Personal Injury

What if I am Injured by an Intoxicated Boater?

by Joshua Standerfer | August 4th, 2017

With summer in full swing, many people are spending their weekends or vacations at various lakes around the state.  Arkansas is lucky to have an abundance of lakes to fish, ski or just ride around in a boat.  While spending time on the lake can be a lot of fun, people should take precautions to keep themselves and their families safe.  Wearing sun screen and staying hydrated are two things that people should do while on the lake, but it is also important to be on the lookout for intoxicated boaters and to make sure that you are not on a boat being operated by an intoxicated person.  According to the 2014 U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics, alcohol use is one of the top five contributing factors to boating accidents involving a fatality.

Although Driving while Intoxicated gets a lot of press, remember that Boating while Intoxicated is also a crime.  Arkansas Code Annotated § 5-65-103 is a criminal statute that prohibits operating a motorboat while intoxicated.

5-65-103. Driving or boating while intoxicated.

(a)

(1)  It is unlawful and punishable as provided in this chapter for a person who is intoxicated to operate or be in actual physical control of a motorboat on the waters of this state or a motor vehicle.

(2)  It is unlawful and punishable as provided in this chapter for a person to operate or be in actual physical control of a motorboat on the waters of this state or a motor vehicle if at that time the alcohol concentration in the person’s breath or blood was eight hundredths (0.08) or more based upon the definition of alcohol concentration in § 5-65-204.

(b)  The consumption of alcohol or the possession of an open container of alcohol aboard a motorboat does not in and of itself constitute probable cause that the person committed the offense of boating while intoxicated.

(c)  An alcohol-related offense under this section is a strict liability offense.

Much like the criminal implications of boating while intoxicated are similar to driving while intoxicated, the civil law implications are also similar.  The State of Arkansas requires that a $50,000 occurrence policy be kept on any boat with over 50 horse power, so it is worth exploring a possible claim if you have been injured by an intoxicated boat operator.  It is easy for anyone to apply the same common sense used when out of the water and is applied to intoxicated drivers of vehicles.  If someone wants to drink alcohol, they should have a designated non-drinking operator.  If someone operates a boat while intoxicated, they should be held accountable.  The rules apply to everyone that is on the water. If you have been injured because of an intoxicated boat operator, call the attorneys at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton.  We would love to speak with you and help you in any way we can.

The Evidence You Need to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit Claim in Arkansas

by Mike Rainwater | March 17th, 2017

Personal injury is when you’ve been injured by the negligence of someone else. Injuries can be emotional, bodily or damage caused to your property. Unlike criminal cases, which are initiated by the government, personal injury cases are initiated by a private individual, which is why they’re also commonly referred to as civil complaints.

If you’re planning on filing a personal injury lawsuit, you should be prepared to collect documentation about the incident and the expenses and damage that resulted. Be prepared with the following evidence.

  • Physical evidence: If your vehicle, bike, clothing or other belonging was damaged, this actual object is considered evidence and is a key piece of your lawsuit.
  • Police report or other written reports: A police report from the scene of the incident, for example, a car accident, is another very important piece of evidence.
  • Photographs of the scene: Take photographs of the scene where you were injured. If you were injured in the workplace, take photos of the area where you were injured. If you didn’t have an opportunity to take photos immediately following the incident, return to the scene as soon as possible.
  • Evidence of injuries: You can show evidence of your injuries with medical records, photos and any other healthcare documentation.
  • Documentation from witnesses: If there were witnesses at the scene, have them write a description of what they witnessed as soon as possible following the incident.
  • Diary of events: Keep a diary of how you felt during and after the incident. This can be used as evidence to show how the accident is affecting you.
  • Out of pocket expenses for injury: Keep track of any expenses you’ve had to pay to cover your injury.

How Does a Personal Injury Case Work?

