1997 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Hall
Senate Bill 2098
AN ACT TO AMEND THE MISSISSIPPI MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY RESPONSIBILITY LAW BY CREATING A NEW SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 63-15-4, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE FOR COMPULSORY MOTOR VEHICLE LIABILITY INSURANCE; TO PROVIDE THAT CERTAIN VEHICLES SHALL BE EXEMPT FROM THE REQUIREMENT OF MAINTAINING MOTOR VEHICLE LIABILITY INSURANCE; TO PROVIDE THAT THE PERSONS INSURED UNDER LIABILITY INSURANCE SHALL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR AFFIXING AN EMBLEM ON EACH INSURED MOTOR VEHICLE AS EVIDENCE OF COVERAGE; TO PROVIDE FOR THE DESIGN OF SUCH EMBLEM BY THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND FOR THE FURNISHING OF SUCH EMBLEM BY THE INSURANCE COMPANY; TO PRESCRIBE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT; TO AMEND SECTIONS 63-15-3 AND 63-15-11, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO INCREASE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS; TO AMEND SECTION 63-15-29, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DELETE THE REQUIREMENT THAT A DISCHARGE IN BANKRUPTCY DOES NOT RELIEVE THE JUDGMENT DEBTOR OF OBLIGATIONS UNDER THIS CHAPTER; TO AMEND SECTIONS 63-15-13, 63-15-31, 63-15-43 AND 63-15-51, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CONFORM THERETO; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The following shall be codified as Section 63-15-4, Mississippi Code of 1972:
63-15-4. (1) It is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle in this state unless a policy of motor vehicle liability insurance in at least the minimum amounts required for proof of financial responsibility under Section 63-15-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is in effect to insure against losses which may arise out of the operation of such vehicle.
(2) The following vehicles are exempt from the requirement of subsection (1) of this section:
(a) Vehicles exempt by Section 63-15-5, Mississippi Code of 1972;
(b) Vehicles for which a bond or a certificate of deposit of money or securities in at least the minimum amounts required for proof of financial responsibility is on file with the department;
(c) Vehicles that are self-insured under Section 63-15-53, Mississippi Code of 1972;
(d) Vehicles that are both registered to and operated by nonresidents, except for those vehicles that are primarily operated in this state; and
(e) Implements of husbandry.
(3)(a) Every motor vehicle operated in this state and required by this section to be insured under a motor vehicle liability insurance policy shall have an emblem affixed to the vehicle in a prominent location as evidence of insurance. The insured parties shall be responsible for placing the emblem on each vehicle.
(b) The department shall design the emblem and determine where the emblem is to be placed on the vehicle.
(c)(i) An insurance company issuing a policy of motor vehicle liability insurance as required by this section shall furnish to the insured an emblem of the design adopted by the department, and shall furnish the emblem at the time the insurance policy becomes effective.
(ii) One (1) emblem must be furnished for each motor vehicle insured by the policy, and must have an expiration date clearly designated thereon to correspond with the expiration date of the policy of motor vehicle liability insurance. Upon renewal of the policy, the insurance company shall furnish to the insured parties a replacement emblem with the expiration date of the renewal policy for each insured motor vehicle.
(4) Every peace officer, driver's license examiner or other authorized agent or officer of the department, and other law enforcement officers authorized to inspect drivers' licenses or investigate motor vehicle accidents may inspect the emblem required under this section or investigate the reason for the lack of such emblem on any motor vehicle traveling on a public road or highway.
(5) Failure to maintain a policy of motor vehicle liability insurance or failure to have a valid emblem affixed to a motor vehicle as required under this section or fraudulent use of an emblem is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of Three Hundred Dollars ($300.00). A second or subsequent offense within a period of two (2) years from a prior offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00).
(6) The requirements of this section and the penalties provided herein are in addition to and not in lieu of the requirements and penalties as otherwise provided by this chapter.
SECTION 2. Section 63-15-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
63-15-3. The following words and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall, for the purposes of this chapter, have the meanings respectively ascribed to them in this section, except in those instances where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
(a) "Department" means the Department of Public Safety * * *, acting directly or through its authorized officers and agents * * *.
(b) "Emblem" means a decal, sticker or like device designed by the department as required pursuant to Section 63-15-4, Mississippi Code of 1972.
(c) "Highway" means the entire width between property lines of any road, street, way, thoroughfare, or bridge in the State of Mississippi not privately owned or controlled, when any part * * * is open to the public for vehicular traffic and over which the state has legislative jurisdiction under its police power.
