When to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer in Jackson, MS4450 Old Canton Rd, Suite 200
Jackson, MS 39211
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Jackson is the most populous city in Mississippi and is the state's capital. The Jackson, Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area has about 595,000 citizens as of 2019, which makes up about one-fifth of the state's population. Of course, when there are a lot of people in an area, there are a lot of drivers on the road, and so there will be plenty of car accidents. Every year, Jackson will contribute a significant number of motor vehicle accidents to the state's total, particularly on highways and at intersections. Accidents continue to happen in spite of a recent police initiative to crack down on interstate speeding.
At Morgan & Morgan, we understand when you're involved in a serious car accident, you need to have a trusted advocate to be your voice and protect your rights. It's not easy to navigate the complex rules of insurance companies and the legal system, which is why you're interested in learning when to hire a car accident lawyer in Jackson in the first place.
We're here to help you during this stressful time. Our goal is to make your recovery more manageable by taking the burden of negotiations off your shoulders and assisting in recovering the maximum amount of compensation possible. We want you to be able to move forward with your life. Let's take a look at how car accidents are handled in Mississippi.
Mississippi and the "at-fault" based insurance system
Mississippi is one of 38 states plus the District of Columbia that use the at-fault-based system to handle car accidents. In a fault state, individuals are assigned liability if they cause an accident which means their insurance company is responsible for compensating the other driver for property damage and injuries.
When an accident occurs, you should contact your own insurance company, which will, in turn, contact the at-fault driver's insurance company to get the process started. In the case of serious injuries, you should not speak directly with the other party's insurance agent because it's well known that insurance companies use a variety of tactics to take advantage of people in vulnerable positions.
Even though they may sound compassionate and caring, the other party's insurance company is looking for statements they can use against you. It's really easy to forget they don't care about your well-being. They're just trying to pay out as little as possible. When you hire Morgan & Morgan accident attorneys, we will represent your interests during negotiations and protect you from saying anything that could be detrimental to your claim.
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How does comparative negligence work in Jackson, MS car accident lawsuits?
Although Mississippi is a fault state, there are also pure comparative negligence laws that will dictate how much can be recovered based upon the percentage of fault you may have in causing the accident. If someone rear-ends you, in most cases, it will be cut and dry who is at fault, but suppose you did have some responsibility in the accident. It could be that you were breaking the speed limit. Even if the other driver did something foolish like t-bone you when you had the right of way in an intersection, you might have some liability if you were, in fact, speeding.
For example, say we need to take your case to court, and the jury, after hearing all the evidence, comes up with a figure of $400,000 for your compensation but decides 10% of the accident was your fault. In that case, you would be awarded $400,000 - 10% = $360,000. Likewise, the other party may recover some amount for their damages in an insurance claim, but it would be reduced by the percentage of fault they were assigned.
Damage caps in Mississippi and how they impact a car accident settlement
It's also important to know that Mississippi, like many states, limits the amount of money that can be recovered for non-economic damages to keep awards reasonable. Non-economic damages are things that don't come with a receipt, like pain and suffering. Although it's hard to set a price tag on something like mental anguish, juries do their best, but they are limited to $1,000,000. Some factors they will consider when awarding non-economic damages are:
- How much has the plaintiff's daily routine been altered or limited from their injuries?
- Do the injuries impact personal relationships?
- How do the injuries impact the plaintiff's sleep and ability to live normally?
- Will the injury affect the plaintiff in the long term?
What is the car accident statute of limitations in Jackson, MS?
Every state has laws called a "statute of limitations," which limits the amount of time you have to bring a lawsuit for a car accident. Generally, the clock starts ticking at the time of the accident. However, insurance companies require you to make a claim far quicker. Most of the time, the language says, "promptly," which typically means within days after the accident.
The statute of limitations in Mississippi is three years. You must bring a civil matter to the courts within that timeframe if you expect to get any compensation from the other party. Unfortunately, if you miss this window, you have no legal recourse.
Suppose a city, state, or county entity was responsible for your injuries. In that case, you have just one year from the time of your accident to file a claim notice with the state's Attorney General, Board of Supervisors, or City representative.
