Some of the most devastating accidents on Arkansas roads are truck accidents. Because of their massive size and weight, a substantial amount of accidents involving a large truck can be fatal, and if not, still result in severe injuries. In a statistical report compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 98 percent of semi-truck accidents involve a fatality. The report also stated that nearly 75 percent of all truck accidents were caused by the driver of a smaller truck or motor vehicle.
If you have been injured in a truck accident in Fort Smith, the Kieklak Law Firm may be able to secure compensation for you. Put our trucking accident experience to work for you by calling Arkansas injury lawyer Ken Kieklak at (479) 316-0438. You could also schedule your free legal consultation online.
Common Reasons for Truck Accidents in Fort Smith, AR
Accidents can happen for a variety of reasons. While certain areas in Fort Smith are more prone to accidents, such as the intersections of Waldron and Rogers Avenue, it doesn’t matter where the accident happens; these accidents are often attributed to impatient drivers. Truck accidents can be attributed both to the truck driver themselves, as well as other drivers on the road. Some of the most common reasons for a truck accident that can be attributed to other drivers on the road include:
Smaller Vehicles Cutting in Front of the Truck
Trucks require a substantially longer distance to bring their vehicle to a complete stop or even slow their vehicle. Accidents are common when a car cuts in front of a truck.
Driving in a Truck Driver’s Blind Spot
Semi-trucks have significant blind spots located to the sides and behind their vehicle. Drivers should avoid driving in a semi truck’s blind spots; specifically, drivers should avoid driving alongside a truck for an extended period of time. Because of their substantial blind spots, truck drivers may not be able to see another vehicle when they change lanes.
Some of the common reasons for a truck accident which can be attributed to a truck driver include:
Driving a large semi-truck requires a significant amount of training, as well as diligent and constant attention. However, many accidents can be attributed to the driver committing some avoidable error.
Truck Driver Fatigue
While this accident type can be generally considered to be a driver error, because of its significance in the trucking industry, it warrants its own category. Drivers are expected to follow laws and regulations pertaining to the amount of time they can be on the road; however, many accidents can be attributed to drivers driving well beyond the length of service laws.
The enormous size of a semi is enough reason to understand the likelihood of fatalities occurring when another vehicle is involved. Even if the injured survive, their injuries will probably be devastating and life-changing.
Proving Fault in a Truck Accident in Fort Smith
To be awarded damages in a truck accident lawsuit, you will have to show how the defendant’s negligence caused your injuries and other losses. To prove negligence in a truck accident lawsuit, the plaintiff must display the following four elements:
- The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff to perform a certain act or refrain from an act
- The defendant breached their duty of care to the plaintiff
- The plaintiff sustained an injury and other losses due to the actions of the defendant
- The plaintiff suffered actual damages that could be pursued in a court of law
The compensatory damages awarded by the plaintiff in a truck accident lawsuit could include the following:
- Loss of wages
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
This is not a comprehensive list. Other damages may be available depending on the circumstances of a victim’s case.
Due to their enormous size and weight, accidents involving a tractor-trailer are generally some of the most devastating on the road. However, merely because there was an accident involving a tractor-trailer or other truck does not mean that the truck driver is immediate to blame. In any accident in Fort Smith, you will need to prove that the other driver was negligent.
As mentioned, proving a negligence claim requires that you demonstrated that the other driver had a duty to exercise reasonable care that they failed to drive with the required amount of care. As a result of their failure, you or your passengers were injured.
Arkansas employs a modified comparative fault rule, which means that it is very important for you to prove the degree of negligence in any given case. If a person is injured in an accident in Fort Smith and there is a tractor-trailer involved, a jury will have to determine what percentage of fault each party was.
Under the modified comparative fault rule, the plaintiff’s injuries will be decreased in proportion to their negligence. For example, if the plaintiff was texting while driving and the driver of the tractor-trailer was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, the judge or jury may find that the plaintiff was 40% responsible for the truck accident. As a result, the plaintiff’s damages would be decreased by 40%, meaning if the plaintiff was awarded $100,000 in damages, they would only receive $60,000.
Note, however, Arkansas also follows the 50 percent bar rule, meaning that if the jury determines that one party is over 50 percent negligent in a case, they cannot recover for their injuries and accidents. This could be devastating for a plaintiff that needed damages to pay off medical bills and many other expenses related to the accident. As a result, you should be sure to gather enough evidence that could help decrease or eliminate your level of negligence.
When to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit in Fort Smith, AR
After being injured in a truck accident in Fort Smith, Arkansas, you should be aware of how long you have to pursue a negligent truck driver in a court of law. The statute of limitations dictates the amount of time that a potential plaintiff has to file a certain type of lawsuit.
The time granted to a potential plaintiff by the statute of limitations will vary depending upon the details of the case and the laws of the state where the case is being filed. It is important to note that each state does not have uniform laws regarding the statute of limitations, which means that you should not expect each state to have the same laws.
In Arkansas, a truck accident lawsuit must be filed within three years of the date of the accident. If a plaintiff does not file their lawsuit within three years, the defendant in the case could request that the court dismiss the case because it violated the statute of limitations. As a result, the court could dismiss the plaintiff’s lawsuit with prejudice, which means that the plaintiff cannot refile their case again.
To avoid missing your filing date, you should work with an experienced Fort Smith truck accident attorney. The Kieklak Law Firm will work diligently to ensure that we file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations deadline elapses.
Reasons to File Your Fort Smith Truck Accident Lawsuit Early
While Arkansas provides potential plaintiffs with three years to pursue their truck accident lawsuits, it would be prudent to file your case long before the deadline. One reason to pursue your case as soon as possible is to ensure that you have a better chance to gather evidence to prove your claim. If you wait too long to file your truck accident lawsuit, valuable evidence you need could be lost or destroyed.
Additionally, suppose you are relying heavily on testimony from witnesses of the truck accident. In that case, you do not want to wait long enough for your vital witnesses to have trouble recollecting the event. Also, waiting years to file your case could mean that witnesses or even the defendant could be difficult to locate if they moved out of the state. Filing your truck accident lawsuit early also means that you could receive compensation sooner if you prevail in your lawsuit.
There are many other reasons to consider filing your lawsuit as soon as possible. To learn more about filing a truck accident lawsuit in Fort Smith, you should continue reading and speak with an experienced Fort Smith truck accident attorney today.
Liability for a Truck Accident in Fort Smith, AR
If you were injured in a severe truck accident in Fort Smith, there could be one or multiple parties that could be held liable for your injuries and other losses. As you might expect, the truck driver involved in the crash will likely bear some responsibility for the accident. However, the employer of the truck driver could also be held liable in a truck accident lawsuit.
Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer could be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employee. Specifically, if a truck driver committed an act of negligence within the course of their employment, the truck driver’s negligent act would be imputed to their employer.
It is important to understand whether vicarious liability applies in your specific case, as it means that you could file a claim against a truck driver’s employee directly. This is important because the employer of the truck driver will be in a better position to pay a victim for damages incurred in a truck accident. Additionally, there could even be third parties that may be partly liable for the truck accident, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
Injured in a Truck Accident in Fort Smith? Contact an Arkansas Personal Injury Lawyer for Help
If you or a family member was seriously injured in a truck accident in Fort Smith, Arkansas, you should work with an experienced Fort Smith truck accident lawyer. The injuries caused by trucking accidents are often extremely serious and require medical attention. If you have suffered a serious injury, contact Fayetteville, AR personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak by calling (479) 316-0438. You could also contact the firm online to schedule your free legal consultation.