After a car accident, the way the state determines fault can have a heavy influence on whether you may have the right to recover compensation for damages sustained in your accident, including damage to your vehicle and any injuries. Arkansas is an at-fault state, or torte state: that is, the driver that caused the accident, or who bears the majority of the liability for the accident, will need to pay for the damages sustained by the other driver, usually through an insurance policy.
Fault vs. No-Fault States
Some states are at-fault states, like Arkansas: the driver that caused the accident bears liability for the other party’s damages, including any injuries. At-fault states allow injured car accident victims to pursue compensation for:
- Damages to the vehicle
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering caused by the accident
In at-fault states, the party that caused a car accident matters. Drivers who contributed even a small percentage to the accident may end up having the compensation they can recover reduced by the percentage fault they bear–and a driver who bears more than 50% liability for an accident may not have the right to recover any compensation at all through the other driver’s insurance company.
In no-fault states, on the other hand, each driver will handle their own costs after an accident, particularly when it comes to medical bills. Drivers in no-fault states carry insurance policies that they can use to provide compensation for any injuries they sustain in an accident. In those states, it does not matter who caused the accident: drivers will turn to their own insurance companies to provide that much-needed compensation.
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Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance and Fault in Arkansas
While Arkansas is a no-fault state, which means that car accident victims have the right to pursue compensation for any injuries they sustain in the accident from the liable party’s insurance company, Arkansas does offer the option for its drivers to purchase personal injury protection insurance, also known as PIP insurance.
PIP insurance provides compensation for medical bills and lost wages immediately after a car accident. The party that carries that insurance coverage has the right to access it regardless of who caused the accident.
What Benefit does PIP Insurance Offer in an At-Fault State?
Because Arkansas is an at-fault state, you can recover damages from the other driver’s insurance company when the other driver causes an accident. However, there may be a struggle to actually access those funds. Often, you will have to wait for the insurance companies to conduct an investigation into the accident. The other driver’s insurance company will want to establish whether its driver actually caused the accident and if you bear even partial liability for the accident.
If the other driver’s insurance company discovers that you bear even partial liability for the accident, it could reduce the compensation you can recover by the percentage fault you bear.
Even if you bear no fault for the accident, however, that investigation process can still mean a long wait for compensation. PIP insurance kicks in immediately, regardless of who caused the car accident: no investigation required. As a result, you may find it much easier to pursue and pay for the medical treatment you need after the accident.
Can I Still File a Car Accident Claim in Arkansas if I Have PIP Insurance?
You can file an injury claim after a car accident even if you carry PIP insurance. In many cases, you can recover additional compensation for the financial losses you have had to deal with after your accident. PIP insurance may not cover the full extent of the damages you sustained, especially if you suffered severe injuries in the car accident. An injury claim can help fill in some of the other funds you might have lost because of your injuries.
Often, your car accident claim will include damages over the amount of your PIP coverage.
How Do Arkansas Insurance Companies Determine Car Accident Liability?
Following an Arkansas car accident, the insurance company will conduct a comprehensive investigation into the potential causes of the car accident in order to determine who bears liability. The insurance company will look at factors like:
- Who had right of way at the time of the accident
- Whether one driver clearly drove while distracted or inebriated
- Whether multiple factors, including factors potentially under your control, may have contributed to the car accident
After carefully evaluating the accident, including talking to witnesses, taking statements from both drivers involved in the accident, reviewing the police report, and examining any other available evidence, the insurance company will arrive at a determination of who bears fault for the accident.
An Attorney Can Help You Better Investigate and Establish Fault
After an Arkansas car accident, the insurance company may investigate the basic cause of the accident, but may not go deeper into that investigation. If you have sustained severe injuries, or if you have any questions about who might have contributed to the accident, you may want to work with a car accident lawyer, who can conduct a deeper investigation into the accident.
A car accident lawyer can help prove that the other driver’s actions caused most or all of the accident, which may prevent you from missing out on some of the compensation you deserve. In addition, a car accident lawyer may take a deeper look into the accident and uncover other parties that may share liability for the accident, including:
- A mechanic whose negligent actions caused a mechanical failure
- An employer with unsafe policies that caused a driver to engage in dangerous behaviors on the road
- A vehicle manufacturer that failed to take adequate precautions in manufacturing, increasing the risk of an accident or ultimately causing yours
A car accident attorney can help fight to establish your right to compensation, including who may have caused your accident.
Contact an Arkansas Car Accident Lawyer After Your Accident
If you suffered injuries in a car accident in Arkansas, working with a car accident attorney can make it easier to establish fault for your accident. Contact Morris Bart today to learn more about your right to compensation.
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