Auto Accident

How to Prepare for Your Accident Lawyer Consultation

by Mike Rainwater | April 17th, 2017

As you’re preparing for an initial meeting with a personal injury lawyer after a car accident, there are some considerations you should take to make sure your case gets off to a smooth and efficient start. During your consultation with an accident lawyer, you should be prepared with all documentation related to your accident and have a list of questions ready to ask the lawyer. A consultation is, as much a time for the lawyer to get up to speed on your case as it is for you to make sure you feel confident in the experience and knowledge the lawyer will bring to your lawsuit.

What to Bring to the Consultation

Be sure to bring copies of all documentation related to your accident. Your lawyer will need this information, and having it ready to go will help to keep the process moving efficiently and provide your lawyer with all the information they need right from the start. You should bring all of the following documents, if applicable to your accident:

  • Copies of police reports
  • Copies of records from all health care providers
  • Copies of bills from medical care providers
  • Insurance coverage information for medical bills
  • Details of any work you missed
  • A calendar with all important dates related to your injury
  • Copies of correspondence with your insurance company
  • Photographs related to the incident
  • Journal entries detailing psychological and emotional effects of the accident, injuries and medical treatment

Questions to Ask Your Accident Lawyer

 A consultation is an opportunity for you to ask your car accident lawyer questions, too. You should take the time to make sure you feel confident with the experience and approach of the lawyer. Prepare a list of questions before meeting with your lawyer. Some questions to ask include:

  • How long have you been in practice?
  • How much experience do you have with car accidents?
  • How long do you anticipate it will take to resolve my case?
  • What problems do you foresee with my case?
  • What are my options between resolving with an insurance claim versus a lawsuit?
  • How do you charge for lawyer/lawsuit expenses?

Have you been in a car accident in Northwest Arkansas? Schedule your consultation with a Conway car accident lawyer at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton.

There’s No Reset Button for Injury Claims

by Mike Rainwater | April 11th, 2017

In this digital age, the reset button is king. If you don’t like how your video game is going, just reset and start over. If your internet is running slow, the first thing you try is a hard reset, and nine times out of ten, it fixes it. We wish there were a reset button for car accident injury claims gone wrong, but there’s not. You only get one chance to get it right, and if you go it alone without an attorney, you could be left dealing with a financial nightmare.

Beyond your recovery, the number one thing you need to focus one following a serious car accident is how you and your family is going to financially survive. You need to estimate what this accident is going to cost you short and long term, and then negotiate that amount with the insurance company. If that were simple, we’d be out of business. The reality is the insurance company wants to pay out as little as possible for your injury claim. That’s just business. They’re not going to give you more than you’ll take, so expect a low settlement offer initially.

So how do you get more? The first step is calling an experienced car accident attorney. At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we have years of experience fighting for fair settlements for our clients, and when the insurance company refuses to play fair, we take them to court. We can help you determine what your case is truly worth and deal with the insurance company on your behalf so all you have worry about is getting better.

If you’ve been injured, call our experienced Arkansas car accident attorneys for a free, no obligation consultation. We’re ready to help, so contact us today.

5 Reasons Your Accident Insurance Claim Was Denied

by Mike Rainwater | April 10th, 2017

Nearly 60,000 people in Arkansas were involved in car accidents in 2012 alone. Knowing what insurance adjusters are looking for when considering your car accident insurance claim will better prepare you should you experience a collision caused by the fault of another. Here are five common reasons why insurance adjusters will deny your claim.

1. The Insurance Policy Has Expired

This one is simple – if the at-fault driver’s policy has expired, the claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company will be denied right away. This can happen inadvertently; so, be sure to know when your own policy expires and give yourself plenty of time to renew every year. When the at-fault driver has let his insurance policy lapse, you need to be able to turn to your own policy – to make an uninsured motorist claim. This is one reason you need to make sure you have purchased “full coverage.”

