Serious injuries can happen to anyone, at any time, without any warning. Oftentimes, these injuries devastate the physical, mental, emotional, and financial states of both the injured person and his or her family. Depending on the injury, people can be limited in how they enjoy leisure activities, perform basic functions, and work for a living. To make matters worse, a serious injury may also require costly, painful, and time-consuming treatment. The impact of a physical injury can negatively affect all areas of a victim’s life.
If you or a loved one has been injured in Fayetteville, AR, let our Arkansas personal injury lawyers help you through this difficult time. We believe that negligent parties should be held accountable for their actions and are experienced in all types of personal injury cases. For nearly 20 years, our skilled Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyers have been representing clients in matters including but not limited to:
If you have suffered one of these injuries in Fayetteville, our law firm might be able to fight for you. However, the first step towards taking action to hold responsible parties accountable is to learn about the rights you have by answering common questions. This page will address some of the concerns more frequently held by injury victims and potential clients.
Even if your injury is not on this list, our team of attorneys and staff can still help you. The first step towards holding the responsible parties accountable is to learn about your right to recovery. This page has some general information about what a Fayetteville personal injury attorney can do for you. To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss the details of your case, contact our law offices at (479) 316-0438. You could also contact the firm online to schedule your free case review.
Types of Claims Our Personal Injury Attorneys Regularly Handle
Personal injury can encompass a wide range of claims. The manner in which you were injured may affect the type of claim you can file against the party that is responsible for your injuries. The following is a list of common types of personal injury claims a plaintiff may file.
A serious car accident can leave a victim with long-term or occasionally fatal injuries. The type of car accident a victim was involved in will typically determine the type of injuries they may sustain. For example, if a driver is involved in a rear-end car crash, they are likely to suffer an injury like whiplash or a back injury.
Auto accidents are among the most common personal injury claims. With over three million vehicles sharing the roadways of Fayetteville, accidents can occur at any time.
Additionally, determining liability for an injury in Fayetteville, AR for a car accident can depend on a number of factors. For example, if a person is struck by a commercial vehicle, the driver of the vehicle and their employer could be held liable for the accident. If multiple vehicles are involved in an accident, a personal injury claim may become more intricate.
There are many types of auto accidents that may occur. The circumstances of an auto accident will often link to the type of injuries sustained by a victim and the severity of the crash. Our firm could help you pursue a personal injury lawsuit for the following types of auto accidents.
Head-on auto accidents are some of the most dangerous types of accidents, especially if the accident happens at high speeds. When a head-on collision occurs, the occupants of the vehicle could be jostled and could make contact with one or multiple hard surfaces in the vehicle. As a result, a victim could be left with injuries like bone fractures, lacerations, and other serious injuries.
Rear-end collisions are another type of accident that could leave a victim with severe injuries. For example, if a person is the victim of a rear-end collision, the victim could experience whiplash. Whiplash is a serious injury that happens when a person’s head and neck are snapped forward and back quickly. This type of injury could cause pain in the affected area, stiffness, loss of range of movement, and many other symptoms. Rear-end accidents could also result in other injuries like back and head injuries
T-bone accidents happen when a vehicle is struck from a 90-degree angle. This type of car accident is dangerous because many vehicles do not have extensive protection on the door of a vehicle. Due to this, a victim in a T-bone accident could be severely injured from the impact and from the debris that spreads from the crash.
If your car accident happened under any of the above circumstances or under other circumstances, our Fayetteville, AR personal injury law firm is here to help you seek compensation for your injuries.
Premises Liability Lawyer
Property owners and operators are responsible for keeping their property, buildings, and homes safe for guests and customers. If a homeowner or the owner of a business is aware of dangerous conditions on their property and fails to correct the problem, they may be held liable for injury or death caused by these dangers on their property.
