What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Arkansas?
If you suffer an injury in a car accident in Arkansas, you only have a limited time to file a personal injury claim. This is known as the statute of limitations. If you miss this critical deadline, you will not be allowed to recover money for your injuries or for damages.
To learn more about your legal options, call Rainwater, Holt & Sexton. Our Arkansas car accident lawyers can make sure you do not miss deadlines for filing a lawsuit. We can work with you and the insurance companies to ensure that you have the money you need – and deserve.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident in Arkansas?
The Statute of Limitations is a state law that sets limits on the amount of time you have to bring a lawsuit to court. This legal rule varies by state and by cause of action.
For example, in Kentucky and Tennessee, the restriction for taking legal action in an accident is one year, while in Maine and North Dakota it’s six years, and in Oregon, it’s ten years.
For residents of Arkansas, you have three years from the date of the collision to file a lawsuit for negligence that causes a motor vehicle accident that causes injury or death. The statute of limitations will not affect your accident claim if you bring it to court before the three-year limit expires.
One reason statutes of limitations exist is to preserve valuable evidence in a case. Much of the testimony of eyewitnesses, as well as the physical evidence, is eroded after years have passed. It is important for this information and evidence to be preserved and used quickly in a court of law to establish liability.
Another reason statutes of limitations exist is to protect defendants from litigation years after an incident occurs.
When Does the Clock Start?
Determining when the limit starts is not always simple. Different periods of limitation apply to intentional claims, malpractice claims, and workers compensation claims. The best rule is to count the period of limitations from the earliest possible date, which would be the date of the motor vehicle collision. In a motor vehicle accident where there was an injury or property damage, the date of the accident is the start of the three years for a negligence claim.
More importantly, it is important to remember that it takes time to work up a claim. Do not wait. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible… so the lawyer can gather the facts while the evidence is still fresh and find the witnesses while they can still be found and can still have a fresh recall. A lawyer often does not want to get involved in a claim that is within months of the limitations date, or so old that it will be difficult to gather the facts and needed testimony. An injury lawyer needs time to work the claim through the pre-lawsuit negotiation process. Since there are deadlines that apply, the best time to act on getting a lawyer to pursue your personal injury claim is NOW.
Factors That Impact the Statute of Limitations
With car accident claims, there are some factors that can impact the statute of limitations. As such, you may be surprised to learn that you have even less time than you realized after an injury crash. Or you may be delighted to realize that you have even more time to file your claim.
What factors affect the timeframe to file a lawsuit or claim?
- Wrongful Death. In Arkansas, families have one year from the date of death to file a claim. So even if the accident occurred years ago, if the death resulted from the accident, you may have more time. Likewise, if the accident just occurred and your loved one passed away, you may have even less time.
- Claims Against the Government. Many government entities have sovereign immunity and this affects the length of time you may have to file a claim.
- Injury to a Minor. Minors may have more time to file an injury claim depending on their age.
- Discovery Rule. In Arkansas, the statute of limitations does not start until you become aware of your injury. This may mean you have more time to file a claim than you realized.
- Defendant Unavailable. The statute of limitations can be put on hold if the defendant is unavailable or hiding. This can give you more time to file your claim.
Can You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit After the Deadline Passes?
For various reasons, some injured parties may not file their claim immediately – perhaps because they did not realize the extent of the injuries or damage. If you do not file your claim within the time limit, your legal claim is totally barred and your right to sue is lost forever.
Because it’s not worth it to lose this right altogether, leave yourself plenty of time to file a car accident lawsuit. You cannot rely on having three full years to file your claim. In many cases, you may have even less time. If you’re concerned your three-year limit might be approaching, talk to an Arkansas car accident lawyer about your options. Your Arkansas car accident lawyer can examine your case and keep you from missing these serious deadlines.
When is the Right Time to File a Car Accident Claim?
Although you do not want to miss the deadline for filing a claim, it is important not to rush to file a claim either. Your attorney will help you understand the implications for filing too early, as well as too late. You need to reach maximum medical improvement or have a medical treatment plan established before determining how much compensation you truly need.
An Arkansas car accident attorney will work within the time limit to determine the full scope of your injuries and your claim. They will meet with your medical team, as well as other experts to ensure that all damages are considered. They will gather the necessary evidence to build your case before that evidence is lost or destroyed.
Contact Our Arkansas Car Accident Lawyers
After a car accident, it is important to speak to a lawyer immediately to preserve evidence and ensure that you do not miss important deadlines.
When you suffer an injury in a car accident, the team of injury lawyers at Rainwater, Holt & Sexto can help. Arkansas and Tennessee are our homes and we want to make sure our neighbors and friends are supported. That is why we offer free initial consultations for all injured accident victims. With six office locations – Little Rock, Fayetteville, Conway, Hot Springs, Bryant, and Memphis —our personal injury lawyers are easily accessible when you need help. Our experienced injury attorneys are here to help you through this difficult time