Encountering Uninsured or Underinsured Mississippi Drivers
Being involved in an auto accident can be a difficult enough time without having to fight for compensation. A number of drivers on the road make this fight for compensation more difficult by not carrying a proper amount of auto insurance.
Auto Insurance Requirements
Mississippi requires all motor vehicles owners to carry a minimum amount of auto insurance. Despite this requirement, many drivers remain either uninsured or underinsured. Uninsured drivers carry no form of automobile insurance and do not have any liability insurance available in case of a car accident. Underinsured drivers either do not meet the required minimum coverage amounts or have less insurance coverage than you have. The state of Mississippi sets the following requirements:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury;
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury; and
- $25,000 per accident for property damage.
Many auto insurance providers in the state also offer optional additional coverage types, including collision, comprehensive, medical payment, rental car coverage, roadside assistance and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can help motorists pay for expenses caused during an accident involving a driver who has no insurance or too little insurance to cover the costs.
Many Avenues Available For Compensation
Auto accidents in Mississippi follow a traditional tort or fault system. This allows anyone who has been injured in a car accident to get compensation from the at-fault driver personally rather than being limited to only pursuing the insurance carrier. The injured person, whether they be a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or property owner, can seek compensation in a number of ways, including:
- Filing a claim with his or her own insurance company;
- Filing a claim with the company that insures the driver who is at-fault for the accident; or
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver.
Accidents Involving the Uninsured / Underinsured
Auto insurance liability coverage pays for damage you cause to other people and their property. However, if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you may be able to use your uninsured motorist coverage for compensation. UM coverage is first party coverage, meaning that it covers you in the event you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Every driver is required, by statute, to have UM coverage unless it is specifically rejected by the policyholder in writing. However, remember that this coverage protects you in the event you are in an accident with an uninsured driver and thus, waiver is not recommended.
If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, your UM coverage may provide compensation for you. Also, if you are involved in an accident with a driver who has insurance, but has less insurance than you have – aka an underinsured driver – your UM coverage may provide compensation.
In Mississippi, if you have more than one insured vehicle and are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you may be able to stack all of your automobile policies together to maximize your coverage. For example, if you are involved in an accident with a driver who has the state minimum $25,000 coverage and you have $50,000 but also own 2 other cars with the same coverage, you can likely stack all 3 of your policies together to equal $150,000 in possible UM coverage available to you.
Note that some policies, however, have exclusions for stacking, thereby attempting to prohibit it. Attempts at excluding stacking may be considered improper.
An Experienced Mississippi Personal Injury Attorney Is a Necessity
Even when there is a proper automobile insurance policy in place, getting the right amount of compensation that you deserve can be a hassle at best or an uphill struggle at worst. Making sure that your interests are properly represented is the best way to ensure that you get the compensation you need to get your life back on track. If you have experienced an auto accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver in the greater Biloxi or Gulfport area, contact the Law Offices of Judy Guice. Our decades of experience and excellence can help you achieve the best outcome in your struggles. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.