Auto Accident

Do I still have an accident claim if there was no fault given or I was partially to blame?

by Jake Logan | July 31st, 2017

If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle collision that isn’t your fault, BUT the officer does not state whose fault the collision was or doesn’t issue a citation to either driver, your claim is not necessarily dead. When an officer reports to a collision, often times the cars have been moved, a driver or passenger may be getting transported to the hospital, there are no witnesses sticking around, and the officer doesn’t have any direct knowledge of how the collision occurred other than both of the driver’s stories. There’s also the possibility that the other driver was in the wrong and has now changed his or her story when being questioned by the police officer.

Even if the evidence of the wreck has been altered before the officer arrives, and even if the other driver changes his or her story, you may still file a claim with both your insurance and the other driver’s insurance.

At minimum you will at least have a claim for no-fault Medical Payments/Personal Injury Protection coverage on your own policy if you have it on your policy. In Arkansas, you must reject it in writing to the insurance carrier at the time of getting your policy or you are entitled to the state minimum of $5,000. You can also opt in and pay a monthly/yearly premium to add the $5,000 coverage to your policy.

In Arkansas, you must prove to the jury that the other driver is at least 51% at fault for the collision. While a citation given to the other driver or a finding of fault by the investigating officer may be helpful in proving the facts surrounding the collision, it is by no means a prerequisite to filing a claim, or definitive winning proof for or against your claim.

The officer didn’t witness the accident. The statements of the parties, statements of witnesses, crash reconstruction experts, the general logic of how the collision occurred, light sequences if the collision happened at a stop light intersection, and various other sources of evidence may exist to bolster your claim. Even if the officer doesn’t give a citation or find the other driver at fault for the collision, you may still have a claim.

Let the attorneys of Rainwater, Holt & Sexton investigate your claim and analyze the facts and evidence surrounding your collision before letting the other driver’s insurance company tell you that you don’t have a claim.

Who is to Blame in a Single-Car Crash?

by Mike Rainwater | May 16th, 2017

We usually think of car accidents involving at least two vehicles, but single-car crashes are actually very common. According to a 2015 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 55 percent of automobile deaths involve single-vehicle accidents.

When only one car is involved, who is held liable for the accident? This is an important question to ask because it is the person at fault in an accident who is the one who has to compensate the other party for medical bills, damages and other expenses. We normally think there must be another driver being at fault in order to recover money for injuries but a corporation is a “person” in the eyes of the law and an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney will look for any and all persons who might be at fault for a collision.

In a single vehicle accident, the person at fault might be the person (the corporation) who manufactured the vehicle or a component thereof or it might be the person (the corporation) who constructed the roadway on which the accident occurred. There are laws that place fault on any person who placed into the stream of commerce a product that is defective and unreasonably dangerous.

Vehicle Manufacturers or Sellers

If the accident occurred because of a malfunction with the vehicle – like faulty tires, an exploding airbag, or some other issue out of the driver’s control – the car manufacturer could be liable.

Municipalities or Government Agencies

If the conditions of the road caused an accident, the corporation that constructed the roadway could be found at fault. Many collisions occur due to roads being under construction.

An Other driver

An other driver can still be at fault for causing a single-car accident. For example, if a distracted driver swerves into your lane, and in an attempt to avoid colliding with him, you have to drive off the road and then collide with a tree – the other driver is at fault because that other driver’s negligence is what caused you to have to leave the roadway, which resulted in an accident.

If you have been in an accident that did not involve a collision with another car, you could still bring a civil claim to receive compensation. Contact a Little Rock car accident attorney to discuss your accident.

Car Accident? Don’t Pay for Someone Else’s Mistakes

by Mike Rainwater | May 15th, 2017

Have you ever looked at your checking account or credit card balance and wondered where all the money went? Routine expenses add up on their own. Throw in a few unexpected expenses, and you can find yourself in a financial crisis quickly. That’s one reason why even a not-so-serious car accident can be a huge interruption to folks in Arkansas. Medical bills, lost wages, car repairs, and other expenses add up quickly to create serious personal financial problems.