No two personal injury lawsuits are the same, but the typical series of events is as follows:

  • Injury Occurs: The defendant does something to injure the plaintiff.
  • Plaintiff Suspects Negligence: The plaintiff believes that the defendant acted negligently, causing the injury to occur unnecessarily.
  • Plaintiff Contacts Personal Injury Lawyer: The plaintiff will likely contact a personal injury lawyer to begin the process of proving the defendant’s negligence.
  • Settlement Talks or Court Proceedings: The plaintiff’s attorney and the plaintiff will either reach a settlement agreement with the defendant and/or his insurance company. If no settlement is agreed, the plaintiff may choose to take the claim to court.

If you’ve been unnecessarily injured due to the negligence of someone else, contact an Arkansas personal injury lawyer to start the process of collecting evidence and preparing a strong case for you to be awarded compensation for your injuries.

What’s the Definition of Personal Injury?

by Mike Rainwater | March 11th, 2017

A personal injury case, also referred to as a tort lawsuit, is when an injury to mind, body or emotions is caused by the negligence of another. Unlike criminal cases, which are initiated by the government, personal injury cases are initiated by a private individual who files a civil complaint against another person, business, corporation or government agency.

In personal injury cases, the plaintiff is the private individual who has been injured and is filing the case, and the defendant is the entity that is accused of acting carelessly and causing harm. The most common types of personal injuries are:

  • Road traffic accidents
  • Work accidents
  • Tripping accidents
  • Assault claims
  • Accidents in the home
  • Cruise ship accidents
  • Product defect accidents
  • Holiday accidents

Lawsuits vs. Settlements

Individuals injured in an accident caused by someone else can be entitled to monetary compensation. Many personal injury disputes are resolved through a settlement rather than going to court. In a settlement, a negotiation is reached in which both sides agree to not pursue any further action in exchange for a resolution via payment of an agreed upon sum of money.

How Does a Personal Injury Case Work?

Every personal injury case is different, but there are some basic tenets that occur in each case. The typical series of events is as follows:

  • Injury Occurs: First, of course, the defendant does something to injure the plaintiff.
  • Plaintiff Suspects Negligence: The plaintiff believes that the defendant acted negligently, causing the injury to occur unnecessarily.
  • Plaintiff Contacts Personal Injury Lawyer: Because negligence is suspected, the plaintiff will likely contact a personal injury lawyer to begin the process of proving that a legal duty was breached.
  • Settlement Talks or Court Proceedings: The plaintiff’s attorney and the plaintiff will either reach a settlement agreement with the defendant and/or his insurance company. If no settlement is agreed, the plaintiff may choose to take the claim to court.

If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact an Arkansas Personal Injury lawyer. Depending on the intent or negligence of the defendant, you could be entitled to monetary compensation through a settlement or judgment.

Dangers of Trampoline Parks

by Jake Logan | January 25th, 2017

Over the past several years, the number of trampoline parks across the United States and particularly in Arkansas has significantly increased.  While these can be very fun for children they also present a risk. As the number of these parks increase, the number of injuries sustained at these facilities has skyrocketed. According to a recent study by CBS News’ Ashley Welch conducted between 2010 and 2014, the number of ER visits from injuries suffered at trampoline parks has risen from 581 to 6,932 nationwide.

Injuries suffered at trampoline parks range from ankle and leg injuries typically suffered on a trampolines to collisions between patrons jumping in a crowded area. Unfortunately, many people have also been injured due to poor maintenance of the trampolines due to an owner’s negligence. While you may want to seek legal assistance for any injury suffered at one of these parks, when it is obvious that the owner did not maintain the area where a person was injured, it is particularly important to get legal advice on how you can recover for your injuries or that of your children.

Trampoline parks likely require each patron to execute a release or waiver of liability before a person is allowed to enjoy the facility. Even though these releases can be valid in Arkansas, a release may not bar all types of claims an injured person may bring against a negligent park owner. It is important to have a lawyer review the release carefully to ensure that all of the formalities have been met by the trampoline park, and to investigate if there are other ways to recover for an injury you have suffered. Also, because most parks have cameras with footage that may help prove your case, you will want to have the lawyer intervene soon after the injury to make sure that footage is not lost.

