In all states but New Hampshire, it is mandatory that all motorists carry automobile liability insurance. Each state sets its own coverage minimums. In Mississippi, motorists must carry a minimum bodily injury liability limit for one person of $25,000, and $50,000 for all persons injured in one accident. Motorists must also carry a property damage liability amount for one accident of $25,000. These limits are commonly expressed as three numbers: 25/50/25.
Failure to carry the required minimum automobile insurance can result in harsh fines and even potentially jail time. In Mississippi, a first citation for failure to carry automobile insurance will result in a fine of several hundred dollars and suspension of your registration for a year, or until you provide proof of insurance. However, even these stringent penalties do not seem to dissuade motorists from driving without insurance in Mississippi. Mississippi has the highest number of uninsured motorists, with 28% of all drivers on our roads being uninsured. This means that nearly one out of every three drivers in Mississippi do not have automobile insurance.
Unfortunately, this means that law abiding motorists in Mississippi have a far greater chance of being involved in a car accident with an uninsured individual than drivers throughout the nation. However, if you have been in an automobile accident with an uninsured motorist, it does not mean you cannot receive compensation. There are two central means of receiving recovery if you have been injured by an uninsured motorist:
- Uninsured motorist coverage—uninsured motorist policies pay your damages when an automobile accident is caused by an insured motorist. Uninsured motorist coverage is probably the most complex part of an automobile insurance policy. Some states require motorists carry uninsured motorist coverage, but Mississippi does not. It is certainly a wise idea to carry this policy given the sheer number of uninsured motorists in our state. Everyone in your household is covered your uninsured motorist policy. The policy goes into effect when you are in a car accident with an uninsured motorist and they are at fault. It will cover many, but not all, of the things that would have been covered by the other party’s insurance company, had they had insurance. Depending on your particular policy, uninsured motorist coverage should cover: medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, and loss of future earning capacity. Uninsured motorist coverage generally will not cover damages to your vehicle or punitive damages. Given the complexities of uninsured motorist policies and the often low policy limits that may not cover all your damages, it is always best to consult with an attorney experienced in automobile accidents so that you receive the best possible outcome.
- Pursue the driver—if you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, you will likely have to pursue action against the other driver or drivers directly. This will mean the filing of a lawsuit and will require the assistance of a skilled automobile accident attorney. Your chances of recovery will depend on the fault of the other party, your sustained losses, such as injuries, medical bills, lost wages, etc, and their ability to pay.
These are just the two main avenues for recovery from losses sustained due to an automobile accident involving an uninsured motorist. There are also several alternative, creative recovery options depending upon the circumstances of the accident, such as recovery through workmen’s compensation if a party injured is working during the time of the accident. An experienced, knowledgeable Jackson auto accident attorney will be able to examine all the facts surrounding accident and determine the best avenue for you to receive the recovery you deserve. Contact the Giddens Law Firm today at (601) 355-2022 to receive more information.