No matter how responsible of a driver you are, you have no control over the other drivers on the road. Because of this, there’s always the chance you may end up as the victim of a collision. Automobile accidents can result in devastating consequences for the victim and their loved ones, which is why our Little Rock car accident lawyers at McMath Woods P.A., are dedicated to helping you navigate the complexities of handling the aftermath of a wreck.
It’s an unfortunate fact that car wrecks are common in Arkansas. According to a traffic crash report by the Arkansas State Police, there were nearly 61,000 car crashes in 2014 – a 4.3 percent increase from the previous year. As a result of those accidents, thousands of individuals were injured and nearly 500 people are victims of wrongful deaths.
The majority of these accidents are directly caused by another driver’s negligence; and while it can be difficult to understand, this means that many of the accidents, injuries, and deaths could have been prevented. Whether the collision resulted from distracted driving, drunk driving, or speeding, the negligent party should be held accountable for their actions.
That’s where we come in. Our personal injury law attorneys provide our clients with comprehensive legal representation to pursue full and fair compensation to aid with recovery and financial burdens. If you or a loved one has been injured or worse in an automobile accident and are considering seeking legal representation, it’s important to understand why vehicle accidents happen, Arkansas’ car insurance and accident laws, and how you can seek justice with our law firm.
Understanding Why Car Accidents Happen
While auto collisions related to the weather and road conditions are not always preventable, the majority of them are. The unfortunate fact is that many accidents are the result of negligent drivers who commit the irresponsible and illegal acts listed below.
Drunk Driving. Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration higher than 0.08 percent are considered to be driving under the influence. Reaction times are significantly slowed and the brain has difficulty processing information and reasoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1,800 people were killed in crashes involving drunk drivers in Arkansas from 2003 to 2012.
Distracted Driving. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of auto accidents in the United States. Distracted drivers may be talking on the phone, texting, applying makeup, or eating. Arkansas prohibits the use of texting, regardless of age. It is also illegal for a driver to use a hand-held device while driving through school and highway construction zones. Drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 are only allowed to use hands-free devices.
Fatigued Driving. Arkansas takes driving drowsy seriously. If a driver decides to get behind the wheel after being awake for more than 24 hours, they can be charged with fatigued driving. In the event of a serious accident, the driver can be found guilty of negligent homicide.
Speeding. Arkansas also takes speeding seriously. Their absolute speed limit law means that even if a driver is driving one mile per hour over the stipulated speed limit, they can be stopped and ticketed. This is especially true in school and work zones.
Failure to Yield. Drivers need to understand they do not always have the right of way. When this isn’t understood, accidents can happen. Obeying traffic signals and signs is an important part of being a responsible and diligent driver.
Defective Auto Parts. The driver isn’t necessarily the one at fault in every wreck. They may have defective auto parts that fail to work and cause an accident. This could be faulty brakes, steering, wheels, or any part of the car. In these situations, the auto part manufacturer may be held liable for the collision. It may be intimidating to file a claim against an auto manufacturing company, but the McMath Woods P.A. car accident lawyers in Little Rock will help you stand up for your rights.
When the above reasons happen, innocent people can get hurt. Our lawyers are familiar with the types of injuries that occur and how to fight to get you a fair settlement.
What Are the Types of Car Collisions?
The details of your accident will be important to your claim. You should know what caused the crash and what kind of crash happened. Some of the common types of car wrecks include:
- Single Vehicle. This only involves one vehicle that usually runs off the road or hits an object, debris, or an animal.
- Multiple Vehicle. These accidents are more typical on highways. It can happen when a car hits the back of another car, and a chain reaction occurs and involves multiple drivers.
- Rear-End. This is a typical collision where a driver isn’t paying attention and hits the end of the vehicle in front of them. Distracted driving can cause this.
- Side-Impact. These can happen at intersections and parking lots and occur when a car hits the driver side or passenger side of the vehicle.
- Head-On. These are often the deadliest because the front parts of the drivers’ vehicles collide. The force of the crash may cause ejection, or the impact could severely injure or kill the car’s occupants.
