National statistics show that Mississippi had the highest traffic accident fatality rate per 100,000 people in 2020 among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) put the average number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents in the state at 25.4 per 100,000 people, compared with the national average of 11.7. These statistics translate to 687 fatal crashes resulting in 752 lives lost in 2020.
More than 60% of people who died in car accidents in Mississippi were in single-car accidents, most of which were caused by drunk or distracted driving. According to 2020 NHTSA data, fatal car accidents in Mississippi were more common in rural areas than urban locations. The most dangerous roads included US Highway 61 and Interstates 70, 55, 20, and 59.
Car accidents can have devastating consequences for individuals and families, and the aftermath of a crash can be overwhelming. Mississippi implements evidence-based strategies and laws to reduce vehicular incidents and save lives and money.
Mississippi Speeding Law
Mississippi limits how fast drivers can go on state, interstate, and controlled-access highways to ensure they drive safely. The speed limit may vary depending on the type of road, like if it is in a residential area and whether there are any special conditions, such as ongoing construction or bad weather. In general, the speed limit on Mississippi highways is 65 to 70 mph. In residential, business, and school zones, drivers are required to observe a speed limit of 25 to 35 mph.
If a driver is caught speeding in Mississippi, the penalties they face will depend on how much they were exceeding the posted speed limit. For example, drivers who go just a little bit over the speed limit may get a warning or a small fine. On the other hand, those who go a lot over the limit may get bigger fines, points on their driving record, or even have their license suspended or taken away.
Generally, the cost of a speeding ticket in Mississippi ranges from $150 to $300, with violations in schools and construction zones at the higher end of the range.
Mississippi Distracted Driving Law
The Mississippi Distracted Driving Law under MS Code § 63-1-73 prohibits drivers from engaging in any activity that takes their attention away from driving. This includes texting, talking on a handheld phone, browsing the internet, checking emails, or any other activity that requires the driver to take their eyes off the road, hands off the steering wheel, or mind off driving.
Under this law, drivers caught texting while driving can be fined up to $500. The penalty is greater — at $1,000 — for individuals who violate the distracted driving law while involved in a motor vehicle accident.
The law makes exceptions for emergency situations, such as when there is an urgent need to contact law enforcement, the fire department, ambulance services, or hospitals. The law also permits the use of hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth headsets or speakerphones, for phone calls while driving.
Mississippi Safety Seat Belt Law
MS Code Title 63, Ch. 2 requires the use of seat belts for all drivers and front-seat passengers while in a moving vehicle. The law applies to all vehicles, including cars, trucks, and vans.
Additionally, the driver of a vehicle is responsible for ensuring that all passengers under the age of 7 are properly restrained in an appropriate child safety seat or a belt-positioning booster seat system. Children who are at least 4 years old but younger than 7 years old and who are under 4 feet, 9 inches tall must be secured in a booster seat that meets federal safety standards.
Mississippi applies primary seat belt laws, which means law enforcement officers can pull over drivers solely for not wearing a seat belt. In states where seat belt laws are secondary, the driver must have first broken another traffic law before police can issue tickets for a seat belt law violation.
Failure to comply with the seat belt law can result in fines and penalties. Violators face a misdemeanor charge, which is punishable by a fine of $25 upon conviction.
Mississippi Drunk Driving Law
Drunk driving is a serious offense in Mississippi, and the state has strict laws and penalties to deter individuals from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, whether on public or private property. It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. For commercial drivers, the legal limit is 0.04%, and for motorists under 21, the legal limit is 0.02% with zero tolerance penalties.
If a driver is pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, they may be asked to submit to a breathalyzer test or other sobriety tests. Test results showing a BAC above the legal limit can lead to severe penalties, including fines, jail time, and license suspension.
First-time offenders in Mississippi can face fines of up to $1,000, up to 48 hours of jail time, and a 120-day license suspension. Subsequent offenses can result in higher fines, longer jail terms, and longer license suspensions. In addition to these penalties, people who are found guilty of drunk driving in Mississippi may also have to go to alcohol education classes or get treatment for substance abuse.
Because Mississippi follows the implied consent law, drivers are required to consent to chemical testing of their blood, breath, or urine if they are suspected of driving under the influence. Refusal to submit to the Intoxilyzer 8000 breath test can result in an automatic license suspension for up to 90 days.
Mississippi Hit-and-Run Law
Leaving the scene of an accident, which is also known as a hit-and-run, is a serious offense in Mississippi. Drivers involved in an accident that causes injury, death, or property damage are required by law to stop, exchange information with the other party involved, and render aid if necessary. Violators of this law can be charged with hit-and-run.
The penalties for a hit-and-run in the state depend on the severity of the accident and the amount of damage or injury caused. For example, leaving the scene of a car crash that causes only minor property damage may result in a fine of up to $500, while leaving the scene of an accident that results in injury or death can result in fines of up to $10,000 and up to 20 years in prison. The driver’s license of the convicted party may also be revoked.
In addition to criminal penalties, hit-and-run drivers may face civil liability for the damages caused by the accident, including compensation for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If a driver cannot stop because of an emergency or something else out of their control, they should call the police as soon as possible to report the accident and help anyone who was hurt.
Mississippi Illegal U-Turn Law
MS Code 63-3-703 lays out the rules for illegal U-turns in the state of Mississippi. This code prohibits drivers from making U-turns in various circumstances, such as:
at an intersection controlled by a traffic signal or sign, unless a sign or signal allows the turn;
on a curve or a hill where the driver’s view is obstructed, making it unsafe to turn around;
in a residential area, where a sign prohibits U-turns;
on a divided highway or one-way street unless a sign allows the turn; or
in a business district unless a sign allows the turn.
