Mississippi is rife with uninsured and underinsured motorists, ranking third in the nation at almost 23% of drivers without proper auto insurance. If you are involved in a car accident in Mississippi you may need the help of a lawyer to recover as much as you can in these circumstances. As an at fault state you a number of options as outlined below.
After an Accident
Unlike most other states, Mississippi does not require you to report an accident to the Department of Public Safety or to local authorities as long as you and the others involved in the accident agree on the circumstances and the repairs needed in the accident and who is responsible.
If there is dispute or you were involved in a serious accident, it would be advised to call the authorities for a police report. Directly after an accident, ensure no one is injured, move the vehicles from traffic and call for medical attention if necessary. If you are unsure about the fault of the accident and there is no agreement about payment and damage recovery, you should exchange information for follow up.
Comparative Fault, Pure
The tort law system in Mississippi offer a number of options for those involved in an accident, but the pure comparative fault in place makes even arbitration or claims against another driver’s insurance company a complicated matter that will most likely require a car accident attorney.
After an accident you can opt to claim your own insurance, this is useful if you believe you were mostly to blame or there are no injuries and property damage is low. However, if the other driver is at fault a claim directly against them or their insurance company is usually the course of action taken. In these out of court settlements with a pure comparative fault rule the negotiations can be complicated in settling the amount each driver was at fault.
Pure comparative fault offers recompense to everyone involved in the accident. If you were assigned 90% of the blame for the accident, you can still recover 10% of your damages for the accident. This type of system offers a more litigious arbitration and court system that ensures if there is multiple fault findings that proceedings can become escalated quickly.
If the out of court settlement fails, then a court lawsuit is still an option for recovering costs associated with an accident. Just remember that with uninsured and underinsured drivers the court settlement may be the only option open to you.
There is no demerit point system in Mississippi for traffic violations. If you have been convicted of a traffic violation this violation will show on your driving record which employers and auto insurance companies have access to. If you are found guilty or plead guilty to an offense there is a good likelihood that your insurance rates will increase. You may also complete a driver improvement course to remove traffic violations from your record in Mississippi.
DUI in Mississippi
Driving under the influence of alcohol in Mississippi is a misdemeanor charge for first and second offenses but is a felony charge on a third offense with a look back period of five years. Mississippi follows the national limits of 0.8% for adults and 0.2% for those under 21 years old.
However the laws in the state also cover drugs and medications as well. Even if you are under the BAC limit of 0.8% you could be charged with a lesser DUI offense with the courts deciding penalties.
Offenses for DUI result in the following penalties.
Up to 48 hours in jail
$250 – $1000 fine
90 days license suspension
5 days to 1 year in jail
$600 – $1,500 fine
2 year license suspension
Ignition interlock device required
1 to 5 years in jail
$2000 – $5000 fine
5 year license suspension
Ignition interlock device required
Penalties for underage drivers are more severe. The state also has an implied consent law that automatically suspends a license for a refusal, 90 days for first refusal, 2nd refusal is either 90 days or 1 year dependant if the first offense was a DUI and 3rd refusal is 1 year if first or second offences were DUIs.
There is no “wet reckless” plea bargains allowed in the state. If you get into an accident involving alcohol or you suspect may be your fault, your best option is to get the protection of a car accident attorney as soon as possible.