In the case of a wrongful death, which is when someone dies from a car accident, the family has three years from the time of death rather than the time of the accident. In Mississippi, the deceased party's estate representative, surviving spouse, children, parents, and surviving siblings can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
When is the best time to hire a car accident lawyer in Jackson, MS?
Often, you'll hear lawyer advertisements that say you should always contact an attorney after a car accident, even a minor one. In a lot of instances, this is true. Still, without a doubt, if you find yourself experiencing any of the following, the best time to hire an attorney is now:
You suffered serious injuries- Serious injuries will complicate a claim or lawsuit considerably because often, you're looking at a long and costly road to recovery, which means the stakes are high for all parties involved. Now is the time to give yourself room to recover, not worry and stress about handling a lawsuit on your own.
Your injuries require long-term treatment - You need to make sure whatever compensation you get will factor in future medical costs and changes to your lifestyle. In-home care and services will be expensive, as well as any modifications to your home that may be needed.
You were involved in a multiple-vehicle accident - When more than two vehicles are in an accident, the liability for each driver can complicate matters. It's best to have our attorneys investigate to argue a fair amount of fault for each driver.
What are the top traffic laws broken in Jackson, MS?
Jackson drivers follow a similar pattern of breaking traffic laws found all over the U.S. The same laws that are broken are also the cause of many serious accidents. Here are the traffic laws that are most frequently violated in Jackson, MS.
Following speed limits - Speed limits are put in place based upon the opinions of the public and statistical studies by traffic engineers. Generally, following the speed limit reduces the risk of accidents. When they do occur, injuries are often less severe than those that happen when a driver breaks the speed limit. Mississippi has an absolute speed limit law which means drivers can be cited by going one mile per hour over the posted speed limit.
Disobeying traffic signals - A good portion of Jackson, MS car accidents are caused when a driver ignores a traffic signal. Red light and stop sign runners run afoul of the law and can be held accountable for their actions.
Impaired driving - Drunk driving is illegal across the U.S. However, it still occurs and causes a significant number of accidents each year. Some, unfortunately, result in deaths. In 2019, 5,269 Mississippians were arrested for driving under the influence, and drunk drivers caused 170 fatalities.
Distracted driving - While Mississippi has yet to implement a hands-free driving law, it is illegal to read, write, or send a text message while driving as well as accessing, reading, or posting to a social media site while in control of a vehicle.
What should I look for in a car accident attorney?
Once you've figured out the best time to hire a car accident attorney, how do you make the right decision on who to hire? We believe the following merits are essential for a successful car accident attorney.
Expertise in car accident injury cases - Experience in car accident cases is crucial because they intersect state and local traffic laws with insurance policies. It's not enough to specialize in personal injury law. You need a lawyer with a proven track record in car accident injury cases.
Insurance negotiations expertise - When it comes to winning compensation for an auto accident injury, the insurance company is your primary opponent. The entire industry is built upon paying out as little as possible for every claim, even if they know your claim is legitimate. Our attorneys are wise to the tricks and strategies insurance companies use to deny, minimize, and drag out paying on settlements, and we fight fire with fire.
Provides advice on how to protect yourself - Our lawyers will explain to you how to talk to the insurance company and protect you from common traps they set to catch you making a mistake.
Guidance on gathering evidence - We will tell you what to collect and when to ensure all evidence is legally admissible to help build a persuasive case.
Compassionate relationship-building - An important component to a successful case is the relationship you have with your lawyer. You should be able to trust they have your best interests in mind and are able to relate to each other. While lawyers need to be objective, there is a balance between professionalism and friendliness. While we can't promise our lawyers will remain life-long friends with you, we do expect them to develop a good rapport with our clients.
Trial readiness - Most car accident cases are settled out of court through negotiations. However, you need a lawyer who will stay by your side through a trial should negotiations fail. All of our lawyers are expected to build each case as if they will end up in the courtroom. That's because we don't settle for anything less than the full value of your claim. We don't leave anything on the table. While many car accident attorneys will do everything to avoid a trial, if that's the only way forward, we take it. Frequently, our trial cases result in much higher awards for our clients.
When you're ready to hire a car accident attorney, we're prepared to fight in your corner and won't abandon you if the going gets tough. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. Our lawyers are standing by to review the facts and see if we can get you the financial relief you need.