Almost everyone who gets in a car will be involved in a car accident at some point. Hopefully, most accidents will be minor fender-benders and will not result in any injuries. Unfortunately for so many people, car crashes are often significantly more serious.
The amount of people injured due to car crashes is significantly higher than the number of deaths often reported after these types of accidents. If you have been injured in a car crash in Springdale, or a loved one has died due to a car crash, our knowledgeable Springdale car accident lawyers do not want you to just be another statistic. You may have opportunities to seek financial compensation for your injuries that can help you recover and get your life back on track.
Many people believe that they will receive a reasonable offer from an insurance company if another driver causes an accident. While an offer might be forthcoming, without understanding the value of your claim, you have no way to tell if it is appropriate. In some cases, an accident victim needs to pursue a personal injury claim in court to receive the compensation they deserve. Car accidents are serious matters. You need legal counsel that will take your case seriously. Call (479) 316-0438 to review your legal options.
Severe Injuries Caused By Car Accidents in Springdale, AR
Most modern cars are designed with safety as one of the primary goals. They are designed to crumple to protect drivers from hard impacts, they have seatbelts and headrests designed to keep occupants in a safe position, and even the glass is designed to help prevent harm to those inside the car. Unfortunately, cars can only do so much to protect us from the poor decisions or skills of other drivers. Nevertheless, it is important to always wear your seatbelt and follow the rules of the road to prevent injury to yourself and others.
Car accidents can cause minor injuries, such as cuts, scrapes, and bruises, but many crashes are more severe. One of the most common car crash injuries is whiplash, an injury to the tendons and muscles in the neck caused by the quick back and forth motion of the head that is common during a car crash. Whiplash can occur even in low-speed collisions and leave people with pain for the rest of their lives.
Even more severe injuries can occur, including broken bones, concussions, loss of limb, paralysis, and even death. Injuries to the head can be especially severe, causing damage to the brain that can leave permanent results. Injuries to the back and neck can be especially serious news. Every nerve in your body is connected to the brain through the spinal cord, a bundle of nerves that runs down through your spine. If your back is injured and the bones of your spine are put out of alignment, you can suffer damage to the spinal cord, which can leave permanent loss of sensation, numbness, pins-and-needles feelings, or even paralysis.
Some injuries, even very serious ones, are not immediately apparent after a car crash. During the crash, adrenaline pumps through your body to help you react to the emergency situation, which might mask the pain and discomfort of injuries. Unrelated to adrenaline, sometimes days or weeks may pass before the effects are noticeable, especially for brain and spinal injuries.
Proving Negligence in a Springdale Car Accident Lawsuit
Unless someone purposefully caused a car accident, a personal injury lawsuit requires proving that another driver or party was negligent. Simply put, negligence means that someone was acting recklessly or carelessly, resulting in the injury of another person. In a car accident case, this is usually another driver. However, it could be a government agency that failed to properly maintain the road or manufacturer if a vehicle defect caused the accident or contributed to an injury.
No matter what party is to blame, our Springdale, AR car accident attorney will have to prove four elements to establish negligence in a court of law.
Duty of Care
The first thing a plaintiff must prove in a negligence case is that defendant owed them a duty of care. A duty of care is a legal obligation to act or behave in a certain way to minimize the risk or danger other people face. For example, a store owner is responsible for ensuring that the aisles in their store are free from unknown hazards that could harm their customers. In car accident cases, every driver owes every other driver and pedestrian an obligation to operate their vehicle safely. Therefore, a driver must exercise a level of caution and adhere to traffic rules and regulations. Typically, showing that a duty of care existed in a car accident case is not that challenging.
Breach of Duty
The next element is where personal injury cases start to become complicated. Once a duty of care is established, a plaintiff needs to demonstrate that the defendant’s conduct constituted a breach of that duty.
