Are you thinking of filing a personal injury lawsuit in Fayetteville, Arkansas? If so, be warned that Arkansas laws can sometimes be tricky to deal with. This is true whether you are a plaintiff seeking compensation or a defendant facing a lawsuit. It will be critical to understand some of the nuances that the state’s legal framework entails.
In Arkansas, you can file a personal injury claim under a few different classes. These include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. In this article, we will look into three key aspects of personal injury lawsuits in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
So, without further delay, let’s get right to it.
1. Damage Caps
In Arkansas, damage caps have been in a state of flux, particularly concerning non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or mental anguish. In 2017, there was a debated measure to cap non-economic damages at $250,000. This was later increased to $500,000. However, the only caps currently in place are on punitive damages.
Punitive damages are capped at a quarter million dollars or thrice the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is greater. This cap can go up to $1 million. One exception to this rule exists. That is, if the defendant intentionally harmed the plaintiff for the express purpose of causing harm. In such cases, no cap applies.
The absence of a cap on non-economic damages does offer a broader scope for plaintiffs to claim higher amounts. That said, it also makes the litigation process more unpredictable.
However, this is for a reason. The existing caps on punitive damages aim to strike a balance between deterring wrongful conduct and preventing excessive financial burdens on defendants.
2. Comparative Negligence Rules
In Fayetteville, Arkansas, the doctrine of comparative negligence is not just a legal term but a practical approach to apportioning fault in personal injury cases. This doctrine is based on the idea that multiple parties can share responsibility for an accident.
Under this system, each party’s degree of fault is calculated as a percentage, which then directly impacts the amount of compensation they can either claim or are liable for.
The application of comparative negligence can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Arkansas uses a modified comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, a plaintiff can recover damages only if they are found to be less than 50% at fault for the incident. If the plaintiff is 50% or more at fault, they are barred from recovering any compensation.
Understanding the comparative negligence doctrine will be important for both plaintiffs and defendants when strategizing their cases.
For plaintiffs, it may influence their decision to settle or go to trial, knowing that their compensation could be reduced. For defendants, it offers an avenue to mitigate the financial burden by proving shared fault. Therefore, it’s advisable to consult a Fayetteville personal injury lawyer who can tailor your legal strategy accordingly.
It can be worth spending some time researching good attorneys and law firms, but don’t wait too long. Keith Law Group states that you have a three-year filing period that starts on the date of your injury. That might seem like a long time, but you would be surprised.
From protracted medical treatments, negotiations with insurance companies, personal circumstances, and financial difficulties, three years can pass quickly.
3. The Settlements vs. Litigation Decision
Settlements often involve lower legal fees and are generally resolved more quickly than litigation. However, they may result in lower compensation. Settlements offer a more private resolution and are generally less emotionally taxing.
Litigation, on the other hand, involves higher legal fees and a longer time commitment but has the potential for higher compensation, especially in a state with a high incidence of fatal accidents. Litigation can be emotionally draining for all parties involved, given the public nature of court proceedings and the uncertainty of the outcome.
The choice between settlement and litigation is also a strategic one. If you have strong evidence, you may opt for litigation, anticipating that a jury will award higher damages. Conversely, if your case has weaknesses that the opposing party could exploit, a settlement may be the safer route.
The timing of opting for either a settlement or litigation is also crucial. Early settlements may result in lower compensation but save on prolonged legal fees. On the other hand, opting for litigation late in the process could mean higher legal costs but potentially higher compensation.
In most cases, a settlement tends to be the safer way to go. Besides, if the right amount of factors are at play, settlements can be quite profitable for you.
The doctrine of comparative negligence and the choice between settlements and litigation are complex elements. They have the potential to significantly influence the trajectory and outcome of personal injury lawsuits in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
While it is good to plan your legal defense, don’t forget to take care of yourself. If you were hurt enough that you can seek legal recourse, odds are that you have gone through quite a traumatic experience. If your case ends up needing a trial, it can be overwhelming. Thus, try your best to mentally prepare and listen to your legal counsel.