Arkansas, like most states, requires drivers to maintain minimum insurance requirements in order to legally operate a vehicle on the state’s roads and highways. Some states follow “at-fault” car insurance rules while others operate under a “no-fault” insurance system.
When it comes to no-fault insurance, Arkansas is considered to be an “add-on” state. Driver’s license holders in Arkansas are therefore required to hold basic at-fault liability coverage but have the option to add on a no-fault liability policy.
This article will discuss how having a no-fault insurance policy can affect your Arkansas car accident claim.
Understanding the Arkansas “At-Fault” Insurance System
Arkansas is an “at-fault” state. This means the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident is liable for damages.
If you are involved in a car accident that was not your fault, you have a few choices for pursuing compensation:
- You can file a claim with your own insurance company, which will then take action to recover compensation from the insurance company of the at-fault driver
- You can directly file a claim with the insurance company of the liable driver
- You can file a personal injury lawsuit against all parties that caused or contributed to the car accident
In some situations, more than one option may be available to you.
Arkansas Minimum Car Insurance Requirements
In Arkansas, car insurance laws mandate that drivers hold a minimum liability policy. If you are caught driving without car insurance, you could face fines, penalties, or even jail time.
The required minimum insurance requirements in Arkansas are as follows:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $25,000 per accident for property damage
These minimum insurance limits will help cover medical bills, car repair expenses, and other damages for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians involved in the accident – up to the policy limits.
The Benefits of Arkansas No-Fault Coverage
In addition to the mandatory liability insurance, you have the option to add no-fault coverage to your policy. There are several benefits of holding a no-fault insurance policy.
No-fault insurance, also called personal injury protection insurance (PIP), pays for:
- Medical expenses as a result of the accident
- Disability benefits if you are unable to work, and;
- Accidental death benefits if someone is killed
Regardless of who caused your motor vehicle accident, you have the right to file for damages when you hold a personal injury protection policy. The benefits of the no-fault insurance plan should cover you even if you were harmed as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle.
PIP insurance may even cover the losses of a family member who was in an accident while driving your vehicle if his or her own policy does not provide coverage.
Filing a No-Fault Insurance Claim in Arkansas
You can make a claim on your no-fault plan by informing your insurance agent that you were involved in a car accident. If you hire a car accident lawyer to handle your claim, your lawyer can handle all communication with the insurance company on your behalf.
On the other hand, if you do not retain an attorney, it will be up to you to keep up with the progress of your claim.
When you contact your insurer, be ready to provide them with the following information:
- Your name and policy number
- The location, time, and date of the accident
- The names of all drivers and passengers involved in the incident
- The names and contact information for any eyewitnesses
- If you or anyone else was injured, and where you received medical care
- Police report number
It is in your best interests to respond promptly when the insurance company requests additional information. However, take care when answering their questions. It’s ideal to have a lawyer corresponding with the insurer on your behalf – to protect your legal interests.
After a claim has been filed, insurance companies in Arkansas have 45 working days to either pay out the claim or inform the claimant of the reason for non-payment. If your insurance company acts in bad faith by refusing to pay a properly documented and supported medical bill, you have the legal right to challenge the non-payment.
Additional Auto Insurance Coverage Available in Arkansas
In addition to liability and no-fault coverage, there are other optional insurance policies available to Arkansas drivers.
The following are optional types of coverage:
- Collision coverage: This type of insurance will cover damage to your vehicle in the event of a collision. The lienholder may request you have collision insurance if you finance your vehicle.
- Medical payment coverage: This policy is also known as “Med Pay” and covers medical expenses in the event of an accident – regardless of fault.
- Comprehensive insurance: This coverage will repair or replace your vehicle if involved in an accident such as a fire, tornado, theft, vandalism, hail, or collision with an animal. This type of insurance is also usually required if you finance your vehicle.
- Underinsured/ Uninsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage: An estimated 19.3 percent of drivers in Arkansas do not have auto insurance. A UM/UIM policy covers accident-related expenses if you collide with someone who does not have car insurance or is underinsured.
When Is It Necessary to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit After an Arkansas Car Accident?
There are some situations when it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to recover fair compensation after an auto accident.
One reason why you may need to file a lawsuit is because the injuries you sustained in the accident are severe, requiring extensive medical treatment and time away from work. Once the limits of the policy are maxed out, you are unable to receive further compensation from the insurance company – under the same policy, at least.