Premises liability claims are relatively common in matters of wrongful death and personal injury, in part because so many property conditions can be hazardous. Hazardous conditions may exist on both commercial and residential properties and can affect residents, visitors, customers, and passersby alike. Some common interior and exterior property conditions which can result in injury or death include:
- Loose or Faulty Wiring
- Wet or Slippery Surfaces
- Uneven Surfaces
- Poor Lighting
- Insufficient Security
- Structural Damage
One of the most common reasons for premises liability accidents in Fayetteville, AR, and throughout the nation is the simple slip and fall or trip and fall. Despite the simplicity, slip and falls can produce extremely serious injuries. According to the Center for Disease Control, slip and falls are a leading cause of broken bones, back and neck injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Furthermore, senior citizens and those already recovering from injury are especially vulnerable to being hurt in a fall.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are the most common type of personal injury claim in Fayetteville, AR that is filed within civil court, likely because they may occur anywhere. A slip and fall occur when a person trips over some type of hazard and suffers an injury. For example, if a retail store fails to mop up a spill and a customer slips and is injured, the owner of the retail store can be held liable for the accident. Other safety hazards that can lead to a slip and fall accident include:
- Poor lighting in areas like stairwells or parking lots
- Unplowed snow and ice
- Unstable stairwells or handrails
- Poorly marked construction areas
Liability for a slip and fall injury will fall upon the owner of the property. A property owner has a legal duty to ensure their property is free of safety hazards that could injure visitors or to at least warn a visitor of a safety hazard. In some cases, the owner of a property may have an obligation to refrain from injuring a trespasser.
If you were injured due to the negligence of a property owner, you should waste no time in speaking with an experienced Fayetteville personal injury attorney to speak about your potential case.
Defective Products and Product Liability Injuries
Whether a consumer is trying a new or familiar product, they expect that the item will work as the manufacturer intended it to work. However, there are many cases where a consumer could be injured due to a malfunctioning item. As a result, the victim may have to pursue a product liability claim against the company responsible.
Companies know that if they create dangerous or defective products, they will be liable for the injuries they cause. Still, companies keep cutting corners in design or manufacturing and make a dangerous product. One of the biggest recent examples is “Hoverboard.” Its design is unsafe without handlebars like those on a Segway or scooter. Its internal computers are also prone to malfunction, endangering riders. The Consumer Product Safety Commission indicated that serious head injuries occurred as a result. Plus, many batteries in the units were of low quality and prone to catch on fire while being charged or used due to poor manufacturing. We have also seen similar dangers in batteries with regard to recent cell phone manufacturing from Samsung.
Unfortunately, these are far from the only current product liability concerns. Other major issues regarding product liability concerns include the Takata airbag defect where the inflator deploys with excessive force, sending metal shrapnel into the face and neck of the driver. The GM ignition switch defect has caused a number of injuries and deaths due to a power outage when the keyring is jostled. Furthermore, there is a potentially large alleged defect situation brewing regarding the rear-placement of fuel tanks in Jeeps and certain other vehicles.
This is only a sampling of defects currently on the radar – nearly any product can potentially harm the user, especially if it is improperly manufactured.
It is also important to note that there could be multiple parties that could be held liable in a product liability claim. For example, other parties in the supply chain could be responsible for the victim’s injuries.
Medical Malpractice and Doctor Negligence
When we seek medical treatment, we expect that we will be taken care of. Some of the biggest tragedies occur when our doctors fail to give us the proper care, perform procedures without the required skill, or when they fail to diagnose an illness until it is too late. A typical mantra among doctors is “first do no harm.” When doctors fail this promise and end up harming their patients, those patients deserve a way to regain their losses.
Medical negligence can occur in many different ways. The following is a list of common medical negligence claims that could lead to a lawsuit.
Doctors can make errors during surgery, or medical staff can fail to keep the operating room and the unconscious patient safe. For example, if the medical staff fails to keep a checklist of all the medical tools used during surgery, a foreign object could be left inside the patient. When this happens, the patient could be left with severe injuries as the object begins to interfere with organs and tissue in their body.
