reduce by $25,000 (25% of $100,000) to $75,000.

In a pure comparative negligence state such as Mississippi, you can recover damages from the other party. This is true even if you are more at-fault for the accident. Returning to the example, if the jury found that you were 75% responsible for the car accident, your damage award will reduce from $75,000 (75% of $100,000) to $25,000.

Mississippi’s comparative negligence standard will also play a role when negotiating a car accident settlement with the insurance company. This is true even if your case does not go to trial. Adjusters from each insurance company will work together to make allocations of fault. Afterwards, determination of fault justifies a settlement amount. Car accident victims that are not represented by an experienced Mississippi car accident lawyer often undervalue their claims. Conversely, they may accept damage awards for less than their cases are worth.

Mississippi Auto Accident Laws Statute of Limitations

The Mississippi statute of limitations sets forth the amount of time that a party has to file a lawsuit to recover damages for injuries suffered in a car accident. Under Mississippi Code Section 15-1-49, you must file a lawsuit within 3 years from the date of the accident. If you file your case after the 3 years are up, the defendant will likely object. They may ask the court to dismiss your case. The court will have no choice under Mississippi law unless an exception applies. 

The Mississippi statute of limitations does not apply to the settlement process. In other words, there is no deadline for reaching a settlement with the insurance company. However, do not delay in filing your complaint. After the 3-year period set by the Mississippi statute of limitations, the insurance company has little incentive to reach a fair settlement with you. This is because you lack recourse through the court system.

Missing the deadline set by the Mississippi statute of limitations can have severe consequences. Hiring an experienced Mississippi auto accident lawyer can help you to protect your rights. With the help of a lawyer, you can receive the compensation that you deserve. 

Car Insurance Requirements in Mississippi

Under Mississippi auto accident laws, all drivers must maintain liability coverage. They also must carry proof of insurance. The minimum liability insurance coverage amounts in Mississippi are:

  •   $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person caused by the owner and/or driver of the insured vehicle.
  •   $25,000 in liability coverage for property damage caused by the owner and/or driver of the insured vehicle.
  •   $50,000 for total bodily injury or death liability caused by the owner and/or driver of the insured vehicle.

Liability insurance covers medical bills, property damages, and other types of damages that the insured driver causes. However damages are only covered up to the policy limits. Under Mississippi auto accident laws, vehicle owners also have the option of posting a bond via cash or security deposit that is equal to the above amounts.

Driving Without Car Insurance in Mississippi

Under Mississippi Code Section 63-15-4, driving without proof of insurance is a misdemeanor. It is punishable by a $500 fine and suspension of driving privileges for 1 year. The suspension may end if the owner of the vehicle shows proof of liability insurance.

Moreover, driving without liability insurance can have serious financial consequences if you are in a car accident. You can be personally liable for any injuries or property damage that you cause.

Mississippi Auto Accident Laws for Accidents Involving Uninsured Drivers

Mississippi has more uninsured drivers than any other state in the country. 29.4% of all drivers do not have car insurance. If you are in an accident in Mississippi and the other driver does not have insurance, you have options:

  •   Sue the other driver. You can file a lawsuit naming the other driver as the defendant. Collecting on any judgment, however, may prove difficult if he or she does not have assets. 
  •   Sue a third party. It is possible that a third-party is at-fault for the accident. For example, the other driver may have recently had new brakes installed that failed. This may allow you to sue a third-party.
  •   File an uninsured motorist (UM) claim. If you have UM insurance, you may be able to seek compensation from your insurance company.

In Mississippi most insurance policies include uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage allows you to collect from your insurance company. You can collect up to the policy limit in the event that you sustain injuries in a car accident. Some drivers choose to opt out of this coverage to save some money on insurance premium payments.

In Mississippi there is a feature of uninsured motorist coverage known as “set off.” To illustrate how set off works, suppose that you are in a car accident with someone that has coverage of $25,000/$50,000 per accident. You also have uninsured motorist coverage of $50,000/$100,000. If you incur $50,000 in damages, there will be a set off for the other driver’s $25,000 in coverage. This will leave you with $25,000 in UM coverage.  

Recovering Damages in a Mississippi Auto Accident Case

If you have been in a car accident in Mississippi, Mississippi Code Section 63-3-411 requires you to report the accident if:

  •   The car accident resulted in the injury or death of any person, or
  •   The car accident resulted in property damage that exceeds $500 or more.

If the accident occurred within an incorporated municipality in Mississippi, the driver must report the accident to the local police department. If the accident occurred outside of an incorporated municipality, report the accident to the nearest sheriff’s office or Mississippi Highway Patrol.

Under Mississippi auto accident laws, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will be responsible for paying for the damages. On the other hand, you may be at fault for the accident. If so, your insurance company pays any damage to your vehicle if you have collision coverage.

As a general rule, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will attempt to settle a claim before a lawsuit. The insurance company will often make a lowball settlement offer. This is to take advantage of parties not represented by an experienced Mississippi car accident lawyer. People unfamiliar with Mississippi auto accident laws are easier to take advantage of.

In addition to settling your claim with the insurance company, you can file a lawsuit. One reason to file a lawsuit is to avoid the expiration of the Mississippi statute of limitations. Filing a complaint preserves the right to file a lawsuit while you continue to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company.

Another reason you may need to file a lawsuit is if the insurance company is unwilling to budge on their settlement offer. By going to trial you may be able to get more compensation from a jury. To recover at trial, you must show that the other driver was negligent. This means that the other driver failed to exercise a reasonable standard of care. That negligence resulted in the car accident.

An experienced Mississippi auto accident lawyer can help you recover the compensation that you deserve. They assist you either by negotiating with the insurance company or pursuing your claim at trial.

Mississippi Car Accident Settlement Taxes

If you spent time getting a personal injury settlement from a car accident case in Mississippi, you do not want to lose a big chunk of it to taxes. Most people with serious injuries need as much money as possible to pay for medical expenses. The compensation may also cover lost wages and a potential permanent reduction in your income.

The good news is that much of your settlement is probably not taxable at the federal or state level. No matter if you negotiated a settlement or received a verdict award, most of the amount will go to you.

The IRS and the state cannot tax portions of a settlement or jury award meant to compensate you for your physical injuries, or emotional distress from your injures. But if you receive a settlement only for emotional trauma, then this would be taxable by the IRS and by the state of Mississippi.

Also, if you receive punitive damages, you will need to report this as income at the state and federal level. Punitive damages are to punish the defendant and are not compensation for damages. So, taxation on this amount is customary.

Medical cost reimbursement also is not taxable at either level. This is true unless you took a medical expense deduction on your tax return in a previous tax year.

Other Relevant Mississippi Driving Laws

This state has a ban on texting for both novice and experienced 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 under the age of two must be in a car seat. You will face a fine of $25 for every violation.

Nathan’s Law passed in 2010, which requires drivers to stay at least 10 feet from a stopped school bus.. Each violation can result in a fine of $750, and a second offense is punishable by up to a year in jail.

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 your entitlement to receive compensatory damages.

Mississippi Accident Resources

If you have been in a car accident in Mississippi, the following resources can help guide you in the right direction.

Mississippi Car Accident Settlement Calculator

Have you been in a motor vehicle accident or otherwise injured in Mississippi? Find out how much financial compensation you may be legally entitled to in just minutes with our free online Injury Settlement Calculator.

Get Help with Mississippi Auto Accident Laws

If you need further assistance with getting compensation after a car accident, Lawsuit Info Center can help. Call or message us today, risk free. After reviewing your case, we can help you get in touch with a Mississippi car accident lawyer.