Our Arkansas car accident attorneys help victims and their families get the compensation they deserve for their injuries so they don’t have to pay for someone else’s mistakes. That includes medical expenses, time away from work, and pain and suffering. If you’ve been injured by a careless driver, you shouldn’t be responsible for the financial impact. At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we’re ready to fight on your behalf so you don’t have to.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, give us a call today for a free consultation. Our experienced Arkansas car accident lawyers will review your case at no cost or obligation. And if we do take your case, you won’t pay us anything unless we get money for you. That’s our No Fee Guarantee.  Don’t get stuck holding the bills. Contact us today for your free consultation.

How Do Airbags Work?

by Mike Rainwater | May 11th, 2017

Airbags have only been around since the 1970s, when Ford introduced them in an experimental fleet of cars. It wasn’t until 1998 that airbags became a requirement in all new vehicles. Airbags are now in all of our cars, but do you know how they work?

Parts of an Airbag

There are three main parts to an airbag: the bag, the sensor and the inflation system.

  • The bag itself. The actual airbag is made of thin, nylon fabric. It’s folded into the steering wheel or dashboard.
  • Sensor. The sensor tells the bag to inflate in a collision. The sensor is calibrated to detect a collision force equal to running into a brick wall at 10 to 15 miles per hour.
  • Inflation System. The airbag is inflated with sodium azide and potassium nitrate with a device that’s the equivalent of a solid rocket booster.The two gases react quickly to produce a large pulse of hot nitrogen gas which inflates the bag causing it to burst out of the steering wheel or dashboard as it expands.

What Happens When it Inflates

When nitrogen is produced by the inflation system and the bag inflates, it bursts out of the steering wheel or dashboard. The reaction happens faster than you can blink your eye, keeping you from colliding with the steering wheel, dashboard and windshield. About a second after the airbags inflate, they are already deflating because of holes in it, so it can get out of your way.

Airbags don’t always work as they’re supposed to. For example, Takata airbags have been under scrutiny and millions have been recalled for defects that have killed several people instead of saving them. If you’ve been in a car accident and have experienced injuries from an airbag, contact a Fayetteville car accident attorney.

What to do When Whiplash Turns out to be a Serious Neck Injury

by Mike Rainwater | May 10th, 2017

Whiplash is caused by a sudden jolt of the neck or shoulders. It is a common byproduct of car accidents, and it doesn’t always appear immediately after the collision.

In a rear-end car accident, whiplash occurs because of inertia. As the inertia of your body is moving forward, it’s stopped suddenly by your seatbelt. Your head, though, continues moving while the body is stopped. The “whip” occurs when the head snaps back.

Immediately following an accident, you might feel okay because your body is pumping adrenaline, which masks the pain. Once the adrenaline leaves your body, the pain will set in – hours or days later.

Symptoms of Whiplash

After a car accident, if you feel any of these symptoms, you may be experiencing whiplash:

 Neck or shoulder pain and stiffness

  • Soreness or pain in the jaw
  • Weakness in one or both arms
  • Dizziness and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Back pain or discomfort
  • Ringing of the ears

Don’t Delay Medical Treatment

Even though you might feel okay, you should always accept medical care at the scene of the accident because of the fact that adrenaline could be hiding a serious injury.

However, if a paramedic was not at the scene, see a doctor as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the less serious your injury will appear in the eyes of a claim adjuster. They could argue that it was caused by something else and it could appear suspicious that you waited to seek medical attention.

Go to your primary care physician first, and they’ll refer you to a specialist if needed. Avoid clinics that advertise help with personal injury claims, as they likely won’t have your best interest in mind.

 See a Car Accident Lawyer

Keep a record of all of your medical treatments and daily symptons, and see a Conway car accident lawyer. Whether you decide to make an insurance claim or pursue a lawsuit against the guilty party, a car accident lawyer can help determine the best course of action.

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.

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