A car accident can be a life-altering experience if you sustain serious injuries. Students at the University of Arkansas are in the prime of their life, and any injuries sustained in a car crash on- or off-campus could interfere with your studies and potentially stop you from continuing your education entirely.
Unfortunately, young drivers are more likely to get into a car accident than any other type of driver. However, many young accident victims are innocent of any wrongdoing or careless behavior. When another person causes an accident or injury, they should be held liable for any damages.
If you or a loved one was injured in a car crash or was killed in a car accident near the University of Arkansas, call our University of Arkansas car accident lawyer today. Our experienced Fayetteville, AR car accident lawyers represent victims and their families in claims seeking compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages related to car accidents. For a free legal consultation on your potential case, contact our law offices at (479) 316-0438.
SUING FOR CAR ACCIDENT INJURIES IN ARKANSAS
If you were injured in a car crash while attending the University of Arkansas, Arkansas’ traffic laws and insurance systems might be unfamiliar to you. Especially if you are from another state or have never been in a car crash before, it is important to understand how car accident cases work in Arkansas and how you can sue for your injuries.
Some states are “no-fault” car accident states. This means that car insurance policies issued in those states are required to cover the injuries and costs to the driver who carries the insurance policy. This personal injury protection (PIP) coverage usually covers up to a certain threshold of damages. Other states use a “fault” system where the insurance covers injuries that policyholder causes in an accident. Some states with no-fault systems also generally block lawsuits, requiring injury victims to use their insurance unless they meet certain thresholds.
In Arkansas, you can pay for no-fault coverage, and your insurance company is required to offer it to you, but you do not necessarily have any no-fault coverage on your policy. Moreover, no-fault coverage is not necessary, since you may be able to sue for severe injuries.
When you file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in Arkansas, you have to prove that the other driver was at fault before you can recover compensation. This can mean pointing to traffic violations leading up to the accident, such as speeding or running a red light. It can also include pointing to other serious violations during the crash, such as driving under the influence, driving while distracted, texting and driving, or drowsy driving.
If the other driver disputes the case, they may try to claim that you were actually at fault and deserve to pay for their compensation – or at the very least that they do not have to pay you. In most Arkansas injury cases, you can still claim damages even if you are partly responsible for the accident. The cutoff for liability is 50% fault, which means that as long as you are less than 50% at fault in causing the accident, you should still be able to recover compensation for the injuries you faced, though the damages might be reduced.
Proving Liability in a University of Arkansas Car Accident
If you want to sue someone for damages after a car accident, you will likely have to establish that another driver was negligent. While negligence is commonly thought to be either a degree of carelessness or recklessness, it is a legal term. To prove another party was negligent, an injured plaintiff must show four elements: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
Duty of Care
A duty of care is a legal obligation not to cause another person harm. This duty does not exist between all people. It is typically defined by the relationship between two parties or the circumstances surrounding the injury. For example, a surgeon must adhere to the applicable medical standard of care when operating on their patient. This duty includes taking the proper precautions before the surgery and ensuring that the decisions made during the procedure are those that a similarly trained medical professional would make under the same circumstances. In a personal injury case arising from a car accident, duty of care is relatively easy to establish. Every motorist in Arkansas owes every other driver, passenger, and pedestrian an obligation to operate their vehicle safely. This means obeying local traffic laws and keeping their vehicle in a roadworthy condition.
Breach of Duty
A breach of duty occurs when a person fails to adhere to their legal obligation. Determining a breach of duty could be challenging depending on what occurred and what evidence is available. The steps necessary to establish a breach occurred were hinted at above. Our University of Arkansas car accident lawyers will have to show that the defendant’s conduct failed to comply with what a reasonable person would have done under the same or similar circumstances.
What does this mean? First, the evidence must show what the defendant did. Second, the plaintiff must demonstrate what a reasonable person would have done instead. To illustrate this point, imagine someone driving home after drinking two bottles of wine. It is not difficult to show that a reasonable person would not have driven in that condition. However, all cases are not as cut and dry. For instance, it is difficult to prove someone was texting when an accident occurred – even though a reasonable person would not be texting while driving. On the other hand, there are times when ordinarily reasonable behavior could be unreasonable. If someone is driving at the speed limit in a severe thunderstorm, they could be breaching their duty of care.