Because these parks are rather new, they are not well regulated across each state for safety. However, there is a list of safety standards that trampoline parks should and are encouraged to follow. If you or your family member is hurt in a trampoline park, even if you signed a waiver before playing in the park, call Rainwater, Holt & Sexton to enlist the help of a personal injury lawyer and make sure your right to recover for your injury is being protected.

Things to know when thinking about filing a lawsuit

by Joshua Standerfer | January 18th, 2017

While most personal injury claims are settled without having to go into litigation, sometimes insurance companies will deny that their insured caused a client’s injury or deny that whatever their insured did was serious enough to cause an injury that a client sustained.  In situations like these, it might be in the best interests of the client to take their case to litigation. The decision to go to litigation is made by the client and their attorney.  The following are a few examples of questions that clients ask when the possibility of litigation comes up.

What does “litigation” mean and how does the process start?

According to freedictionary.com, litigation is defined as an action brought in court to enforce a particular right. The act or process of bringing a lawsuit in and of itself; a judicial contest.  Litigation is initiated when a injured party files a document that is referred to as a complaint in court.  In a personal injury lawsuit, a complaint is basically a document that states that a party was injured by someone else and should be compensated for it.  The next step is that the complaint must be served on the party who caused the injury.  “Serve” means give proper notification to the party who caused the injury so that they can respond.  Once a complaint is served, the burden is on the opposing party to respond.

If my case goes to litigation will there definitely be a trial?

The case can still settle.  In fact, according to thelawdictionary.org, only four to five percent of personal injury cases actually end up going to trial.  The case can settle at anytime but once litigation begins, there is usually a good amount of time that passes before the case is settled.  The best way to get a case that is in litigation settled is to thoroughly prepare the case for trial.

How long does the process take?

This is the part that is most frustrating for clients.  It is almost impossible to determine how long the process will take.  The reason is that once a complaint is filed, served and the defendant has responded, the case enters the discovery phase.  According to freedictionary.com, discovery is a category of procedural devices employed by a party to a civil or criminal action, prior to trial, to require the adverse party to disclose information that is essential for the preparation of the requesting party’s case and that the other party alone knows or possessesBasically it means that attorneys from each side get to ask the other side a whole bunch of questions that must be answered.  Discovery starts out with the questions being in written form, and progresses to face to face questions between the attorney and the opposing parties and witnesses in what are called depositions.  It is important that discovery be thorough and complete before an attorney asks that a trial be set because a great way to see a case go downhill in trial is not to ask the right questions in discovery.

The attorneys at Rainwater, Holt and Sexton are ready and willing to discuss taking your case to litigation if it is in your best interest.  Call today for a free consultation.

What are UM, UIM, and MedPay Insurances?

by Jake Logan | January 4th, 2017

Every day, Arkansas drivers sign up for car insurance with a wide range of different insurance companies, and are required to choose between several additional coverages with different limits and deductibles that they can add on to the basic liability only coverage.

Drivers typically understand why they need liability insurance to protect themselves and permissive users of their vehicle from potential damages if they negligently operate the vehicle and cause a collision. However, many drivers either do not fully understand or do not appreciate the importance of the additional coverages that they can add to their insurance policies.

The primary additional coverages that are often disregarded are: Medical Payments (MedPay); Personal Injury Protection (PIP); and Uninsured and Underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage.

Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage pays for the medical expenses of an insured person and his or her passengers after a motor vehicle collision. MedPay will pay out its benefits regardless of who caused the collision, and will generally cover an insured who is permissively driving someone else’s vehicle, and an insured or his or her family members who are injured as pedestrians.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage is required in Arkansas and pays benefits for medical expenses and lost wages incurred by the insured person and his passengers injured in a motor vehicle collision.

