Mississippi is an “at-fault” state for vehicle accidents, which means that the person or party responsible for the accident is also liable for the damages caused. In most cases, their insurance company pays the settlement according to the terms of their policy. The process seems straightforward, but unfortunately, it is not always so simple. If you have been in a car accident, it is important to know your legal rights to compensation and the role of insurance companies in car accident claims. All companies are different, but generally, insurers are not known for offering maximum compensation for injury victims. Consider allowing the experienced team at Smith & Holder, PLLC, to negotiate on your behalf and help you determine the best course of action to receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today.
Vehicle Accidents in Mississippi
Accidents happen everywhere, and they happen a lot in Mississippi—which is just one more reason that understanding the role of insurance companies in accident claims is important. According to a recent report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Mississippi has the highest number of fatal car accidents per population of any state, with a death rate of 26.2 deaths per 100,000 people. The state also has the highest number of drivers who admit to spending a significant amount of time on their phones while driving. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of vehicle accidents nationwide.
States are required to set annual safety performance targets regarding fatalities and serious injuries based on 5-year rolling averages. As of the most recent period, the Mississippi Department of Transportation had not met or made significant progress toward obtaining its goals for safer roads across the state.
Vehicle Insurance Requirements in Mississippi
You must have car insurance to be on the road, but the detailed requirements differ by state. In Mississippi, auto insurance policy minimums must include:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person,
- $50,000 for bodily injury per accident, and
- $25,000 for property damage per accident.
You must also have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage with minimum limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. You can opt out of this coverage if the rejection is submitted in writing. In most cases, it is in your best interest to keep it in case you are in an accident caused by a driver who does not have insurance. If the liable driver has no insurance or not enough insurance to cover your losses, your uninsured and underinsured coverage would cover the scope of the damage caused.
No one ever anticipates being in a car accident, but it is good to be as prepared as possible. It may be worth noting that there are other optional types of coverage that can provide further protection for drivers. These options include personal injury protection (PIP), collision, medical payments coverage (MedPay), and comprehensive. The more coverage you have, the more likely you will be able to cover the expenses that arise from a vehicle accident.
Your personal injury lawyer can also help you determine how the terms of your insurance policy apply to your specific accident.
Insurance Companies and Car Accidents
Vehicle insurance ensures that victims of car crashes will have access to compensation for their losses. The insurer has two obligations according to standard policy terms. They must defend the person who holds the policy against any claims concerning a vehicle accident. This is referred to as a “duty to defend.” They are also obligated to pay for any damages caused by the insured driver according to policy limits. This is the insurer’s “duty to pay.”
The Role of Insurance Companies in Car Accident Litigation
When a car accident occurs and a victim threatens to or files a lawsuit, the insurance provider for the allegedly at-fault driver will defend the policyholder’s interests. In most cases, a claims adjuster or other authorized person at the insurance company will make legal decisions on behalf of their client and retain defense counsel. In many cases, the insurance company will already have a law firm on retainer.
The defendant’s insurance company always seeks to minimize their exposure. That is why it is important to have an experienced attorney who can help gather evidence to prove the cause of the accident. Even then, the defense may try and place as much of the blame as possible on the injured party to reduce the amount they have to pay out.
Smith & Holder, PLLC is known for its successful representation of tough cases, including those against big insurance companies. We understand that results matter. If you are in a serious car accident, you should never accept a settlement that equals less than maximum compensation. We will always provide an honest assessment of your case and will take the time to ensure you understand your legal rights. Contact us today to start the process of obtaining the compensation you deserve.