Arkansas Car Accident Laws
Suffering serious injuries after a Fort Smith car accident is a traumatic experience. Suddenly, everything about your life changes. Your daily routine is no longer the same, and everything else takes a backseat to your physical recovery. However, even once you start to feel better, the lingering effects of an accident persist. You may have been unable to work for months and now face sizable medical bills. Or perhaps you missed out on important family activities, such as a wedding, graduation, or family vacation, because you were still recovering. Whatever your particular circumstances, a Fort Smith car accident can profoundly impact your life in many ways.
At the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A, our Fort Smith Car accident lawyers help accident victims and their families obtain meaningful compensation, helping them on their road to recovery. We have decades of experience investigating, preparing, negotiating and litigating car accident claims, often against some of the country’s largest and most well-funded insurance companies. We also understand that you may not be looking forward to the thought of picking up the phone to talk to a lawyer about your accident. Thus, we do everything we can to make the process as easy on you and your family as possible.
A Guide to the Car Accident Process
Recovering After a Fort Smith Car Accident
Anyone injured in an Arkansas car accident can pursue a personal injury claim against the party or parties responsible for causing the accident. A personal injury case is a civil claim focused on providing accident victims with monetary damages to help make up for what they have been through. These cases differ from criminal cases, which sometimes follow serious car accidents, in that criminal cases are focused on punishing a driver for their reckless actions. In a criminal case, even if a driver is found guilty, the judge cannot order the defendant to compensate the accident victim for their injuries.
In Arkansas, car accident cases are based on the legal theory of negligence. To successfully bring a Fort Smith car accident claim, you must prove the four elements of a negligence claim.
Duty – Did the other driver owe you a duty of care? Generally, all motorists owe everyone else on the road a legal duty to drive safely and responsibly. This includes following all traffic laws and posted traffic signs and signals.
Breach – Did the other driver breach the duty of care they owed to you? This is where a driver’s negligence comes into play. For example, did the other driver violate a traffic law, which led to the accident?
Causation – Were the other driver’s actions the cause of your injuries? Causation is a complex legal doctrine that requires you to prove two things. First, that your injuries would not have occurred absent the other driver’s actions, and second, that the other driver’s negligence was the legal cause of your injuries. This requires courts consider whether your injuries were a foreseeable consequence of the other driver’s negligence.
Damages – Did you suffer economic or non-economic injury due to the other driver’s negligence? Often, it is not a matter of whether an accident victim sustained damages, but the extent of their damages. It is imperative accident victims identify the full extent of their damages because they only have one chance to bring a personal injury lawsuit after an accident.
While proving each of these elements may seem straightforward in theory, in practice, the insurance company handling your case will almost certainly dispute at least some element of your claim. For example, even if the other driver is clearly at fault, the insurance company may claim that your injuries were not as serious as you claim them to be. An experienced Fort Smith car accident lawyer can ensure that you are treated fairly by aggressively advocating on your behalf at every stage of the process.
Arkansas Modified Comparative Negligence Rule
While some car accidents result from one driver’s negligence, it is common for a victim’s own actions to play a small role in causing an accident. In these situations, Arkansas courts apply the doctrine of modified comparative fault to determine which accident victims can recover compensation for their injuries and how much they are entitled to.
Under the doctrine of modified comparative negligence, even those drivers who are partially responsible for an accident can pursue a claim against other negligent drivers. However, an accident victim’s total recovery amount will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, assume you were involved in a Fort Smith car accident when another driver ran a red light. At the time of the accident, you were traveling 15 miles per hour over the speed limit. The jury determines that you suffered a total of $200,000 in damages but that you were 15 percent responsible for the collision. In this case, you would recovery a total of $170,000, or $200,000 less 15 percent.
Modified comparative negligence allows accident victims to recover compensation for their injuries unless they are 50 percent or more at fault. If a judge or jury determines you were 50 percent responsible for an accident, you would not be able to recover from any other negligent driver. This illustrates the importance of having the assistance of an experienced For Smith car accident lawyer. An attorney can help you defend against an insurance company’s claim that you were responsible for an accident.
Were You Involved in a Fort Smith, Arkansas Car Accident?
If you or someone you love recently suffered serious injuries in a car accident, it is normal to have questions about the recovery process. The Fort Smith personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A., are here to help. Our lawyers have decades of experience fighting on behalf of injured motorists to ensure they recover the compensation they need and deserve. While we recognize that nothing can take away the pain, inconvenience, and emotional stress caused by an accident, we can help you pursue meaningful compensation that can make the recovery process easier for you and your family. To learn more and schedule a free consultation, give the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A. a call at 479-361-3575. You can also reach us through our online contact form.