Car accidents happen to the best of us - especially when they're on a highway as dangerous as I-10 - and they can damage us, physically, legally and financially. If you've totaled your car (and possibly someone else's) or suffered from physical injury and needed treatment as a result, the financial costs can soon begin to rack up. And that's before you include the legal costs. If you've had an I-10 accident in Mississippi, these are the steps to ensure you're financially protected.
The fourth longest Interstate Highway in the United States, I-10 runs from Santa Monica, California to Jacksonville, Florida. A study found that I-10 was one of the most dangerous highways in the United States, ranking at number four in a list of 50. ValuePenguin, the research firm who conducted the study, stated that I-10 has seen more than 1,300 deadly accidents between 2011 and 2015, with poorly lit conditions being one of the main causes.
I've Had a Car Accident on I-10. What Do I Do Now?
Car accidents are expensive business. Not only will you need to repair your car and whatever other property might have been damaged, you will also need emergency or ongoing treatment if you're injured, potentially pay for legal costs and see your insurance premiums rise.
Much of this is inevitable and an unfortunate consequence of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but there are things you can do to financially protect yourself as much as possible. Some of these are best put in place BEFORE you have a crash...
1. Use Car Insurance
This is the first and arguably one of the most important steps. Every state in the US has minimum auto insurance laws although their extent varies from state to state. In Mississippi, you are required by state law to have car insurance to drive (but not to register your car or apply for your license). According to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), you must have liability insurance, which will cover the other car and driver when the accident is your fault.
The minimum coverage amounts required are:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury.
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury.
- $25,000 per accident for property damage.
It's recommended that you buy a car insurance policy to cover these amounts. Alternatively, you can post a bond or make cash or security deposits to cover these minimum amounts.
2. Consider Optional Car Insurance Coverage Types
The law requires you to have minimum coverage amounts we mentioned above, but if you want to ensure that your financial costs are as low as possible, it's worth investing in these coverage types. Car insurance providers in Mississippi will offer these as optional extras:
- Collision coverage - helps to pay for damages to your car caused by hitting another car or objects.
- Uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage - helps to pay for your expenses if you're involved in an accident with a driver who has no or too little insurance.
- Medical payment (med pay) - helps to pay for medical expenses as a result of an accident.
- Rental car coverage.
- Loan/lease gap coverage.
- Roadside assistance or towing coverage.
3. Have Health Insurance
Health insurance isn't compulsory in the US, but if you are injured in a car accident, you will need medical treatment and that can become quite costly if you don't have health insurance. This is particularly the case if your injuries require you to have a series of treatments.
Even if the accident wasn't your fault, the person who caused it isn't required by law to pay your medical expenses as you incur them. You are responsible for the payment of your medical bills. There are, of course, exceptions to this.
4. Shop Around For Car Repairs
Car repairs aren't usually cheap, even if they're as minor as a scuffed bumper. Adding those repairs on top of your car insurance and medical expenses can make the costs rather crippling. That's why you should shop around for car auto body repair shops.
Don't just head to your nearest shop. Make sure you're getting the best service at the best price by comparing at least three different quotes.
What if I Don't Have Car Insurance?
Times are tight and wallets might be even tighter. We get it. But if you're considering driving without auto insurance, you need to think again. It's illegal in all 50 states to drive without insurance so you are guaranteed to face some harsh penalties if you're caught. And it's not just car accidents that will expose you. Police officers may pull you over at any time and ask to see your insurance ID card.
In Mississippi, you face a $1,000 fine if you don't have car insurance and will have your license suspended for a year. Reinstating your license will be more expensive and so will re-applying for auto insurance as companies will see that you've committed a misdemeanor against the Mississippian law and consider you a high risk driver. They might even deny you.
So the key message here? You need car insurance if you want to soothe the financial burden of a car accident.
If the accident wasn't your fault, the person who caused it must pay you damages as compensation. If you don't have health insurance, you may be able to use these methods to get at least some of your medical expenses paid:
- Medical payment coverage (med pay) - mentioned earlier, some insurance policies include this option to cover your medical bills up to the amount stated in the limits (usually less than $10,000).
- Medicaid - a federal health insurance program that provides health insurance to low income people through state agencies. Medicaid can pay your medical bills going forward and may even cover some of your past bills, depending on your state's regulations. Check with your state's Medicaid office to see if you qualify for this.
Get Professional Advice From a Lawyer
As well as calling your insurance company, the police and the emergency services (if anyone is injured) to notify them of your accident, you should also consider consulting a lawyer once the dust settles.
They will be able to collect information from you about your accident, advise you of the best steps to take and check that you're not being sued. Make sure that you document as much of the accident scene as possible, for example, as this will help your case.
At Coxwell & Associates, our qualified team of attorneys have over 35 years of experience in helping Mississippians and that includes auto accidents. Contact our auto accident attorneys for a complimentary consultation - we will work hard to resolve your claim quickly in an equitable manner.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.