Arkansas Personal Injury Overview
In every state you have the right to pursue compensation if you have been injured by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. Personal injury is a broad area of law which encompasses many types of cases including, but not limited to auto accidents, medical malpractice, property damage, slip and fall, and many other types of accidents.
Each state has different rules and laws pertaining to personal injury.
Fault in Arkansas
Most personal injury cases are the result of negligence. This works on the concept that all people and businesses owe each other a reasonable measure of care to ensure that they do not cause or allow others around them or on their property to get hurt due to their actions or failure to act. Negligence consists of four elements:
- The person who caused your injuries owed you a duty
- The person failed to uphold that duty
- That failure caused your injuries
- You suffered damages
Defective products cases typically require that your prove “strict liability.” Under strict liability the maker of the product does not have to be negligent, but rather has simply created an unreasonably dangerous product. To prove strict liability the following four elements must be present:
- The product was unreasonably dangerous, even if used properly
- You used the product as it was intended to be used
- The defect caused your injury
- You suffered damages
If you are partly to blame
In the state of Arkansas you can receive compensation for your injuries as long as you were less than half to blame for your accident. Arkansas follows what is called “modified comparative negligence.” Under this doctrine, if you are 50% or more at fault, you cannot receive compensation. If you are 49% or less responsible, the person who caused your injuries can be held responsible for the percentage of damages equal to their percentage of fault.
Arkansas courts award both compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate you for your losses, and can include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Emotional distress
- Interference with family relationships
- Property damage, including vehicles damaged in auto accidents
- Other costs incurred as a direct result of your injury
Punitive damages are meant to punish the responsible party for their actions. In Arkansas punitive damages can be up to $250,000 or three times the compensatory damages, but cannot exceed $1 million. Punitive damages are only allowed in cases involving malice, wanton or willful behavior, or fraud.
When multiple responsible parties are involved, each one pays damages equal to their portion of fault. No party can be held liable for paying another party’s portion of the damages. If one party does not pay, you cannot seek their portion for the other responsible party or parties.
When you are injured or disabled and unable to work, facing huge medical bills and cannot even afford your basic living expenses, nothing is more frustrating than realizing that you had a good case and the person responsible for the situation should be paying those bills right now, but you gave up your right to compensation because you waited too long to take action.
The time limit for filing a lawsuit is called the statute of limitations. Letting that deadline slip by is one of the most common mistakes people make when they have been injured. In Arkansas the statute of limitations is three years for most cases. If you were injured by medical malpractice you only have two years to file.
Time limits are calculated differently for special circumstances, such as injuries to a minor child. For more in depth information about time limits in Arkansas read our Arkansas Statute of Limitations page.
Personal injury laws vary from state to state. If you live in Arkansas and believe you have a personal injury claim, you should contact a personal injury lawyer in Arkansas to evaluate your claim