Car Accidents

Compensation for Accident Claims that Exceed Policy Limits

Car accidents. They are often unavoidable despite our best efforts to drive safely. We simply cannot dictate what others do on the road. Car accidents come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes the damages are relatively low, and recovering compensation is a simple process. A low-speed accident causing less than $5,000 or $10,000 might take only a few weeks to settle with an insurance company. That’s exactly why all 50 states require drivers to carry liability insurance in some form or another.  Other times, things aren’t so easy. For example, if a car accident´s damages exceed the responsible party’s insurance limits, things become a bit more complicated. When a car accident claim exceeds policy limits, you might not know exactly what to do or what to expect. When this happens, you might feel like giving up. Doubt might creep into your mind and make you wonder, Can you settle for more than policy limits? You always have the option of suing beyond policy limits. After you read through this piece, we hope that some of the uncertainty surrounding what happens when damages exceed insurance limits is cleared away. Insurance Requirements In Arkansas and Missouri Before we get into what happens when an insurance policy limits a settlement, we need to first go over basic insurance requirements. At Cottrell Law Office, we have teams to help people recover from car accidents throughout both Missouri and Arkansas. As such, we need to discuss the basic insurance requirements in both states. If your damages exceed these basic policy limits, you may have to file a lawsuit to recover all your damages. Missouri Insurance Requirements The state of Missouri requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of auto liability insurance. You can, of course, purchase insurance products that exceed the minimum. Still, the minimum gives us a baseline on whether a given accident might exceed policy limits. Missouri requires all drivers to carry the following: $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, $25,000 per accident for property damage, Uninsured motorist coverage of $25,000 for bodily injury per person, and Uninsured motorist coverage of $50,000 for bodily injury per accident. Thus, if you are in a Missouri car accident and your damages exceed $25,000 or $50,000, you should prepare to file a lawsuit to recover your damages. You may not have to, but you should ensure you are prepared to do so. Arkansas Insurance Requirements Just like Missouri, Arkansas requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. If the damages in your accident exceed these amounts, you may have to file a lawsuit to fully recover from your accident. Arkansas’ insurance requirements are as follows: $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $25,000 per accident for property damage. Unlike Missouri, Arkansas does not require drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage. However, uninsured motorist coverage is always available for purchase. We’ll take care of everything else. Submit the short form below to schedule a consultation. How Often Do Auto Accident Settlements Exceed the Policy Limits? Auto accident settlements exceed policy limits every day. Beyond the minimum requirements, there is no way for you to know what insurance limits other drivers are subject to. That is, you won’t know until an accident happens. While not every accident settlement exceeds policy limits, many do. If your accident exceeds policy limits you should contact an experienced car attorney right away. Cottrell Law Office Is Here for You At Cottrell Law Office, it doesn’t matter how large or small your car accident was. We are here to help. If you need to file a lawsuit, we can do that. If all you need is for us to negotiate with an insurance company on your behalf, we can do that too. We serve clients throughout the great states of Missouri and Arkansas, and we are ready to help you get the compensation you deserve. Don’t forget to check out some testimonials from our previous clients, then give us a call to schedule your consultation today!

