This article examines a few Mississippi laws that could affect any settlement or lawsuit after a car accident in the state. We'll look at Mississippi's time limits for filing a court case after an accident, as well as how Mississippi's status as a "pure" comparative fault state may affect your injury claim if you are found to be partly at fault for the accident.
Like all other states, Mississippi has a law that limits the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after a car accident. This rule, known as the "statute of limitations," gives you three years from the date of the accident to file your case in court (Title 15, Ch. 1, Secs. 15-1-36, 15-1-35, 15-1-49). This three-year limit applies whether your lawsuit is over personal injuries or property damage (i.e. damage to your car).
The statute of limitations only affects how long you have to file a lawsuit after a car accident in Mississippi. It does not affect how long you have to file a claim with your insurance company after an accident. But it's often wise to file your insurance claim as soon as you can, for two reasons. First, filing your claim quickly means getting a quicker settlement and getting on with your life after a car accident. Second, getting the insurance claim process started right away will help ensure that you have plenty of time to go to court and get your lawsuit filed (in terms of the statute of limitations deadline) if settlement negotiations break down.
In Mississippi, who is on the financial hook for medical bills, vehicle damage, and other losses resulting from a car accident usually depends on who was legally "at fault" for causing the crash.
In the rare event that your car accident case makes it all the way to trial, the jury will make a finding on who was at fault, and will decide how much in the way of compensation (known as "damages") the liable party should pay. But what happens when a jury decides that both you and another person involved in the crash are both at fault? Mississippi uses a "pure" comparative fault rule in that situation. Under this rule, your damages are reduced by the percentage of fault that was assigned to you.
For instance, suppose that in your case, the jury decides your damages amount to $20,000, and that you were 40 percent at fault for the accident, while the other driver was 60 percent at fault. Under Mississippi's pure comparative fault rule, you can receive $12,000, or $20,000 minus the 40 percent of fault that was assigned to you.
Mississippi's pure comparative fault rule will likely come into play even during settlement negotiations. If the adjuster is adamant that you share some amount of of legal responsibility for the accident, he or she will keep an eye towards what were to happen if your case made it to trial, and any settlement offer will likely be reduced to reflect your perceived share of fault.
Any car accident claim is sure to be affected by Mississippi's car insurance rules, including those that set minimum insurance coverage requirements for owners and operators of vehicles in the state. For more information on these rules, see our article Car Insurance Laws in Mississippi.