Even if the type of wreck you were involved in isn’t listed above, we will still look into your case and determine what happened and who is at fault. We’ll know the kind of crash and how it injured you.
Auto Accident Injuries
An automobile wreck can cause potentially life-changing—also known as catastrophic—or life-threatening injuries. People may lose the ability to move the way they used to, which could affect their ability to return to their job. Some injuries may require the person to depend on medical equipment to maintain a high quality of life. These adjustments can be expensive and difficult to transition to.
Catastrophic injuries include:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries. Also referred to as a TBI, a traumatic brain injury happens when an external object enters the skull and damages the brain, or the head is moved rapidly in a way that causes an internal brain injury. This could include bleeding or swelling.
- Neck and Spinal Cord Injuries. The force of a crash can break vertebrae. Depending on where the injury occurs, one may lose the ability to move from the waist down or chest down.
- Broken Bones. A person’s arms and legs can break in a high-impact accident. These injuries can take months to heal properly.
- Loss of Limb. Sometimes, there may be situations where a person in a collision loses a limb. They will need immediate medical care and also will need to learn how to adjust to this.
While many people are concerned with the physical injuries, they may often ignore how a collision has affected them emotionally. It’s common to feel shock or some symptoms of anxiety after a car wreck, but persistent issues that last for weeks, months, or longer may require professional help.
- Depression. Someone may develop depression and feel symptoms like sadness, loss of interest, low energy, and change in sleep or appetite patterns.
- Anxiety. Symptoms include stress, inability to concentrate or having racing thoughts, feeling irritable, and excessive worry.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some people could possibly become afraid of cars and feel that they can’t get into one anymore. They may also have nightmares or flashbacks about the accident and have feelings of fear and anxiety.
There’s no given time for how long these issues will take to heal. You may need extended care like therapy or medication. You shouldn’t have to choose between taking care of your mental health and affording costs of living. McMath Woods P.A. will do everything to show how the accident affected your mental health and that you need compensation to help cover those costs.
Arkansas’ Car Insurance and Accident Laws
In the event you’re in an auto accident, it’s important to understand what your legal responsibilities are as a resident of Arkansas.
Drivers in Arkansas are required to have liability auto insurance that meets the following minimums:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person
- $50,000 for total bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
These limits are in place in the event a driver needs to pay for the physical injuries or property damage of another driver.
Under certain circumstances, drivers must report a motor crash to the Arkansas Office of Driver Services within 30 days of the incident. Those circumstances include property damage exceeding $1,000 or the injury or death of a driver, passenger, or pedestrian.
As far as determining fault goes, Arkansas operates under a modified comparative fault law. This means that an auto wreck victim can recover damages from a party who was more at fault for the accident; however, the amount calculated will correspond to their share of the liability. For example, if you are found to be at fault for 10 percent of the accident, you’ll be entitled to 90 percent of the compensation for damages.
In the event you need to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver or an insurance company, it’s imperative to keep in mind the established statute of limitations. A statute of limitations outlines the timespan you have to file the lawsuit. Arkansas Code Annotated section 16-56-105 sets the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases, including car wreck lawsuits, to three years for personal injury and property damage. If you do not file within this time frame, your case can be dismissed.
Contact McMath Woods P.A.
After an Arkansas car accident, you’re likely focusing on recovery; however, you may also be wondering if you need to seek legal representation.
If you were injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, the answer is almost always yes. Dealing with insurance companies on your own can be difficult, and they may not offer you the best settlement possible after you file your claim. Even if you were partially at fault for the accident, a personal injury attorney will be able to determine what you’re eligible for and how to best handle the case – especially in the event it goes to court.
Injured auto accident victims may be eligible to collect economic and noneconomic monetary compensation. In many cases, the negligent party will ultimately be responsible for paying these amounts. As the victim, you may be eligible for compensation for medical expenses related to the accident, lost wages, property damage and loss, and pain and suffering.
Our personal injury lawyers in Little Rock are prepared to advise you on every aspect of your case. We will give you the time and effort your case deserves, to ensure you are receiving the results and compensation you deserve for the trauma you’ve suffered. Reach out to us today for a free consultation.