Mississippi may get its name from the river, but it also has approximately 73,000 miles of highway running through it. Unfortunately, it also ranks in 50th place for the most fatal car accidents, with 26.2 road-related deaths per 100,000 residents. Knowing Mississippi car accident laws is crucial to navigating through this state’s roads.
Read on to learn how to report, who determines fault, and when you need a lawyer after a Mississippi collision. Because the more you know, the better you’ll be able to handle things if and when a crash happens.
What to Do After a Car Crash in Mississippi
The first thing you should do in any car accident, no matter what state you’re in, is to stop.
While that may sound like a no-brainer, you’d be surprised how many people panic and try to flee. But leaving prematurely could get you in more trouble since Mississippi traffic laws require you to stop at the scene. In other words, hit-and-runs are illegal.
So, your first step after stopping the car is making sure everyone is okay. That’s because if someone is hurt, Mississippi Code §63-3-401 mandates drivers to offer reasonable assistance to any injured parties. Failing to do so can lead to a felony conviction and serious fines or jail time.
Simplified that means, if you’re in a car accident in Mississippi, stop the car, check for injuries, call 911.
How to Report a Car Accident in Mississippi
Your next call should be to the police. MS Code § 63-3-411 requires drivers to report all accidents resulting in injuries or death, or property damage over $500.
Although the accident may seem minor, you should still have law enforcement come to the scene. Getting an official Mississippi Highway Patrol (MHP) report on file may be very important later. This is especially true when it comes time to determine who’s at-fault for the crash.
Furthermore, when you file a claim with an insurance company, they may also ask for this information. That’s because a crash report is seen as authoritative evidence by insurance providers.
Before the recording MHP officer leaves the accident site, make sure you ask for a police report number. You’ll need that number to obtain a copy of the report once it becomes available (typically 3-5 business days afterwards).
How Do I Obtain a Copy of the Police Report?
The easiest way to get an official police report following a crash in Mississippi is via the Crash Reports webpage.
Unlike many states, Mississippi doesn’t have a dedicated department of motor vehicles (DMV). Instead, it handles anything auto or driver related through the Mississippi Department of Public Safety (MDPS).
If you order a copy of the report online it will cost $20 and be available for 24 hours after purchase. So be sure to download a copy lest you get stuck paying for it again.
It is also possible to get a crash accident report by mail or walk-in at any district Highway Patrol station in Mississippi. It will cost $15 to obtain a paper copy of an accident report, but may take longer than processing online.
Additional Information to Gather at the Scene of a Crash
While reporting the crash to the police is important, you’ll also want to personally gather details for your own reasons.
This includes exchanging information with the other driver. Be sure to ask for or take photos of the following:
- Contact info (full name, address, phone, email)
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance ID card/policy number
- Car registration and license plate number
- Car make, model, and color
Remember to take photos of the vehicle damage, surrounding landmarks, signs, traffic lights, etc. If there are witnesses, try to get their contact information as well.
Finally, don’t apologize or say anything incriminating, even if you think it’s your fault! You don’t want to accidentally reduce your own settlement because of your own courtesy. Stay calm, make sure everyone is okay, and get all the details you possibly can on-site.
Is Mississippi a No-Fault State?
No, Mississippi is an at-fault state, meaning anyone responsible for causing an accident will also be responsible for any resulting damages. This includes physical damage (i.e. injuries) as well as property damage.
However, it’s generally not as straightforward as one person being at-fault and the other being the victim. That’s because Mississippi follows a pure comparative fault system, meaning both parties involved in a crash may bear some responsibility.
Mississippi Comparative Negligence Laws
Comparative negligence systems, which are the law in most states, divide the blame between drivers involved in an accident. A jury in court can theoretically find both parties responsible for the collision depending on the case.
According to Miss. Code § 11-7-15, any parties involved in a collision who are less than 100% responsible may recover damages. The catch is the reduction in any damages a claimant receives by their amount of fault.
To illustrate, let’s say a jury finds you 10% at-fault, then you can still receive 90% of your damage award. But if the other driver is 90% at-fault, then they will only see 10% of any damages.
This means in most cases, the driver who seems less at-fault will be the one to file a claim. But it’s technically possible for all parties in an accident to still recover damages.
In multi-car crashes, the same rules apply. Each vehicle and driver will receive a fault percentage assignment, and that amount will affect your ability to recover damages. The goal in any car accident case in Mississippi is to get the smallest fault percentage possible. That’s why it’s always a good idea to get a car accident lawyer post-crash.