A second reason why car accident victims in Arkansas file personal injury lawsuits is because, in general, insurance policies do not cover non-economic damages. You will need to file a claim against a third party to receive compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other damages like these.
If you are considering filing a third-party lawsuit, it is recommended that you seek the help of an experienced car accident attorney.
Arkansas’ Comparative Negligence Rule Could Affect Your Claim
When it comes to car accidents and other personal injury cases, Arkansas follows the comparative fault rule. Under this rule, a degree of fault is assigned to each party involved in the accident. Following the modified comparative fault rule, the compensation you recover may be reduced by your share of fault.
As an example, suppose a driver failed to yield and hit your vehicle. However, you were speeding at the time of the incident. The court determined that you were 25 percent responsible for the collision. The total damages awarded to you was $10,000. According to the modified negligence rule, you would only be allowed to collect $7,500 in damages.
The modified comparative negligence rule is one reason why you need a car accident lawyer on your side throughout the financial recovery process. The defendant and the insurance companies are going to try to place the blame on you for the collision, and you need to protect your rights.
If you share half or more liability for the accident, you may be barred from recovering compensation. An experienced car accident lawyer will work hard to deter any effort the other parties make to deny you the maximum amount of fair compensation.
How to Prove Liability After a Car Accident in Arkansas
In order to prove liability – or fault – in a motor vehicle accident, you need solid evidence. Reliable evidence can be used to convince insurance companies and courts of law that you are not responsible for the collision.
The following evidence may be used in car accident cases to determine fault:
- Admission of fault: In some situations, the other party may admit fault for the car crash. Even if you feel that you are to blame for the accident, it is recommended to avoid admitting fault by expressing regret or apologizing.
- Police reports: You should always notify law enforcement if you are involved in an accident. The police officer dispatched to the scene will likely complete a report of the incident. The report may include information about whether the other driver was issued a citation and which party the officer believes to be liable.
- Photos: Photos of property damage, road conditions, weather conditions, injuries, skid marks, and other images from the accident scene can be used to determine fault.
- Video surveillance footage: Police, attorneys, and insurers may try to locate video footage from nearby businesses, traffic cams, personal smartphones, and dashcams. Video footage of the accident and the moments leading up to it can provide irrefutable evidence.
- Eyewitness testimony: If pedestrians, other drivers, or other passersby saw the accident happen, their testimony can be used when deciding fault.
- Statements from experts: Accident reconstructionists, medical professionals, engineers, law enforcement officers, and other experts may be consulted to determine how the accident occurred.
- Cell phone records: A driver’s cell phone records may be subpoenaed to check whether the driver was texting or talking on the phone at the time the accident took place.
Common Misconceptions About Arkansas Car Accident Claims
After a car accident, you may find yourself navigating the complex world of insurance claims and legal processes. It can be difficult to identify inaccurate information. Making the wrong decision could mean you miss on the compensation you deserve.
The following are some common misconceptions about car accident claims:
- Your car insurance company is on your side. Since insurance companies provide payments in times of need, it can be easy to forget that they are companies driven by profit. While you may view the insurance adjuster as someone there to help you, in reality, the goal of these agents is to pay out as little money as possible.
- You can file a claim at any time. There is a statute of limitations for filing car accident claims, which varies by state. In Arkansas, you have 3 years from the date of the accident to file a claim. Waiting too long can cause you to lose out on recovering compensation.
- You must accept the first offer from the insurance company. Most people accept the first offer made by the insurance company because they are unaware that they are allowed to negotiate with them. The first offer made by insurers is often lower than what you are entitled to receive, so review any offers with your personal injury lawyer before accepting.
Questions About Car Insurance in Arkansas? Minton Law Can Help
At Minton Law Firm, we are here to provide you with the skilled legal guidance and representation you need after a car accident. As a former insurance adjuster, Justin Minton is knowledgeable in Arkansas insurance laws – not to mention familiar with the tactics insurance companies use to undervalue car accident claims – but we want to put this knowledge to work for you.
Some car accident victims fail to hire a personal injury attorney because they are concerned about the cost, but our law firm works on a contingency fee basis. This means you do not pay an upfront fee, and we are only paid after you receive a settlement.
Contact our law offices today to schedule a free consultation. Call us 24/7 at 855-Xadjuster or complete the contact form.