Accidents can happen at any time. Nothing can really prepare you for a severe car accident, a slip and fall, or medical malpractice. Unfortunately, these things happen to many people across Fort Smith, Arkansas every day. While you cannot prepare for injuries, you can fight for compensation to cover all of your losses and damages after you face serious injuries. Our Fort Smith, AR personal injury lawyers can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, has been representing injured victims in Fort Smith for decades. We know how challenging dealing with your losses can be, which is why we dedicate all of our efforts to getting compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To learn more about our legal services, call Ken Kieklak today at (479) 316-0438.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Fort Smith, Arkansas
If you were injured due to another person’s negligence, you can file a personal injury claim and fight for compensation. However, to prove your claim successfully and get the compensation you deserve, your case must meet specific requirements. It is critical to understand that you – “the plaintiff” – have the burden of proving the defendant’s negligence in court. With your Fort Smith, AR personal injury lawyer’s assistance, you may be able to prove the following elements in your claim:
This “duty” refers to the legal obligations placed upon various people in society. For example, all drivers must follow traffic laws to make sure they are not putting their lives and the lives of others at risk while operating their cars. You can provide the court with evidence showing what duty the defendant owed you depending on the relationship between you and the person who injured you. For example, another driver has the duty to drive as another driver of reasonable prudence would, as well as a duty to follow traffic laws. A property owner has a duty to keep their property reasonably safe, your doctor has a duty to follow medical standards for the care they give you, and other people also must follow other legal duties and obligations to keep others safe.
A breach of duty occurs when a person fails to adhere to these objective standards based on reasonable prudence. Following the previous example, a breach of duty can happen if a driver fails to stop at a red light as legally required, putting other drivers in danger. With your Fort Smith personal injury lawyer’s assistance, you should be able to provide the court with evidence showing the defendant failed to uphold their legal duty and that they should be responsible for any harm that resulted from the breach of duty.
Causation is often the most challenging element to prove in your claim. This third element requires you to show that the defendant’s breach of duty actually caused your injuries and losses. Establishing causation requires providing the court with evidence clearly showing that you wouldn’t have suffered harm but for the defendant’s negligent actions or omissions and that the negligence was closely linked to causing your injuries. For example, the fact that the injury would not have occurred if the defendant’s mother never gave birth to them does not make the mother at fault – but the fact that the driver ran a red light and immediately crashed into you certainly does make them responsible.
Once you have proven the defendant’s breach of duty caused your accident and subsequent injuries, you need to provide the court with tangible evidence showing your damages. You can achieve this by presenting your medical records and bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Common Cases Our Fort Smith Personal Injury Attorneys Handle
Many circumstances can give rise to personal injury cases. Situations involving negligence can happen at any moment and time without prior notice. If you or a loved one was injured due to someone else’s negligence, you should contact an experienced Fort Smith personal injury attorney. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, can handle many different types of personal injury claims in Fort Smith, Arkansas, including the following:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are common occurrences through Fort Smith and the surrounding area. In many cases, a car accident is nothing more than a fender-bender. However, many types of accidents, including rear-end collisions, head-on crashes, and rollovers, result in severe injuries. Motor vehicle accidents are not limited to cars. Often, accidents involve large commercial trucks, buses, motorcycles, or pedestrians. In many cases, an accident is the result of negligent conduct on the part of one or more drivers, such as texting while driving or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are common and often preventable. When someone loses their balance because of a wet surface, uneven sidewalk, or broken staircase, serious injuries could occur. While many people walk away from a fall with a skinned knee, others suffer severe fractures, spinal injuries, neck damage, or a concussion or other head injury. Even though these types of injuries are often played for laughs on television or movies, the repercussions from a serious injury could be life-altering. You may need to seek the help of a Fort Smith slip and fall accident lawyer.
When you visit a doctor, you expect to receive nothing but the best care from a trained professional. Unfortunately, this may not happen. Over the years, thousands of innocent patients are injured each year due to medical negligence and malpractice. Some of the most common examples of medical malpractice include misdiagnosis, anesthesia errors, and surgical errors. If a negligent doctor injured you or a loved one in Fort Smith, AR, our personal injury attorneys can help.
As a consumer, you’d expect all products you purchase to be safe. After all, there are protocols and laws in place to ensure that any products that reach market are safe for consumers. Sadly, every year, thousands of people are injured or lose their lives due to defective, dangerous products. Product designers and manufacturers have obligations to make sure their products are safe. However, not all manufacturers abide by safety rules, often exposing their consumers to danger. If you were injured by a defective product in Fort Smith, we can help.
