Serving clients in Fayetteville and all of NW Arkansas
Even a “minor” car accident can be a terrifying and traumatic event. A single crash can change the entire course of a survivor’s life by inflicting painful, long-lasting physical wounds, as well as devastating emotional trauma. To make matters worse, the terrible injuries sustained by crash victims are often very costly, and in some cases, may require years or even a lifetime of expensive treatments. If you or a family member was severely injured in a car accident, consult with an experienced Fayetteville car accident lawyer today.
During this challenging time, you are simply trying to recover from your injuries and move forward with your life. The last thing you want to do is engage in a draining uphill battle against insurance companies that may not have your best interests in mind. Fortunately, you don’t have to face the situation alone: Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, is here to help you fight for accountability, justice, and rightful compensation for all the suffering you and your family have endured.
To schedule a confidential legal consultation, call our law offices right away at (479) 316-0438. You only have a limited time to file a claim following an accident, so don’t wait until it’s too late, and the deadlines have already passed. Call us today to get started exploring your options.
What to Do After a Car Accident in Fayetteville, AR
The aftermath of a crash is almost as chaotic as the accident itself. In the flurry of paperwork, documentation, phone calls, and investigation, it can become easy to feel hopeless and overwhelmed — particularly when you are already struggling to heal from painful injuries. If another motorist was at fault for the crash, you should not have to accept the financial burden caused by his or her poor driving choices.
However, there are certain steps that every driver should take after a car accident. Some steps are common-sense and are in the best interest of your safety. Other measures are more legalistic in nature and either imposed by Arkansas state law or your interests in obtaining compensation from the other driver’s insurance company. If you suffered a severe injury like a head injury, broken bones, or another type of injury, waste no time in speaking with an experienced Fayetteville car accident injury lawyer.
The first thing you should do after being involved in a car accident is to ensure that you can reach safety. If the car is still able to be moved and you are able to do so, you should attempt to move the vehicle from the travel lanes. Taking this step can reduce the likelihood that the disabled vehicle is hit in a secondary collision that causes additional injuries to you and others. If the vehicle is damaged so severely that it cannot be moved or you have sustained serious injuries that prohibit you from moving, the circumstances and your medical condition will dictate whether it is safe or possible for you to exit the vehicle.
Information You Should Obtain from the Other Driver After a Car Accident
Once you have reached safety, there are certain pieces of information that you should obtain from the other driver. If possible, you should write down or, with your smartphone, take a photograph of the other driver’s license plate. You should be sure to ask the other driver for his or her insurance information. Every owner of a car, truck, van, or other vehicle in Arkansas is required by law to have, at minimum, liability insurance coverage. Liability insurance covers the damage the insured individuals may cause to the vehicle or property of another driver when they are at fault. It is also a good idea to obtain contact information for the other driver. While this information can typically be acquired later in the process, obtaining it now can reduce the work required later.
Am I Required to Report My Fayetteville Car Accident to the Police?
If you are planning on making a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or even your own insurance company, a police report setting forth the time, location, and details of the accident are frequently useful. However, there are also specific scenarios where the driver is required by law to report an auto accident. The first scenario involves any accident that results in damage to the property – including the vehicle – of any one person of $1,000 or more. The second scenario where an accident report is required by law is when any person suffers a bodily injury or is killed in the accident.
This obligation is satisfied by obtaining and completing the Arkansas Motor Vehicle Accident Report (SR-1). This form should then be filed with the Safety Responsibility Section of the Office of Driver’s Services. All drivers involved in the accident are required to complete and file this form regardless of whether they are at fault.
Fayetteville Car Accident Statistics
Millions of automobiles are traveling along the roadways at any given moment in time. With so many cars and other motor vehicles sharing limited space at high speeds, accidents and collisions are unfortunately all too likely to occur.
According to the annual Arkansas Traffic Crash Statistics Report prepared by the Highway Safety Office of the state police, in 2011, Fayetteville experienced:
- 2,415 total crashes.
- 2,068 crashes with property damage.
- 340 crashes with injury (resulting in 430 injuries).