2. Your Plan Doesn’t Have Full Coverage

In Arkansas, an automobile owner is allowed to reject full coverage. The bare minimum car insurance plan that the law requires you to carry is a liability-only plan, which means if you are at fault, your insurance will cover the other driver who wasn’t at fault, but you will have nothing to pay you for your own expenses incurred and losses sustained. Full coverage includes liability insurance (that protects the other driver when you are at fault), Personal Injury Protection (that provides medical payment insurance to pay your medical bills and also provides some wage-loss protection), uninsured motorist coverage (which applies when the other driver is at fault but has no liability insurance), and underinsured motorist protection (which applies when the other driver is at fault but does not have enough liability insurance to pay your damages).  You might have selected a liability plan because it was the most affordable, but make sure you know what exactly is at risk when you choose the cheapest option.

3. You Didn’t Report the Incident on Time

Don’t wait to report an incident to your insurance company. They have the right to argue that they didn’t have enough time to research a claim if a significant amount of time has passed since the accident.

4. Liability Was Disputed

An insurance adjuster could reject your claim because there’s been a dispute about who was at fault. They could also disagree with the damages you’re claiming. To avoid a dispute with your insurance company, a police report and photos of the scene and damage and witness testimonials can help.

5. You Were Driving Under the Influence

If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol and caused an accident, your insurance company will not cover expenses caused by your negligence.

For the most efficient outcome with your insurance company, take photos at the scene, get a police report and file your claim quickly. If your claim is denied and you’re unhappy with the insurance company’s decision, request a written explanation for the denial and contact an Arkansas car accident lawyer to review your options for covering expenses from the accident.

What to do When You Hit Livestock in the Road

by Kirby McDonald | April 1st, 2017

While having a collision with a farm animal may seem like a freak accident, it is an all too common occurrence, especially in a rural state such as Arkansas. While practicing in Arkansas, I regularly hear people say, “I just hit a cow, what do I do now?”  So if you ever find yourself in this situation, here are a few things to keep in mind.

To begin, Arkansas case law defines livestock as including “horses, mules, cattle, goats, sheep, swine, chickens, ducks, and similar animals and fowl commonly raised or used for farm purposes.” Smith v. R.A. Brooks Trucking Co., 280 Ark. 510, 660 S.W.2d 1 (1983) 

The court has gone on further to delineate liability when an accident with livestock occurs. The court has stated, “It is well established that the owner of livestock is liable when damage results from intentionally or negligently permitting animals to run at large.” Smith v. R.A. Brooks Trucking Co., 280 Ark. 510, 660 S.W.2d 1 (1983). Therefore, if you are ever involved in a collision that results in property or bodily injury with a farm animal, don’t fret, because with little bit of leg work, you should be able to prove the livestock owner is liable for your damages.

To prove that the livestock owner is liable for the damages associated with a collision between their animal, and your car or person, Arkansas case law has set out what the plaintiff–the injured party–needs to show. First, in Oliver v. Jones, 239 Ark., 393 S.W.2d 248, 249, 1965 Ark., the court stated that the burden is on the injured party to show that the owner of the livestock is guilty of negligence in allowing their livestock to be on the highway.  The plaintiff in Oliver v. Jones, was able to do this through testimony of the Sheriff that the property owner had a plethora of complaints about cattle running at large on the highway, a witness testifying that he saw the livestock owner’s cattle on the highway at the point where the collision occurred, and another witness who testified that he too saw the livestock owner’s cattle in the highway the day the collision occurred.