Most workers in Fort Smith can file a workers’ compensation claim if they are injured on the job. The workers’ compensation process is designed to bypass the cost and length of a civil personal injury lawsuit. Unfortunately, the benefits an injured worker receives through workers’ compensation might not be sufficient if their injury was severe. For example, the claim for lost wages is statutorily capped and an injured worker is not entitled to recover for their pain and suffering.
While workers’ compensation law does prohibit most lawsuits against employers, injured workers still have options. Third-parties, including subcontractors, equipment manufacturers, and even fellow employees, could be held liable under certain circumstances. If you were injured while at work, you should contact our experienced Fort Smith workers’ compensation attorney to assist you with filing your benefits claim and to help determine if any other contributing party could be held accountable through a personal injury lawsuit.
People love their pets, especially their dogs. Despite being commonly known as “man’s best friend,” dogs often attack and hurt people throughout Fort Smith. Children are common victims due to their natural curiosity towards canines. Dog bites result in serious injuries, sometimes even fatal ones. Dog bite negligence laws in Arkansas vary from county to county, so you need to talk with an experienced Fort Smith personal injury attorney if a dog bit you or a loved one.
While many Fort Smith residents are injured due to the negligent or careless behavior of another person, not all injuries are caused by accidents. Unfortunately, some individuals are harmed through the intentional conduct of another. In most cases, when someone suffers an injury in this manner, the assailant could face criminal charges and conviction. However, that does not prohibit filing a personal injury lawsuit seeking financial compensation. Even if someone is charged and not convicted, a civil suit could still be successful. The burden of proof in a personal injury lawsuit is substantially less than in a criminal trial. If you were hurt due to another’s deliberate actions, contact our Fort Smith personal injury lawsuit to determine if you have a valid civil claim.
Nothing can be more painful and overwhelming than losing a loved one due to another person’s negligent actions. Sadly, thousands of innocent people die every year in accidents caused by negligent, careless, or reckless individuals. While no amount of money can replace your loved one, compensation can help you during your recovery. Our team of Fort Smith wrongful death lawyers will handle your case compassionately, yet aggressively, to bring those responsible for your loved one’s death to justice and get you the compensation your family needs to move forward.
Statute of Limitations for Fort Smith Personal Injury Claims
If you were injured through another’s negligence and want to pursue a personal injury claim in Fort Smith, it is imperative to understand that you do not have an unlimited amount of time to bring your case to court. Every state, including Arkansas, has a statute of limitations that determines the timeframe in which a lawsuit in a criminal or civil case has to be filed. The statute of limitations does not restrict how long a case will go on, just when it must be filed in relation to the date of the accident or injury. If a plaintiff fails to adhere to the deadlines imposed under Arkansas law, then they could be prohibited from seeking compensation through the court. Therefore, it is critical to speak with our experienced Fort Smith personal injury lawyer so you understand the deadlines you are required to meet.
How Long do I Have to File My Lawsuit?
The exact amount of time you have to file your case will depend on the type of case you are filing. Typically, in a personal injury claim based on another party’s negligence, a plaintiff has three years from the injury date to file a claim. There are some exceptions to this rule. Arkansas provides a discovery exception. Under this rule, if an injured person is unaware of their injury when it occurs, the three-year period does not begin until the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered the injury.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
As stated above, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is typically three years. However, there are certain exceptions based on the type of claim and the age of the victim. More specifically, there are three notable exceptions that potential plaintiffs in Fort Smith should know.
First, if the injury occurred because of medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is only two years instead of the usual three.
Second, if the victim was under the age of 21 at the time of the injury, then they have three years from their 18th birthday to file a claim.
Finally, if you are filing a wrongful death claim in Fort Smith, you only have three years from the date of the death. It is important to note that a wrongful death claim is not barred if a plaintiff misses their deadline to file a personal injury claim. For example, if someone suffers an injury because of a misdiagnosis and fails to file a timely medical malpractice claim, their surviving family members could file a wrongful death action if the victim eventually succumbs to their injuries.
What if I Miss the Deadline to File My Personal Injury Claim?
If you want to receive any compensation through a personal injury lawsuit, you must comply with the statute of limitations. If you fail to file a case within three years, or two years for a medical malpractice claim, your case will most likely be dismissed. This means you will not be able to recover for your damages.
Do Not Hesitate to Contact a Fort Smith Injury Attorney
Three years might seem like a significant amount of time to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, that does not mean you should wait for two and a half years to file your case. Any hesitation could result in vital evidence being lost or unavailable. A relatively simple case could become impossibly complicated if the necessary evidence is lost. This includes documentation, records, and the availability of witnesses. It also increases the time it will take for you to receive any compensation.
How Can I Get Compensated for My Personal Injury Claim?
