Car accidents are a leading cause of fatalities in the United States for people aged 1-54. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly 42,900 people die yearly from car accidents. Moreover, the Arkansas Department of Public Safety and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety accident data indicate an average of 630 fatal car crashes resulting in nearly 700 annually. Most car accidents are preventable events and involve negligence or recklessness. Understanding the common types and causes of car accidents is crucial to securing compensation after a collision. Families who have lost loved ones because of another’s negligence should consult an attorney to learn about their rights and remedies under Arkansas’ personal injury and wrongful death laws.
Cause of Fatal Car Accidents in Arkansas
The Arkansas Department of Public Safety publishes fatal crash summary information from reported car accidents. The reports provide insight into the common causes and contributing circumstances of deadly accidents in the state. Data from December 2022 indicates that the following were some of the leading factors involved in fatal accidents:
- Driver lost control (8 accidents);
- Driver crossed centerline (7 accidents);
- Wrong-way driver (5 accidents);
- Driver turning left (5 accidents); and
- Driver ran off the road (4 accidents).
Additionally, several accidents involved drivers trying to negotiate a curve, rear-ends, and improper passing.
Reckless Driving Consequences in Arkansas
Arkansas’ Transportation Code defines “reckless driving” as operating a vehicle in a way that indicates a wanton disregard for the safety of others. In Arkansas, reckless driving can lead to serious civil and criminal penalties. In addition to jail time, fines, and driver’s license suspensions, those who cause an accident because of their recklessness may be liable for any damages their conduct caused.
Those seeking compensation from a reckless or negligent driver must establish liability by a “preponderance of the evidence.” Essentially, this means that the victim must show that it is more likely than not that the other party is liable for the victim’s injuries. Evidence that the at-fault party violated the reckless driving statute is evidence of negligence and does not necessarily constitute negligence per se. Conversely, compliance with a statute does not automatically resolve the failure issue in the at-fault party’s favor. It is essential that accident victims consult with an attorney to understand how the state’s complex personal injury and wrongful death laws might impact their compensation claims.
Wrongful Death Claims Arkansas
Arkansas law permits wrongful death claims when an accidental or intentional act causes another’s death. Wrongful death lawsuits often arise in the context of fatal car accidents. In these cases, the deceased person’s personal representative must file the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the victim’s heirs. Eligible heirs to a wrongful death claim in Arkansas include the following:
- The deceased’s surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings;
- A person who stands “in loco parentis” to the deceased; and
- A person of the deceased stood in loco parentis.
Under Arkansas law, damages in a wrongful death lawsuit are awarded to the victim’s survivors to compensate them for the victim’s death. Generally, damages are awarded to the following:
- Deceased person’s family; and
- On behalf of the decedent’s estate.
Family claims usually involve payments to the family to compensate them for the following losses:
- Loss of decedent’s financial support;
- Emotional suffering;
- Loss of companionship;
- Loss of education, training, or guidance.
Damages to the estate typically include payments to cover the following:
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Medical bills for the decedent’s final injury;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Lost wages.
Generally, wrongful death claims stemming from motor vehicle accidents must be filed within three years of the date of the victim’s death.
Have You Lost a Loved One in a Fatal Arkansas Car Accident?
If your family recently lost a loved one in an Arkansas motor vehicle collision, you are undoubtedly going through an incredibly difficult time. At the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A., our dedicated Arkansas car accident lawyers are here to help. We recognize that this may not feel like a good time to initiate a court case, however, your time is limited to pursue a claim for compensation against the party responsible for your loss. For over two decades, we’ve refined our process to ensure that we remove as much of the burden as possible, making the recovery process streamlined and efficient. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with one of our Arkansas motor vehicle accident lawyers today, call the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A. at (479) 361-3575. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.