Car insurance is only one factor in figuring out how to get compensation for car accident injuries. While car insurance is required for every driver on the road, you may still be able to recover for your car accident injuries even without insurance. Since auto insurance covers your errors, not other drivers’ errors, if you are not at fault for the accident you may not need insurance. You may be able to file a lawsuit to recover for your injuries or collect from the other driver’s insurance even if you do not have insurance yourself.
Arkansas law mandates that all motorists carry liability insurance for every car registered in their name. However, the law does not preclude you from filing a personal injury lawsuit if you were hurt in a crash that was not your fault and did not have insurance. Nonetheless, you could still be facing significant fines and penalties for driving without it. If you have multiple offenses, the fines and penalties increase. If there is any question about who was to blame for the accident, you want an aggressive and experienced attorney at your side. Otherwise, you could be paying another driver’s damages out-of-pocket.
Talk to our experienced Harris, Arkansas car accident attorneys to understand how your car accident injury case works. Our law office has the resources and skill to help file your case and fight for compensation. You could be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, so talk to our Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyers today. Call (479) 316-0438.
Filing for Car Accident Injuries Without Insurance in Arkansas
Arkansas is what’s called a “fault-based” state for car accidents. This means that the party who caused the accident – the at-fault party – must pay for damage and injury to the victim and their car. Because the at-fault party pays for damage and injuries, they likely have car insurance that will cover their errors. Car insurance in a fault-based insurance system pays for the injuries the insurance subscriber causes, not for the injuries they suffer. Even if the victim does not have insurance, the at-fault driver and their insurance company could still be made to pay for the victim’s injuries.
However, Arkansas requires every driver to carry car insurance to cover injuries they cause on the road. If you are caught driving without car insurance or you are involved in an accident without insurance, you could face fines and tickets. Arkansas requires that every driver’s insurance will cover the following, at a minimum:
- $25,000 worth of personal injury, per person;
- $50,000 worth of personal injury, per accident (total); and
- $25,000 worth of property damage, per accident.
You can always carry more insurance, which usually carries higher monthly insurance premiums.
Some states have what are called “No Pay, No Play” rules. These rules prevent uninsured drivers from suing for their own injuries. Fortunately for Arkansans, Arkansas does not have this rule. That means that any car accident victim, insured or not, can still sue for their injuries.
You may also be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. This is called a “third party” claim and is the typical way that to file for compensation from car insurance. If your injuries are severe, however, you might be entitled to higher damages by filing a lawsuit.
Car Insurance Lawsuits in Arkansas
If you suffered severe injuries from a car accident, whether you were insured or not, you might get better compensation from a lawsuit than through auto insurance. Car insurance companies are usually reluctant to spend money, and they may try to give you low offers. These settlements may not cover everything you would be entitled to in a lawsuit. Always talk to an attorney before accepting money from a car insurance company or the at-fault driver.
Insurance will usually pay for medical expenses and some lost wages, but they often ignore pain and suffering. In most cases, pain and suffering is where cases see the highest compensation. Pain and suffering damages depend heavily on your specific injuries. The more severe an injury is, the higher the damages you are usually entitled to. Arkansas, unlike other states, puts no caps or legal limits on pain and suffering damages, meaning they can be substantial.
You might also be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages. If you or a loved one underwent surgeries, X-Rays, MRIs, rehabilitation, or other medical procedures, they could be quite expensive. The at-fault driver who caused the injuries could be made to pay for these medical bills.
If you had to miss work because of your injuries, or if you are no longer able to work, you could be entitled to compensation. You may be able to recover wages for the work you already missed, as well as work you will miss in the future. Financial experts can come to court to testify as to how much income you will lose because of your injuries, even if you can still perform limited tasks.
Proving Liability Without Insurance in Arkansas
You are still permitted to hold a negligent driver liable for your injuries and other damages if you were driving without insurance. However, you still must prove that another motorist was negligent to prevail. To do so, you need to establish four elements.