Many victims filing personal injury claims wonder how much compensation they can expect from their case. It is essential to understand all personal injury cases are different and that the value the court may assign to each case will change depending on the facts, how much damage was caused, and whether the victim shared liability. Our Fort Smith, AR personal injury lawyers will work to maximize the compensation you can expect from your case and help you get what you need to deal with the medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other effects of an injury.
Compensation Available to Victims Through a Fort Smith Personal Injury Lawsuit
In a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff is seeking monetary compensation for their injury. The legal term for a plaintiff’s losses is “damages.”
The most common type of damages awarded in a personal injury are compensatory damages. Typically, these damages are further categorized as economic or non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to your financial losses and expenses you incurred because of your injury. For example, any medical costs, including co-pays, deductibles, and prescription medication, would be considered economic damages. You could even recover parking fees for going to a doctor’s appointment. These damages are not limited to your out-of-pocket expenses and could be awarded for future costs, such as additional surgeries or necessary physical therapy. An injured plaintiff is also entitled to recover their lost wages. Similar to other recoverable expenses, recovering for lost wages is not limited to the work hours you have missed because of your injury. You are entitled to be compensated if you are unable to work in the future or if your injury limits your earning capacity. Our Fort Smith, AR personal injury attorney will thoroughly review all of the costs related to your injury to ensure we are seeking an appropriate amount through the lawsuit.
Non-economic damages do not come with receipts or invoices. Sometimes referred to as pain and suffering, non-economic damages relate directly to the physical pain and mental anguish you experienced because of your injury. For example, if you cannot sleep or suffer anxiety after an accident, you could recover through a personal injury lawsuit. While they are much more challenging to calculate, economic damages are often a significant portion of a compensation award.
Another type of damages available in a personal injury lawsuit are punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are designed to punish a defendant when their behavior is especially malicious or reprehensible. Because they are not tied directly to a plaintiff’s financial losses or their emotional suffering, punitive damages could far exceed the economic and non-economic damages a plaintiff has been awarded.
For a court or jury to award punitive damages, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant knew or should have known that their actions would probably injury the plaintiff and continued to intentionally engage in the conduct with reckless disregard for any consequences. From the defendant’s decision, willful malice is implied.
In many states, punitive damages are limited by statute. However, according to the Arkansas Supreme Court, the legislature is prohibited from imposing a cap on punitive damages. However, this does not mean every personal injury lawsuit will result in a windfall for the plaintiff. To be awarded punitive damages, our Fort Smith personal injury attorney will have to prove through “clear and convincing” evidence that a defendant acted willfully and maliciously to demonstrate that an injured person is entitled to these very specific damages. Because this standard is so high, it is rare that a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit is awarded punitive damages.
Modified Comparative Negligence in Personal Injury Cases
Arkansas follows the legal doctrine known as “modified comparative negligence” in personal injury lawsuits. Under this doctrine, fault will be spread among all parties involved in a case, including both the plaintiff and defendant. Any award the plaintiff receives will be reduced by the percentage of blame they have been assigned.
If you fell down a staircase in an apartment building because the light was broken and you could not see, then the landlord or building manager could be held liable for your injury. However, if you were running down the stairs at the time of the fall, you could be held partially responsible. Under the modified comparative negligence doctrine, a jury finds the landlord sixty percent at fault while you are found to have contributed forty percent to the accident. A jury award of $100,000 would be reduced to $60,000. In cases where the plaintiff’s contribution is equal to or greater than fifty percent, they are prohibited from receiving any compensation. Our Fort Smith personal injury will not only advocate on your behalf, but they will also work to counter any arguments the defense presents.
Insurance Claims and Personal Injury Lawsuits in Fort Smith
In most personal injury cases, an injured victim will be dealing with an insurance company, such as another drivers’ insurance provider, a property owner’s insurance company, or a medical malpractice insurer. Part of the job of our Fort Smith personal injury attorney is to both communicate and negotiate with any insurance companies involved in the case. Remember, insurance adjusters are not looking out for your best interests. Their job is to limit the amount of money their company has to pay. Any statement you make that could be construed as either accepting fault or downplaying the severity of your injuries will be used to lower your potential settlement and fight you in court. Our experienced lawyers and staff know how to calculate your claim’s value and will work on your behalf. You should concentrate on healing while our office works on your personal injury claim.
Contact Our Fort Smith Personal Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation if You Were Injured
If you or a loved one was injured by another person’s negligence, we can help. For decades, our Fort Smith, AR personal injury lawyer has proudly helped thousands of injured people fight for financial compensation. We understand all you want is to get better and go back to your everyday life. Our Fort Smith and Fayetteville, AR personal injury lawyer can fight for you, working to hold the liable parties accountable for your damages. To learn more about our services in a free, confidential consultation, call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, today. Our phone number is (479) 316-0438.