Many injuries only occur because someone involved in the accident failed to use the proper care or skill to keep you safe. Due to our relations and interactions with others, we often have a duty to keep them safe and act to protect them from harm. This is especially clear with regard to traffic laws intended to keep others safe or a doctor’s duty of care to keep a patient from further harm. When people fail to follow these duties, people can be seriously injured or killed.
If another person, company, or entity negligently injures another person, they could be held legally and financially liable through a personal injury lawsuit. By presenting evidence to support the alleged negligent conduct and the damages suffered, an injured person could be awarded compensation by a jury or receive a settlement from an insurance provider. Having our Harris, AR personal injury lawyers advocating for you increases your chances of maximizing your compensation.
Whether it is aggressively arguing your case in court or negotiating with an insurance company, our Arkansas personal injury attorneys might be able to help if you were injured because of someone else’s carelessness or negligence. To schedule a free legal consultation on your injury case, call our law offices today at (479) 316-0438.
Suing for Injuries in Harris, Arkansas
Whenever you are injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to sue them in court for the injuries sustained. In many cases, there may be insurance available to file a claim against, such as auto insurance, business liability insurance, or medical malpractice insurance. However, most insurance policies do not cover the full value of your damages, and you may be better off filing a lawsuit to cover your damages.
To win a lawsuit for your injuries, you must prove what the defendant did wrong to cause your injuries. Generally, people have a duty not to intentionally injure each other, but they do not owe them other duties unless there is some relationship between the victim and the defendant. This duty is imparted in many situations and takes a different form depending on the specific circumstances at hand. The following are all examples of duties someone might owe you:
- A driver owes other drivers a duty to drive reasonably and avoid accidents.
- Your doctor owes patients a duty a provide reasonable medical care.
- A product manufacturer owes purchasers a duty to carefully design and manufacture a product and to warn of potential dangers.
- A property owner owes guests a duty to clean up or repair hidden dangers or to warn guests about the danger.
If the defendant fails to use the proper care or skill to uphold that duty and you are injured because of it, you may recover damages for the injuries and other harms their negligence causes you.
The damages you can recover in a lawsuit typically include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. These damages can be proven by producing medical bills, financial records, pay stubs, and other documentation of the costs you faced because of the injuries. Evidence of intangible injuries like pain and suffering can include your testimony about how the injury affected you and impacted your life.
If you can prove all of these elements, you may be entitled to payments to cover the damages you proved. Typically, this means convincing a jury, not the judge, that it is more likely than not that your claim is true and that the defendant was responsible for your injuries.
Filing a Lawsuit or Accepting an Insurance Settlement in Harris, AR
One of the first questions that comes up when discussing filing a personal injury lawsuit in Harris is, “should I sue or should I settle.” The answer depends on a number of factors.
Valuing Your Damages and the Insurance Policy Limits
Before deciding how to proceed, our office will have to value your case. Some of your damages are straightforward, such as your medical expenses and your lost income. However, you will want to ensure that you are also compensated for any further medical treatment you might need. Additionally, if you will be out of work for months or years, you deserve to recover those future lost wages as well. Our office will often work with medical and financial experts to estimate your total damages. We will also determine what you should expect to receive for your intangible damages, such as pain and suffering. With an estimate of your damages in hand, you can judge an insurance settlement offer. If an offer is insufficient to cover your damages, you might consider filing a lawsuit.
Another consideration is the insurance policy limits. No matter what a jury awards, a plaintiff’s compensation is limited by the insurance policy. While you are permitted to file a claim against the defendant personally, unless they have substantial assets, it will be difficult to collect. If a potential settlement is close to or at the policy’s limit, accepting the offer makes sense.
The Legal Strength of Your Case
Another factor to consider is the legal strength of your case. A favorable outcome at trial is never guaranteed. Our office will thoroughly investigate the accident and gather evidence to build your case. It is also important that you do not say anything that could negatively impact your case. Saying “I feel fine” to an adjuster could be used to reduce your claim.
If the available evidence strongly supports your claim, then taking your case to court is less of a risk. However, if the evidence is insufficient to prove negligence, accepting an offer could be your best option.
The Insurance Company Is Not Offering a Fair Settlement
Insurance companies are not in the business for the sole purpose of paying out huge claims. Therefore, an insurer is hoping you accept a lower offer than you probably deserve. In some cases, no matter how much evidence is presented or how hard our Harris personal injury attorneys press, an insurance company will not budge. In these situations, even if the evidence is not overwhelming, it is a good idea to file a lawsuit. As stated above, a jury verdict is never guaranteed. An insurance company might not want to incur the expense of a trial with the possibility that you will be awarded a substantial judgment. Sometimes, just filing a case will trigger an insurance company to offer a fairer settlement. Additionally, as more evidence comes to light, your case could grow stronger.