Mississippi Car Insurance Laws
We say that the more at-fault driver will be responsible for damages, but the reality is that their insurance will absorb most of the costs.
As a result, Mississippi has baseline insurance requirements for all drivers in the state. Under their compulsory liability insurance system, the minimum acceptable coverage amounts are 25/50/25:
- $25,000 for injury or death of one person in an accident
- $50,000 for injury or death for all people in an accident
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
Of course, these are minimums and drivers may choose additional policies with higher coverage amounts. But if a driver in Mississippi is pulled over and cannot produce proof of insurance, it may lead to misdemeanor charges. That may include a $500 fine and loss of driving privileges for up to a year.
Technically, Mississippi drivers may also show financial responsibility by posting bonds or making security deposits in these amounts. But most people will just choose to take out insurance policies.
Also, remember that liability insurance doesn’t cover your car, so many drivers purchase collision insurance to cover their own damages. Collision coverage is optional in Mississippi, but it can help if you need to pay to repair your own vehicle.
Types of Damages After a Mississippi Car Accident
In Mississippi, an individual who suffers injuries or damages from a car accident may seek compensation in several ways:
- They may file with their own insurance company for damages
- They may file a third-party claim directly with the at-fault drivers insurance
- They may file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver
In the last option, you would essentially be “suing” the driver you think is more at-fault. Of course, then the case would have to go before a judge and jury. This would be to assess fault percentages and also to seek damages.
These are the tangible damages — monetary and otherwise measurable losses resulting from an accident. Common examples of economic damages include:
- The cost of past and future medical treatments
- Lost income, wages, or employment because of the accident
- Lost property
- Car repairs and maintenance costs
- Purchase of assistive devices (like wheelchairs)
These damages tend to be a little harder to prove since they’re the non-measurable losses a victim may experience. However, since they still take a grave toll, they are compensable under Mississippi car accident law. Examples of non-economic damages may include:
Limits on Damages
Mississippi does not cap the economic damages a victim may seek. This is to protect injured parties to make sure they’re adequately compensated for their losses.
However, Mississippi does cap non-economic damage awards. A claimant may not receive more than $1,000,000 for conditions like pain and suffering. Even if the court thinks you deserve more, that is the upper limit of what is possible for an award amount.
Mississippi Statute of Limitations
If you’re in a Mississippi collision, you have a limited time after the accident to file in court. The statute of limitations is three years for almost all personal injury cases thanks to Mississippi Code §15-1-49.
If wrongful death is part of the equation, the statute of limitations is the same. However, the countdown clock starts from the date the victim passes.
Three years may sound like a long time, but it’s vitally important not to miss this filing window. Any claimant who tries to pursue compensation after the statute expires will find the court automatically dismisses their case.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations
Though the three-year statute of limitations stays pretty solid across the board, there are a few exceptions. While we still recommend not waiting, you may have longer to file if:
- The victim is a minor. In that case the clock starts when they turn 18.
- The victim faces incapacitation. This means they’re in a coma or otherwise mentally unable to make legal decisions. In this case, the clock doesn’t start until they’re mentally lucid (with a limit of 21 years).
- The victim discovers the injury after the fact. In some instances, an injury may not show up until weeks or months later. When that occurs, under the discovery rule, the clock doesn’t start until the victim discovers or should have discovered the injury.
- The defendant leaves the state. If a defendant moves away or goes into hiding before the case filing, the clock starts when they return.
LegalASAP Connects You to a Trusted Local Auto Accident Lawyer
We know it’s tempting to just settle a car accident claim with your insurance and go on with your life. Even though you’re their client, remember that their goal is to get you to accept the lowest payout possible.
Before you sign anything, consider having a free consultation with a skilled car accident attorney.
Personal injury lawyers work under contingency, meaning you won’t have to pay a penny until you receive compensation. And individuals working with representation typically end up with much higher settlements.
You literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain! Let LegalASAP help you get going with your claim today, so you can get back on the road to tomorrow.
Kimberly Dawn Neumann
Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a multi-published NYC-based magazine and book writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications ranging from Forbes to Cosmopolitan. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland, College of Journalism. For more, visit: www.KDNeumann.com, Instagram @dancerscribe, and Twitter @KimberlyNeumann