Leaving an object inside of a patient is just one scenario where a doctor or other medical staff could be held liable for medical malpractice. In rare but extremely unfortunate circumstances, healthcare providers can make huge mistakes, such as performing the wrong procedure or amputating the wrong limb. These are serious incidents of medical malpractice that could affect a patient for the rest of their life.
It is also possible that healthcare providers can fail to run necessary tests to catch illness or disease. We often expect that our doctors will work diligently to diagnose any conditions or illnesses that we are experiencing. However, there are many circumstances where a doctor could fail to diagnose or misdiagnose an illness that is affecting a patient. A failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis could mean that a patient’s condition can become worse or possibly even fatal. Medical practitioners that fail to diagnose a patient could be held liable for their negligence.
Birth injuries are another common type of medical negligence case. When delivering a child, a doctor and other medical staff should exercise caution to ensure that a fragile newborn is not injured during the procedure. Unfortunately, a birth injury incident could easily occur if a doctor is not attentive during delivery. For example, if a doctor uses too much force when trying to pull the child from the birth canal, this could result in the child sustaining injuries that could lead to other serious conditions.
In other medical negligence cases, the issues come down to what the doctors and nurses have permission to do. People cannot touch you – and certainly cannot perform surgery on you – without your permission. If healthcare providers fail to explain procedures and get your full, informed consent (outside of an emergency), you might have a case against them, even if the procedure was performed correctly.
Not every injury is the result of an accident or negligent behavior. There are situations where someone purposefully and intentionally harms another person. In many cases, these personal injury claims arise from criminal conduct. Just because a defendant is facing criminal prosecution does not mean they are free from being held personally accountable for the harm they caused. In fact, because the burden of proof is significantly lower in a civil case, a defendant could be found not guilty and still be held financially accountable for any injuries or damages resulting from their intentional conduct.
How Long Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in Fayetteville, AR?
If you were injured in Fayetteville due to the negligence of another person or entity, you have the right to pursue a lawsuit against those parties to recover compensation for your injuries. However, when pursuing compensation for your injuries, you should be aware that you only have a limited amount of time to file a personal injury claim in Arkansas.
All states place a limit on the amount of time a person has to file a personal injury lawsuit in Fayetteville, AR. This is known as the “statute of limitations.” A statute of limitations is intended to force people to bring their claims forward in a timely manner before evidence is lost to time, discarded, or before people forget what happened. However, whether you are a plaintiff or defendant, there are other benefits to filing long before the filing deadline.
- The defendant does not have to fight against a claim deriving from an incident that occurred years ago
- The defendant and other parties relevant to the case are able to be found
- The plaintiff would be able to claim damages sooner if they are successful
While the statute of limitations could seem like an arbitrary law that places a plaintiff on a strict timeframe, there are many other reasons that states continue to use them for many types of cases.
There is no single statute of limitations that covers all personal injuries. The filing deadline for a personal injury case in Fayetteville is also subject to change depending on the type of lawsuit that a victim needs to file. For example, if you were injured due to an incident of medical malpractice, you could have a different filing deadline than an individual that was injured when in a car accident. The amount of time you have to file is often based on how the injury occurred.
In Arkansas, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is three years from the date of the injury. If you do not file your lawsuit within three years of the date of the accident, the defendant in the case could move to dismiss the claim due to a violation of the statute of limitations. When this happens, the court will dismiss the case with prejudice, which means that the plaintiff will not be able to file their case again.
Please avoid making any assumptions about the filing deadline for your case. If you are incorrect about your filing deadline, you could miss your opportunity to file, or you may only discover your error days before the deadline. Many experienced personal injury lawyers will avoid taking a potential case so close to the deadline as they may be unable to provide the client with the legal representation they deserve. Our firm would be pleased to help you timely file your case.
In some cases, especially if the injury or its cause was hidden from you, you might be given more time – but that is never guaranteed! For example, if the victim was under the age of 18 when they were injured, the statute of limitations would be tolled until they reach the age of majority. When this happens, the victim would have three years from the date of their birthday to pursue their personal injury case.
To learn more about pursuing a personal injury lawsuit in Fayetteville, you should continue reading and speak with an experienced Fayetteville personal injury attorney today.
