Wrongful deaths from motor vehicle accidents, defective products, medical errors, and so on happen far too often. Tragically, for each person killed by another’s carelessness or negligence, there are many loved ones left behind.
If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for burial costs, medical bills, and other damages. However, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible – because you have a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit in Arkansas.
Do you have questions about Arkansas’ wrongful death statute of limitations or need help filing a claim? If so, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Minton Law are here for you. Call us 24/7 at 855-Xadjuster to schedule a free case evaluation with our legal team.
“Wrongful Death” Defined
A wrongful death occurs when a person or entity is negligent, reckless, or careless, and that behavior or action causes the death of someone else. If the death could have reasonably been avoided, then the situation probably can be categorized as wrongful death.
Common causes of wrongful death include:
- Car accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Motorcycle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Pedestrian accidents, and;
A wrongful death case is a civil lawsuit, not a criminal matter. It is a claim filed against the person or entity liable for the death. The purpose of the claim or lawsuit is to compensate survivors for the harm and losses they have endured after losing a loved one.
What is the Arkansas Wrongful Death Statute?
Each state has its own wrongful death statute, and the details can vary greatly from state to state. The Arkansas wrongful death statute is AR Code § 16-62-102.
The statute outlines the rules, criteria, and procedures for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Arkansas. At Minton Law, we know every applicable Arkansas wrongful death statute. If you have lost a loved one in a tragic accident, we can define and explain your legal rights.
Who Can File a Lawsuit Under Arkansas’ Wrongful Statute?
In most personal injury claims, the injured person files his or her own claim against the negligent party. However, in a wrongful death claim, the injured party is the deceased and thus unable to file a claim on his or her own behalf. The wrongful death statute allows someone else to step in and pursue a claim or lawsuit on behalf of the decedent.
In Arkansas, a wrongful death case can only be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. If there is no personal representative, then a wrongful death lawsuit or claim can be filed by an heir of the deceased person.
Eligible heirs in Arkansas could be the:
- Brother or sister, or;
- Loco parentis (someone standing in the place of a parent, such as a legal guardian)
What is Arkansas’ Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Cases?
The compassionate lawyers at Minton Law understand that it takes time to grieve the death of a loved one and that filing a wrongful death lawsuit may be the furthest thing from your mind right now. However, there is a statute of limitations, or a time limit, on when you can file wrongful death claims.
In Arkansas, wrongful death lawsuits and claims must be filed within 3 years from the date of death. However, if the deceased person’s death was caused by a medical error, a claim must be filed within 2 years against the healthcare professional.
It is important to file a claim within the time period allowed by the statute of limitations. Otherwise, surviving family members will likely lose the opportunity to recover compensation. The sooner you begin the legal process, the greater the chance of your wrongful death case being successful.
Recoverable Damages Under Arkansas’ Wrongful Death Statute
Damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit can provide the deceased person’s surviving spouse or other surviving family members with financial support and security during this difficult time.
Wrongful death claims are sometimes put into two separate categories: the family claim and the estate claim.
The estate claim is made by the estate of the deceased, seeking compensation for losses the decedent suffered as a result of the fatal accident.
The estate claim may include money for the following damages:
- Funeral expenses
- Burial costs
- Medical bills associated with the deceased person’s final injuries
- Pain and suffering endured by the decedent
- Lost financial value of the deceased’s remaining life
The family claim may be filed by the deceased’s surviving family members. This claim could pursue compensation for damages family members have suffered due to losing their loved one.
The following damages may be awarded in a family claim:
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of consortium
- Mental anguish
- Loss of household services
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of care, comfort, and guidance
How Arkansas Wrongful Death Settlements Are Divided
Some states divide wrongful death settlements equally between surviving family members. This is not the case in Arkansas. In Arkansas, family members are only entitled to damages they personally faced.
Regardless of how many surviving family members are eligible to seek compensation for wrongful death damages, all financial distributions will be handled under one claim.
Some family members may receive less compensation than others, depending on factors such as:
- Financial independence
- Physical distance
- Emotional closeness
Consider the following example of a parent who dies and leaves two surviving children. One child is financially dependent on the parent, while the other is not. The court will likely award the financially dependent child with a greater settlement than the one who is financially independent.
The calculation and division of wrongful death claims can be complicated. A knowledgeable wrongful death attorney from our law office can help you through every step of the legal process.
Contact an Arkansas Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If you have lost a loved one in an accident caused by someone else, the compassionate legal team at Minton Law is here to help. We are familiar with the laws outlined in the Arkansas wrongful death statute. Our lawyers can help you understand the aspects of the statute that apply to your individual case.
Our law firm handles wrongful death cases and other personal injury lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This means we do not charge for our legal services unless we recover compensation for you.
Justin Minton Law Firm is here to listen with compassion and answer any questions you have about your Arkansas wrongful death claim. Contact us today at 855-Xadjuster or via our live chat for 24-hour attention from anywhere statewide. We serve Little Rock – Pulaski County – Arkansas, Benton – Saline County – Arkansas, and Conway – Faulkner County – Arkansas.