Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death After an Auto Accident in Arkansas?
If you lost a loved one in an auto accident in Arkansas, you know that your life will never be the same. In the blink of an eye, everything you planned and all your future dreams may have been lost. The pain of losing a loved one is unbearable and survivors are often uncertain how they will ever put their lives back together.
During this difficult time, it is important to know that you are not alone.
A compassionate Arkansas attorney can help you through the aftermath of a tragic auto accident. In many cases, surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit to help recover financial losses. While no amount of compensation could ever replace the loss of your loved one, you and your family should not have to shoulder unnecessary financial burdens because of another person’s negligence.
When a person or entity causes the death of another, surviving family members can bring legal action in civil court against the negligent party. This is known as filing a wrongful death suit. In Arkansas, however, only certain family members are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek a civil remedy.
Wrongful death in an auto accident can happen if, for example, a driver fails to stop at a red light and collides with another car or a driver drives the wrong way on a one-way street harming others. In these instances, the driver is not abiding by traffic laws, failing to use reasonable care while operating their vehicle.
Under state law, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate must be the one to file the wrongful death claim in court.
But what do you do if a representative was never appointed?
If there is no personal representative, then surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit, including:
- Surviving spouse
- Dependent minors
- Life partners
Be prepared to prove your relationship to the deceased with a wedding license, birth certificate or copy of the will, depending on your relationship.
Damages in Arkansas Wrongful Death Claims
In Arkansas, a wrongful death claim is divided into two categories: the estate claim and the family claim. Each claim is allowed to seek certain damages and compensation.
This is a claim brought by the estate of the deceased for the losses the loved one suffered before their death. An estate is allowed to claim certain types of damages, including:
- Funeral expenses
- Burial costs
- Medical bills for illness or injuries
- Pain and suffering your loved one endured before their death
- Loss of wages they would have earned
This is a claim brought by the surviving family members for their suffering and losses. A surviving family member is allowed to claim certain types of damages, including:
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of household services
- Loss of care and guidance
- Loss of emotional support and comfort
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Suit?
In Arkansas, surviving family members have a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death suit. Unfortunately, survivors do not have much time to process their grief and seek legal guidance. In Arkansas, wrongful death claims must be filed within one year of death. If it is not filed within this time period, family members may be unable to win their case and recover compensation.
While seeking legal action may be the last thing on your mind, valuable evidence can be lost or destroyed quickly. For this reason, you should consider speaking to an experienced Arkansas wrongful death lawyer immediately after your loved one’s death. Your lawyer will be able to meet with you privately to discuss the details surrounding the accident. You can then explore your legal options and choose the one that is best for you and your family.
Even if you are uncertain you wish to file a wrongful death suit, your lawyer can preserve evidence and keep your options open while you decide on the best course of legal action.
How to Win Your Wrongful Death Suit in Arkansas or Tennessee
In order to win your wrongful death lawsuit in Arkansas or Tennessee, your attorney must build your case carefully. Just like a personal injury lawsuit, your attorney must clearly establish liability. They must show that the person or entity acted negligently and owed your loved one a duty of care.
In an auto accident, this means that your attorney must prove that the other driver caused the accident and your loved one’s death.
To do this, your attorney will need to:
- Examine police report
- Speak to medical experts and doctors
- Interview eyewitnesses
- Employ accident reconstruction teams and forensic specialists
- Examine crash site and damage
Your Arkansas wrongful death lawyer will need to show that the other driver acted negligently or irresponsibly and their negligence caused the crash that killed your loved one. This can take time and resources, as well as a lawyer will considerable knowledge of Arkansas liability laws.
Contact Our Arkansas Wrongful Death Lawyers
After a tragic and fatal car accident, surviving family members need someone on their side to help them through this ordeal.
The team of wrongful death lawyers at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton can help. We offer free initial consultations for all family members who lost a loved one in a tragic accident. With seven office locations – Little Rock, Springdale, Conway, Hot Springs, Bryant, Jacksonville, and Memphis —our personal injury lawyers are easily accessible when you need help.