Continue Reading
Car Accidents

Signs You Should Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident

In certain situations, a car accident may have a devastating effect on victims and their families. Between the financial, physical, and emotional struggles, it may be difficult to know what to do next. However, some crashes are less serious—perhaps there was minimal vehicle damages and minor injuries or none at all. Here are some tips on when to hire an attorney after a car accident based on your situation. When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident Immediately following your crash, you may be wondering, Should I call a lawyer after a car accident? While it’s not always necessary to hire an attorney for a claim, there are a few signs that your case may benefit from legal representation. Here are some situations where hiring an experienced car accident attorney may be beneficial for your claim. 1. The Accident Resulted in a Serious Injury If the car accident results in a serious injury, whether to yourself, a passenger, or another driver, you should contact an attorney immediately. There are a variety of injuries that may qualify as severe, including but not limited to: Lacerations, Broken bones, Concussions, Spinal cord damage, Disfigurement, Paralysis, Amputations, and Traumatic brain injuries. These injuries often result in long-term difficulties or, in some cases, permanent disability. As a result, it’s unlikely that the settlement offered by the insurance company will cover those future costs or your pain and suffering. 2. The Driver Responsible is Underinsured or Uninsured Unfortunately, some people drive their vehicles without the required minimum insurance coverage set by the state. Getting into an accident with an underinsured or uninsured driver makes it much more difficult to pursue compensation on your own since they have no coverage. At the Cottrell Law Office, our attorneys explore other avenues to seek compensation in cases like this, whether it’s through your own auto insurance policy or the driver’s personal finances.  3. The Accident Report Contains Major Errors When you get into an accident, the responding police officer usually files an accident report. This report contains several details about the crash and even the officer’s investigative findings. While the report is mostly accurate, sometimes the officer makes mistakes in the report that might make it difficult to establish fault. In some cases, their investigation may find you at fault for the accident based on incorrect information or statements from the other driver. While it’s not always possible to change the original report, our Arkansas car accident attorneys may be able to request an amended report or bring in experts to help disprove erroneous claims in the report. We’ll take care of everything else. Submit the short form below to schedule a consultation. When You Shouldn’t Hire an Attorney While it may not always be clear when to hire an attorney after a car accident, there are a few instances where it might not be your best option. Here are some situations where calling an attorney isn’t necessary. 1. The Accident Didn’t Have Any Injuries One of the most common questions people ask after their crash is, Should I hire a lawyer for a minor car accident? Generally, the answer is no. Accidents with no injuries don’t usually command the same compensation as those with serious injuries, and it’s usually easier to get the insurance company to pay the full value of your claim. In addition, most personal injury attorneys won’t take a case that doesn’t involve injuries. 2. There Is Little Damage to Any Vehicles or Property Minor fender benders, especially those that result in only a few thousand dollars worth of damage, don’t require the help of a lawyer. In most situations, the insurance company handling the claim offers a settlement that covers all damage to the vehicle. This is because the only damages in the accident are tangible and may be easy to estimate based on repair/replacement quotes. So Should I Get an Attorney for a Car Accident? If you’ve been in a car accident and don’t know whether you need an attorney, call the Cottrell Law Office today. Our skilled car accident lawyers can help gather evidence for your case and handle negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf. To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or call our office at 855-503-8140.

Continue Reading
Car Accidents

Average Time for a Car Accident Settlement

After being injured in a car accident, many victims wonder how long it takes to reach a settlement. While it’s not uncommon for settlements to take several months or even years, there are instances where it may take less time. So what’s the average time for a car accident settlement? Here’s everything you need to know about the settlement process and how our personal injury attorneys may be able to help. Requirements for a Finalized Settlement Before you receive a settlement offer, there are a few things you must do: reach maximum medical improvement, provide medical records, and send a demand letter.  Ultimately, your car accident settlement time frame varies greatly depending on the severity of the injury. For those who have broken bones or strains, it may take only a few months to complete treatment and send a demand letter. However, this becomes more complicated in car accidents involving a lifelong disability. Maximum Medical Improvement To receive a settlement, you either need to complete your treatment for your injury or reach maximum medical improvement. This means that even if you need further treatment, your current condition is the best recovery possible. For example, if you have a back injury that resulted in limited movement, it may not get better with further surgery. Despite this, it’s possible to include future medical expenses in your claim.  The best way to prevent delays with your car accident settlement is to seek treatment as soon as possible. In most cases, the insurance company won’t make an offer until you fully recover or complete treatment.  Medical Records and Bills Medical records, including treatment bills and doctors’ statements, are an essential part of your demand letter. These records not only indicate whether you’ve reached maximum medical improvement but also describe the severity of the injury. In claims involving serious injury, medical records play a major role in identifying future care requirements or complications. However, sometimes doctors forget to add this important information. In this case, you may need opinions from other qualified medical professionals about your condition. Demand Letter Once you gather the evidence you need, you must send a demand letter to the insurance company. The average time for a car accident settlement usually depends on the circumstances of your case and the insurance company receiving your claim. In general, the insurance company takes anywhere from 2-14 weeks to evaluate the information in your claim. Unfortunately, some insurance companies may not respond at all or deny the claim in bad faith. At that point, it’s best to call one of our personal injury attorneys to assist you. We’ll take care of everything else. Submit the short form below to schedule a consultation. Have Questions About Settling Your Car Accident Claim? If you or a loved one sustained an injury in a car accident, you don’t have to fight the insurance company alone. At Cottrell Law Office, our car accident attorneys have over 30 years of experience helping clients pursue a fair settlement. We dedicate ourselves to offering guidance to our clients during the claims process. To get started on your case, call us today or contact us online. We proudly serve clients throughout Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. 

