You are a careful and contentious person. You realize that the actions you take can have profound and life-altering impacts on your fellow northwest Arkansans. This idea and level of common respect for others are especially pronounced when it comes to certain riskier activities and other areas where people would expect you to protect them from known dangerous conditions and defects. However, all too often people act in ways that do not respect other’s right to be free from injuries and damages recklessly or intentionally inflicted. People who fail to maintain their property, those who drive recklessly, or sell products with known safety problems are all examples of people who attempt to impose the costs of their behavior onto their victims.
Personal injury cases are often complex and drawn-out affairs. However, to receive the compensation you deserve, you need a law firm that has the willingness and resources to fight for your rights all the way to court. While some cases will settle before reaching trial, you need to be prepared to bring your case before a judge or jury if you want to maximize your award.
Our experienced Washington County, AR personal injury lawyers believe that no victim of careless, reckless, or intentional behavior should be forced to subsidize such acts through the payment of medical expenses and the loss of wages and future earning potential. Our attorneys are staff are dedicated to holding careless individuals financially accountable for the catastrophic consequences their actions can cause. To schedule a free personal injury consultation for your injury that occurred in Washington County, Arkansas call (479) 316-0438 today or contact us online.
What Are The Types of Personal Injury Cases Filed in Washington County, AR
Our Washington County personal injury lawyers file claims for a wide variety of injuries and accidents. Each case presents its own unique set of challenges. Our attorneys and staff will determine a legal strategy based on the facts and circumstances surrounding your injury. Below are some of the types of claims our office files.
Car Accident Cases
Car accidents are an unfortunate part of driving. Depending on the severity of an injury, a car crash could be life-altering. Some common reasons car crashes occur include speeding, distracted driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, or otherwise ignoring traffic rules and regulations.
Other Automotive Accidents
Accidents in Washington County involve more than just cars. When operated improperly, large commercial trucks could cause devastating accidents and injuries. Motorcyclists embrace the feeling of the open road. They also lack the protection that other vehicles provide. Even pedestrians are not immune from being hurt in accidents. Our Washington County personal injury attorneys have the resources and experience to handle the most complicated automotive vehicle accident case.
Medical Malpractice Cases
Doctors, surgeons, nurses, and other medical professionals are not perfect. However, when their mistakes are unjustified and their negligence harms a patient, they should be held accountable. Medical malpractice claims arise from birth injuries, misdiagnoses, surgical errors, medication mistakes, and other acts of carelessness and negligence.
Slip and Fall Cases
Probably the most common personal injury cases are based on slip and fall claims. When someone losses their footing, they could break an ankle, arm or suffer a concussion. Often, a slip and fall accident will occur on another party’s property. Store owners, apartment managers, landlords, and even homeowners are responsible for ensuring their property does not present any unreasonable hazards.
Products Liability Cases
People do not anticipate being injured when they plug in a hairdryer or other application. We expect the products we purchase to serve the purpose they are designed for without causing harm. When a product is defective or malfunctions, it could cause an injury. Typically, a product liability claim will be based on a design flaw, a manufacturing error, or a failure to warn. Depending on what caused the harm, our Washington County personal injury lawyer could hold the manufacturer or another party within the chain of distribution responsible for your damages.
When someone in Washington County is injured on the job, they are typically entitled to benefits under Arkansas’ workers’ compensation laws. Under workers’ compensation, a hurt employee is generally prohibited from filing a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. However, that does not mean that grounds do not exist to file a claim against a third party. If you have been injured while on the job, you should still speak with our experienced Arkansas personal injury attorneys to review all your options.
Every injury is not the result of an accident or the carelessness of another person. Unfortunately, some people in Washington County are hurt due to the intentional conduct of others. In many cases, the behavior is criminal. Just because you were the victim of a crime, it does not mean you lose your right to sue in civil court. A defendant could face criminal charges and still be held financially liable for the harm they caused. It is important to note that a conviction could help a personal injury claim, even though it is not required. Because the burden of proof in a criminal case is substantially higher than in a civil lawsuit, it is possible to prevail in your personal injury claim without a criminal conviction.
What Potential Damages Exist in My Personal Injury Case?
