Who bears the risk if you loan your vehicle to a friend in Mississippi?
This article outlines Mississippi's car insurance laws, emphasizing the state's fault-based insurance system and the minimum coverage requirements. It sheds light on the penalties for driving uninsured, explores optional coverages, and elaborates on the legal routes available when involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.
Imagine driving along the scenic Mississippi River, watching the sunset in the distance, when out of nowhere, you’re blindsided by a careless driver running a red light. You sustain significant injuries, and your car is heavily damaged. To make matters worse, the at-fault driver apologizes profusely but explains that he doesn’t have any car insurance.
In this article, we’ll explore Mississippi's car insurance requirements, including what legal options are available if you’re involved in a Mississippi car accident with an uninsured driver.
What is a fault-based insurance system?
A fault-based insurance system means that the driver who is at fault for a car accident is legally responsible for all of the damages stemming from the accident.
Mississippi follows a fault-based insurance system. Accordingly, you have three options if you’re involved in an accident that’s not your fault:
- File an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company,
- File a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, or
- File a claim with your own insurance company (your insurance company will then seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurer).
What are the minimum car insurance requirements in Mississippi?
Under Mississippi law, drivers are required to carry liability insurance, which covers any damages or injuries you may cause to others in an accident (up to the policy limits).
The minimum required coverage in Mississippi is as follows:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death per person
- $50,000 for total bodily injury or death per accident if multiple people are injured
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
These are the minimum requirements under Mississippi Code Section 63-15-3, but it’s important to note that you’re personally responsible for any damages that exceed your policy limits. As a result, many drivers choose to purchase liability insurance that exceeds the minimum amounts required.
Learn more about auto liability insurance, including what it does and does not cover.
What are the penalties for being uninsured in Mississippi?
Driving without insurance in Mississippi is a civil offense. If caught, uninsured drivers face penalties, including fines, suspension of driving privileges, and even potential jail time.
Here’s a closer look at the penalties for a first offense:
|Fine||License suspension||Registration suspension|
|$100||Suspension until proof of insurance is provided||Suspension until proof of insurance is provided|
Subsequent offenses can result in higher fines, increased suspension periods, and the possibility of imprisonment. However, the most severe consequence of driving without insurance is that uninsured drivers who cause an accident are personally liable for all of the damages that result.
Optional insurance coverage in Mississippi
While Mississippi law requires liability insurance, it doesn’t mandate other types of coverage, such as uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. However, these coverages can still be purchased and may provide critical protection:
- Comprehensive coverage provides coverage for losses other than those caused by a collision (vandalism, theft, etc.).
- Collision coverage provides coverage for damage to your vehicle caused by an accident with another vehicle or an object (such as a telephone pole).
- Personal injury protection (PIP) provides up to $10,000 in coverage regardless of who’s at fault (what’s covered depends on the specific policy).
- MedPay provides coverage for medical expenses incurred by you and your passengers, regardless of who is at fault.
- Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage provides coverage for bodily injury and property damage sustained by you or the passengers in your vehicle as a result of an accident involving an uninsured driver.
- Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage provides coverage for bodily injury and property damage sustained by you or the passengers in your vehicle as a result of an accident involving a driver who has insufficient insurance to cover the damages.
What are my legal options if I’m involved in a car accident with a driver who doesn’t have insurance?
If you’re involved in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance, you can turn to your uninsured/underinsured policy. Unfortunately, if you don’t have this optional policy, your only option is to file a personal injury lawsuit against the uninsured driver.
Filing a lawsuit against an uninsured driver is less than ideal because uninsured drivers often don’t have the money to satisfy a judgment. There are, however, collection tools that can be used by an experienced attorney.
Learn about civil judgments, including the tools attorneys have to enforce judgments.
How does car insurance work when a friend or family member borrows my vehicle?
In Mississippi, car insurance typically follows the vehicle, not the driver. This means that if a friend or family member borrows your car and causes an accident, your insurance policy will typically be the primary coverage to handle any claims. It's essential to consider this when lending your vehicle, as any claims could potentially increase your premiums or exhaust your policy limits.
Understanding car insurance requirements in Mississippi is critical for all drivers. If you have been injured in a car accident and have questions about insurance or your rights, it's wise to seek legal counsel. A Mississippi personal injury attorney can guide you through the process and help you understand your options.