Continue Reading
Car Accidents

How to Calculate Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident

In a personal injury case, it’s common for victims of negligence to experience pain and suffering. The physical, emotional, and mental toll of the injury is often traumatic, especially during the initial recovery. As a result, many victims seek non-economic damages to compensate them for the difficulties they have healing.  If you’ve been injured due to the negligent actions of another, you may be wondering how to calculate pain and suffering. Here is everything you need to know about the calculations typically used by personal injury lawyers. Methods for Calculating Pain and Suffering Unlike calculating other types of damages, calculating pain and suffering is highly subjective and varies from case to case. While there isn’t an exact way to measure pain and suffering, there are two common methods used by attorneys: the multiplier method and the per diem method.  Multiplier Method The multiplier method is one of the most common approaches used by personal injury attorneys. To determine non-economic damages like pain and suffering, the attorney multiplies the amount of economic damages by a “multiplier.” The multiplier is usually a number between 1.5 and 5, but may go higher depending on the severity of the injuries. Here’s an example of the multiplier method in a car accident case. Jayna got into a car accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. Before her injury, Jayna was an avid hiker and spent most of her time exploring the outdoors. She no longer has the ability to enjoy her favorite hobby and has difficulty taking physical care of herself. She also has issues with chronic nerve pain in her back because of the injury. Jayna has a total of $300,000 in economic damages, and her attorney decides to pursue a multiplier of five for pain and suffering. In total, Jayna sues the other driver for $1.8 million ($300,000 in economic damages and $1.5 million in noneconomic damages). In this case, since the injury led to a decrease in the victim’s quality of life and requires lifelong care, the multiplier was high. If the victim suffered a less permanent injury, such as a broken bone or lacerations, the multiplier might be lower. Per Diem Method Another common method for calculating pain and suffering is the per diem, or per day, method. Instead of multiplying the amount of economic damages, the per diem method determines a dollar amount owed to the victim per day of suffering. This daily rate is more likely to be used in cases involving short-term injuries. For example, if the victim suffers a fractured shoulder and has around 180 days of recovery time, their attorney may find a per diem rate of $200 appropriate based on their daily earnings. This means that the total amount of pain and suffering damages is $36,000. We’ll take care of everything else. Submit the short form below to schedule a consultation. Need Help Calculating Pain and Suffering for Your Case? At Cottrell Law Firm, we know how difficult it is to handle a personal injury claim during recovery. Suing for pain and suffering after a car accident or other event is often too stressful to deal with after a serious injury. Our personal injury attorneys have over 30 years of experience helping clients pursue the compensation they need to recover and restore their peace of mind.  To schedule a consultation, call us today or contact us online. We proudly serve clients throughout the states of Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

Continue Reading
Car Accidents

What if I Wreck My Leased Car in Joplin, Missouri?