Duty of Care
A person can only be held financially liable for damages if they owed the injured party a duty of care. Think of duty of care as a legal obligation to act in a way not to cause harm. Every driver in Arkansas has an obligation to safely operate their vehicle. This means that they obey traffic signals, posted speed limits, and otherwise act reasonable manner.
Breach of Duty
The next step is establishing that the defendant breached their duty. When someone’s conduct deviates from what a reasonable and prudent individual would have done in a similar situation, they could have breached their obligation. For example, if someone is driving 90 miles per hour through a section of roadway with a posted speed limit of 35 mph, they are not only breaking the law, they are breaching their duty of care.
People make poor decisions all the time. If you drive along Arkansas’ highways, you will see people speeding and recklessly changing lanes. While this conduct could constitute a breach of duty, it does not make the offender liable for any damages unless they cause an injury. Therefore, to hold another motorist financially responsible for your injuries, you must prove that their breach of duty caused them. For instance, a whiplash injury that occurred when someone’s head jerked violently back and forth after being rear-ended by a texting driver could be directly linked to the at-fault’s driver’s failure to pay attention. However, if your car was rear-ended and you broke your ankle after tripping while walking away from the scene, causation likely does not exist.
The final element is quantifiable damages. Damages is the financial representation of the harm you suffered. They are usually broken down in two ways. First, there are your actual monetary losses, such as medical bills and lost income. The other is more subjective harm, including physical pain, emotional suffering, anxiety, or depression.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Arkansas
While you are not prohibited from filing a personal injury lawsuit if you are in an accident and do not have insurance, you are still liable to face fines and penalties. As stated above, Arkansas law requires that all motorists carry liability insurance for every vehicle that is registered in their name. If you are in an accident and do not have insurance, you will face penalties based on the number of your previous offenses.
If this was the first time you were caught driving without the mandated insurance coverage, you could be fined between $50 and $250. If your car remains drivable, the responding officer could remove your license plates and give you a temporary sticker that is valid for ten days. If you show proof of insurance within those ten days, the fine will be waived and your plates will be returned. However, if you fail to obtain insurance, your registration will be suspended.
For drivers with one previous offense, the penalties are steeper. For second-time offenders, the fine will be between $250 and $500. Similar to first-time offenders, your license plates will be removed and replaced with the ten-day sticker. However, now obtaining insurance coverage over the next ten days only saves your registration. You will still be responsible for the fine. Additionally, if you fail to comply with the deadline to obtain coverage, your driving privileges will be suspended.
Third and Additional Offenses
If you have been caught driving without insurance for a third time, the offense is categorized as a Class C misdemeanor. You are now, under the eyes of the law, a habitual offender. The penalty increases to a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000 and up to one year in prison. Showing insurance in the allotted ten days does not exempt you from the mandatory fine. Additionally, you are not permitted to start the reinstatement process of your driving privileges until you have completed your prison sentence.
No Insurance in an Accident
Because Arkansas is a fault-based state, you have the right to sue another driver if their negligence caused the accident. However, if you have no insurance and the crash was your fault, you could be facing a significant financial crisis. Furthermore, if you cause an accident while driving without liability insurance, you could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor – the most serious type of misdemeanor in the state. Under Arkansas law, this type of offense is punishable with a fine of up to $2,500 and a year in jail.
In addition to the penalties and fines attached to driving without insurance and any other traffic violations, such as reckless driving, you will be personally responsible for the other driver’s damages, including their medical bills, lost income, and property damage. To add insult to injury, you will also be required to pay the fees associated with impounding, towing, and storing your vehicle. If there is any dispute as to the cause of the accident, you need our experienced Bentonville car accident attorneys aggressively advocating on your behalf.
Fayetteville, Arkansas Car Accident Attorneys
Fayetteville personal injury attorney Ken Kieklak fights for injured car accident victims in Arkansas. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car crash, call for a consultation. Ken also represents those who have lost a loved one to a car accident and fights for their compensation. For a free consultation on your Arkansas car accident cast, call (479) 316-0438 today.
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