How Do No-Fault Insurance Claims Work in Arkansas
Arkansas is an “add on” state when it comes to no fault car insurance. This means that drivers are required to carry at-fault liability coverage, but they can also add on an additional no-fault coverage policy as well. If you are injured in an accident, this no-fault liability policy will help pay your medical expenses and damages, no matter who is to blame for the accident.
Unfortunately, collecting compensation after an accident isn’t always easy – even if you have a no-fault insurance policy. That’s why all injured Arkansas accident victims should contact an experienced attorney immediately after their accident. At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, our attorneys have extensive experience negotiating accident claims with insurance companies and protecting injured accident victims and their rights to full compensation.
What is No-Fault Insurance?
No-fault insurance is an additional add-on policy that Arkansas drivers can purchase. These policies essentially provide coverage after an accident – even if you were to blame for the crash. Under a no-fault policy, you and your loved ones will receive money for disability income, medical bills, and even accidental death benefits, without having to establish who is to blame for the crash. Arkansas law requires that all companies offer drivers at least $5,000 of no-fault insurance to help cover you after an accident.
These benefits cover the driver of the vehicle and may even cover family members who are driving the vehicle, as well as passengers. It can also cover you if you are injured in an accident while riding in a car with someone else or driving a rental car. To obtain this additional type of coverage in Arkansas, you must choose PIP insurance.
What’s the Difference Between At-Fault and No-Fault Car Insurance?
Arkansas is an “at fault” state. This means that the person responsible for the accident is also responsible for the damages they have caused. An at-fault insurance policy will cover damages and injuries to the victims of the car accident. If you’re injured in an accident, you would traditionally turn to the “at-fault” driver’s insurance policy to pay your medical expenses, lost wages, and disabilities.
A no-fault car insurance policy will cover your expenses, even when you are the one who has caused the accident. There is no need to prove negligence or establish liability in order to file a claim.
If you are injured in an accident, you have three ways to recover compensation in Arkansas:
- Filing a claim with your own insurance company – if you are not to blame, your insurance company will pursue a subrogation claim against the at-fault driver. If you are to blame and you carry PIP insurance, then you will be able to collect under this policy.
- Filing a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court
What Coverage is Mandatory in Arkansas?
In Arkansas, all drivers are required to purchase liability insurance with specific minimums:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death to one person
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death to all injured persons in the accident
- $25,000 for property damage
This basic minimum coverage will help pay for medical bills, property damage bills, auto vehicle repairs, and other damages for all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who have been injured – up to policy limits. It covers all family members or friends that you’ve given permission to drive your car and it also covers you if you’re injured in a rental car.
Remember, liability coverage does not apply to your own injuries or your own damages. In order to obtain coverage for your own injuries and damages in an accident you caused, you must have already purchased PIP insurance or no-fault insurance protection. When you apply for liability coverage in Arkansas, your insurance agent is required to offer you a variety of optional coverages including:
- Uninsured Motorist
- Underinsured Motorist
- Personal Injury Protection
If you have no-fault Medical Payments/Personal Injury Protection coverage on your own policy, you will be able to at least make a claim on this policy. In Arkansas, you must reject it in writing to the insurance carrier at the time of getting your policy or you are entitled to the state minimum of $5,000. You can also opt in and pay a monthly/yearly premium to add the $5,000 coverage to your policy.
How Does a No-Fault Insurance Claim Work?
If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle collision that isn’t your fault, BUT the officer does not state whose fault the collision was or doesn’t issue a citation to either driver, your claim is not necessarily dead. When an officer reports to a collision, often times the cars have been moved, a driver or passenger may be getting transported to the hospital, there are no witnesses sticking around, and the officer doesn’t have any direct knowledge of how the collision occurred other than both of the driver’s stories. There’s also the possibility that the other driver was in the wrong and has now changed his or her story when being questioned by the police officer.
Even if the evidence of the wreck has been altered before the officer arrives, and even if the other driver changes his or her story, you may still file a claim with both your insurance and the other driver’s insurance.
Filing a PIP/no fault claim in Arkansas can be as simple as contacting your insurance company and telling them about the crash. In order to receive compensation and make your claim, you must have been involved in an accident and you must have measurable damages to be compensated for. In other words, you must have bills or evidence of financial losses you’ve endured.
Be honest and forthcoming with your insurance company during this time. They may request medical bills, documents, police reports or other types of evidence. Do your best to answer their questions honestly and efficiently. However, contact an experienced attorney if you feel like your case is not being treated fairly or justly.
Understanding Arkansas’ Modified Comparative Fault Rule
In Arkansas, you must prove to the jury that the other driver is at least 51% at fault for the collision. While a citation given to the other driver or a finding of fault by the investigating officer may be helpful in proving the facts surrounding the collision, it is by no means a prerequisite to filing a claim, or definitive winning proof for or against your claim.
However, if it is established that you were partly to blame for the accident and the injuries you sustained, your settlement will be reduced accordingly. For example; a reckless driver ran a red light and hit your vehicle at a high rate of speed. You, however, were speeding at the time of the accident. According to the court, you were 20% responsible for the accident and your injuries. Total damages awarded to you were $50,000. According to Arkansas’ modified comparative fault rule, you would only be allowed to collect $40,000.
Who Will Pay for Everything?
A serious car accident can flip the lives of a normal Arkansas family upside down. The physical realities of your injuries alone can be overwhelming, not to mention the financial ones. You have medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs that are bound to start coming in soon, and how will you pay for it all?
At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we don’t think you should have to. In our opinion, the at-fault driver’s insurance company should be on the hook for all the expenses you incur due to your injuries but getting fair compensation from them can be difficult on your own. The problem is most accident victims don’t know what their case is truly worth, so they often take too little money for their claim. An experienced Arkansas car accident attorney knows how to determine what your case is truly worth and can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to make sure you’re treated fairly.
We’re There When You Need Us
When you’re involved in a car accident with a hit and run driver, your whole world can feel like it’s suddenly crashing down around you. After all, without the “at fault” driver, how can you file a claim to pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, and car damage? If you have PIP insurance or Um/UIM insurance, then you may be able to collect the money you need from your own insurance policy. If you don’t, don’t despair! There may be ways your lawyer can still obtain the money you need – but without a lawyer, hit and run accident cases are often difficult.