Who Pays Car Accident Compensation In Arkansas?
Our law firm breaks down the claims process
A single auto accident can have massive implications for your life. You may have sky-high medical bills and be unable to work for weeks, months or even years. The impact on your family can be huge, and you need full and fair financial compensation to move forward.
Getting compensation for a car accident in Arkansas can be difficult. That’s why the auto accident lawyers at McDaniel Law Firm, PLC have prepared this brief overview of your options to obtain compensation for your injuries.
Understanding Arkansas’ “fault” insurance laws
Like most states, Arkansas is a “fault” insurance state. That means that you are free to pursue legal action against the party at fault for an auto accident in order to get compensation for your injuries. However, Arkansas law also provides for optional “no fault” coverage that could allow you to offset some of your damages through your own insurance carrier.
If you are involved in an auto accident in Arkansas, you generally have three options to pursue compensation:
- File a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier – this is called a “third-party” claim.
- File a claim with your own insurance carrier – this is a “first-party” claim. You may have coverage for some of your medical expenses, lost earnings, and death benefits.
- File a lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver. The driver’s insurance company will represent their client’s interests in this situation.
First-party benefits from your insurance carrier
In Arkansas, you are only legally required to carry liability coverage, which pays for injury to someone else in a car accident you cause. However, there are several optional types of coverage that may be included in your insurance policy which would enable you to receive some compensation through your own insurance carrier.
- Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle in an accident. You can claim collision coverage regardless of fault, but you may be responsible for paying a deductible, especially if you were at fault for the accident.
- Personal injury protection (PIP) pays for your injuries in an accident on a “no-fault” basis. There are several types of PIP available in Arkansas:
- Medical payments coverage (MedPay) covers injury-related medical expenses, such as hospital bills and prescription medications, up to a certain amount;
- Lost wages coverage helps with wages you may lose while recovering from your injuries;
- Death benefits coverage pays for funeral expenses and other death-related costs up to a certain amount if you are involved in a fatal accident.
Your PIP benefits, if you choose to purchase them, follow you around, which means you are covered even if you are injured while riding in someone else’s car. Children are usually covered under the policy of the parent or parents they reside with, even if they are injured while riding with a friend or other relative.
Claiming compensation from the at-fault driver
Because Arkansas is a “fault” insurance state, your primary means of getting compensation for your accident is to take action against the at-fault driver. In Arkansas, all motorists are required to carry liability coverage with at least the following minimum limits:
- $25,000 for bodily injury to any single person in a single accident.
- $50,000 in total for bodily injuries inflicted to multiple people in one accident.
- $25,000 for property damage (such as damage to a vehicle) inflicted in one accident.
Many motorists choose to purchase additional insurance coverage, as the cost of a single accident often exceeds those minimum limits. The at-fault driver can be held directly liable for anything above and beyond the policy limit.
In Arkansas, you have up to three years from the date of the accident to take legal action against the at-fault driver. Time is critical and failure to act may waive your rights.
What if the other driver doesn’t have (enough) insurance: Uninsured/Underinsured motorist insurance
While Arkansas requires all motorists to carry liability insurance, some drivers choose to break the law and drive without insurance. In other cases, the at-fault driver has insurance, but not nearly enough to pay all the compensation you need. Or you might be injured in an accident with a hit-and-run driver who is never found.
If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you may be able to claim the compensation you need from your own insurance company. This is an optional type of coverage in Arkansas which we strongly recommend. Otherwise, your only option may be to try to recover compensation from the at-fault driver’s assets, and that’s only an option at all if the at-fault driver has significant assets to recover, which most uninsured drivers do not.
Getting full and fair compensation after an auto accident in Arkansas is rarely easy. That’s why we strongly encourage you to contact us as soon as possible. We can review your insurance policy, investigate the circumstances surrounding your accident and help you pursue all possible options to get the compensation you deserve. Call today for a free consultation.