Being the victim of a severe car accident can change a person’s life forever. A victim could suffer severe or life-threatening injuries that may take weeks to rehabilitate and may keep them from working and performing activities they love. Fortunately, the victim of a car accident can pursue compensation from the negligent party that injured them. If you or a family member was injured in a car accident, contact our experienced Arkansas car accident attorneys today.
Litigation arising from car accidents is often challenging and complicated. Accident victims might also be approached by insurance companies looking to settle a case without going to court. Without understanding your rights, the value of your claim, or the legal strength of your case, it is nearly impossible to decide how to proceed. Our knowledgeable Arkansas personal injury attorneys will guide you through the process.
For over 20 years, Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, has worked with residents of Fayetteville, Springdale, Bella Vista, and across Northwest Arkansas, and he would be honored to represent you. To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your claim, contact Ken Kieklak at (479) 316-0438, or contact us online.
Frequent Types of Car Accidents in Arkansas
Thousands of drivers travel Arkansas roads and highways daily. Arkansas also boasts everything from long winding rural roads to congested city streets. Because of the wide variety of vehicles, conditions, and drivers, many types of car accidents occur throughout the state. Each type of accident will present different legal challenges and hurdles to an injured person. Having an experienced Bentonville car accident lawyer who understands the complexities different kinds of crashes pose is a critical asset.
Rear-end collisions are a common cause of whiplash. When a car is struck from behind, any passenger’s head and neck will violently move backward and forward, injuring the muscles and bones around the neck and spine.
These types of accidents typically occur when a vehicle is following too closely behind the car in front of them and does not allow enough space to stop. In most cases, the person driving behind the impacted vehicle will be found liable. However, some circumstances could shift the fault, such as a sudden unexpected stop without working brake lights.
Rear-end collisions also occur when a vehicle is stopped and another driver is just not paying attention, such as writing or reading a text message. When these types of collisions occur, the at-fault driver might not even hit their brakes to mitigate the damage. If you need assistance dealing with a rear-end collision, call our Fayetteville rear-end accident attorney.
T-bone accidents, or side collisions, often result in severe injuries because the sides of cars provide the least amount of protection for drivers and passengers. These types of collisions usually occur at intersections and involve distracted drivers. Ken Kieklak can help you file a car accident lawsuit against a negligent driver in a T-Bone accident case.
A side-swipe collision occurs when two vehicles are driving next to each other. These crashes are often caused by a failure to check blind spots before changing lanes, swerving because a driver is distracted, or by someone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
One of the most dangerous and deadly types of accidents that occur in Arkansas is vehicle rollovers. In some crashes, a car could roll over several times before coming to rest. Larger SUVs and trucks are prone to rollover accidents because of their high center of gravity. These serious types of crashes are often the result of speeding or attempting to turn a vehicle too sharply.
Head-on collisions are often catastrophic. These types of accidents occur when someone is driving the wrong way or is attempting to pass a moving car on a two-lane road. Sometimes a tired driver will fall asleep and drift into oncoming traffic. Unexpectedly changing lanes also occurs when someone looks down to check or send a text. Like every other type of accident, the odds of a head-on collision increase if someone is driving while drunk. If this is the case reach out to our experienced Head-On collision car accident lawyer.
In many single-car accidents, the driver is at fault. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, a driver could be forced off the road when trying to avoid a reckless driver. In other situations, the road’s condition could be poorly maintained without adequate warning signs, resulting in a driver losing control of their vehicle. When a vital system in car malfunctions or experiences a mechanical failure, for example, the brakes or steering fail, a single-car accident could occur.
When traffic conditions are congested and drivers are not providing adequate space between themselves and other vehicles, one small error could set off a chain reaction of collisions and crashes. Trying to untangle what happened and who was primarily at fault in a multi-car accident is challenging. Our Rogers car accident attorneys will work with witnesses, engineers, and accident investigators to piece together who should be held accountable.
Proving Liability in an Arkansas Car Accident Case
In the aftermath of any car accident, the critical part of a personal injury is establishing liability. To prove liability in a personal injury lawsuit, the injured plaintiff must demonstrate four very specific factors.
The Duty of Care
The first factor is the duty of care. To prove duty of care, the plaintiff will have to show that the defendant had a responsibility to act in a way that did not jeopardize their safety. Typically, in a car accident case, this is not a difficult factor to demonstrate. If someone has a license to drive, they have a duty of care to all other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. To comply with this legal obligation, a driver should obey all traffic rules and regulations. They should never operate their vehicle in a way the compromises the safety of others.
