Mississippi Car Accident Laws

If you get into a car accident in Mississippi, think about filing an insurance claim before seeking damages in a personal injury suit.
Written by Jasmine Kanter
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
After you’ve been in a car accident, you should exchange insurance information with the other parties involved so you can make a claim. If your losses are severe, Mississippi state law allows you to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver, no matter how much you were at fault.
At some point in their journey, every driver hits a bump in the road—or another car. So, what do you do? In most cases, you’ll need to exchange details at the scene, notify your
car insurance
company, and file an insurance claim. But if your losses are severe or you want to recover any damages in court, you’ll have to navigate Mississippi’s car accident laws.
For your peace of mind,
the car insurance broker app, has written a complete walkthrough of the car accident and personal injury laws in Mississippi. Let’s get started so you can get back to cruising the roads of the Magnolia state. We'll even help you save money on
Mississippi car insurance costs
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What to do after a crash: Mississippi car accident reporting laws

After you’ve been in a crash, your first step will be to check for injuries. Ask everyone on the scene if they’re hurt or need any help. If someone appears pale, clammy, or “out of it,” call 911, even if you can’t see any wounds—shock can be deadly.
Next, see whether you can move your vehicle to a safe location. Try not to obstruct traffic more than necessary. Park your car in a nearby driveway, parking lot, or on the shoulder of the road.
Once everyone is safe, it’s time to examine the damage. Walk around every scratched vehicle or dented light post at the scene and document as many details as you can—you can take photographs or make notes, but you’ll want some form of writing for the next step:
exchanging insurance information
. If you’ve hit an unattended car, leave a written note on their windshield with your contact information.
Depending on the extent of the damage and whether there were any injuries, you may need to involve the police. Here’s when and how to do it, and what to tell the DMV and your insurance company afterward.

When to report an accident to the police

In the event of injury, death, or $500 or more of property damage, you must call the police—in Mississippi, failing to report an accident is punishable by a jail sentence of 30 days to one year and/or a $100 to $5,000 fine. If you leave the scene of an accident that resulted in severe injury or death, you’ll be guilty of a felony, which carries a jail sentence of five to 20 years plus a $1,000 to $10,000 fine. In either case, your license will be revoked.
After a police officer arrives on the scene, they’ll write a crash report within six days of the accident. You can
purchase crash records online
if you were involved in the accident in question. Insurance agents, legal representatives, and next of kin (if death occurred) may also request a copy—but be warned: unauthorized access to crash records carries a fine of up to $2,500 and possible imprisonment for up to six months.

When to report an accident to the DMV

In most cases, if you report a crash to the police, the officer’s written crash report will be sufficient. Citizens aren’t required to file their own crash reports unless the Department of Public Safety (DPS) specifically requests more details. The police officer at the scene might collect your phone number, and the phone number of nearby witnesses, to inform you if this occurs.

When to report an accident to your car insurance company

No matter how minor the damage, your insurance company should be informed of a crash. In some cases, the time limit to do so could be as little as 24 hours—check your insurance policy agreement to make sure. If you don’t, you could be found guilty of breaching your contract and your insurer could refuse your claims or terminate your policy altogether.
Remember, if you exchanged insurance details at the scene of the accident, there’s a chance the other driver could settle a claim on your policy without your knowledge. It’s best to inform your insurance company yourself by phone, followed by a written letter with all the details. Make sure to keep a copy of all your communications for your own records.
In some cases, you might want to inform your insurance company without making a claim so you can keep your
no-claims bonus
. Is it possible? Sure! Just send them a letter with a clear caveat that you’re reporting the details “for information only” and that you don’t want to make a claim. 

Financial responsibility and coverage minimums: Mississippi’s insurance laws

Since we’re on the topic of claims, let’s take a look at Mississippi’s insurance laws. 
In order to avoid a misdemeanor, a $1,000 fine, and a possible license suspension, you’ll need to demonstrate financial responsibility on the road. In Mississippi, the
minimum car insurance requirements
follow a 25/50/25 rule—your
liability coverage
must include at least:
After an accident, you’ll file a claim against the other driver’s liability coverage, and they against yours. Whether or not you receive compensation depends on who’s at fault. If you are, you’ll have no choice but to file a claim against your own extra coverage.
Then there’s the possibility that the other driver isn’t carrying enough insurance (or any insurance at all) to cover your expenses. Mississippi is the worst state in this respect:
29.4% of all drivers on the road lack the minimum car insurance
! That’s why Jerry recommends
uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage
—it gives you an extra policy to draw from in situations like these.
As you’ve seen, however, there are limits to liability coverage. If your losses have exceeded the other driver’s liability coverage maximums, you can bring a personal injury lawsuit against them to seek compensation.
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Claiming damages after an accident: Mississippi’s personal injury laws

Going to court involves a lot of legal jargon, but the definition of every term (and its role in the courtroom) is easy enough to understand. As always, your legal fight will be much easier if you seek representation from a lawyer. Here’s a quick breakdown of what to expect.
Firstly, you’ll need a cause of action to file a suit, which is a justifiable reason to go to court. Mississippi follows pure comparative negligence laws; for the moment, we’ll be focusing on the “pure” portion of that term. It means you can seek damages no matter how much blame you carry for causing the accident.
As for damages (the monetary compensation you’ll be awarded if you’re successful), your lawyer might seek any of these types on your behalf:
  • Economic damages: Expenses with a well-defined dollar amount, including medical bills, lost wages, repair bills, or funeral expenses
  • Non-economic damages (also called general damages): Losses lacking a specific cost that relate to suffering, such as pain, loss of quality of life, depression, and more
  • Punitive damages: Additional compensation imposed by the court as a punishment for reckless behavior—requires clear evidence that the driver at fault deliberately disregarded the safety of others
If your argument convinces the jury and you receive damages, they might be lessened by the dollar amount you’ve already received from collateral sources (the provider of any payment related to the car accident). This could include an insurance claim, a government disability check, or other payouts related to the accident.
As for the deadline you have to seek legal action, Mississippi law includes a statute of limitations. In general, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury suit. If, however, you’re trying to recover damages from the Mississippi state government, you have just 90 days to file.

Who’s to blame: Mississippi’s modified pure comparative negligence laws

A jury in a Mississippi court will follow comparative negligence laws in determining the percentage of fault of each party involved in the accident. The larger your percentage of fault, the larger your share of blame, and the less maximum damages you can recover.
For example, if you were texting as you drove through an intersection, but were hit by a driver who didn’t have the right of way, you might be found 30% at fault, and the other driver 70%. If you sought $10,000 in total damages, they would be reduced by your percentage of fault to a maximum of $7,000. Don’t forget that you’ll also be deducted any funds you received from collateral sources, like the $4,000 check the other driver’s insurance company already wrote for your repairs.

Exceptions to Mississippi’s personal injury laws

As always, there are exceptions to every rule, including the statute of limitations. Your time limit to file a suit might be extended if:
  • You don’t discover your cause of action (like an injury or illness) until much later
  • You were less than 21 years old at the time of the accident. The clock starts running again as soon as you turn 21
In addition, any driver who provides emergency care to anyone at the scene of the accident (or who provides transportation to a doctor) can’t be held liable for damages—that’s assuming they exercised reasonable care and tried to act in good faith.

How to save money on car insurance in Mississippi

Even if you’re free of blame, an accident might cause your car insurance rates to rise—and no, you can’t take your car insurance company to court over it. Instead, try the
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