Proving Negligence in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you were injured due to the actions of another, you would have to prove how they acted negligently in order to recover damages for your injuries and other losses. There are many types of evidence that could be used to prove your case. For instance, if you have evidence that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol when they caused an accident, this is vital evidence that could help prove your case. You could also utilize the following types of evidence to prove your personal injury lawsuit:
- Testimony from a witness that observed the accident
- Pictures of the injuries you sustained during the accident and any property damage
- Pictures of the scene of the accident
This is not an exhaustive list. Our Fayetteville, AR personal injury law firm could help you gather evidence that will be useful when fighting for damages for your injuries.
The Four Elements of Negligence in a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Arkansas
To prevail in a personal injury lawsuit, our Fayetteville, AR personal injury attorney will have to prove four key elements. In legal terms, an “element” is a required component in establishing a claim. Therefore, an injured plaintiff must demonstrate four elements to prove negligence.
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
If a plaintiff fails to establish any of these four necessary elements, they will not be successful in their personal injury claim. They will also not receive the compensation they are seeking.
Duty of Care
The first element that must be established in a negligence claim is determining whether a defendant owed the injured plaintiff a duty of care.
Proving that a duty exists depends on the facts of your case and what caused your injury. In some situations, a legal duty of care is created by the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant. Legally, this means that a person owes another individual a level of responsibility and care that another prudent and reasonable person would provide under similar circumstances.
To illustrate one type of legal duty of care, imagine a car accident. Every motorist is expected to keep their vehicle in a safe operational condition. Additionally, the driver has a responsibility to operate their vehicle safely, including obeying traffic laws and not driving while drinking or using drugs.
Another example is the legal duty business and property owners owe to their customers, guests, and employees. It is reasonably expected that a property will be safe and free of any unmarked hazardous conditions. What is reasonable will be impacted by the use of the premises and the relationship between the parties. A store owner owes their customers a different level of care than a homeowner inviting friends over for dinner.
Breach of Duty
Breach of duty is the next element that our Fayetteville personal injury attorney will have to establish. When someone acts in a way that deviates from what a reasonable person would do under the same or similar circumstances, their conduct could constitute a breach of duty. In many cases, proving a breach of duty is the most challenging part of a negligence claim.
A breach of duty often depends on the situation. For example, a jury might find that a driver breached their duty of care by traveling at the posted speed limit if the weather was exponentially foggy and the driver was inexperienced. It is likely a jury would have determined that a reasonable person would have decreased their speed, given the conditions.
To further illustrate a breach of duty, imagine a supermarket and a spill in a crowded aisle. Depending on what happens after the spill often determines whether a breach of duty occurred. Should someone slip and fall moments after the spill, then perhaps an employee was irresponsible when stacking the shelves or a customer was careless and knocked over the item. However, if a spill is noticed and goes unreported, then the employee that did not report the spill could have breached their duty of care. A manager or store owner could have breached their duty if the spill was reported and they took no action to either close off the aisle or have the slippery floor cleaned.
Once a plaintiff has established a duty of care and a breach of that duty, they must prove causation. Simply put, causation requires our Fayetteville personal injury attorney to demonstrate that the defendant’s conduct caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Part of this element is whether a defendant could have foreseen that their actions would cause an injury. For example, a driver that gets behind the wheel when drunk should know that their conduct could result in a car accident.
This type of causation is known as “cause in fact.” Returning to our example above regarding a spill in a supermarket, if a spill is left unattended, it is a reasonable assumption that a customer could fall and injury themselves. An injury is foreseeable if the floor is wet and slippery. Similarly, if a driver ignores a stop sign and goes through an intersection, it is reasonably foreseeable that they could strike and injure a pedestrian.
In addition to “cause in fact,” is another legal concept known as “proximate cause.” Proximate cause is conduct or an event that is related to the injury. The injury must be a foreseeable consequence of the event, without any additional intervention from another party.