Making an illegal U-turn in Mississippi can result in a traffic violation and a fine. The exact penalty depends on the severity of the violation and whether the driver has previous violations. The fine for a first offense ranges from $50 to $150, while subsequent offenses may result in higher fines or even the suspension of the driver’s license.
Mississippi Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements
On February 23, 2000, Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove signed House Bill 621, which made auto liability insurance mandatory in the state. The Compulsory Liability Law — enforced by the Department of Public Safety’s Safety Responsibility Division — requires that all drivers carry liability insurance with minimum limits of $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $25,000 per accident for property damage. Failure to maintain an insurance card leads to a $1,000 fine and the suspension of driving privileges for a year or until the car owner shows proof of coverage.
In addition to liability insurance, Mississippi drivers are required to carry uninsured motorist coverage with minimum limits of $25,000 per person for bodily injury and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury. Uninsured motorist coverage is designed to pay for damages in an accident caused by a driver who does not have insurance.
Mississippi Is an At-Fault State for Insurance Claims
Mississippi is an at-fault or tort state, which means that the driver found to be at fault for causing the accident is responsible for paying damages to the other parties involved. This determination is usually made by the insurance companies of the drivers involved in the accident. However, if the parties cannot agree on who was at fault, a lawsuit may be necessary to determine fault.
Individuals injured in a Mississippi car accident caused by another driver can seek compensation from the negligent party and their insurance company for the damages they have incurred, such as medical bills, lost quality of life, pain and suffering, and past and future lost earnings and wages.
Mississippi Is a Pure Comparative Fault State for Car Accident Lawsuits
Mississippi follows a pure comparative negligence system. This means that if an individual is partially at fault for an accident, their damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to them. For example, if a person is deemed 20% at fault for the accident and the damages are $10,000, their recovery will be reduced by $2,000 (20% of $10,000), resulting in a recovery of $8,000.
Even if an individual's damages are reduced due to their own negligence, they can still potentially recover a significant amount after an accident. By seeking the assistance of a personal injury attorney in their area, the victim can receive guidance in navigating the claim and receive an estimate of the compensation they can expect if they choose to pursue it.
Mississippi Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
The statute of limitations in Mississippi is three years from the date of the accident, according to Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-49. This means that an individual injured in a car crash has three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.
The time limit may be different for claims against government agencies and employees in Mississippi, where victims must file a claim within a year of the accident and tell the right government agency within 90 days of being hurt. In addition, Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-59 provides that the statute of limitations for victims under the age of 21 is paused until they turn 21, except in medical malpractice cases.
Average Settlements for Mississippi Car Accident Lawsuits
Car accidents can cause a significant amount of physical and emotional trauma, as well as financial damages. Individuals involved in a car accident in Mississippi may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and losses. However, determining the amount of compensation a victim deserves can be a complex process and varies depending on the specific details of the accident and resulting injuries.
On average, settlements for car accident lawsuits in Mississippi can range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands and even into the millions in extreme cases. The amount of compensation usually depends on a number of things, like how bad the injuries are, how much it will cost to treat them, how much property was damaged, how much money the person lost, and how much pain and suffering they had to go through.
Mississippi imposes a cap on non-economic damages, limiting the amount of compensation that can be awarded for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other non-economic losses to $1,000,000.
A settlement for a car accident can be a long and complicated process, which an experienced personal injury attorney can assist with. Most Mississippi car accident lawyers serve clients on a contingency fee basis. Under this arrangement, the attorney receives a percentage of the settlement won in the case. Contingency fees range from 20% to 50%, with the average in the state being 33% to 40%.
Legal Resources for Mississippi Car Accident Victims
Mississippi Pro Bono Resources
This resource is an online directory prepared by the Mississippi Bar Association to connect car accident victims who are part of low-income families with volunteer lawyers who provide free legal services. It offers a wide range of services, including legal representation, advice, and education, to individuals and families facing legal issues.
Phone: (601) 948-4471
Mississippi Insurance Department
This is an online resource that provides valuable information on how car accident victims may request assistance from the Mississippi Department of Insurance and the types of assistance the department offers.
Consumer Help Line: (800) 562-2957 or (601) 359-2453
Mississippi Automobile Physical Damage Claims Guide
This is a webpage on auto liability insurance for consumers. It delivers valuable information on Mississippi's auto liability insurance requirements, the types of coverage available, and tips on how to choose the right insurance policy.
Mississippi Driver’s Manual
This is a comprehensive guide by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety that provides aspiring drivers with all the necessary information and skills to obtain a driver's license in the state of Mississippi. It includes the rules of the road for safe driving practices for new and experienced drivers. The manual covers a wide range of topics, such as road signs, traffic laws, and defensive driving techniques.
Mississippi Crash Reports
This is an online resource provided by the Mississippi Driver Service Bureau's Driver Records Division. It has an Accidents and Judgments search tool, which allows individuals to search for information about car accidents and legal judgments that may be associated with a particular driver's record. The information that can be obtained here can be useful for a variety of purposes, including background checks, insurance purposes, and legal proceedings.
Phone: (601) 987-1224, ext. 1 or (601) 487-7076 or (601) 487-7079
NHTSA Fatal Crash Trends Data
A nationwide census with data on fatal traffic crashes in the United States. It offers comprehensive statistics and trends related to motor vehicle crashes, including information on fatalities, injuries, vehicles, and people involved (e.g., pedestrians and cyclists).
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