- 7 fatal collisions (resulting in 9 fatalities).
That means on an average day in Fayetteville, nearly seven crashes occur. That’s about one crash every three and a half hours.
More recent statistics largely comport with this information. More recent accident reports from 2015 detail crashes on Highway 16 west of Fayetteville, Round Mountain Road east of Fayetteville, and State Highway 16. Other major roads in the area where accidents have occurred include US 62, State highway 170, and US 412. Due to the high speeds and volume of commuter and commercial truck traffic, many of the fatal crashes occurred on or near Interstate 49.
Common Car Accident Injuries to Fayetteville, AR Drivers and Passengers
Of the 2,415 crashes that occurred in Fayetteville in 2011, 340 resulted in physical damage to drivers or passengers. That means just over 14% of accidents lead to some sort of injury.
Many injuries caused by traffic collisions and other auto accidents can have devastating effects that are costly to treat and manage. Compensation can help to cover your medical expenses. Some of the more common injuries caused by crashes include:
- Back Injuries
- Damage to Internal Organs
- Head/Facial Injuries
- Internal Bleeding
- Multiple Fractures
- Neck Injuries (“Whiplash”)
- Severe Lacerations
- Skin Abrasion (“Road Rash”)
- Spinal Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Accident With Two Cars
This list covers only a narrow selection of injuries that can occur due to a head-on collision, rear-crash, and other types of accidents. The unfortunate reality is that some of the most serious accidents often inflict multiple serious injuries or result in death. To learn more about at-fault insurance works in Arkansas, you should continue reading and speak with an experienced Fayetteville car accident attorney that can litigate your claim for compensation.
How At-Fault Insurance Works
Arkansas is an “at-fault” state (as opposed to a “no-fault” state). Under the statewide at-fault system, the motorist who was responsible for the accident is also responsible for the expenses resulting from any property damage or physical injury that may have occurred. In other words, the driver who caused the accident is financially liable for the damages caused/.
It’s also important to note that in Arkansas, it isn’t only drivers who are affected by insurance regulations. A passenger in a crash may also file a claim.
The minimum coverage levels are:
- $25,000 per person for physical injury.
- $25,000 per accident for property damage.
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury (more than one person).
Nearly all insurers offer greater coverage limits. In consideration of the fact that minimum coverage limits can be exhausted quite quickly in multi-car pile-ups and accidents causing catastrophic injuries, it is a good idea to purchase coverage that exceeds the minimum required levels.
What Happens If I Get Into a Fayetteville Car Accident with an Uninsured Driver?
Most people know that state law requires drivers to purchase minimum levels of insurance coverage. What people often fail to realize is that the law also requires the insurance company to provide the opportunity to also purchase additional coverage for uninsured motorists and underinsured drivers. You should be aware of the coverage limits and whether these policies extend to property damage, bodily injury, or both. Also, additional personal injury coverage is available.
Uninsured motorist coverage will provide compensation for your damages if the other driver does not have insurance. Underinsured coverage will kick-in and provide additional compensation coverage if the at-fault driver’s insurance is insufficient to cover your injuries or other damages.
Injury attorney Ken Kieklak understands the frustration and uncertainty that may arise when a person is involved in a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Our firm can help you determine the appropriate options for your unique situation.
Navigating Your Insurance Company After a Car Accident
If you suffer serious bodily injuries in a car or truck accident, it is highly likely that negotiation with the at-fault driver’s insurance company will be necessary. If the driver is uninsured or underinsured, you may have to negotiate with your own insurer. The essential thing to remember in these negotiations is that the claims agent or insurance adjuster does not work for you. They work for the insurance company. Their goal is to keep expenses from insurance claims low. In many cases, their performance goals or bonus may be tied to the level of compensation they award. The first offer you receive from an insurance company is rarely the best offer and, in many cases, will not provide adequate compensation to cover the costs of your injuries.
If you are concerned about speaking with an insurance claim adjuster, our firm can help guide you through the process. We will ensure that your interests are considered when determining how to seek compensation for your injuries.