Types of Person Injury Cases in Harris, AR
Personal injury cases are as varied as the number of people who file them. Every personal injury lawsuit is unique and requires a different approach depending on the severity of the injury and the facts surrounding the accident. Our Harris, AR personal injury lawyers have years of experience handling different types of cases.
Medical malpractice cases are very common in Arkansas. When our trusted healthcare providers, medical professionals, doctors, nurses, or other specialists fail to provide the required standard of medical care, they could be held liable for the harm they cause.
Many medical malpractice cases stem from professional incompetence or negligence. For instance, a surgeon could carelessly leave a surgical instrument in a patient, resulting in either an infection or other adverse medical complications. Errors occur in the administration of medication or the results of medical imaging tests could be misinterpreted.
Medical malpractice cases are often the most challenging lawsuits because of the difficulty in determining fault. A poor outcome is not necessarily grounds for a medical malpractice case. Even routine procedures that are correctly performed could result in unintended and devastating results. By turning to medical records and expert testimony, our office will look to prove you were the victim of medical malpractice.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Driving is one of the most dangerous things an average person does during the course of their day. Some accidents in Harris are just that, accidents. Sometimes a car accident occurs because of circumstances beyond anyone’s control. However, when an accident results from negligence on the part of one or more parties, they should be held accountable for any injures.
Motor vehicle accidents come in all types, from fender benders to catastrophic head-on collisions. They also involve a wide variety of vehicles, including cars, trucks, motorcycles, buses, and even pedestrians. Each case requires a different legal strategy.
When someone in Harris buys a product, they have a reasonable expectation that it will perform as described and safely. Manufacturers have a legal obligation to ensure that the products they provide are reliable and reasonably safe to use. When a product causes an injury, either because of a manufacturing defect or design flaw, victims are entitled to seek compensation through a civil claim.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Probably the most common reason for personal injury lawsuits are slip and fall accidents. When someone loses their footing, they could suffer everything from a slight bruise to a life-altering brain injury. Often, slip and fall accidents occur on another’s property. Property owners, building managers, and landlords are responsible for ensuring that their properties are safe for their guests and invitees. It is important to talk with an experienced Harris personal injury lawyer to understand precisely what type of obligation a property owner owed you if you were injured in a slip and fall accident.
The majority of Harris, Arkansas workers can claim benefits under workers’ compensation if they are injured on the job. However, these benefits are limited, and if your injury is severe, the benefits might not be sufficient to cover all your financial losses. Additionally, workers’ compensation does not compensate an injured worker for the physical and emotional suffering associated with their injury.
While in most cases, an employee is prohibited from filing a lawsuit against their employer, there are exceptions. In addition, there are times when a third-party could be held liable for a worker’s injuries. If you were hurt on the job, it is critical to speak with our workers’ compensation attorney to assist you with your claim and determine if a personal injury lawsuit is viable.
Common Types of Injury Claims
People can be injured in many ways, but the types of injury cases are typically grouped together into various categories of personal injury cases. Our injury lawyer handles cases in these categories, as well as unique cases or cases that fall between categories.
Car accidents are one of the most common types of injury cases. People are hurt and killed in thousands of car accidents each year in Arkansas alone, and working with a lawyer may be vital to getting the full damages you are entitled to. In addition to car accidents, other auto accidents such as truck accident, bike accidents, and pedestrian accidents could lead to a lawsuit
Cases where victims are injured because of dangers on someone else’s property are typically categorized as “premises liability” cases. The most common of these cases are slip and fall or trip and fall cases where someone fell down because of a dangerous puddle, uneven surface, ice or snow, loose cables, or other dangers on the owner’s property. This could also include cases with injuries from sharp objects, fires, electrical hazards, and other property defects.
Medical malpractice and medical negligence cases account for another broad category of injuries. This could cover injuries and damages from misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, birth injuries, surgical errors, and other medical errors or hospital negligence.
Products liability cases cover injuries from negligent product manufacturing. These injuries could occur because the manufacturer used a patently dangerous design, because of errors in the manufacturing process that made the product dangerous, or because a dangerous product did not carry sufficient warning of its risks. These injuries could occur from tools and appliances, but product injury cases also cover auto defect injuries, pharmaceutical injuries, and medical device injuries.
