Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana Accident Attorneys
A motor vehicle accident can change your life forever. Those who are seriously injured in an auto accident typically incur large medical bills, miss several days, weeks, or even months from work, and in the most severe cases, you may no longer be able to engage in any type of painful activity. When someone is injured or killed in a vehicle accident and another party was responsible, they deserve to be compensated.
Whether you have suffered serious injuries, lost a loved one, or both, the motor vehicle accident lawyers at Reeves & Mestayer, PLLC, are here to help. We will fight hard to get justice for you. We understand the physical, emotional, and financial devastation that can follow a motor vehicle accident and the challenging legal battle you face when seeking fair compensation. You do not have to face this battle alone. Please call us today and let us go to work for you!
Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are not always as straightforward as they appear. Determining the underlying cause and all contributing factors in your accident is key to determining who can be held responsible and proving fault in your case. Our experienced Biloxi motor vehicle accident attorneys will thoroughly investigate your accident so that we can aggressively pursue all avenues of compensation for you.
Common causes of motor vehicle accidents in Biloxi and throughout Mississippi include:
- Driver negligence: Negligence is a legal theory that is commonly applied in car accident cases. Essentially, negligence means acting in a thoughtless or careless manner. A driver is supposed to exercise reasonable care to avoid accidents with other drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. When a driver’s negligence results in accidents with injuries, they can be held liable for damages.
- Distracted drivers: These days, one of the most common forms of driver negligence is distracted driving. Motorists have always had distractions, but in today’s digital age, the use of electronic devices while behind the wheel has brought this danger to a new level. Texting while driving and similar behaviors distract drivers in three ways; manually, visually, and cognitively. Distracted driving puts everyone on the road in danger, and those who cause accidents and injuries by engaging in this type of behavior should be held accountable.
- Speeding or driving too fast for the conditions: Another common form of driver negligence is speeding, going too fast during adverse driving conditions, or other types of reckless driving, such as tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes, making sharp turns from the wrong lane, and many others. Some motorists drive aggressively because they are in a hurry to get somewhere, while others drive this way out of a careless mindset in which they have wanton disregard for the rules of the road and the safety of others.
- Intoxication: Many motor vehicle accidents are caused by drivers who get behind the wheel while they are chemically impaired. When someone is driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or even certain prescription drugs, it can cause them to become drowsy drivers, and become slow in their reaction times, making it more difficult to avoid hazards on the road. Driving while intoxicated can also have the opposite effect, putting a person in a mindset in which they willfully engage in reckless behavior.
- Defective vehicles or vehicle parts: Some auto accidents happen because of defective vehicles or faulty vehicle parts. Examples may include defective tires, faulty brake lines, malfunctioning computer systems, and many others. A faulty vehicle or vehicle part that malfunctions at the wrong time can result in an accident. When this happens, the party responsible may be the vehicle or vehicle part manufacturer, designer, supplier, or distributor.
- Defective roadways: Those who design, build, and maintain the roadways are responsible to exercise reasonable care to keep the roads free of hazards and defects. If a roadway does not meet minimum established standards and it results in an injury, the party responsible for designing, building, and/or maintaining the road might be liable. This is almost always a government entity, however, making these types of cases more complex and challenging to pursue.
Motor Vehicle Accident Injuries
Motor vehicle accidents can result in severe and catastrophic injuries, often leading to permanent impairment and chronic pain. Examples of common motor vehicle accident injuries include:
- Brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Neck and back injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Soft tissue injuries
- Severe burns
- Crush injuries
- Organ damage or loss
- Vision loss
- Wrongful death
What is Causing my Neck & Back Pain after a Car Crash?
If you are experiencing neck and back pain after a car accident, it is often the sign of a whiplash injury. Whiplash occurs from the rapid, jerky motion discussed earlier, and the severity of the injury depends on factors such as the speed of the vehicles at impact, how well you were able to “brace” yourself for the injury (e.g., did you see the crash coming or did it take you by surprise?), and many others.
Driver negligence is involved in the majority of automobile accidents in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. Negligence occurs when a driver fails to use the same basic level of care that the average person would in the same situation in order to avoid harming others. A negligent driver can be held financially responsible for your injuries, even though they did not intentionally cause your accident.
Examples of driver negligence that often leads to serious accidents include:
- Running a red light or stop sign: Blowing through stop signs or stop lights is a sign of willful disregard for the rules of the road. This type of behavior, though it could sometimes be considered negligent, can also cross the line into an intentionally reckless act.
- Failure to yield: There are times when it can be difficult to determine who has the right of way at an intersection. Still, drivers are supposed to know the rules of the road, and failure to yield when the other driver has the right of way is a negligent act for which a driver can be held liable if it causes an accident.
- Unsafe passing: Failed passing attempts can quickly become disastrous. These are most common with two-lane, undivided roads in which you must cross over into the oncoming traffic lane to pass a vehicle. Drivers should always make sure they have enough room to safely complete the pass, and they should be extra careful when going uphill or downhill.
- Failure to signal: Failing to put your blinker on when you are changing lanes or making a turn can be hazardous, because it does not provide adequate warning to other drivers about your intentions.
- Tailgating: Following another car too closely is another act that could be considered negligent but can also cross the line into recklessness. Tailgating another vehicle makes it far more difficult to avoid a collision if the car you are tailgating suddenly stops or slows down. And the dangers are exacerbated when there is inclement weather.