Breach of the Duty of Care
The next factor the plaintiff must establish is a breach, or violation, of a duty of care. Drivers who are speeding, driving under the influence, texting, or otherwise driving recklessly are breaching the duty they owe others on the road. In some cases, a breach is not as obvious. Our Springdale car accident attorneys will thoroughly investigate an accident to find evidence of a violation.
The Breached Caused the Accident
The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s conduct caused the accident. In some cases, an accident is caused by something other than the defendant’s conduct. For example, if the brakes failed on the defendant’s vehicle, then the accident’s cause was not necessarily anything the driver did wrong. It is the job of our Greenland car accident lawyers to establish a causal connection between the defendant’s actions and the crash.
The Plaintiff Suffered an Injury
The last and sometimes crucial factor in a personal injury lawsuit is the actual injury. A common defense raised in car accident cases is that the plaintiff had a pre-existing condition or that the injury was not caused by the accident.
Therefore, it is vital to seek medical treatment immediately following a car crash. If a plaintiff waits a couple of days, or weeks, before they see a doctor, the door is left open to argue that an intervening event caused their injuries. Having medical documentation from the day or the following day after an accident could make or break your personal injury claim.
Comparative Negligence in Arkansas
In addition to establishing that another party was negligent, a plaintiff needs to understand Arkansas’ modified comparative fault rule. This rule comes into play when both parties contributed to an accident. While one driver’s actions solely cause some car accidents, many results from both drivers making an error in judgment. For example, a motorist could cause a crash because they are texting, though the person they hit was speeding at the time. The court will apply the modified comparative fault rule when the injured plaintiff bears part of the responsibility for an accident.
When determining fault, the responsible parties will be apportioned a percentage of blame based on their conduct. Returning to the above example, the texting driver might be found to have been 70 percent at fault. The injured plaintiff, who was speeding, might be found to be 30 percent to blame because of their actions. If the court awarded the plaintiff $100,000 in damages, the amount would be decreased by the percentage the plaintiff contributed to the accident. Therefore, the total compensation would be $70,000. When a court reduces compensation in this way, it is applying the comparative negligence doctrine.
However, as stated above, Arkansas follows a modified rule. The modified comparative negligence rule only applies when a plaintiff is found to be less than 50 percent at fault for a crash. If the plaintiff’s conduct contributed more than 50 percent to an accident, they are prohibited from receiving compensation. Defense attorneys and insurance companies will often argue that an injured plaintiff’s role was more significant than the defendant’s. Part of the job of our Bella Vista car accident attorneys is presenting evidence that the defendant’s conduct was negligent and that your actions were justified and did not contribute to the accident.
Agreeing to an Insurance Settlement for Injuries Sustained in an Arkansas Car Accident
Many car accident victims agree to a settlement with an insurance company instead of filing a lawsuit. When faced with mounting medical bills and lost wages, a quick check might appear to be a financial windfall. However, once you accept a settlement offer, you release the insurance company and the at-fault driver from all liability. If there are medical complications or other problems, you are prohibited from seeking additional compensation.
Before you accept a settlement offer, you should speak with one of our Crawford County car accident attorneys. Insurance adjusters rely on the fact that many people will accept the first offer. However, without knowing the extent of your damages or the value of your claim, it is impossible to tell if an offer is fair. Our office will thoroughly review your case and give you a good faith estimate of its value. Additionally, we will provide a realistic assessment of the legal strength of your case. In some situations, accepting an insurance company’s offer is your best option. On the other hand, maximizing your compensation sometimes requires filing a lawsuit. It is not uncommon for an insurance company to offer a more reasonable amount when threatened with legal action.
Damages Available After an Arkansas Car Accident
The final element in proving negligence is demonstrating that the plaintiff was injured and suffered quantifiable damages. The primary reason people file personal injury lawsuits in Arkansas is to seek financial compensation for their losses and damages. Compensatory damages typically come in two distinct categories: economic and non-economic. Each category includes specific harm the plaintiff suffered and each requires different evidence.
Economic damages are generally easy to understand and prove. Economic damages refer to the actual monetary losses a person experiences because of a car accident. For example, the cost of an ambulance, emergency room visits, hospitalization, and medication are considered economic damages. Medical treatment is not limited to what you received immediately following the accident or up until the time of your lawsuit. If you need years of physical therapy or counseling, it should be included. Secondary costs are also recoverable, such as parking fees, crutches, home health care, or necessary modifications to your home.