One of the common reasons people choose the leasing option when purchasing a new car is the ability to trade in for a newer vehicle for less money than buying a brand new car. There are certainly pros and cons involved in leasing a vehicle.But if you ultimately choose this option, be sure to read the fine print before signing the leasing contract. There may be consequences you would not expect, especially if you have a wreck in your leased vehicle. Let our Joplin car accident lawyer explain. Common Misconception About How Car Leases Work According to some experts, consumers often make mistakes when setting up their car lease agreement. A car dealership will advertise a low monthly lease payment, with relatively large payments at the beginning of the lease period. While this arrangement is meant to pay a portion of the car lease in advance, that prepayment can be an issue if the vehicle is involved in an accident within the first few months of the lease period. If a leased vehicle is wrecked, then the insurance company will reimburse the leasing company for the car’s value.  However, the money that was paid up front by the consumer is typically not refunded. That means the consumer loses the leased vehicle while also leasing the money paid in advance. What Should You do if Your Leased Vehicle is Involved in an Accident? With the popularity of leased vehicles increasing, it is important for consumers to understand the steps that need to be taken if they are involved in an accident in their leased car. Our Joplin car accident lawyer recommends that you should first make sure that you and anyone else involved in the accident are alright and seek emergency medical care if necessary. As with any other car accident, you should also contact law enforcement to report the accident. Also, like with any other accident, you need to exchange information with the other driver(s), including contact information and insurance information. You will need to contact the insurance company for the other driver. Take pictures of the accident scene, damage to your vehicle and your injuries, as appropriate. Dealing with the Insurance Company Covering Your Leased Vehicle Most, if not all, leased vehicles come with automobile insurance coverage.There is typically a provision in the vehicle lease agreement that requires the consumer to inform the leasing company that the leased vehicle was involved in an accident. You may also have an obligation to notify the automobile insurance company of the accident. You may also be expected to meet with a claims adjuster working with the insurance company so that the damage to the leased vehicle can be evaluated. You may be asked to take the vehicle to a particular repair shop to obtain an estimate of the cost of repairs. You will be instructed by the insurance company on which steps to take to get the leased vehicle repaired. Because the vehicle does not belong to you, it is expected that you will follow their instructions with regard to repairs. Having Your Leased Vehicle Repaired Pursuant to the Leasing Company’s Instructions According to our Joplin car accident lawyer, it is essential that the leasing company or auto dealer from whom you leased the vehicle be informed of the accident. That is the only way you can be sure to comply with whatever conditions or requirements they will have with regard to having the vehicle repaired. Some leasing companies may not agree to have after-market components on a leased vehicle repaired. Instead, the leasing company may decide to use only the original components provided by the manufacturer. The important thing to remember is that you could be forced to pay certain penalties or fees at the end of the lease period if you failed to meet all of the conditions required by the leasing company. No Right to Damages to the Leased Vehicle The primary goal of any lawsuit is to be compensated monetarily for the injuries you sustain because of someone else’s actions. As any car accident attorney will tell you, the purpose of the lawsuit following a car accident is to make the at-fault driver compensate you for your injuries and losses resulting from the accident. The amount and type of recovery to which you may be entitled depend on many factors.  In the legal arena, what you may recover is referred to as “damages.” Contact a Skilled Joplin, MS Car Accident Lawyer Today If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free case consultation. You can reach us by sending an online message or by calling us toll-free at (800) 364-8305.

Continue Reading
Car Accidents

What is a Phantom Vehicle Claim in Arkansas?

Nothing can be worse than being involved in an automobile accident, except possibly when the at-fault driver leaves the scene. Most clients are concerned that automobile insurance will not cover a hit and run or phantom vehicle claim. An even worse situation is when a careless driver runs you off the road and never actually collides with your vehicle. These kinds of personal injury claims can be tricky to prove. You can still be successful in bringing these types of claims, with the right advice from a personal injury attorney. What is a phantom vehicle in Arkansas? The term “phantom vehicle” is used by insurance companies to refer to a vehicle involved in an accident, where neither the driver nor the vehicle can be identified. That is typically the situation in a hit and run, where the other car drives away from the accident scene before the vehicle could be identified.The term can also apply to a situation where a motorist claims to have been run off the road by another car, which could not be identified. Insurance Companies Are Not Fond of Phantom Vehicle Claims Theoretically, a hit and run case would be covered by uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, applies to situations where someone is involved in an automobile accident and the person who is at fault, either does not have insurance or does not have sufficient insurance, to fully compensate the injured party. In most states, uninsured motorist laws assume that, when an unidentified motorist causes an accident and flees the scene, that vehicle was uninsured.This is a good thing for consumers because the accident should be covered under an uninsured motorist insurance policy. However, many insurance companies insist that, when the vehicle is unidentified, some minimum physical contact with the vehicle is required. Their argument is that, without proof of a collision, a driver could simply lose control of their vehicles, and then make a claim for uninsured motorist coverage. How Do You Prove a Phantom Vehicle Claim in Arkansas? Obviously, these types of claims can be very difficult to prove. The results of a recent study show that plaintiffs in phantom vehicle cases are only successful 51% of the time. In other words, you have about a 50-50 chance of being compensated for your injuries and other losses, when you cannot identify the other driver.Not to say that the chances are drastically better when you can identify the other driver. In those cases, the other driver will most likely allege that you were at fault and responsible for his or her damages. Either way, there is a lot to prove. So, how do you prove your case if the at-fault driver leaves the accident scene without stopping? In those cases, finding witnesses to corroborate your version of the events can be critical. If anyone stops to help you after the accident, make sure you obtain that person’s contact information. You will likely need to get their testimony to prove your claim.  However, eyewitnesses are not always available. In that case, you can still be successful, if you remain a credible witness and you can obtain favorable testimony from an accident reconstructionist and other types of investigators. If you have questions regarding automobile accidents or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

Continue Reading
Car Accidents

Who is Liable for Car Accidents Caused by Sun Glare?