- Defective Vehicles: Some auto accidents result from faulty vehicles, or faulty vehicle parts. Examples may include computer system malfunctions, brake failures, and tire blowouts.
A defective vehicle can be the cause of an accident, or a defect can cause injuries to be worse in the event of an accident. If a vehicle defect caused your accident or injuries, you may be able to recover compensation through a product liability lawsuit against one or more of the following:
- Auto manufacturer
- Used car dealer
- Repair shop
- Auto shipper
Drowsy Driving Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), drowsy driving is responsible for approximately 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 fatalities annually. But the CDC goes on to say that these numbers vastly underestimate the problem. Oftentimes, drowsiness and fatigue does not show up in a police report after an accident, and the CDC says that as many as 6,000 fatal crashes may be caused by drowsy driving each year.
Who is Most Likely to Drive While Drowsy?
At some point in our lives, most of us who are licensed drivers have made the mistake of getting behind the wheel when we were too tired. Drowsy driving can happen to anyone who has not gotten the proper amount of rest. But that said, there are certain groups that run a higher risk of driving while drowsy or fatigued:
- Shift Workers: Individuals who put in long hours, particularly during evenings and overnights, or those who start early in the morning.
- Drivers with Untreated Sleep Disorders: Drivers with sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea) that are untreated run the risk of nodding off at the wheel.
- Intoxicated Drivers: Motorists who consume alcohol or sleep-inducing medications often get tired or sleepy when they drive.
- Commercial Drivers: Those who operate vehicles for a living; such as semi-truck drivers, tow truck drivers, bus drivers, taxicab drivers, and those who drive for ridesharing services such as Lyft and Uber.
Over-the-road long haul truckers are among the groups that are most susceptible to drowsy driving. Big rig truck drivers fit into multiple risk categories. They drive commercially for very long hours, often during the evening and overnight hours. And the CDC reports that as many as one third of all commercial truckers have mild to severe sleep apnea.
One of the most common dangers after a rear-end collision is injuries to the body’s soft tissue, which includes muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Even a low-speed rear-end collision can generate enough force to result in whiplash, which is the most common type of soft tissue injury from a car crash.
Whiplash refers to injury to the muscles in the neck after the head is forcefully and suddenly thrown forward and then back again. Any soft tissue injury can result in reduced mobility, swelling, and pain. Unfortunately, these don’t always show up immediately, with some taking days or even weeks to become noticeable.
Following a rear-end collision, you should see a doctor right away even if you don’t have significant discomfort and pain. A medical professional is in the best position to order the proper tests and determine whether you’ve sustained any serious injuries. They can also monitor your progress and let you know about other warning signs for a worsening condition.
What is a Mississippi Accident Case Worth?
Even though some insurance companies will try to tell you differently, there isn’t a computer program that is used to figure out how much your case is worth. In truth, no two cases are worth the same amount of money since no two situations are exactly alike. There are, however, several factors that will be used in determining the outcome of your case, which includes the full extent of your losses (damages).
Damages in Auto Accident Cases
Compensation for car accident injuries can come in several forms, and they can be divided into two general categories:
These are losses incurred by the injury victim that are quantifiable. Examples may include:
- Property damage
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Funeral and burial costs (in the case of a wrongful death)
These are intangible losses that are more difficult to assign a value to. Examples in this category may include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of consortium
In rare cases in which the actions of the responsible party were especially egregious, punitive damages may be awarded. For example, if your accident or the death of a loved one was caused by a drunk driver, punitive damages may be available in addition to compensatory damages. These damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer rather than to compensate the victim, so they are not available in most cases of negligence.
Under certain circumstances, you may be able to seek compensation from the bar, restaurant, or other type of business that served alcohol to the drunk driver who caused your injuries. Mississippi and Alabama dram shop laws protect establishments that serve alcohol legally but hold establishments liable if they serve a minor or an adult who is visibly intoxicated.
Mississippi Comparative Negligence Laws
Damages in auto accident cases may be reduced if the injured party shares any responsibility for the accident. Mississippi is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that if you are found to be partially at-fault for the accident, your damage award is reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault you share. For example, if your total damages were $100,000 and you are found to be 15% at fault, your compensation would be reduced by $15,000, bringing it down to a total of $85,000.
Insurance companies employ a wide range of tactics to try to diminish the value of a claim and pay out as little as possible. One of these is to try to assign at least partial blame to the injury victim by getting them to admit some fault for the accident. An experienced attorney can help you deal effectively with the insurance company and push back against their attempts to deprive you of the rightful compensation you deserve.
How to Negotiate a Full and Fair Settlement for Your Car Accident Claim
Your accident might have happened in the blink of an eye, but don’t expect for the resolution of your case to be quick. In fact, it would be a terrible idea to settle your claim too soon.
The full extent of your injuries and damages may not be evident for many months, and you can easily shortchange yourself by settling a case too quickly. It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to offer quick and easy settlements. Agreeing to these is never in your best interests.
Instead, take the time to get the medical treatment you need after a serious accident. Once you’ve stabilized, you can then think about settling your case for a fair amount.
Contact a Seasoned Mississippi Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Biloxi or anywhere in Mississippi, please call Reeves & Mestayer, PLLC at 228-374-5151 or toll free 1-855-558-2977. You may also send us a message through our web contact form. The initial consultation is free of charge; and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds. Please call right away to ensure that you do not waive your right to possible compensation.