Another large part of your economic damages could be your lost income. When an injury is severe enough to keep someone out of work for weeks, months, or years, the lost wages quickly become a financial crisis. You are entitled to recover your lost income and any future lost wages that result from your injury.
The second general category of damages is non-economic damages. Unlike a person’s financial losses, non-economic damages are subjective and intangible. The phrase most people are familiar with is “pain and suffering.” Pain and suffering encompass the physical pain and discomfort a person experiences because of their injury. For example, an accident victim who suffered burns could be compensated for the physical pain they have and will be forced to endure in the future.
Non-economic damages are not limited to physical suffering. An Arkansas car accident victim could also receive financial compensation for their emotional distress, mental anguish, anxiety, depression, and other psychological conditions that arose after the crash.
You are also entitled to recover for the negative impact your injury has on your life. If you were an avid water skier and can no longer participate because of a severe leg injury, you should be compensated. Loss of enjoyment of life is a recoverable loss after a car accident.
There is another, though the exceedingly rarer type of damages that could be awarded after a car accident. Unlike compensatory damages that are directly related to your injury, punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant. When someone’s conduct is deliberate or malicious, the court could impose punitive damages to ensure the behavior is not repeated.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident in Arkansas?
If you were involved in a serious car accident in Arkansas, there are certain steps to take to ensure your safety and also prepare for a potential personal injury lawsuit.
Get to a Safe Area
If you were struck by a negligent driver, you should first ensure that your vehicle is out of the way of high-traffic areas if you can. Next, you should assess your injuries and the injuries of other parties and contact paramedics to render emergency services. You should also summon law enforcement to the scene of the accident.
Request Information from the Negligent Driver
After you contact emergency services, you should then seek to exchange information with the negligent driver that struck your vehicle. You should request the following information:
- Driver’s license
- Contact information for the driver
- Make, model, and license plate of the vehicle
- An insurance company that provides coverage for the vehicle
This information is vital if a victim wishes to make a claim for damages or injuries that resulted from the car crash.
Gather Evidence Regarding the Crash
Outside of gathering evidence about the negligent driver and their vehicle, there is other evidence that could assist a victim if they wish to file a claim. For example, if there was exceptionally poor weather when the crash occurred, this may have been a factor that contributed to the accident. Other evidence that could be vital to a car crash case include:
- Whether the other driver was in violation of traffic laws
- The location where the crash occurred
- Whether the other driver appeared intoxicated
- Photographs or videos of the damage to the vehicles involved
- Photos or videos of the injuries sustained by the victim
Additionally, if there are witnesses that observed the crash, you should determine whether they would be willing to provide you with a statement. If so, be sure to obtain the names of any witnesses and their contact information.
Obtain a Copy of the Police Report
When a car accident occurs, and there is property damage, or a party was injured, law enforcement is typically required to visit the scene and investigate. Once law enforcement investigates the accident, it would be wise to request how to obtain a copy of the report.
Seek Medical Attention
After a serious accident in Arkansas, the occupants of a vehicle should seek medical attention to evaluate their injuries. Understanding the full extent of your injuries will help you determine how much your claim is worth and the compensation you should pursue medical bills and other expenses.
In some cases, a victim of a car accident may appear that they survived a serious accident unscathed when they were actually injured. As a result, it may be weeks before the victim realizes they were injured and may have neglected to file a claim. That is why it is important to be evaluated by a doctor after a dangerous car crash.
Inform Your Insurance Provider
As soon as you are finished at the scene of the accident, your next priority is informing your vehicle insurance provider of the accident. At this stage, you may be contacted by an insurance claims adjuster that represents the negligent driver. The adjuster will likely ask you a series of questions regarding how the accident occurred.
It is important to note that these questions are usually intended to minimize the victim’s claim. If you do not feel comfortable speaking with the insurance adjuster alone, you can refer them to speak with an experienced attorney. Ken Kieklak can help you speak with an insurance claim adjuster and can help you determine the appropriate steps after a car accident.
Our Experienced Arkansas Car Accident Lawyers Are Ready to Work With You
If you or a family member was the victim of a car accident, you should consult with our experienced Arkansas car accident lawyers today. Arkansas personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak possesses an unwavering dedication to pursue legal compensation for victims of serious accidents, and he is ready to fight for you. To schedule a free case evaluation, contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, at (479) 316-0438.