Mississippi Motor Vehicle Accident Laws and Safety Requirements

Mississippi suffers over 600 traffic accident fatalities per year, making Mississippi roads the nation’s second most dangerous behind only Wyoming. If you were injured in a Mississippi traffic accident, or if your close relative was killed, a basic understanding of Mississippi traffic accident law will help you decide whether or not to file a lawsuit.

Statute of Limitations: A lawsuit for personal injury or property damage must be filed within three years of the accident. A wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within one year of the victim’s death if intentional misconduct is alleged, and within three years of the victim’s death if negligence is alleged.

When the Victim is Partly at Fault: Mississippi is a “pure comparative fault” state. If the victim was partly at fault, a Mississippi court will deduct a corresponding amount from the victim’s damages – 30 percent if the victim was 30 percent at fault, for example. Theoretically, the victim can recover 1 percent of his damages even if he was 99 percent at fault.

Fault/No Fault Rule: Mississippi is not a no-fault state – you may file a claim against the other driver or his insurance company if you believe that he was at fault.

Minimum Insurance Coverage: In Mississippi, minimum coverage limits for auto liability insurance are $25,000 per victim, $50,000 per accident and $25,000 for property damage.

Uninsured/Underinsured Drivers Coverage: Mississippi does not require its drivers to purchase uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance.

Types of Damages Available: Full compensatory damages are available. Punitive damages are available, but require “clear and convincing evidence” of a flagrant act on the part of the defendant. Punitive damages are capped at two percent of defendant’s net worth (less than this ratio if defendant is worth more than $50 million), unless the defendant was intoxicated or committing a felony at the time of the flagrant act.

Product Liability for Defective Vehicles: In Mississippi, product liability claims are subject to a $1,000,000 cap.

Suing the Government over Defective Roadways (Sovereign Immunity): Suing the State of Mississippi requires prior notification under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act. Claims are limited to $500,000, and punitive damages are not allowed.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws: Motorcycle helmets are required for all riders.

Seat Belt Laws: All occupants aged 7 and older must buckle up when riding in the front seat. The maximum fine for a first offense is $25.

Dram Shop Law: Both licensed vendors and social hosts face third-party liability for serving alcohol to a minor under 21 who injures a third party due to the resulting intoxication. Vendors also face limited third-party liability for serving alcohol to obviously intoxicated adults.

DUI/DWI Penalties (first offense): A first-time DUI offender can expect jail time of up to 48 hours, a fine of between $250 and $1,000, and a 90-day driver’s license suspension.

Distracted Driving (texting while driving, etc.): Texting while driving is prohibited for all drivers in Mississippi. On-duty school bus drivers may not use cell phones even if they are not hand-held.