Auto Accident

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.

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.

5 Steps to Take After a Car Accident

by Mike Rainwater | February 28th, 2017

Car accidents are the most common type of personal injury, with the U.S. Census Bureau reporting about 10 million car accidents every year. It’s important to know what to do should you find yourself in the unfortunate-but-common situation of a car collision. Follow these five steps:

 1. Pull over and call 911

Pull to the side of the road and out of traffic, if there’s room, and put on your hazards. Even if there’s not real damage, it’s a good idea to call 911 – and especially is someone has been injured.

2. Exchange car insurance information

Approach the other driver and exchange your car insurance information. The insurance companies – yours and the other driver’s – will contact each other to determine who pays for the damages.

3. Take photos and gather witnesses

Take photos of the scene and damage, and get the contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident. Your insurance company and the police may choose to contact witnesses.

4. Get a police report

If a police officer doesn’t examine the scene and file an official report, the case will turn into your word against the other driver’s. In some states, you can file a police report up to 72 hours later, but naturally the details won’t be as accurate as an on-scene review.

5. Contact a car accident attorney

If you’re concerned that you will not be rewarded proper damages for your injuries, property damage, emotional distress and lost wages, discuss the accident with a car accident attorney. In Northwest Arkansas, the car accident attorneys at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton offer free consultations.

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death After an Auto Accident?

by Mike Rainwater | February 2nd, 2017

In 2015, there were 32,000 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). After a car accident involving a death, a wrongful death claim can be made against the negligent party that caused the person’s death.

Wrongful Death Defined

Wrongful death occurs because of the negligence of others. When someone acts negligently, they fail to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or harm to others. A 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.

Who Has the Right to File a Claim?

Not just any grieving party can file a wrongful death claim when a loved one dies – they must have a specific relationship to the deceased. Generally, those who can file a wrongful death claim in Arkansas include:

  • The survivng spouse,
  • The surviving children,
  • The surviving parents or siblings.

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 a Wrongful Death Claim

In an Arkansas wrongful death claim, the grieving family can seek compensation for:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Lost wages and income
  • Emotional duress
  • Lost financial contributions
  • Loss of companionship

If you’ve lost a loved one in an auto accident due to the negligence of someone else, contact the Arkansas auto accident lawyers at Rainwater, Holt and Sexton for a free consultation.

The Tactical Reason to Call an Attorney

by Mike Rainwater | January 27th, 2017

At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we know why it is vital for an accident victim to call an attorney after a serious car accident. First of all, there is a financial reason. According to available statistical data analyzed for insurance companies, on average, car accident victims get more money with an attorney than without. A practical reason is that the personal injury attorney takes care of the heavy lifting so that you can focus on how to get better. And, there’s also a tactical reason, which most accident victims aren’t aware of—the other party likely may already have a lawyer on their side.

Automobile insurance companies provide an attorney to represent their policyholder (and to protect the company’s profits) in the event of a personal injury lawsuit. That attorney is provided automatically, and done without additional charge to the at-fault driver. But, when you are the accident victim, don’t expect your insurance company to do the same. The insurance company for the accident victim has no skin in the game. Thus, your insurance company won’t be paying for an attorney to represent you—to protect your best interests. You’re on your own.

Make no bones about it—a personal injury claim is a fight, and most often, that fight will come down to who you have on your side. The driver who hit you may already have a legal team on their side. Why wouldn’t you do the same?

If you’ve been injured, call our experienced Arkansas car accident attorneys today for a free consultation. Don’t go into the fight without help. Contact us today and get the full weight of our experience fighting for you.

Options for Recovering Lost Wages if you’ve Been Hurt in an Accident

by Mike Rainwater | January 27th, 2017

An injury from an auto accident can leave a victim unable to work, thus making it difficult to pay bills and support a family. If you were the victim of an accident at the fault of someone else, you have a right to be reimbursed for the income you lost while recovering. There are several options for recovering lost wages, but determining the right course of action is best done with the guidance of an auto accident lawyer.

Car Insurance May Cover Lost Wages

 Car insurance may be one viable option for recovering your lost wages. There are several types of coverage that can be used to collect lost wages.

  • If you were injured due to another driver’s negligence, you could submit a lost wages claim through the at-fault driver’s liability bodily injury coverage.
  • If an uninsured driver injured you, you may be able to collect lost wages through your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage – if this is part of your insurance plan.
  • In Arkansas, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage is optional, but if it is part of your plan, it will pay for your injuries and lost wages up to your policy’s limits.

Personal Injury Claim to Recover Lost Wages

If you find that your insurance policy or the driver’s car insurance policy are not adequate to recover your lost wages, you can consider filing a personal injury claim against the negligent driver. Traditionally courts rule that victims are entitled to reimbursement for all the income they lost while treating and recovering.

Beyond lost wages, victims are also entitled to any compensation over and above lost income like compensation for sick and vacation days, bonuses and other perks of employment.

If you have been left with no way to recover lost wages due to an accident, consult the Arkansas auto accident lawyers at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton.

Options for Recovering Lost Wages if you’ve Been Hurt in an Accident

by Mike Rainwater | January 12th, 2017

An injury from an auto accident can leave a victim unable to work, thus making it difficult to pay bills and support a family. If you were the victim of an accident at the fault of someone else, you have a right to be reimbursed for the income you lost while recovering. There are several options for recovering lost wages, but determining the right course of action is best done with the guidance of an auto accident lawyer.

Car Insurance May Cover Lost Wages

 Car insurance may be one viable option for recovering your lost wages. There are several types of coverage that can be used to collect lost wages.

  • If you were injured due to another driver’s negligence, you could submit a lost wages claim through the at-fault driver’s liability bodily injury coverage.
  • If an uninsured driver injured you, you may be able to collect lost wages through your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage – if this is part of your insurance plan.
  • In Arkansas, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage is optional, but if it is part of your plan, it will pay for your injuries and lost wages up to your policy’s limits.

Personal Injury Claim to Recover Lost Wages

If you find that your insurance policy or the driver’s car insurance policy are not adequate to recover your lost wages, you can consider filing a personal injury claim against the negligent driver. Traditionally courts rule that victims are entitled to reimbursement for all the income they lost while treating and recovering.

Beyond lost wages, victims are also entitled to any compensation over and above lost income like compensation for sick and vacation days, bonuses and other perks of employment.

If you have been left with no way to recover lost wages due to an accident, consult the Arkansas auto accident lawyers at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton.

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