If you've been injured in a car accident in the State of Mississippi, you may have questions about how the laws will affect your property damage and/or personal injury claim. In this article, we'll review the laws most commonly associated with car accidents. To read the entirety of each law, click the link in each section, and use the specific Title numbers (search only the numbers) provided to perform a search on the database of Mississippi codes.
Here are the Mississippi car accident and traffic laws we'll cover:
Pedestrians and Crosswalks
The driver of a vehicle must stop and yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
Pedestrian Control Signals
Pedestrians must obey instructions on any traffic-control device.
Crossing at Other Than Crosswalks
Pedestrians intending to cross a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.
Pedestrians must use only the marked crosswalk to cross between two adjacent intersections that have traffic-control signals in operation.
Drivers to Exercise Due Care
The driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the driver's horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or obviously confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated person.
Pedestrians Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance
The driver of a vehicle must exercise due care to avoid colliding with any obviously confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated person, and must give warning using an audible signal.
Obedience to Traffic Control Devices
A driver must obey any traffic control devices applicable to the driver, unless directed by a police officer.
Driving on Right Side of Roadway
Drivers must drive in the right lane of roadways with the following exceptions:
Passing On the Left
Driver proceeding in the same direction must pass to the left at at a safe distance and shall remain in the passing lane until it is safe to return to the right lane.
Drivers being passed must not increase the speed of their vehicle until their vehicle is completely passed by the overtaking car.
Limitations on Overtaking on the Left
Drivers may drive to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle only if the left side is clearly visible and the overtaking vehicle can return to its lane without coming within one hundred (100) feet of oncoming traffic.
Passing On the Right
Drivers may pass on the right under the following conditions:
Following Too Closely
A driver must not follow another driver more closely than is "reasonable and prudent", having due regard for the speed of other drivers and traffic conditions along the roadway.
A driver of a motor truck (or any motor truck towing another vehicle) must leave at least three hundred (300) feet of space ahead of their vehicle and another motor truck (or another motor truck towing another vehicle).
Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices
A driver who has an intermediate license or a temporary learning or driving permit, or a driver of a bus with minors as passengers, must not drive while using a wireless communication device, send or receive text messages, unless they are contacting emergency services, a hospital, a physician, or a health clinic.
A bus driver with minors as passengers can also use a wireless communication device for official school business.
Drivers and Intersections
When two (2) drivers approach an intersection at approximately the same time the driver on the left must yield to the driver in the right.
Drivers Intending to Turn Left at Intersections
A driver who intends to turn left at an intersection must yield the right of way to drivers approaching from the opposite direction.
Drivers Entering or Crossing a Roadway
A driver about to enter or cross a roadway from any place other than another roadway must yield the right of way to all vehicles on the roadway to be crossed.
Bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as drivers of cars, and are subject to the same penalties as are drivers for violating traffic laws.
While passing a bicyclist on a roadway, a motorist must leave a safe distance of not less than three (3) feet between their vehicle and the bicyclist and must maintain this amount of clearance until safely past the bicycle.
All motorcyclists must wear helmets while riding on roadways. This law does not apply to persons eighteen (18) years of age or older who are riding in a parade and not exceeding thirty (30) miles per hour.
Motorcycles and Headlights
Every vehicle upon a highway during the period from sunset to sunrise (and at any other time when there is not enough light to clearly see a person at a distance of five hundred (500) feet ahead) must be equipped with lighted front and rear lamps.
Every motorcycle must be equipped with at least one (1) and not more than two (2) head lamps.
Any person who drives any vehicle in a careless or imprudent manner, without due regard for the width, grade, curves, corner, traffic and use of the streets and highways is guilty of careless driving. Careless driving is considered a lesser offense than reckless driving.
A driver who drives in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. Reckless driving is considered a greater offense than careless driving.
Alcohol and Minors
A driver under the age of twenty one (21) must not drive upon any roadway if they have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02% or more.
Driver's Duty to Give Information and Render Aid
A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person, including other drivers, passengers, and/ or passersby must give their name, address and the registration number of the car they are driving and must upon request, exhibit their operator's or chauffeur's license to any person injured in the accident, or to the driver or passengers.
Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Accidents Involving Death, Personal Injury, or Substantial Bodily Injury
A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person must immediately stop and remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Title 63-3-405.
Title 63-3-405 reads in part that the driver must give their name, address and the registration number of the car they are driving, and must upon request exhibit their operator's or chauffeur's license to any person injured in the accident, or to the driver or passengers.
Accidents Involving Only Damage to Another Car or Property
A driver involved in an accident resulting only in damage to property or another car which is
driven or attended by any person must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Title 63-3-405.
Accidents Involving Damage to Unattended Car or Unattended Property
A driver who collides with a parked car or who collides with other property which is unattended must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must attempt to locate and notify the driver or owner of the damaged car or damaged property.
Once located the driver who caused the accident must give their name, address, and the registration number of the car being driven.
If the driver or owner of the damaged car or property cannot be located, the driver who caused the accident must attach a written note to the damaged property in a conspicuous place giving their name, address, and the registration number of their car.
However, this law does not apply where no property damage occurs and where the owner of the unattended vehicle was guilty of negligence.
Driver's Duty to Notify Police Department
The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage totaling five hundred (500) dollars or more must immediately give notice to the local police department or to the nearest sheriff's office or highway patrol station.
Accident Reports Filed By Police Departments
Every police officer who investigates an accident must forward within six (6) days after completing the investigation a written report of the accident to the department if the accident occurred outside the corporate limits of a municipality, or to the police department of the municipality if the accident occurred within the corporate limits of such municipality.
Police departments shall forward such reports to the department within six (6) days of the date of the accident.
Accident Report Forms
The Department of Public Safety must prepare and provide traffic accident report forms to other agencies, municipal police departments, county sheriffs and other suitable law enforcement agencies or individuals.
The Department of Public Safety also may make such forms available in electronic format, which shall be accessible by law enforcement departments and other agencies without charge.
Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance
A driver must not drive after drinking an alcoholic beverage or consuming an intoxicant in an amount which renders the driver incapable of driving safely along roadways.
In Mississippi, a driver is guilty of the offense of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or higher.
The court must order either the impoundment or immobilization of all vehicles registered to the person convicted for the entire length of license suspension. The impoundment or immobilization begins upon conviction and continues throughout the suspension period.
Ignition Interlock Device
A driver who is guilty of a second or subsequent offense of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant as set out in Title 63-11-30 (below) and who shares a household with other licensed drivers who are dependent on the vehicle must have installed at his or her own expenses an ignition interlock device. The ignition interlock device must be installed in every car owned or operated by the driver.
An ignition interlock is a device which measures any amount of alcohol contained in a driver's body. Before starting the car the driver must blow into a tube emanating from the ignition interlock device. If the device then detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than is permitted by law the car will not start and the violation will be reported to the prosecutor, the probation officer, and/or the judge.
At that point the driver may be subject to loss of driving privileges, immediate arrest and incarceration up to the maximum term provided by law.
Title 63-11-30 and Title 63-11-31
Mississippi Dram Shop Law
Mississippi has a modified Dram Shop Law. Dram Shop Law refers to the liability of private social hosts, bars, hotels nightclubs and other commercial establishments who serve alcohol to patrons or to minors for injuries intoxicated patrons or minors cause to third parties such as in car accidents.
A private social host is the host at a private party, such as a wedding reception, a corporate sponsored event, a gathering of friends at a private residence, where alcohol is served not for profit.
Under Mississippi law, it is a violation of the liquor control laws for a social host or a commercial establishment to serve alcohol to a minor, a person under the influence of liquor, or a person known to the establishment or its employees to be addicted to liquor, or a person who announced plans to drive with the liquor in hand.
However, the law stops there. Even if a social host or a commercial establishment is found to have violated the liquor control law, they are not liable for the actions of the intoxicated person.
For violating the liquor control laws, such as knowingly providing alcohol to a minor or selling alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person, a social host or a commercial establishment can be fined, and the establishment may lose its liquor license.
For an injured third party to succeed in a claim for personal injuries or property damage against a commercial establishment or social host, the injured third party must file a lawsuit alleging negligence by the establishment or the social host. While presenting a case in court, the injured third-party may cite the violation of liquor control laws by the establishment or the social host.