The issue of fault is the most important component of a lawsuit. If you cannot determine the appropriate person to sue you will be unable to file a lawsuit. If more than one party is accused of liability, determining who is at fault requires identifying the levels of fault. In other words, each party will only be responsible for the amount of damages that can be attributed to his or her actions. Your Joplin car accident attorney can review your case and help you determine who the appropriate defendants should be. But what happens if nature plays a role in the accident? The Dangers of Sun Glare for Drivers Every driver has experienced it. Driving due west at the wrong time of day and ending up with the blinding sun in your face. There is no real safe way to respond and you just pray that you don’t hit the car in front of you, or worse, strike a pedestrian or someone on a bike. Sun glare is actually a very common cause of accidents in the United States. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sun glare results in hundreds of accidents each year in our country. That number is likely much higher as “the sun” is rarely cited as the cause of an accident. The question is, can you be held liable for an accident because the sun blinded you? Sun Glare Does not Qualify as an “Act of God” Unlike floods or earthquakes, sunshine does not qualify as an “extraordinary natural event” that cannot reasonably be foreseen.  Acts of God are unavoidable and, when they are exclusively caused by an act of God or natural disaster, and they cause an accident, that can be a defense against liability. Sun glares, however, do not qualify because they are not unforeseeable. We all know that the sun rises and sets and the general timing of those events, so by nature they are reasonably predictable. Because drivers are expected to operate their vehicles with reasonable care, that includes being prepared to deal with the potential of sun glare. If you have questions about other “act of God” situations, speak to our Joplin car accident attorney. How Can You Avoid Sun Glare Situations The best defense in a situation like this is to try your best to avoid this type of accident by minimizing sun glare and avoiding the situation as best you can. If you frequently find yourself faced with the glaring sun as part of your daily routine, find an alternative route during that time of day. Also, polarized sunglasses (often used by lifeguards) reduce blinding sun glare significantly. Also, be sure to leave sufficient space between you and the car in front of you and stay clear of the shoulder where bikers or pedestrians might be traveling. Accidents Can Be Caused By Something Other Than Another Driver Despite the fact that most auto accidents are caused by a negligent driver, there are many other causes of accidents that are just as common. Poor road conditions and weather conditions are frequent causes of auto accidents. Examples of dangerous road conditions include potholes, uneven expansion joints, and debris on the roadway.  A deep hole in the middle of a roadway can cause serious auto accidents, especially on interstates. Motorcycles are more likely to lose control from hitting a pothole than a car. Expansion joints usually connect a highway to a bridge. When the two parts are joined it can expose a rough surface and this unevenness can be dangerous.  Much like a pothole. Similarly, when a road has uneven lanes of different heights, it can be dangerous when a vehicle changes lanes. Debris or Animals on the Roadway Depending on the size of debris that is left on the roadway, it can cause a very dangerous situation for drivers. For instance, the debris left from blown out tires, especially from 18-wheelers, can cause damage to a vehicle or even cause the driver hitting the debris to lose control. The same is true for the debris left from a collision or objects that may fall off of other vehicles, such as trucks carrying items. As our Joplin auto accident lawyer can explain, state and local governments are liable for maintaining roadways that are free from obstacles. If they fail to do so and an accident occurs then the government can be held liable. If you still have questions, let our Joplin car accident attorney know. If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.

Continue Reading
Car Accidents

Who is Responsible When a Vehicle’s Autopilot Malfunctions?

