Wherever you live, if you drive a car, it is important to know your state’s driving rules. State insurance and fault rules are of critical importance in this regard.
While it is easy to forget about these rules as you go about your day-to-day life, they become increasingly important if you are in any sort of car accident.
A question you may ask yourself when considering fault rules in Arkansas is, Is Arkansas a no-fault state?
Otherwise, you may wonder, How does Arkansas’s fault system work? Knowing the answers to both of these questions will help you avoid unpleasant surprises if you ever need to file a car accident claim.
What Is a No-Fault Accident?
No-fault refers to a law that some states have requiring those involved in an accident to file a claim with their own insurance company. Essentially, even if another driver is responsible, you must first file a claim through your insurance policy before pursuing compensation through the other driver’s carrier. For example, if you suffer from a concussion after an accident in a no-fault state, you cannot immediately bring a claim against the person responsible.
Generally, no-fault states require drivers to have personal injury protection (PIP) as part of their coverage. This is what pays for medical expenses and other losses in no-fault accident claims. In addition, a victim may generally pursue a claim against the other driver only if their damages exceed the PIP coverage under their insurance policy.
Fault Rules Generally
The function of fault rules is to determine who pays for a car accident when one occurs. There are two general types of fault systems: fault and no fault. The system that applies to you depends on your state.
The details of the rules may vary even between states that use the same system. Regardless, however, the general concepts remain the same.
In a no-fault insurance system, you file a claim with your own insurance company regardless of who was at fault for causing the accident. Your insurance company compensates you for your injuries and other damages you suffer.
Many no-fault states legally obligate you to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as part of your insurance package.
Under no-fault insurance rules, you can sue the other driver for damages only if your damages exceed certain thresholds. Different states apply different thresholds that dictate the minimum type or amount of damages you have to suffer to sue for damage recovery.
One more important note to no-fault insurance rules is that these rules generally apply to personal injury damages. If you suffer property damage in an accident in a no-fault state, it is typically the at-fault driver’s insurance that compensates you for property damage. Arkansas is not a no-fault state.
In a fault or “at-fault” insurance system, the critical determining factor when assessing who is responsible to compensate you for any damages after an accident is, Who is at fault for causing the accident?
In such a system, the at-fault individual’s insurance company is liable for damages they cause. If the damages exceed the amount that the at-fault driver’s insurance company covers, you can sue for damages.
However, accidents are not always the fault of a single person. An important aspect of determining fault is comparing the degree of fault attributable to each party. This can be assessed using evidence like police reports and eyewitness statements.
Just as the damage thresholds for lawsuits vary between different no fault states, the way states compare fault differs between states. Some states use a pure comparative fault system, while others use a modified comparative fault system.
Current Arkansas Car Accident Laws
So, is Arkansas a no-fault state? No—instead, Arkansas follows a modified comparative negligence doctrine, making it an at-fault or tort state. This means that a plaintiff may recover damages from the defendant as long as the plaintiff’s share of fault is less than 50%. However, the plaintiff’s damages are reduced by their percentage of fault. If a plaintiff is more than 50% responsible for their injuries, they may not recover any damages.
To see how this rule might apply to a car accident claim, let’s look at an example. Let’s say you get into a car accident at a four-way stop sign. While you did a rolling stop, you made sure to look both ways and didn’t see any other vehicles. When you cross the intersection, another car going 20 mph over the speed limit runs the stop sign. As a result, you have $100,000 in damages due to your injuries. After reviewing the evidence, the adjuster or jury finds you 15% at fault for not coming to a complete stop at the stop sign. This reduces your total award to $85,000.
Keep in mind that even though Arkansas is an at-fault state, it’s still possible to purchase PIP coverage for your insurance. If you do have PIP coverage, you may be able to make a claim through your own insurance company depending on the circumstances. The only difference is that it’s not required.
How to Prove Negligence in a Car Accident Case
When it comes to car accident cases, the possible settlement or judgment depends on the negligence of the other driver. To receive an award, the plaintiff must prove four separate elements of negligence: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
Duty of Care
In car accident cases, a duty of care is a legal obligation to reasonably act with the safety of others in mind. This aspect of negligence isn’t always difficult to prove, since every person driving on the road must follow traffic laws. When you take a vehicle onto the road for any reason, you are responsible for driving safely.
Breach of Duty
Once a plaintiff proves that the defendant had a duty of care, they must show that the defendant breached that duty. With car accidents, this may be as simple as the defendant breaking a traffic law. For example, if a camera catches the defendant running a red light, it may be enough evidence to show a breach of duty.
If a defendant breaches their duty of care, the plaintiff must also prove that their actions caused the accident. This aspect of negligence is much more difficult to show, especially if there isn’t any video evidence of the crash itself. This is where hiring an experienced car accident attorney may come in handy.
Finally, if a plaintiff successfully proves that the defendant’s actions led to the crash, they must show evidence of damages. For this element of negligence, it’s best to collect any bills or receipts you have related to your losses. All of these contribute to your potential settlement or judgment.
If You Are in an Arkansas Car Accident
If you are in an Arkansas car accident, Harris Law Firm is here to help you in any way you need. At Harris Law Firm, we have been helping Arkansans with their legal needs since 1981.
Our passion is helping our clients protect and enforce their rights in car accidents, personal injury cases, and family law. We have significant experience to draw from in all these legal areas.
With our experience working for you, you can rest easy knowing that you have skilled and passionate attorneys working on your behalf. Don’t just take our word for it. Check out our testimonials and case results pages to see how we help our clients.
If you need help understanding fault rules, filing insurance claims, or initiating a lawsuit after a car accident, call us today at 662-335-4171 for a free consultation or fill out the contact form on our webpage.