Not every violation of the duty of care constitutes legal negligence. Many people exceed the speed limit without causing an accident. If you want to recover damages from the defendant after an accident, you must show that the defendant’s breach of duty caused your injury. The difficulty in proving causation depends on the facts of your case. When a drunk driver slams into a car sitting at a red light, resulting in head and neck injuries to the stationary driver, showing causation is straightforward. However, if the exact cause of the accident is unclear or if you had a preexisting condition, proving that the defendant caused your injuries could be much more challenging. If an accident victim fails to seek medical treatment immediately following an accident, they open the door for an insurance company or defense attorney to argue that their injuries resulted from an intervening event.
The primary reason someone files a personal injury lawsuit is to seek financial compensation for their economic losses and other damages. Therefore, the final element to establish in a case based on negligence is actual damages. You will have to produce evidence to support the compensation you are requesting. Evidence could include medical bills, a statement from your doctor, pay stubs, or other documents that support your claim.
Damages For a University of Arkansas Student Injured in a Car Crash
As an injury victim, there are certain damages you might face in any type of personal injury lawsuit. In car accident cases specifically, you might include additional damages for the property damage you faced for damage to your vehicle. However, the damages for your physical injuries are far more important and typically include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Whenever you go to the hospital or seek other medical attention and care for your injuries, you should keep a good record of the payments you made. This can include saving hospital bills, health insurance records, and financial records to help show what medical care you received because of the injury. In a car accident lawsuit, you can typically claim 100% of these damages from the at-fault driver.
You may also claim damages for any wages you lost because of the accident. Many university students do not work while attending college, but if you were working on campus or at another job while attending school, you may be able to sue for any lost wages the car accident causes you. If your injuries result in permanent disabilities, they could ultimately affect your wages in the future. Any reduced earning capacity or future lost wages can also be claimed in a car accident lawsuit.
Damages for pain and suffering can be paid to a victim to cover the physical, mental, and emotional effects of the accident on top of the damages for medical bills and lost wages. If your injury was not very severe and did not greatly affect your life, these damages might be low, but you can still claim them as part of your case. In more severe injury cases, these damages can be substantial. Especially if the injury changed your life, reduced your enjoyment of life, stopped you from caring for yourself, or interfered with activities you used to perform, you could seek high damages for pain and suffering.
You may also be entitled to damages if you lost a loved one in a car accident. Talk to an attorney about what your car accident lawsuit might be worth under Arkansas law.
Modified Comparative Negligence in University of Arkansas Car Accidents
As stated above, to be awarded damages in a personal injury case arising from a car accident, a plaintiff must establish that another driver was negligent. While some accidents are due to the reckless behavior of one driver, many are caused by a combination of each motorist involved. For example, a plaintiff who is suing a drunk driver could have been texting at the time of an accident. In this type of situation, both parties share part of the blame. If you contributed to an accident, your potential compensation could be significantly impacted.
Arkansas follows a modified comparative negligence model for personal injury cases. Under this legal theory, a jury or judge will not only determine a compensation award, they will also assign a percentage of fault to each party involved in the case. Their percentage of fault will reduce a plaintiff’s recovery.
To illustrate how modified comparative negligence works, we will examine the example of the texting driver and drunk driver more closely. In this scenario, the texting driver is maintaining their lane and speed. They also have the right of way. The drunk driver is passing on the right and clips the front end of the other car, causing both to spin out and crash. When a jury is presented with the evidence and facts of the case, they determine that the injured driver’s damages are $100,000.
Additionally, they find that the drunk driver was 80% at fault and the texting driver was 20% to blame. Therefore, the plaintiff would only receive $80,000 because of their role in the accident. If a jury found a plaintiff 50% or more at fault, they would be prohibited from receiving any compensation from the defendant. When preparing your case, our University of Arkansas car accident lawyers are not only building a case against the defendant, we are also preparing a defense against any allegations of recklessness on your part.
Call Our University of Arkansas Car Accident Lawyers for a Free Case Consultation
Car accidents are far too common for college students and could potentially affect the rest of their life. If you are a University of Arkansas student that was injured in a car accident or you are the parent or family of a loved one killed in a car accident near the University of Arkansas, call our office today. Our University of Arkansas car accident lawyer may be able to take your case and fight to get you the compensation you deserve from the at-fault driver and other responsible parties. For a free legal consultation on your case, call GKD Law today at (479) 316-0438.