The court went on further to state that mere knowledge of the animals being “at large” isn’t enough. This is due to the fact that livestock animals are generally large creatures that can escape their enclosures, and the courts don’t want to punish farmers for freak accidents occurring, such as cattle running through a fence during a storm. In Miller v. Nix, 315 Ark. 868 S.W.2d 1994 Ark, the court stated, “while the evidence showed that the owner’s fence was in need of repair, no holes were found through which a cow could escape. Further, the driver presented no direct evidence to prove the owner owned the cow that was struck[,]” therefore when you have a collision with a farm animal, you need to immediately start looking for an area where the property owners livestock could have escaped their enclosures, i.e. holes in fences, lack of a chicken coop, open or faulty gate, etc., take pictures, and find evidence of who owns the livestock and the property they escaped from. Once you have done that, you then need to see if any neighbors or witnesses have complained of such and check the sheriff’s log as well for complaints. If you are able to find all of these, or need help doing them it may be time to call an attorney. Call Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, let us do the work and guide you through the entire claim process.

 

Is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) Coverage Worth it?

by Mike Rainwater | March 19th, 2017

You’ve probably seen the option to add “uninsured” or “underinsured” coverage to your car insurance plan. Have you ever wondered if it’s worth it to add the additional coverage – or wondered when you would need it?

Uninsured/underinsured coverage is needed when you’re in an accident and the person at fault doesn’t have insurance, or you’ve been in a hit-and-run. Uninsured or underinsured car insurance keeps you from getting stuck with bills from an accident you didn’t cause.

The Difference Between Uninsured and Underinsured

Uninsured motorist coverage is used when you’re in a crash caused by an uninsured driver or a hit-and-run. The coverage will pay for injuries you or your passengers suffer.

Underinsured motorist coverage is used when a driver hits you and has some insurance, but not enough to cover your medical costs. Like uninsured coverage, it pays for injuries you or your passengers suffer.

If you don’t have uninsured or underinsured insurance, you can also see if health insurance will pay for medical expenses after a car wreck. Your existing collision coverage will pay for damage to your car but you will still need to pay your collision deductible.

 Uninsured Drivers in Arkansas

In Arkansas, 16 percent of drivers are uninsured. That means, if you’re in a car accident in Arkansas, there’s a 16 percent chance that the person at fault is uninsured.

The cost of adding the additional coverage varies depending on your age, vehicle and location. The average cost of damage in a car accident is $7,500 – not counting medical bills.

The decision to add uninsured/underinsured coverage to your plan comes down to how comfortable you feel taking on the risk of having to pay for damage from an accident you didn’t cause.

If you’ve been in an accident in Arkansas caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, talk to a Fayetteville personal injury attorney about your options for coverage of medical bills and property damage.

You Shouldn’t Have to Pay for Your Car Accident

by Richard Atkinson | March 17th, 2017

Car accidents are never scheduled. You don’t put a date and time on your calendar to be involved in a serious car wreck, and you don’t prepare for the weeks, months, and even years it can take to fully recover from one. That’s why 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.

If you’ve been injured, call our experienced Arkansas car accident attorneys today for a free consultation. We’ve been helping injured folks in Arkansas for more than 30 years, and we’re ready to put our experience to work for you as well. Contact us today for your no cost, no obligation consultation.

Will the Statute of Limitations Affect my Accident Claim?

by Mike Rainwater | March 14th, 2017

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.

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 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. The 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.

 What Happens if a Claim is Not Filed Within the Time Limit?

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 or truck accident lawsuit. If you’re concerned your three-year limit might be approaching, talk to a  Fayetteville truck accident lawyer about your options.

Do you know what the most dangerous driving maneuver is?

by Mike Rainwater | March 9th, 2017

Driving a vehicle is an everyday activity for most people. While it can feel like we’re on autopilot when getting behind the wheel, we’re actually making decisions and adjustments every second to keep ourselves, our passengers and other vehicles safe. Even for the most experienced driver, there’s one maneuver that is the most dangerous: left hand turns.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that close to half of the 5.8 million car crashes in the U.S. are intersection-related and the majority of those are the result of making a left turn. In addition, a study by New York City transportation planners found that left turns were three times as likely to cause a deadly crash involving a pedestrian.

Why are left-hand turns dangerous?