A lawyer cannot assess the exact damages that will be available in any particular case without first analyzing the unique factors, circumstances, and consequences of the particular injury event. However, the most common type of damages that are awarded in successful personal injury actions are known as compensatory damages. Compensatory damages include many of the types of losses discussed, in brief, above. Compensatory damages can include things like lost wages due to having to take time off from work, lost future earning potential, hospital bills, doctors’ bills, bills for medical tests, property damage, and more.
While the damages listed above are economic in nature, you are also entitled to non-economic damages. For example, you could be awarded monetary compensation if you were losing sleep because of your injury. Pain and suffering is often a substantial portion of the total compensation awarded by a jury. These subjective damages also include anxiety, depression, humiliation, and the loss of enjoyment of life. While these damages are challenging to calculate, our Washington County personal injury attorneys have the expertise and knowledge of previous case law to determine a reasonable amount.
In cases generally involving reckless or intentional actions, punitive damages may be imposed. Punitive damages are intended to punish the perpetrator of particularly egregious behavior and to send a message to others that this type of behavior is far outside of acceptable bounds. In some limited circumstances where a wrongful act was committed but few damages resulted, nominal damages may be award.
What is My Washington County Personal Injury Case Worth?
As stated above, a plaintiff is entitled to seek compensatory damages in a personal injury lawsuit. Part of the job of our Washington County, AR personal injury attorneys is to evaluate your claim. This is important for two reasons. First, it allows you to make an informed decision if an insurance company offers you a settlement. Second, during the valuation process, our attorneys and staff will gather evidence of the harm you suffered to present at trial.
In many cases, an insurance company will offer an injured victim a settlement. While the thought of an immediate lump sum influx of cash is attractive, if the amount does not cover your total damages, you could be hurting yourself if you accept the offer. Once you accept a settlement, you release the insurance company and the defendant from further liability. This means that if you require additional medical treatment or are out of work longer than anticipated, you are prohibited from seeking further compensation.
Insurance companies are working to minimize their liability. By understanding what your claim is worth, you know if an offer is fair. Unfortunately, it often takes time to fully evaluate a claim – especially if your prognosis is questionable. Until the true extent of your injuries is known, it is impossible to calculate a figure. What could appear to be a minor back injury could keep you out of work for years.
In addition to determining what your claim is worth, our office will also evaluate the legal strength of your claim. If all the evidence corroborates that the defendant was negligent, your chances of a fair settlement or positive court decision increase. If an insurer believes that you will succeed at trial, you will likely see a more reasonable settlement offer. Whether you go to trial or not, you need a law firm that is willing to build your case and take your claim to court.
Proving Negligence in a Washington County, AR Personal Injury Case
To be awarded any damages in most Washington County personal injury lawsuits, you must prove that the defendant was negligent. Whether you were hurt in a car crash or through a doctor’s misdiagnosis, you need to establish four elements to prove negligence.
The Defendant Owed the Plaintiff a Duty of Care
A duty of care is an obligation a person has not to harm another individual. This duty will depend on the relationship between the parties involved in the case. For instance, a doctor has an obligation not to harm their patients. A doctor is required to take all reasonable steps to ensure a patient’s health. This obligation does not mean that a patient cannot suffer a negative outcome. Likewise, someone driving a car in Washington County has a responsibility to drive safely. This duty includes following traffic regulations and having their vehicle regularly inspected.
The Defendant’s Conduct Violated Their Duty
At the heart of nearly every personal injury case is establishing that the defendant violated their duty of care. In simple terms, this means that the defendant’s conduct failed to adhere to what a prudent individual would do under the same circumstances. In some cases, this is not difficult to prove. For example, if someone decides to drive their car after drinking whisky all day, they are violating their duty to operate their vehicle safely. However, imagine an icy road with a speed limit of 45 miles per hour. A prudent driver might decide that driving at the speed limit is dangerous and slow down to 25 miles per hour. If someone else drives at the posted speed limit and causes an accident, their conduct could be held as a violation of their duty of care.