For example, a person is injured in a car accident and has a broken arm. When treated, a doctor administers medication that negatively interacts with medication the victim’s personal physician prescribed and they suffer a stroke. While the car accident was why the plaintiff was in the hospital being treated, it did not affect the doctor’s conduct. Likewise, even though the personal doctor prescribed the original medication, there was no reasonable foreseeability that the plaintiff would take medication that would have an adverse effect. The proximate, or legal cause, of the stroke in this situation, is the treating physician’s conduct, even though the patient would not have had a stroke had he not been in the car accident or taking the earlier medication.
Finally, an injured plaintiff must have suffered actual and quantifiable damages. If someone slipped on a spill in a supermarket but was not injured, then they likely do not have the basis for a negligence claim as they have failed to demonstrate the final element.
However, if your injury required any medical attention or if you missed work, you have experienced actual legal damages. The reason people file a personal injury lawsuit is to be financially compensated for the damages they suffered.
For example, someone falls due to a slippery fall in a supermarket and breaks their ankle. The injured person will have medical expenses associated with their treatment, including medication. Additionally, if they missed work, they would have either lost wages, sick or vacation time. Our Fayetteville personal injury lawyer will thoroughly review and calculate your compensatory damages resulting from your injury.
Compensatory Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Once these elements are proven, the plaintiff could be awarded compensatory damages. Compensatory damages consist of two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are determined by objective factors, which makes it easier to calculate. Alternatively, non-economic damages are based on subjective factors. The following is a list of compensatory damages that could be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit:
- Loss of wages and future loss of wages
- Medical bills for surgery, rehabilitation, prescription medications, and other related costs
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
This is not a comprehensive list. It is also possible for a plaintiff to be awarded punitive damages in some circumstances. Punitive damages are typically awarded as a punishment for the defendant for committing an act that is especially negligent or intentional. The amount of punitive damages will depend upon the circumstances of the case and the decision of the judge or jury.
When determining damages in a personal injury lawsuit, it is also necessary to discuss Arkansas’ modified comparative negligence rule in cases where fault is a factor. Under the modified comparative negligence rule, fault is determined by assigning a percentage of blame to each party in the case. For example, a plaintiff could be found 10% at fault while a defendant is 90% at fault. However, the plaintiff’s damages are decreased based on their percentage of fault, which means the plaintiff in the previous example would lose $10,000 from $100,000 in damages.
Note, however, that Arkansas also follows the 50% rule for modified comparative negligence. This means that if a plaintiff’s percentage of fault is equal to 50% or greater than 50%, the plaintiff will be barred from recovering damages for their case. There are many scenarios where a plaintiff could be barred from recovery. For example, if a plaintiff ignored a traffic signal and collided with the defendant that was speeding, this may result in a plaintiff being barred from recovery.
To avoid losing a percentage or all of your damages, it is important to possess sufficient evidence that will show that you were not responsible for the accident. We are here to help you fight for the damages that you deserve.
When will You Get Compensated for Your Injury Claim?
If you were hurt in a slip and fall accident, car crash, or another type of personal injury accident, you might feel stress and frustration regarding your finances, especially if medical bills are piling up and you are out of work. Severe injuries often require long-term treatment, resulting in expensive rehabilitation bills. To help alleviate these worries, you have had our Arkansas personal injury lawyers file a lawsuit to seek monetary compensation from the party that caused your injury. However, how long will it take to settle your claim and collect the needed compensation for your injury-related expenses?
When you receive any compensation depends on what route you decided to pursue: litigation or negotiation. One does not necessarily preclude the other. It is a viable option to maintain open negotiations with an insurance company while moving forward with a lawsuit. In fact, many times, a lawsuit will strengthen your negotiation position.
Settlement With an Insurance Company
Depending on the seriousness of your injury and the type of case, a negotiation with an insurance company could take a couple of weeks to several months. Our Fayetteville personal injury attorneys will want to ensure your claim has been properly valued. This includes having a firm idea of the total medical costs, lost income, and other damages. Because some injuries require a significant amount of time to treat, it might be months before your total costs are fully realized. Only once you know what your claim is worth can you evaluate a settlement offer.