Financial Responsibility Car Insurance Minimum Limits
In the State of Mississippi, each motor vehicle must be covered by an insurance policy that includes liability coverage of the following amounts for all damages resulting from an accident:
Mississippi Insurance Information
For information about insurance in Mississippi, see the State of Mississippi Auto Insurance Consumer Guide.
Comparative Negligence (51% Rule)
In Mississippi, the victim in a car accident can sue the negligent driver for compensation. The victim's liability in causing the accident, their comparative negligence, affects the amount of compensation the victim receives.
If the victim contributed less than 51% of the negligence that caused the accident, then their compensation is reduced by the amount they contributed to the accident.
If the victim contributed 51% or more of the negligence that caused the accident, then the victim is barred from receiving any compensation.
Example of Comparative Negligence (51% Rule)
One morning, Jackson was driving north on his way to work. At an intersection, he pulled into the left turn lane. At the same time, Melanie approached the intersection from the opposite direction. Suddenly, Jackson turned left into Melanie's lane and their cars collided.
Melanie sustained serious brain injuries and damage to her car, totalling in $100,000 dollars worth of damages.
After their investigation, the police determined that Jackson had failed to yield according to traffic laws. A pedestrian witness told police he saw Melanie looking down into the glove compartment at the time Jackson's car crashed into Melanie's. As a result, the police issued Melanie a citation for careless driving.
Melanie sued Jackson for $100,000 and claimed he was 100% at fault for the accident because he did not yield to her right-of-way. At trial, the jury found Jackson liable for failing to yield the right-of-way. However, the jury also found Melissa liable for careless driving and partially responsible for the accident.
The verdict stated Jackson's negligence equaled 70% of the accident, and Melanie's equaled 30%. The jury awarded Melanie only $70,000 dollars.
In the event the jury had found Jackson's negligence equaled 49% of the accident, and Melanie's equaled 51%, the jury would be barred by law from awarding Melanie any compensation for the damages.
Comparative Negligence: Title 11-7-15
Right of Way: Title 63-3-803
Careless Driving: Title 63-3-1213
Mississippi's No Fault Car Insurance
Mississippi prescribes to liability insurance and does not prescribe to no-fault insurance. A driver can file a claim under their own insurance policy, pursue a claim against the other driver's insurance policy, and/or file a lawsuit against the other driver.
Mississippi Insurance Department
Statute of Limitations
Mississippi has a three (3) year statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury claims. This means if a driver, passenger, or passerby is injured or sustains property damage at the hands of a negligent driver, the victim file a lawsuit within three (3) years.
Small Claims Courts
In Mississippi, victims of car accidents can choose to sue the negligent driver in small claims court. In Mississippi, the jurisdiction of a small claims court regarding personal injury and property damage is limited to a maximum of $3,500, exclusive of filing fees and court costs.
To submit a claim in small claims court, visit the State of Mississippi Judiciary website.
Mississippi Government Tort Claims - Sovereign Immunity
In Mississippi, it is possible to submit a claim against a governmental agency or its employees for personal injury or property damage as a result of negligence on the part of the governmental agency or its employees. The claim must refer to an lawful action on the part of the governmental agency or employee performed in the scope of their duties.
If the injury or property damage occurred as a result of an unlawful action, then the claimant can sue only the person(s) who caused injury or property damage individually. The governmental agency would not be liable.
If Melissa, an engineer with the Jackson Planning Department, ran a red light on her way to a worksite and caused an accident, then the City of Jackson would be liable for the property damage and personal injuries caused her.
If Melissa stopped for a few drinks and became intoxicated before heading to a worksite and causing an accident, then the City of Jackson can claim sovereign immunity. Melissa performed an unlawful act and was not acting in the scope of her duties when she became intoxicated on her way to the worksite.
To seek compensation for damages, injured parties would have to sue Melissa personally. The determination of whether or not Melissa was acting within the scope of her duties would have to be decided during a trial.
Mississippi places a cap on a maximum of five hundred thousand ($500,000) dollars on the amount of damages that can be claimed against a government agency or its employees.
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