Some believe that a self-driving car actually eliminates accidents because technology or robotics are more precise. However, the reality is autonomous vehicles cannot entirely eliminate car accidents. There are been several injuries and deaths across the country involving malfunction of an autonomous vehicle, like a Tesla or Uber. So, who should be held legally responsible for these accidents? If you are injured in an accident involving a vehicle being operated on autopilot, our car accident lawyer can help you determine who should be held responsible. Tesla Autopilot Crash in May 2018 Leads to Injuries In May of 2018, a woman was injured in Utah when her Tesla crashed into a fire truck while on autopilot. Although she was “operating” the vehicle at the time, she was looking at her phone at the moment of the collision. Her foot was broken and she also claimed loss of enjoyment of life, along with her physical impairments. This is not the only case like this. In fact, there have been at least two cases that were fatal. Tesla’s autopilot system, which was first implemented in 2015, allows the vehicle to automatically break, steer and switch lanes when the system is engaged. Of course, the autopilot program is not infallible. Instead, the system is susceptible to defects like most other machines and computers. Unfortunately, autopiloted cards are often advertised as preventing or avoiding accidents, but that is not always the reality. A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help With a Defective Product Claim In defense of many defective product claims, Tesla has argued that is Autopilot feature has effectively reduced car accident occurrences by 40%. Yet, there is very little scientific data to support this assertion. More importantly, though, Tesla argues that the person operating the vehicle still has an obligation to ensure that the autopilot is performing appropriately. Autopilot systems have not reached the stage where a driver can “go to sleep and wake up at their destination.” While this argument may seem reasonable, there is also the consideration that having an autopilot system lulls drivers into becoming passive passengers who pay very little attention to the road. As such, automakers who offer autopilot systems in their vehicles should reasonably foresee this danger. What You Need to Know About Determining Fault Sometimes, the most important aspect of a lawsuit is who is at fault in a car accident. In states which permit identifying one party as liable, this is often the most complicated and heated debate. Below is an explanation of how to identify who is at fault for an accident and how such determination can affect an award of damages. Why Determining Fault is So Important The issue of fault is the most important aspect of a lawsuit because without knowing who the party is you should sue, you cannot recover.  If you do not determine who that person or entity is, that party could escape financial liability for the accident. If more than one party is accused of liability, determining who is at fault requires identifying the levels of fault. In other words, each party will only be responsible for the amount of damages that can be attributed to his or her actions. Obviously, if a self-driving car is involved in an accident, there is no actual driver who can be held responsible. Many times, issues of product liability are applicable because you are dealing with a piece of machinery and a computer. If it was a human driver, then legal theories of negligence would be applicable. The only way to hold a computer responsible is by suing the entity that created and/or programmed the computer. Since self-driving vehicles are complicated pieces of equipment, there are other legal issues involved, as well. Determining Who to Sue for Car Accident Injuries In order to recover after a car accident, you have to first determine who is at fault.  Liability cannot be placed on anyone until it is determined who caused the accident or put another way, whose negligence lead to your injuries.  Depending on how serious the car accident is, there could be very significant repair costs and medical bills.  The person who is determined to be at fault is the person responsible for reimbursing the victim for their damages.  If you or someone you love, has been involved in a crash where a vehicle’s autopilot system was engaged, contact our car accident lawyer, to review the facts of your case and help you determine if you have a claim. If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.

Continue Reading
Car Accidents

How Long After My Accident Do I Have to Make a Claim?

There are deadlines for filing nearly every type of civil claim.  This time limit is referred to as the “statute of limitations.”  If you do not file your lawsuit before the deadline has passed, you will not be allowed to bring that lawsuit.  If you still file your legal claim after the deadline, it will likely be dismissed.  Each statute of limitations period depends on the type of legal claim you are bringing and the state law applicable to that claim. Your attorney will make sure you meet the statute of limitations period that applies to your car accident injury claim if you bring the case to them in time. The Purpose of the Statute of Limitations The primary purpose of the statute of limitations is a practical one.  The evidence that will either support or discredit your legal claims will likely be destroyed over time, just as the memories of relevant witnesses will be less accurate.  In accident cases, for example, the scene is most often altered over time.  Business records are usually destroyed in the normal course of business.  In order to preserve evidence, it is important to bring your car accident injury claim as soon as possible. “Tolling” of the Statute of Limitations Many jurisdictions “toll” or suspend the limitation period in special situations.  For instance, if the injured party is a minor or if bankruptcy proceedings are involved.  In those situations, the running of the limitations period is paused or tolled until the special situation ends. Equitable tolling can be applied for individuals who were intimated into not bringing the claim or who relied upon a promise that the period would be suspended.  In those case, it would be unfair or inequitable not to toll the period. What Is the Discovery Rule? The discovery rule also tolls or suspends the statute of limitations until an injury is or should have been discovered, depending on the situation.  The way the discovery rule works is that it effectively changes when the statute of limitations begins to run.  The discovery rule is most often applied in medical malpractice and wrongful death cases.  In those types of cases, the cause of the injury or death is not always apparent when it first occurs, due to the nature of the injury itself.  So, the statute of limitations period doesn’t start until the injury is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.  Not every state applies the discovery rule the same way, depending on the injury and other circumstances. The Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident Injury Claim In Arkansas, most claims must be filed within three years of the injury. This includes a personal injury or car accident injury claim. Arkansas recognizes the “discovery” exception for situations where you could not have discovered your injury until some later time. This doesn’t usually apply to a car accident injury claim unless a specific injury is not discovered until years later, which is not very common. In Missouri, plaintiffs have two years to file a lawsuit for personal injury or a car accident injury claim.  The discovery statute can also apply in Missouri, for a maximum of 10 years from the date of injury. Deadlines for Filing Wrongful Death Claims Like all other legal claims, there is a deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which differs from state to state.  This deadline or time limit is commonly referred to as the “statute of limitations.” In both Missouri and Arkansas, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death action is three (3) years.  A car accident injury claim can involve wrongful death claims if someone involved in the accident dies as a result of their injuries. Claims Against the Government Arkansas has different rules when a claim is brought against a government entity.  In those cases, the statute of limitations period is five (5) years.  Likewise, in Missouri, an injury claim against a state entity must be filed with the Office of Administration’s Risk Management Division, within 90 days of the injury.  It is wise to seek the assistance of a car accident attorney if you have a claim against a government entity. If you have questions regarding the statute of limitations, a car accident injury claim, or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.