(d) "Judgment" means any judgment which is final by expiration, without appeal, of the time within which an appeal might have been perfected, or by final affirmation on appeal, rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction of any state or of the United States, upon a cause of action arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of any motor vehicle, for damages, including damages for care and loss of services, because of bodily injury to or death of any person, or for damages because of injury to or destruction of property, including the loss of use thereof, or upon a cause of action on an agreement of settlement for such damages.
(e) "License" means any driver's, operator's, commercial operator's, or chauffeur's license, temporary instruction permit or temporary license, or restricted license, issued under the laws of the State of Mississippi pertaining to the licensing of persons to operate motor vehicles.
(f) "Motor vehicle" means every self-propelled vehicle (other than traction engines, road rollers and graders, tractor cranes, power shovels, well drillers and implements of husbandry) which is designed for use upon a highway, including trailers and semitrailers designed for use with such vehicles, and every vehicle which is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead wires but not operated upon rails.
For purposes of this definition, "implements of husbandry" shall not include trucks, pickup trucks, trailers and semitrailers designed for use with such trucks and pickup trucks.
(g) "Nonresident" means any person who is not a resident of the State of Mississippi.
(h) "Nonresident's operating privilege" means the privilege conferred upon a nonresident by the laws of Mississippi pertaining to the operation by him of a motor vehicle, or the use of a motor vehicle owned by him, in the State of Mississippi.
(i) "Operator" means any person who is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle.
(j) "Owner" means a person who holds the legal title of a motor vehicle; if a motor vehicle is the subject of an agreement for the conditional sale or lease * * * with the right of purchase upon performance of the conditions stated in the agreement and with an immediate right of possession vested in the conditional vendee or lessee or if a mortgagor of a vehicle is entitled to possession, then such conditional vendee or lessee or mortgagor is the owner for the purpose of this chapter.
(k) "Person" means a * * * person, firm, copartnership, association or corporation.
(l) "Proof of financial responsibility" means proof of ability to respond in damages for liability, on account of accidents occurring subsequent to the effective date of said proof, arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle, in the amount of Twenty-five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00) because of bodily injury to or death of one (1) person in any one (1) accident, and subject to the limit for one (1) person, in the amount of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) because of bodily injury to or death of two (2) or more persons in any one (1) accident, and in the amount of Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000.00) because of injury to or destruction of property of others in any one (1) accident.
(m) "Registration" means a certificate or certificates and registration plates issued under the laws of this state pertaining to the registration of motor vehicles.
(n) "State" means any state, territory or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, or any province of the Dominion of Canada.
SECTION 3. Section 63-15-11, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
63-15-11. (1) If twenty (20) days after the receipt of a report of a motor vehicle accident in this state which has resulted in bodily injury or death, or damage to the property of any one (1) person in excess of Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00), the department does not have on file evidence satisfactory to it that the person who would otherwise be required to file security under subsection (2) of this section has been finally adjudicated not to be liable, or has executed a duly acknowledged written agreement providing for the payment of an agreed amount in installments with respect to all claims for injuries or damages resulting from the accident, the department shall determine the amount of security which shall be sufficient in its judgment to satisfy any judgment or judgments for damages resulting from such accident as may be recovered against each operator or owner.
(2) The department shall, within sixty (60) days after the receipt of such report of a motor vehicle accident, suspend the license of each operator and all registrations of each owner of a motor vehicle in any manner involved in such accident, and if such operator is a nonresident the privilege of operating a motor vehicle within this state, and if such owner is a nonresident the privilege of the use within this state of any motor vehicle owned by him, unless such operator or owner or both shall deposit security in the sum so determined by the department and shall also furnish proof of financial responsibility. Notice of such suspension shall be sent by the department to such operator and owner not less than ten (10) days prior to the effective date of such suspension and shall state the amount required as security. If erroneous information is given the department with respect to the matters set forth in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of subsection (4) of this section, the department shall take appropriate action as hereinbefore provided, within sixty (60) days after it receives the correct information * * *.
(3) Any person so notified of suspension may, within ten (10) days after receipt of such notification, make a written request to the department for a hearing, and such request shall operate as a stay of any suspension pending the outcome of such hearing. For the purposes of this section, the scope of such hearing shall cover the issues of whether there is a reasonable probability of a judgment being rendered against such person in a lawsuit arising out of the accident and whether such person is exempt from the requirement of depositing security under subsection (4) of this section. At such hearing the department may also consider the amount of security required to be deposited, if any. The hearing shall be in accordance with rules and regulations * * * adopted by the department and furnished to the operator or owner with the notice of suspension. For the purposes of this section, a "hearing" may consist of a determination of such issues by the department based solely on written reports submitted by the operator or owner and by investigatory officers, if the owner or operator, in his written request to the department for a hearing, has expressly consented to such * * * hearing and that the department has consented thereto.