Left-hand turns are dangerous because of the many factors a driver must take into account before making the turn. The driver is assessing many variables, and the slightest distraction or miscalculation can be deadly. Left-hand turns are made dangerous because:

  • The vehicle making the turn is crossing the opposite lane and disrupting the flow of traffic
  • The driver is watching for pedestrians and bicyclists in the crosswalk
  • The driver is gauging the speed and distance of oncoming cars

In addition to your own driving, a left-hand turn requires that you be vigilant of the movement of oncoming vehicles and pedestrians.

How to Make Left-Hand Turns Safer

Staying safe in an intersection during a left-turn requires paying close attention to the conditions around you. Stay alert, pay attention to distracted pedestrians and don’t turn until you’ve noted oncoming vehicle’s speed and actions and have gauged a safe intersection for you to make your turn.

If you live in Northwest Arkansas and have questions or concerns about a car accident you have experienced, contact a Fayetteville car accident lawyer at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton for a free consultation.

How to Safely Drive in the Rain

by Mike Rainwater | March 7th, 2017

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are more than 950,000 car crashes every year due to wet pavement. In fact, the likelihood of an accident in the rain is greater than that of a crash in snow, sleet or ice. The National Highway Traffic Administration found that 46 percent of weather-related crashes are due to rainfall, while only 17 percent are due to snow or sleet. Reduce your chances of a rain-related accident by keeping these tips in mind.

Stay Alert

Stay alert and focused to what’s going on around you – it’s not just your vehicle you need to worry about. Adjust your thinking when conditions become less than ideal.

 Turn on headlights

It’s the law in all states to have your headlights on when visibility is low, and in many states, including Arkansas, headlights are required when windshield wipers are turned on.

 Slow Down

Tires lose traction when driving too fast because of the precipitation. Tires are meant to grip the road, and you lose about one-third of your traction in the rain. Because of this, the recommendation is to reduce your speed by one third when it’s wet and rainy.

 Beware of hydroplaning

This happens when your tires lose contact with the pavement because they’re riding on top of a layer of water. When you hydroplane, gently take your foot off the gas to transfer weight to the front tires and regain contact. Do not turn the wheel – continue to look and steer where you want to go.

 Don’t use cruise control

Don’t rely on technology during the rain. Wet weather can affect the systems’ sensors, and you’re safer using your own reactions to speed changes.

 Make sure your car is rain-ready

Tire tread is very important – tires with 2/32 of an inch of a tread are unsafe. Check your tire pressure, windshield wipers, headlights, taillights and brake lights, too.

If you’ve been involved in a weather-related car accident in Arkansas and want to discuss your situation with an experienced Little Rock truck accident lawyer, contact Rainwater, Holt & Sexton for a free consultation.

Are Texting While Driving Laws Working in Arkansas?

by Mike Rainwater | March 3rd, 2017

Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation has been leading the effort to stop texting and cell phone use while driving. According to statistics from distraction.gov, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2014. Text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, making it the most alarming and dangerous form of distracted driving.

Since many texting-while-driving laws are relatively new, there is limited evidence to show if the laws are working, but one study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health examined the effects of texting bans in 48 states from 2000-2010.

The study found that states with primary enforcement laws, like Arkansas, which means law enforcement can pull a vehicle over for the suspicion that they are texting while driving, saw a 3 percent reduction in traffic fatalities.

In states with texting bans that affected young people only, there was an 11 percent reduction in deaths for that age group.

Arkansas Distracted Driving Laws

Distracted driving laws vary from state-to-state. In Arkansas, the following laws apply:

  • Handheld ban for drivers age 18-20 years old (Primary law)
  • Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (Primary law)
  • Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice (under 18) drivers (Secondary law)
  • Ban on texting for drivers of all ages (Primary law)

A primary law is one in which state troopers can pull over a driver if they see that they are distracted. A secondary law is one in which the driver must be stopped for a primary offense like speeding and not just using a cell phone.

If you live in Arkansas and have been injured in a distracted-driver accident, contact a Little Rock car accident lawyer for a free consultation.

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