The first thing to understand is what type of behavior constitutes a breach of duty. Any conduct or decision that deviates from what a reasonable person would do under the same or similar circumstances is considered a breach if the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
Therefore, our Springdale car accident attorney will have not only to establish what the defendant did, but they will have to prove that a reasonable person would have acted differently. Typically, if a driver operates their vehicle in a way that threatens the safety of others, they are breaching their duty. For example, if someone gets behind the wheel while drunk, they should be aware that their actions could result in an accident and injury to others. Purposefully driving distracted, such as while texting, is another situation where a driver puts others at risk. Both of the previous examples appear to be obvious breaches. However, a motorist could also breach their duty while having both hands on the wheel and driving at the speed limit. If weather conditions are poor, such as heavy fog or a severe thunderstorm, a reasonable person might slow down below the posted speed limit.
People drive while texting and speed all the time. Not every bad action results in an accident or injury. This brings us to the third element that a plaintiff must prove to establish negligence. The breach of duty must have caused the accident and injury.
If you suffered whiplash after being rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light by another driver who was texting at the time, then showing causation is usually not that difficult. Unfortunately, not all accidents are as simple as that. When multiple cars are involved, then determining whose actions caused which injuries becomes much more complicated. There could also be intervening events or conditions. For example, a person could be involved in a slight fender-bender and their airbag erroneously deploys, breaking their arm. Is the driver who caused the accident responsible for the injury or the manufacturer of the airbag? Do they both share accountability? These are questions that our experienced Springdale car accident attorney will have to consider.
Fortunately, not every accident that occurs in Springdale results in an injury. If another driver was texting and side-swiped your car, resulting in damage to the vehicle but no bodily harm, then you lack the basis for a personal injury lawsuit. To file a claim, a plaintiff must have suffered an injury that resulted in monetary damages.
However, if you required any medical attention or lost time at work, you suffered actual damages. Accident victims are entitled to be compensated for things such as medical expenses, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, and their physical pain and suffering.
Part of your attorney’s job is to accurately assess and calculate the damages you suffered. These include both your economic losses, such as the cost of medical treatment or physical therapy, and your non-economic harm, including more subjective injuries such as loss of sleep, anxiety, and mental anguish.
How Springdale Car Accident Cases are Affected by Modified Comparative Negligence
While our Springdale car accident attorney will work to establish that another driver or party was at fault, the defendant will attempt to shift part or all the blame onto you. The plaintiff’s possible contribution to an accident comes into play in a personal injury lawsuit.
Arkansas follows a modified comparative fault rule that applies to personal injury cases, included those arising from a car accident. Under this rule, the responsibility for an accident will be apportioned out between all the parties involved. For instance, a defendant could be found to have been texting at the time of the accident, but the plaintiff failed to yield the right of way when required. In this case, a jury might hold that the defendant was sixty percent at fault, while the plaintiff’s behavior contributed forty percent to the accident. If the plaintiff was award $100,000 in compensation, it would be reduced to $60,000 to reflect their role in the crash. In situations where a plaintiff is found to be fifty percent, or greater, at fault, they are prohibited from receiving any compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Proving negligence is only part of a personal injury lawsuit. A plaintiff must also counter any allegations that they were also to blame.
What Compensation Is Available for Springdale Car Accident Victims?
When you have been injured by the bad action or negligence of someone else, a court can make the people responsible pay for almost every effect that stems from the injury. That means that not only are medical bills compensable, but also lost wages, and pain and suffering.
You should be able to recover all medical expenses that were caused by another driver. That means covering not only any surgeries and hospital visits, but also ambulance rides, imaging (like X-rays and MRIs), plus physical therapy and rehab. Not only are the medical bills for treatment you have already received compensable, but also future medical expenses to treat your injuries.
If you have missed work, any wages you have missed can also be recovered. That includes not only wages from missing work, but also wages in the future that you will continue to miss. Even if you’ve lost your job or been forced to resign because of your injuries, you should be able to recover them from those who caused you harm.
You can also seek damages to make up for your pain and suffering. While it may seem strange to put a price tag on injury, and while no amount of money can truly make up for the pain you may have suffered, courts are willing to award damages to injured people to try and make up for their pain and suffering. Some states put legal limits, called “caps,” on the amount of money you can receive because of pain and suffering. Arkansas has no such limit, and a limit is actually banned by the Arkansas Constitution.