Injury cases dealing with specific types of injuries are also a common way to classify personal injury cases. For instance, our injury lawyer handles cases dealing with any of the following types of injuries, regardless of how the injury occurred:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Back and spine injuries
- Neck injuries and whiplash injuries
- Broken bones
- Drowning injuries
- Burns and chemical burns
Arkansas Statute of Limitations and Harris Personal Injury Lawsuits
All lawsuits are governed by a statute of limitations that sets a deadline for when they must be filed. Personal injury claims in Harris, AR are no different. Under Arkansas law, a personal injury claim arising out of negligence must be filed within three years of the date of the injury.
If you are filing a medical malpractice claim, the statute of limitations is only two years. However, there is an exception. Because of the nature of medical malpractice, an injured plaintiff might not know they have been harmed by a doctor’s or other medical professional’s negligent error. Therefore, a plaintiff has one year from when the harm was discovered, or should have been discovered, to file a lawsuit.
If you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a deceased loved one, the case must be filed within three years of the date of the death.
Damages Available in a Harris, AR Personal Injury Lawsuit
The primary reason someone files a personal injury lawsuit in Harris, AR, is to seek compensation for their financial losses and emotional suffering. Injured victims are permitted to recover three classifications of damages in a personal injury claim.
Economic damages are exactly what they appear to be – your monetary losses incurred because of your injury. Medical expenses are the most obvious. However, there are many out-of-pocket costs associated with an injury, including parking fees for a doctor’s appointment, medication expenses, physical therapy, or any additional treatment you might need. Furthermore, you are entitled to be compensated for any income you lost and income you anticipate losing because of the injury. Our Harris personal injury lawyer will collect receipts, bills, and documents as evidence. We will also work with financial experts to calculate the full amount of your losses.
Non-economic are more challenging to understand and prove. Typically, these are the subjective and intangible harm you experienced because of your injury. Nearly everyone is familiar with the idea of suing for pain and suffering. However, non-economic damages encompass much more. In addition to being compensated for your mental anguish, anxiety, insomnia, or other post-traumatic symptoms you might have, you are also entitled to recover for loss of enjoyment of life. For instance, if you were an avid waterskier and could no longer ski because of a surgical error, you could be compensated for this negative impact on your life. Our office will work with medical experts, witnesses, and your own testimony to determine your non-economic damages.
Punitive damages are very different from both economic and non-economic damages. The first two categories are compensatory damages meant to restore the injured victim to where they were before the injury. The plaintiff is required to substantiate any damages with evidence related to the injury. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant. When a defendant’s conduct is grossly negligent, malicious, or intentional, the court could award punitive damages as a deterrent and punishment. For example, if a drunk driver caused a car accident, the court could award punitive damages because of the driver’s especially egregious behavior. Our Harris personal injury attorney will evaluate your case to determine if punitive damages are a possibility.
Modified Comparative Negligence in a Harris, AR Personal Injury Lawsuit
Some personal injury cases are cut and dry – all evidence supports that the defendant’s negligent conduct caused you injury. However, many accidents are caused by a combination of factors, including the reckless or careless behavior of the injured victim. For instance, a drunk driver could be the primary cause of a car accident. However, if the victim was texting at the time of the crash, their actions also likely contributed to the accident. Because of this reality, Arkansas follows a modified comparative negligence doctrine in personal injury claims.
In addition to being tasked with determining what amount of money a plaintiff should be awarded, a jury will be asked to apportion blame among all parties involved in the case. Returning to the example above, a jury could determine that the drunk driver was 70% at fault. Conversely, the jury could also find that the injured plaintiff was 30% to blame. Because of the role they played, the defendant’s compensation will be reduced by 30%. Therefore, if the jury awarded $100,000, the plaintiff would only receive $70,000. If a jury determined that an injured plaintiff was 50% or more at fault, any awarded compensation would be reduced to zero. Our Harris, AR personal injury attorneys will not only be working to prove the defendant was negligent, but they will also address any allegations that you were at fault.
Call Our Harris Personal Injury Attorneys for a Free Consultation to Discuss Your Legal Options
For help with your injury case, contact our Harris, Arkansas personal injury lawyer today. Our team of lawyers and staff work hard to get injury victims the compensation they need after serious accidents and injuries, and he can fight to help you and your family recover from avoidable injuries by working to maximize the compensation you receive. For a free legal consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (479) 316-0438.