When to File an Injury Lawsuit After a Car Accident in Fayetteville, Arkansas
If you were involved in a car accident and emerged with severe injuries, you may need to pursue compensation for your injuries. Outside of contacting your insurance to report the accident, you may consider filing a lawsuit against the driver responsible for your injuries. If you choose to file a lawsuit, you should know that your case is subject to the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations regulates the length of time a plaintiff is given to file a lawsuit with the court. It is important to note that the filing deadline for a case can vary depending on the circumstances. For example, a personal injury lawsuit may have a different statute of limitations than a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you are unsure about what type of lawsuit you need to file, our firm can help alleviate your concerns.
In Arkansas, a personal injury lawsuit must be filed within three years of the date of the accident. Many potential plaintiffs make the mistake of waiting too long to file their case with the court. As a result, the court could bar the plaintiff from seeking compensation with the court. Specifically, the defendant can request a motion to dismiss the case because the plaintiff failed to file their lawsuit on time.
To prove a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff must show how a defendant acted negligently before they can be awarded damages. There are four elements to negligence that a defendant must prove:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care (e.g., to exercise caution when operating their vehicle)
- The defendant breached the duty of care owed to the plaintiff
- The plaintiff suffered an injury as a result of the defendant’s breach
- The plaintiff sustained an injury that can be compensated by the court
Upon proving all elements, a plaintiff can be awarded damages for losses suffered as a result of the accident.
Recoverable Damages for a Car Accident Injury Lawsuit
An injured plaintiff can receive damages for a number of losses associated with a car accident. It is important to note that compensatory damages can be divided into two categories: economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are awarded to plaintiffs to compensate them for losses that can be easily quantified. Noneconomic damages are awarded to plaintiffs for injuries that cannot be easily calculated. Economic damages and noneconomic damages can be awarded for the following:
- Medical bills
- Costs of medication, rehabilitation, medical equipment, and similar expenses
- Loss of wages and loss of future wages
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Plaintiffs may also be able to secure punitive damages for their injuries. Punitive damages are awarded as a punishment because a defendant committed a particularly egregious act. For example, driving under the influence of alcohol could be enough to trigger this form of damages. It is important to note that there could be a cap on damages awarded to a plaintiff, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Arkansas Modified Comparative Fault Rule
A plaintiff should also be aware of Arkansas’ modified comparative fault rule that can affect a plaintiff’s damages. Under this rule, a plaintiff’s damages can be reduced if they were partly negligent. For example, if a plaintiff was texting while driving and was struck by a speeding defendant, the court may find that the plaintiff was partially liable for the accident. As a result, their damages would be reduced by the amount of their negligence. For instance, if a plaintiff were found to be 20 percent negligent, their damages would be reduced by 20 percent.
Additionally, there is also a possibility that the plaintiff would be barred from receiving damages under Arkansas’s 50 percent rule. The 50 percent rule states that if a plaintiff’s negligence is equal to or greater than that of the defendant, the plaintiff will be barred from receiving damages for their injuries. This means that a plaintiff could be found 49.9 percent negligent and still recover damages. Alternatively, a plaintiff could be 50.1 percent negligent and be unable to receive compensation for their injuries.
To avoid a scenario where your damages are reduced or barred, you should ensure that you operate your vehicle with caution at all times. Also, be sure to thoroughly document any evidence that can help you prove that you did not act negligently.
Experienced Auto Accident Injury Representation in Fayetteville, AR
If you’ve been involved in a serious car or truck accident in Arkansas, you have enough on your mind as you recover from your injuries. Our firm understands that you need the support of an aggressive, committed attorney who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Fayetteville car accident attorney Ken Kieklak has nearly 20 years of experience representing crash victims and their families and is dedicated to pursuing justice for every client. When you need the assistance of an experienced and respected law firm, you can call on Ken Kieklak. We don’t receive payment unless you do.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in an auto accident, you could be entitled to significant compensation for your pain, suffering, and medical expenses. To speak confidentially about your case with an experienced Fayetteville, AR auto accident lawyer, call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law right away at (479) 316-0438, or contact us online.