Mississippi is one of the deadliest states to drive a vehicle. Recent data from the National Safety Council a reveals that in 2018, the state traffic fatality rate stood at 22.9 deaths for every 100,000 residents – the highest in the country. Whether it is a fender-bender or a severe accident with multiple injuries, drivers in Mississippi have legal responsibilities when a crash occurs.
The right thing to do after an accident is to stop at the scene, offer help to the injured, and call emergency services. Unfortunately, negligent drivers can disregard protocols and flee the accident scene, thus committing hit-and-run crimes. Hit-and-runs typically attract steep fines and penalties, not to mention adverse consequences with auto insurance.
If you or a loved one have been a hit-and-run victim, the highly experienced legal team from Morris Bart can help investigate the accident and prove you were wronged.
How Mississippi Hit-and-Run Penalties Are Determined
Mississippi laws require all drivers to stop at the accident scene immediately after getting into an accident. Any driver who fails to do so commits a hit-and-run crime. If convicted, you will not only pay more insurance premiums, but you will also deal with serious legal consequences.
In Mississippi, the penalties for hit-and-run crimes are determined by the severity of the accident. The following is a general guide on how penalties are determined:
Failure to Stop at an Accident Scene
Failure to stop at the accident scene attracts the following consequences:
- A fine of not less than $100 and not more than $5,000
- Between 30 days to one year jail time.
- Both penalty and jail term
A Hit-and-Run Accident that Results in Death or Severe Injuries
The impacts of a hit-and-run crash resulting in fatalities or severe injury include:
- Felony charges are preferred on a hit-and-run driver
- Jail time of between 5 to 20 years
- Fines of between $1,000 to $10,000
- A penalty can be fine, jail time or both
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Why do Drivers Run Away from the Scene of an Accident?
Although there are no justifiable reasons why drivers leave the scene of an accident, understanding why someone does so can answer some of the questions in your mind and help you get some closure. The following are a few reasons for a hit-and-run crime:
- Intoxication: If a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, their ability to think critically is impaired. They are tempted to leave the scene to avoid being arrested.
- Fear and confusion: The shock and fear that comes with the realization that one has caused an accident may cause a driver to leave the scene in confusion.
- Legal issues: If the person has committed a crime elsewhere, they may decide to run away from the accident scene to avoid being found.
- Misunderstanding: There are times two drivers in a car accident speak to each other before the police arrive. If only one provides contact information, the other driver could face hit-and-run charges for failure to follow the law.
Can Insurance Cover a Hit-and-Run?
Whether your insurance covers hit-and-run damages depends on the type of policy you carry. The following are some of the policies that cover these types of accidents:
- Optional collision coverage: An optional collision coverage may help pay for damages to your car after a hit-and-run crash. This policy provides a deductible specific to collision coverage representing a portion of the claim costs that you are financially responsible for.
- Uninsured motorist coverage: Mississippi requires motorists to carry uninsured motorist coverage, though drivers can decline by writing. The uninsured motorist policy covers medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs, including funeral expenses.
- Personal injury protection coverage (PIP): If you have personal injury protection coverage (PIP), the policy could help cover medical expenses for you and your passengers. Although a PIP is not required in Mississippi, the policy can be resourceful in hit-and-run cases.
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What Is the Statute of Limitations for Accident Claims in Mississippi?
The Mississippi statute of limitations provides a three-year deadline from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the driver who hit you. Failure to file your lawsuit within this period will likely result in a loss of compensation for your losses.
What to Do After a Hit-and-Run in Mississippi
If you are a victim of a hit-and-run in Mississippi, take the following steps to help you deal with the consequences of the accident:
- Collect information about the hit-and-run vehicles and drivers: Where possible, try to obtain the details of the other vehicle and driver promptly. You can take pictures and videos of their car and put down crucial information that can help the police and insurance investigate the crime.
- Call the police: Involving the police is crucial to ensure you receive justice and your rightful compensation. The responding officers will compile a police report that ensures you are legally protected.
- Seek medical attention: The most crucial concern is your safety and that of your passengers. Car accident injuries may take time to manifest and so it is recommended you see a medical doctor within 72 hours after an accident to be assessed for accident-related injury.
- Record details of an eye witness: If there are any witnesses, take down their statements and record their contact details, including names and phone numbers.
- Take photos of the scene: Take plenty of photos of the scene of the accident and document crucial information, including the road condition, weather, time of day, and damage.
- Contact your attorney: You will most likely have to file an insurance claim within a day or two. Contact your attorney to help you with this process.
Get Legal Help Today
If you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident in Mississippi, you need to take legal action and file claims. However, getting justice and compensation for a hit-and-run can be challenging, especially if the other driver is not found. The personal injury attorneys from Morris Bart Law are ready to help investigate the accident and file a car accident claim.
Get in touch with our legal team today to learn how we can help.
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