A family member’s death can be very difficult. You have to worry about who will take care of your family. You have to worry about funeral costs. You have to worry about the loss of companionship with your loved one gone. Each of these worries is elevated when your loved one’s death is untimely. Even more, if the death was the result of another’s actions, you are right in feeling that someone else should pay. There is a special statute set aside for individuals who have lost a loved one due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentionality of another. This is called the wrongful death statute.
Statute of Limitations on a Wrongful Death Claim
In Arkansas, there is a limitation on when you can bring a claim against an individual or entity in the event of a wrongful death. Wrongful death claims must be initiated within one year of the date of the decedent’s death.
So, if your loved one is negligently, recklessly, or intentionally killed by some other individual or entity, then you have only a single year to initiate a lawsuit against that individual or entity.
Sometimes, it may not be clear to you that the negligence or recklessness of another resulted in your loved one’s death. A situation like this could occur after a loved one is discharged from a hospital after surgery, and suddenly dies a few days later. If it is unclear whether your loved one died of natural causes or as a result of the surgery, then the statute of limitations is tolled up until the point where it becomes reasonably clear that the decedent died as a result of the surgeon’s negligence. In other words, the statute of limitations does not begin to accrue until the negligence involved in the decedent’s death becomes reasonably clear.
A one-year statute of limitations on wrongful death claims is much shorter than other jurisdictions. Many jurisdictions put a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death claims. For example, Arkansas’ neighbor to the West, Oklahoma, has a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death claims. Because Arkansas’ statute of limitations is only a single year, it is important to contact our firm immediately so that we can protect your legal rights.
Fort Smith Landmarks
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident in any of these popular Fort Smith locations, contact our offices immediately. If you believe that one of these places resulted in the untimely death of your loved one, time is of the essence. Remember, as stated above, the statute of limitations on a wrongful death claim is only one year. If you do not contact us as soon as possible with your loved one and your family’s wrongful death claim, you may be barred from receiving any damages from the individual or entity that is at fault.
Here are some places in Fort Smith that you may be familiar with:
- Fort Smith Museum of History
- Parrot Island Water park
- Fort Smith Farmer’s Market
- The Monkey House
- Fort Smith Air Museum
- The Park at West End
Wrongful Death Statute vs. Survival Statute – What’s the Difference?
Earlier in this article, we described how a loved one’s death as a result of another’s negligence may be a recoverable claim based on the wrongful death statute. You may have heard of another form of recovery, called the survival statute. So what is the survival statute all about?
The main difference between wrongful death claims and survival claims is that the survival statute allows the estate to be awarded damages that the decedent would have recovered had he or she only been injured, and not died. Examples of damages an estate would be able to recover on behalf of a decedent in a survival action are pain and suffering and lost earnings.
Therefore, unlike the all-encompassing wrongful death statute, survival actions permit recovery for only those damages that a decedent would have recovered had he or she lived. In other words, claimants may only recover damages that arose prior to the decedent’s death. In 2001, the Arkansas General Assembly adopted provisions to amend the survival statute to permit an estate or survivor to recover a decedent’s “loss-of-life damages as an independent element of damages.” This means that loved ones can be compensated for the value a decedent would have placed on his or her own life.
Your Family Needs a Knowledgeable and Skilled Fort Smith Wrongful Death Attorney
If your wife, husband, mother, father, son or daughter was involved in a fatal accident, contact our firm immediately. You need representation that will protect your family’s rights.
For more than 20 years, Ken Kieklak has stood-up for Arkansas families who have suffered the loss of a loved one. For your free and confidential consultation, contact the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak by calling (479) 316-0438 or contact us online today.