Any person whose suspension has been sustained may appeal as provided in Section 63-15-7, Mississippi Code of 1972. However, the suspension shall not be stayed by the department or any court while such appeal is pending.
(4) Subsections (1) and (2) of this section do not apply: (a) to the operator or owner if the owner had in effect at the time of such accident a liability policy with respect to the motor vehicle involved in such accident; (b) to the operator, if not the owner of the motor vehicle, if there was in effect at the time of such accident a liability policy with respect to his operation of motor vehicles not owned by him; (c) to the operator or owner if the liability of the operator or owner for damages resulting from such accident is, in the judgment of the department, covered by any other form of liability insurance policy or bond of a surety company authorized to do business in this state; or (d) to any person qualifying as a self-insurer under Section 63-15-53, Mississippi Code of 1972, or to any person operating a motor vehicle for such self-insurer * * *.
No such policy shall be effective under this section unless issued by an insurance company or surety company authorized to write motor vehicle liability insurance in this state, except that if such motor vehicle was not registered in this state, or was a motor vehicle which was registered elsewhere than in this state at the effective date of the policy or the most recent renewal thereof, such policy shall not be effective under this section unless the insurance company or surety company if not authorized to do business in this state shall execute a power of attorney authorizing the department to accept service on its behalf of notice or process in any action upon such policy arising out of such accident. However, every such policy shall be subject, if the accident has resulted in bodily injury or death, to a minimum limit, exclusive of interest and cost, of an amount required for proof of financial responsibility * * *.
SECTION 4. Section 63-15-13, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
63-15-13. The requirements as to security and suspension for failure to deposit security in Section 63-15-11, Mississippi Code of 1972, shall not apply: (1) to the operator or owner of a motor vehicle, properly insured as required by this chapter, involved in an accident wherein no injury or damage was caused to the person or property of anyone other than such operator or owner; or (2) if, prior to the date that the department would otherwise suspend license and registration or nonresident's operating and use privilege under Section 63-15-11, Mississippi Code of 1972, there shall be filed with the department evidence satisfactory to it that the person who would otherwise have to file security has been finally adjudicated not to be liable or has executed a duly acknowledged written agreement providing for the payment of an agreed amount in installments, with respect to all claims for injuries or damages resulting from the accident and that the person was properly insured as otherwise required by this chapter.
Nevertheless, the requirements as to furnishing proof of financial responsibility and suspension for failure to furnish same in Section 63-15-11, Mississippi Code of 1972, shall apply notwithstanding any provision of this section.
SECTION 5. Section 63-15-29, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
63-15-29. * * * A license and nonresident's operating privilege shall remain * * * suspended and shall not be renewed, nor shall any such license be thereafter issued in the name of such person, including any such person not previously licensed, unless and until every such judgment is stayed, satisfied in full or to the extent required and until the * * * person gives proof of financial responsibility subject to the exemptions stated in Sections 63-15-27 and 63-15-33, Mississippi Code of 1972.
* * *
SECTION 6. Section 63-15-31, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
63-15-31. Judgments referred to in this chapter shall, for the purpose of this chapter only, be deemed satisfied:
(a) When Twenty-five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00) has been credited upon any judgment or judgments rendered in excess of that amount because of bodily injury to or death of one (1) person as the result of any one (1) accident; or
(b) When, subject to such limit of Twenty-five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00) because of bodily injury to or death of one (1) person, the sum of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) has been credited upon any judgment or judgments rendered in excess of that amount because of bodily injury to or death of two (2) or more persons as the result of any one (1) accident; or
(c) When Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000.00) has been credited upon any judgment or judgments rendered in excess of that amount because of injury to or destruction of property of others as a result of any one (1) accident.
However, payments made in settlement of any claims because of bodily injury, death or property damage arising from a motor vehicle accident shall be credited in reduction of the amounts provided for in this section.
SECTION 7. Section 63-15-43, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
63-15-43. (1) A "motor vehicle liability policy" as the term is used in this chapter means an owner's or an operator's policy of liability insurance, certified as provided in Section 63-15-39 or Section 63-15-41, as proof of financial responsibility, and issued, except as otherwise provided in Section 63-15-41, by an insurance company duly authorized to write motor vehicle liability insurance in this state, to or for the benefit of the * * * insured.