Steps to Take After a Springdale Car Accident
Preparing a car accident personal injury claim requires investigating the crash, analyzing evidence, reviewing medical and police reports, and interviewing witnesses. These are all tasks our Springdale personal injury lawyers will do, whether we are negotiating with an insurance company or taking your case to trial. However, there are steps you could take during the immediate aftermath of the crash.
Call Local Law Enforcement
After an accident is a good idea to call the police. If there were any injuries or property damage, you must report the crash. The responding officer will secure the accident scene and ensure that anyone who is injured receives medical treatment. Furthermore, the responding officer will conduct a preliminary investigation into the accident, including taking statements from all parties involved and available witnesses. This information, along with other vital facts, will be included in the accident report. A police report is a valuable tool in a personal injury case, especially if the at-fault driver was cited for any traffic violations.
Seek Medical Attention
In some accidents, a person does not have a choice. If your injuries are severe, you should accept emergency medical treatment at the scene. However, many people walk away from accidents with cuts, bruises, and a bit of soreness. Even if you feel like you escaped with minor or no injuries, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. This advice is not only for your health and welfare, it is important if you wish to pursue a personal injury claim in the future. Some injuries, including soft tissue damage and certain head injuries, might not show symptoms in the hours or days following an accident. Having timely documentation of medical treatment is crucial in a personal injury claim. Otherwise, an insurance company or defense attorney could allege your injuries were not serious or were caused by an intervening event.
Our Springdale car accident attorneys will investigate your case, gathering evidence from a variety of sources. However, one of the best places to start is the accident scene moments after the crash. Unfortunately, it is impossible for our experienced team to get there. Therefore, the burden falls on you. If you are physically able, you should take photographs of the crash site. Include multiple pictures of the vehicles involved, including any damage they sustained. Do not forget the road surface. Often skid marks and debris provide important clues as to how an accident happened. You should also take pictures of your injuries.
Gather the contact information of any witnesses who saw what occurred. While this information might appear in the police report, sometimes a witness will leave before speaking with the police.
In addition to the evidence at the scene, you should take a moment following the accident to write down your recollections of the event. The details will never be fresher in your mind and you will have a document to refer to in the future. Be as detailed as possible. Do not assume something is not important – that is a decision for our Springdale car accident lawyers.
Be Careful Regarding the Information You Give to the Police or Insurance Companies
The police report will include your statement, as well as statements from anyone else involved in the crash. When giving your statement, you should stick to facts. Avoid vague responses and do not admit fault. Likewise, you need to report the accident to your insurance company. Explain what occurred but do not offer an apology on anything that could be construed as fault. Even an innocent comment such as “I feel OK” could be used to deny or reduce your injury claim.
You might also receive a call from the insurance companies of any other drivers involved in the crash. You are not required to speak with these companies. Under no circumstances should you accept a settlement offer before speaking with an experienced attorney.
Call Our Springdale Car Accident Lawyers
You have three years to file a personal injury claim in Arkansas. However, you should not wait two and a half years to contact an attorney. To improve your chances of success, you should call our Springdale car accident attorneys as soon as possible.
While it might take a few months to build a case, crucial evidence could be lost if we fail to act quickly. For example, surveillance video of an accident is sometimes available. However, if our office does not send a letter to the business or homeowner to preserve the evidence, it will likely be erased. Furthermore, the longer you wait, the harder it will be to get in touch with witnesses, whose recollections will have faded as well.
Medical evidence is critical in any personal injury claim. Our office will want to work closely with your doctors from the very beginning. If you wait months to seek legal help, there might not be strong medical documentation, especially if you failed to receive regular medical treatment following the crash.
Trust Our Springdale Car Accident Lawyers With Your Case
If you have been hurt in a car crash, or someone in your family was hurt or died, then you might be able to recover financial damages from the people who caused the crash. If you are in the Springdale area, our team of experienced Springdale personal injury lawyers handles car accident injury and death cases. To review your case, call (479) 316-0438.