The Conduct Caused the Plaintiff’s Injury
People make poor decisions every day. However, not action that violates the duty of care results in an injury. Establishing negligence requires demonstrating that the defendant’s conduct caused the plaintiff’s injury. In certain types of cases, especially medical malpractice, proving causation is challenging. It is not unforeseen for a patient to experience adverse or harmful complications after surgery. However, if the complications could be traced to a surgeon’s conduct or decisions, the grounds could exist for a personal injury claim. For instance, if an infection developed because a surgeon left a sponge inside the patient. Our Washington County personal injury attorneys will often be required to turn to expert testimony to establish causation.
The Plaintiff Suffered Damages
Without an injury, a plaintiff usually lacks grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. The final element a plaintiff must prove is that they suffered actual damages. Damages is the legal term that refers to the economic and emotional losses a plaintiff experiences because of an injury.
Modified Comparative Negligence and Damages
Your behavior could have an impact on the damages you are able to recover in a personal injury lawsuit. Arkansas follows a legal doctrine known as “modified comparative negligence” in personal injury claims. Under this doctrine, a judge or jury will determine what role the defendant and plaintiff played in an accident. If a plaintiff is found to be more than 50% to blame, they will not be permitted to recover any damages. Furthermore, if a plaintiff is determined to have contributed to their injury, their potential award could be decreased. For instance, a jury could find that a defendant was 80% to blame for a car accident while the plaintiff was 20% at fault. Under these facts, an award of $100,000 would be reduced to $80,000. Part of the job of our experienced Washington County personal injury attorney is countering allegations that our clients were also at fault.
When Can I Bring a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Washington County, Arkansas?
The first requirement for bringing a personal injury lawsuit in Arkansas is that you have suffered an injury and the injury was the fault of at least one person or entity. However, those who have suffered an injury should be prepared to take swift action because the statute of limitations can bar your lawsuit if you wait too long to file. Victims of a catastrophic injury are more likely to find a favorable resolution if they move quickly – but not rashly — to handle their matter.
Statutes of limitation are in effect for most causes of action – things you can sue another party for – in Arkansas. The intent of a statute of limitation is to encourage parties to address and settle claims while they are still relatively contemporaneous. Over time our memories fade and evidence can be lost or destroyed. The statute of limitations works to increase the likelihood that decisions are made based on complete and sound evidence. Furthermore, the statute of limitations allows parties to move on from past events as liability is extinguished after a certain period of time. In Arkansas, the statute of limitations is typically 3 years.
In very limited circumstances there may be an expectation to the three-year limit on your time to bring suit. This exception is known as the discovery rule. The discovery rule operates to remove some of the unfairness that would be present if an injury victim did not discover the injury or the source of the injury until the three years had already elapsed. Normally, he or she would be unable to recover due to being time-barred, however, for injuries that were concealed – like a sponge left inside the body during surgery – the discovery rule would still allow a suit to be brought. Once again, it is essential to note that this is an exception to the general rules on time limits to file and one should never rely on narrowly crafted exceptions.
When to Retain Our Washington County Personal Injury Lawyers
In almost every personal injury case, the best time to retain legal counsel is “as soon as possible.” Under Arkansas law, most injured victims have three years to file a lawsuit. However, you should not wait two years and fifty days to contact an attorney. Building a successful personal injury case starts the moment following an injury.
There are things you could immediately do to increase the likelihood your case will be successful. For example, taking pictures of the accident scene, whether it was a car crash or slip and fall, provides invaluable evidence that is only available at the time of the injury.
Another thing you should do is seek medical attention. Any delay in seeing your doctor or going to an emergency room creates a gap between the incident and your injury. You do not want to give the defense or an insurance company any reason to allege your injury was caused by something other than the accident.
By speaking with our Washington County attorney early in the process, our office can start gathering physical evidence, medical records, and witness testimony. This information is crucial if you plan to negotiate with an insurance provider or take your case to court. If you hesitate in calling an attorney, critical evidence could be lost forever.
Rely on Our Experienced Washington County, AR Personal Injury Lawyers
For more than 20 years, our Washington County, AR personal injury lawyers have fought for people seriously injured due to another person’s negligent or intentional actions. Our attorneys and staff fight aggressively and strategically for our clients. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at (479) 316-0438 today or contact us online.