(2) Such owner's policy of liability insurance:
(a) Shall designate by explicit description or by appropriate reference all motor vehicles * * * to which coverage is extended.
(b) Shall pay on behalf of the insured * * * and any other person, as insured, using any such motor vehicle or motor vehicles with the express or implied permission of such named insured, all sums which the insured shall become legally obligated to pay as damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of such motor vehicle or motor vehicles within the United States of America or the Dominion of Canada, subject to limits exclusive of interest and costs, required for proof of financial responsibility for each * * * motor vehicle * * *.
(3) Such operator's policy of liability insurance shall pay on behalf of the insured named therein all sums which the insured shall become legally obligated to pay as damages arising out of the use by him of any motor vehicle not owned by him, within the same territorial limits and subject to the same limits of liability as are set forth above with respect to an owner's policy of liability insurance.
(4) Such motor vehicle liability policy shall state the name and address of the named insured, the coverage afforded by the policy, the premium charged therefor, the policy period and the limits of liability, and shall contain an agreement or be endorsed that insurance is * * * in accordance with the coverage defined in this chapter as respects bodily injury and death or property damage, or both, and is subject to all the provisions of this chapter.
(5) Such motor vehicle liability policy shall not insure:
(a) Any obligation for which the insured or any company as his insurer may be held liable under any workers' compensation law;
(b) Any liability on account of bodily injury to or death of any employee of the insured while engaged in the employment, other than domestic, of the insured, or in domestic employment if benefits * * * are either payable or required to be provided under any workers' compensation law; or
(c) Any liability because of injury to or destruction of property owned by, rented to, in charge of or transported by the insured.
(6) Every motor vehicle liability policy shall be subject to the following provisions which need not be contained therein:
(a) The liability of the insurance company for the insurance required by this chapter shall become absolute whenever injury or damage covered by the motor vehicle liability policy occurs; the policy may not be cancelled or annulled as to such liability by any agreement between the insurance company and the insured after the occurrence of the injury or damage; no statement made by the insured or on his behalf and no violation of the policy shall defeat or void the policy;
(b) The satisfaction by the insured of a judgment for such injury or damage shall not be a condition precedent to the right or duty of the insurance company to make payment on account of such injury or damage;
(c) The insurance company shall have the right to settle any claim covered by the policy, and if such settlement is made in good faith, the amount * * * shall be deductible from the limits of liability specified in paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of this section; or
(d) The policy, the written application therefor, if any, and any rider or endorsement which does not conflict with this chapter shall constitute the entire contract between the parties.
(7) Any policy which grants the coverage required for a motor vehicle liability policy may also grant any lawful coverage in excess of or in addition to the coverage specified for a motor vehicle liability policy, and such excess or additional coverage shall not be subject to * * * this chapter. If a policy * * * grants such excess or additional coverage, the term "motor vehicle liability policy" shall apply only to that part of the coverage which is required by this section.
(8) Any motor vehicle liability policy may provide that the insured shall reimburse the insurance company for any payment the insurance company would not have been obligated to make under the terms of the policy except for the provisions of this chapter.
(9) Any motor vehicle liability policy may provide for the prorating of the insurance thereunder with other valid and collectible insurance.
(10) The requirements for a motor vehicle liability policy may be fulfilled by the policies of one or more insurance companies which policies together meet such requirements.
(11) Any binder issued pending the issuance of a motor vehicle liability policy shall be deemed to fulfill the requirements for such a policy.
SECTION 8. Section 63-15-51, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
63-15-51. (1) Proof of financial responsibility may be evidenced by the certificate of the State Treasurer that the person named therein has deposited with him * * * in cash, or securities such as may legally be purchased by savings banks or for trust funds in an amount required for proof of financial responsibility. The State Treasurer shall not accept any such deposit and issue a certificate therefor and the department shall not accept such certificate unless accompanied by evidence that there are no unsatisfied judgments of any character against the depositor in the county where the depositor resides.
(2) Such deposit shall be held by the State Treasurer to satisfy, in accordance with * * * this chapter, any execution on a judgment issued against such person making the deposit, for damages, including damages for care and loss of services, because of bodily injury to or death of any person, or for damages because of injury to or destruction of property, including the loss of use thereof, resulting from the ownership, maintenance, use or operation of a motor vehicle after such deposit was made. Money or securities so deposited shall not be subject to attachment or execution unless such attachment or execution shall arise out of a suit for damages as aforesaid.
SECTION 9. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after January 1, 1998.