After being involved in a car accident, one of the most important steps, second only to getting medical treatment, is reporting the accident to law enforcement. Failure to report a crash could lead to harsh consequences.
While you should report any car accident, only certain collisions are required by law to be reported. If the accident involved bodily injuries, death, or a certain degree of property destruction, it must be reported to the authorities. Failure to report might lead to trouble, especially if someone is hurt. Leaving an accident without calling the police might be considered a hit-and-run. If drivers are too badly injured to report the accident, they might be exempt. However, a passenger must instead make the report. After reporting the accident, an attorney can help you get a copy of the police report to use in a possible lawsuit or insurance claim.
If you are unsure whether to report an accident, err on the side of caution, and call the police. Our Mississippi car accident lawyers can help you work on getting compensation after we get the police report. Call Howe Law at (844) 876-4357 for a free case review.
Reporting Requirements for Vehicle Accidents in Mississippi
You do not necessarily have to report every car accident to the police. Relatively minor accidents involving minimal or no damage or injuries often do not have to be reported. However, some accidents must always be reported, according to Mississippi Code § 63-3-411(1). Accidents, where a person is injured or killed, must always be reported. Even if injuries are minor, you should still report the accident to law enforcement. You must also report accidents involving at least $500 in property damage.
Who you contact to report an accident varies based on your location. Under Mississippi Code § 63-3-411(3), local municipal authorities are responsible for handling accidents within the municipality’s bounds. For example, if your accident happened in Hattiesburg, MS, you must report the crash to the local Hattiesburg police department.
If your crash happened outside the bounds of a municipality, there are other authorities you can report to. For example, you might report the accident to the sheriff of the county where your accident happened. Alternatively, you can contact the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol if your accident happened somewhere like an interstate highway. If you are unsure who to contact, call our Biloxi car accident attorneys for help.
Potential Consequences for Not Reporting a Mississippi Vehicle Accident
You should always report an accident to law enforcement for several reasons. First, reporting the accident gets you the help you need much faster. When you call the police or 911 to report the accident, they may also send emergency medical personnel to treat any injuries. Second, failing to report a crash might lead to serious legal penalties. If you did not report a crash, our Mississippi car accident lawyers can help you do so and hopefully avoid any serious consequences.
Under the law, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident without contacting the police. If someone contacts law enforcement, leaving before the police arrive is still illegal. If you are involved in a crash that must be reported, you must stay put until the police arrive. If you leave, you can be charged with a hit and run offense. If someone was injured in the crash, your hit and run charges might be quite severe.
According to Mississippi Code § 63-3-403, a driver in an accident that results in only property damage might be guilty of a misdemeanor offense if they leave the accident scene. Under Mississippi Code § 63-3-401(4), if the accident involved personal injuries or death, you might face felony charges and a possible prison term of at least 5 years but no more than 20 years.
What to Do if the Driver Cannot Report the Vehicle Accident in Mississippi
Car accidents can be very serious, and drivers might be so injured that they are physically incapable of reporting the accident to law enforcement. Many injured drivers cannot even recall the events of the accident. They remember driving their car, and the next thing they knew, they were in the hospital. Fortunately, the law tends to be understanding in situations like this and might not require drivers to report the accident immediately.
Accidents must still be reported even if drivers are too injured to make the report themselves. Under Mississippi Code § 63-3-413, if a driver is physically incapable of reporting a car accident when required, a passenger in the vehicle must do so instead.
If you were in a car accident as a passenger and the driver cannot contact the police and report the crash, the responsibility of reporting might fall to you. If you are unsure how to proceed, call our Mississippi personal injury lawyers for guidance.
How to Get a Copy of the Accident Report in Mississippi
You must report car accidents to law enforcement, not just because you are required by law. You should do so because you can use the accident report drafted by the police as part of an insurance claim or legal action against the other driver.
Under Mississippi Code § 63-3-417(1), the police can disclose the contents of an accident report under certain circumstances. These reports are not public records and are intended for confidential use by police departments, but you can request a copy if you were involved in the crash. The police may also provide copies of the report to the other drivers involved in the crash or their legal counsel. If a family member passes away because of injuries sustained in the crash, the police may disclose the report to the deceased person’s next of kin upon request.
Our Biloxi personal injury lawyers can use the report to help you file an insurance claim. Insurance companies often want some proof of the accident, and they often require copies of police reports. We can also use the report if we file a personal injury lawsuit, but the report itself is usually inadmissible as evidence because it violates the hearsay rules. Instead, we can use the report as a tool to find other evidence contained in or suggested by the report.
Call Our Mississippi Car Accident Attorneys for a Free Case Evaluation
After a car crash, you should always call the police and report the accident, even if the accident does not legally have to be reported. Our Mississippi car accident lawyers can help you take action to get compensation for your injuries. For a free case review, call Howe Law at (844) 876-4357.