Continue Reading
Car Accidents

The Most Common Causes of Car Accidents

According to a U.S. Department of Transportation report, more than 37,000 people were killed in car accidents in the United States in 2017. The CDC reported that, in 2016, nearly 39,000 deaths were caused by motor vehicle-related injuries. Considering the likelihood of being involved in a fatal car accident, our Rogers car accident attorney believes it may be helpful to recognize the common causes of car accidents. Negligence of Other Drivers The unfortunate reality is that the greatest threat on the road is often other drivers.  Driver negligence accounts for more accidents and more deaths than any other cause. There are so many different ways that drivers can act negligently when operating their motor vehicles and all of them can be extremely dangerous. For example, driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, driving while drowsy or fatigued, or driving distracted as all common examples of driver negligence. Speeding, particularly in bad weather conditions, is often an example of recklessness. All of these actions are dangerous, illegal, and cause hundreds of deaths every year. Distracted Driving is Still A Huge Problem Distracted driving is becoming a major concern for highway safety.  As the use of cell phones has increased, so has the number of auto accidents involving distracted drivers.  Although the campaign to stop texting and driving is in full swing, cell phone use is not the only form of distracted driving. Any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from the primary task of driving is a distraction and endangers the driver, passengers, and others on the roadway.  Distractions also include everyday tasks that many of us engage in all the time, such as eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, using a GPS and adjusting the radio or other electronics. Dangerous Road Conditions Contribute or Cause Accidents While driver error is a major cause of auto accidents, there are other factors that play a substantial role in causing auto accidents, as well.  Roadway defects and engineering and design problems attribute to auto accidents as well.  Furthermore, many hazardous road conditions can make, what would have been a minor crash, a much more serious event.  Failure to properly maintain roadways is another common cause. Defective Motor Vehicles Cause Accidents or More Severe Injuries When vehicles have defective parts, were improperly designed, or were not maintained as necessary, the machine itself can be the cause of a treacherous auto accident.  No doubt, you have heard about the major cases against auto manufacturers for some of the following: Fuel system malfunctions Rollovers Airbag malfunctions Seat belt malfunctions Defective tires Acceleration problems These manufacturers, as well as auto dealers, rental companies, and drivers all have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their vehicles and must be held accountable when the reasonable standard of care has not been met. How Much Can You Recover in a Car Accident Case? The amount of compensation you may recover after a car accident depends on the type of damages you suffered.  Each claim is different, both factually and with regard to which laws apply to your claim.  The most important element used in determining the value of a car accident claim is the nature and seriousness of your injuries. Our Rogers car accident attorney can help you determine the potential value of your car accident claim. Roger Car Accident Attorney Can Explain Settlement Options If you have been injured in a car accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, there are two ways to receive compensation for that injury.  You can either settle the case out of court or obtain a judgment from the court.  Although a jury verdict in a civil lawsuit would likely result in a larger recovery, jury verdicts are never guaranteed.  Indeed, most car accident cases settle before trial and our Rogers car accident attorney can help you make that decision. Knowing When to Accept a Settlement Offer Of course, the goal of settlement is to negotiate for the best possible amount of compensation.  However, there may be times when it makes more sense to accept a settlement that is much less than a potential recovery in court.  For example, if your chance of proving the elements of your claim in court seems very uncertain, taking a settlement might be the best strategy.  This is where our Rogers car accident attorney can be extremely helpful. If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.

Continue Reading