In Mississippi, every vehicle driven is required to have coverage with a liability insurance policy with at least the minimum coverage set by the State, which is $25,000 per accident and $50,000 per occurrence. In addition to liability coverage, insurance companies offer a long list of optional coverage. One such option is Uninsured Motorist (also known as UM) coverage. If Mississippi law requires every driver to have liability insurance, why would anyone need to purchase this optional UM coverage? Let’s briefly explore some basics of UM coverage in Mississippi and see if it is worth the additional investment.
The first, and maybe most common, example of the appropriate application of UM coverage is when the negligent driver does not have any liability insurance. The reason could be the defendant did not purchase the liability coverage or maybe failed to make timely payments. Another reason for no liability insurance following a car accident could be more complex, such as unauthorized use of the involved automobile. In either case, if the insured plaintiff purchased UM coverage, they could be compensated for the related injuries, medical bills and wage loss by using their own automobile insurance policy.
A second example of the application of UM coverage in Mississippi is when the defendant does have liability coverage, but it may not be enough coverage to adequately compensate the victim. Currently, the minimum amount of liability coverage required in Mississippi is $25,000 per person for bodily injury. If the insured plaintiff is seriously injured and incurs extensive medical bills and/or wage loss, the defendant’s coverage may not cover all of the damages, meaning the defendant is underinsured. In this underinsured example, if the insured plaintiff has UM coverage with higher policy limits than the defendant’s policy limits, the insured plaintiff would have the option of receiving additional compensation under the UM policy, up to the purchased UM policy limits.
To further illustrate, let’s say the insured plaintiff is seriously injured by the defendant’s negligent driving and incurred total medical expenses and/or lost wages of $30,000. Defendant has liability insurance limits of $25,000 per person, which is threshold required by Mississippi law. If the plaintiff did not have UM coverage, the most the plaintiff would most likely receive is $25,000, which is the defendant’s per person limit. This would leave plaintiff with out of pocket loss being greater than the recovery. Now, if the insured plaintiff has UM limits higher than the defendant’s limits, a claim with the UM carrier could help fully compensate the insured plaintiff for both out of pocket expenses and the injury claim.
In yet more applications, UM coverage could apply when the insured plaintiff is not driving or maybe not in his or her automobile at all. If the insured plaintiff is injured while a passenger in someone else’s vehicle and the defendant is either uninsured or underinsured, the UM coverage may be available. The same applies for the insured plaintiff if they were struck by an automobile while a pedestrian. For example, if the insured plaintiff was struck by hit and run driver while jogging, he or she may be able to make a claim under their own UM policy. The fact that the insured plaintiff’s vehicle was not involved may not matter.
All of the previous examples referenced the insured plaintiff, but that does not necessarily mean the named policyholder. In Mississippi, UM coverage also extends to any family members that reside in the same household. For example, if a child of the policyholder is injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver, UM coverage may be used for recovery. This is true even if the child is too young to drive the insured vehicle on the policy./tupelo/car-accident-lawyers/
Although there is much more to cover, hopefully this brief overview has helped to clarify how Uninsured Motorist coverage works in Mississippi. Often, people may not even know if they have elected this optional coverage on their policy. Others may have purchased UM coverage but may not fully understand how it works. If you or someone you know has sustained an injury in a car wreck and would like to discuss the case in greater detail, please contact Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 1-800-529-4044 or complete our online form. Our attorneys handle car accident cases throughout Mississippi, and we have offices in Jackson and Tupelo.