In many cases, an insurance company will make a quick, but substantially low, offer. The offer is made to entice an injured accident victim with a seemingly generous offer. However, once you accept a payment, you are prohibited from seeking further compensation, even if your damages are more significant than anticipated.
Typically, a negotiation with an insurance provider will last a few rounds of counter-offers. An initial offer is rejected, with a counter-offer proffered. If this is accepted, then the final settlement is forthcoming. In some cases, an insurer might counter with a slightly lower offer. If your case is strong, an insurance company will likely offer a fair settlement to avoid the expense and unpredictability of a trial.
Once the settlement is accepted, you should see a check in about six weeks. During this period, the insurance company will prepare a release that releases it, and its client, from any further liability. While these are usually straightforward, our Arkansas injury lawyers will want to review its terms and provisions before you sign it.
When the check is cut, it will be sent to our law offices. The funds will be placed into an escrow account. From that account, our office will deduct our legal fees, associated expenses, including any medical expenses or liens that must be paid.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Receiving compensation through a lawsuit takes significantly longer than negotiating a settlement. However, filing ca claim in court is often the only way to fully recover for your damages – especially if an insurance company is not willing to negotiate fairly.
Before filing a lawsuit, our office will do a preliminary investigation into the accident. To prevail in a personal injury lawsuit, whether it was a car accident, premises liability, or another type of accident, we will have to establish that the defendant’s negligence caused your injury. The time this takes depends on the type of accident. It takes less time to investigate a rear-end collision than a complicated medical malpractice case. Nonetheless, if the facts do not support your claim, then our office would advise attempting to settle the case outside of court.
After establishing that you have grounds for a case, the complaint is filed. The first part of the litigation process is the discovery phase. During this phase, each side will request evidence and documents from the other, including questioning various witnesses. The complexity of the case will influence how long this phase takes. While we gather additional evidence, our office will continue negotiations with the insurance company. If a fair settlement is not reached, the case will go to trial.
At trial, each side will present their arguments, evidence, and witnesses. A personal injury could last one day if it is a simple car accident case or several weeks if it is a complicated medical malpractice claim. After each side presents their case, a jury will decide if the defendant is liable and set the amount of damages. At any time during this process, both parties could reach a settlement.
If the jury awards in your favor, it is still not over. The defendant could appeal the verdict, further lengthening the time of the litigation process. Should the defendant accept the verdict, you will still have to wait an additional three to six weeks for the check.
Who Pays for Medical Bills in the Meantime?
As you can see, if you go to trial, you could be waiting months or even years before you receive any compensation. While you wait for a jury determination or a settlement offer, you are required to pay your medical bills. If you have health insurance, you will be responsible for your co-pays and deductibles. Victims in automobile crashes might be able to turn to their personal injury protection policies if it is included in their coverage. In some cases, a medical professional could agree to provide services for payment once a settlement is reached. The bottom line is that you are responsible for any medical expenses you incur.
Our Fayetteville Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
Suffering a serious injury due to the negligence of other parties can be stressful and sometimes a life-changing experience. Fortunately, victims of serious injuries can pursue a lawsuit against a negligent party to recover the compensation they need for medical bills and other unexpected expenses. If you or a family member was injured due to the negligence of another, contact an experienced Fayetteville, AR personal injury lawyer today.
Our attorneys understand the complications that can arise after a serious accident, and he is here to stand with you. Whether you were injured in a car accident or a slip and fall, Ken Kieklak will help you determine the appropriate legal action take for your potential claim.
If you or a family member was injured in a severe accident, contact our experienced Fayetteville, AR personal injury lawyers today. Our team has represented residents of Fayetteville for over 20 years, and he would be proud to represent you. To schedule a free case evaluation to discuss your injury claim, contact our law offices at (479) 316-0438. You could also contact the firm online to schedule your free case review with our experienced Fayetteville, AR personal injury lawyer.