MedPay and PIP are no-fault insurance coverages, which pay the insured regardless of who is at fault. MedPay is the same as PIP except it does not pay for lost income, only medical expenses.

Uninsured and Underinsured (UM/UIM) insurance coverages pay insurance benefits for your damages if the other driver who caused the collision and your injuries is either uninsured or does not have sufficient insurance limits to fully pay for the damages you have incurred. Uninsured motorists are not only those driver who do not have insurance, they are also drivers who flee the scene of an accident (hit and run) and those drivers who have stolen a car. Without this coverage, if you’re injured in a motor vehicle collision through no fault of your own, you may be responsible for all of your medical payments and property damage.

Arkansas Insurance Laws require insurance companies to offer each of these additional coverages to their insureds for an extra premium charge each month, but if the insured does not want to elect for this coverage, he or she must sign a rejection denying this coverage. The offer only has to be made one time, and one signed rejection will continue until it is withdrawn by the insured.

Problems occur when a person is injured in a collision and believes that he has full coverage car insurance. If the person who hit him does not have car insurance, and the injured person rejected uninsured (UM) coverage, there is typically no place for the injured person to recover. He may be stuck with a damaged car and no one to help pay for his medical expenses.

It is essential for drivers to understand the coverages they are rejecting when signing up for car insurance. Even if you currently have car insurance, it is important to check your declarations page to determine if you have sufficient insurance coverage or if you need to make changes and elect for these additional coverages. If you are injured in a motor vehicle collision and have doubts or questions about your or the other driver’s insurance coverage, call a personal injury attorney at Rainwater, Holt &Sexton so we can help you determine the available insurance coverages under which you may recover.

How Do I Choose A Personal Injury Attorney?

by Richard Atkinson | December 22nd, 2016

Finding the right personal injury attorney is important. After you’ve experienced a preventable accident, the one thing you shouldn’t have to worry about is knowing whether you’ve hired the right attorney.

Before choosing an attorney, it’s important to understand exactly what a personal injury attorney is. Personal injury attorneys specialize in cases that fall under “tort law.” Tort law includes cases that stem from accidents like those caused by automobiles, unsafe workplaces, defective products or wrongful death claims.

A good personal injury attorney is a skilled trial lawyer and negotiator, has a deep understanding of medical diagnoses and processes related to injuries and should, of course, be regulated and licensed by their state bar association.

 

How Much and What Kind of Experience Do They Have?

Personal injury law covers a wide span of areas. Find an attorney that has been taking on cases like yours for a long period of time. Research what they specialize in and make sure it matches with your type of case.

Ask about their trial experience. If your case is expected to go to trial, you want someone on your side that has been in front of a court many times before.

 What is their Record?

Beyond experience, make sure your attorney has a record of success in trials similar to the one you’ll be experiencing. If a medical device hurt you, they should have success in trials against medical device manufacturers or pharmaceutical companies. If you were hurt in a workplace accident, they should have success in workers compensation cases. Don’t be completely blinded by experience alone – make sure it’s paired with success.

 What’s Their Reputation?

We’ve all heard it – a good reputation goes a long way. Ask the attorney for referrals from past clients and do diligent online research to check out their reputation and disciplinary record. It’s always smart to check Google reviews, Facebook reviews and Avvo, as well. Your state bar association could be an asset during the step, as well. They may have a hotline you can call for referral services.

If you’re located in Northwest Arkansas and are in need of a personal injury attorney, consider Rainwater, Holt & Sexton. A Fayetteville personal injury attorney is well versed in Arkansas-specific litigation, and we always offer free consultations.

How is the Value of My Case Determined?

by Joshua Standerfer | December 14th, 2016

As Rainwater, Holt & Sexton personal injury attorneys there is one question that we hear repeatedly in initial meetings with potential clients following a car wreck. Potential clients want an opinion on how much their case is worth. It is all but impossible to know at an initial meeting how much a case is worth, but here is a list of things that most attorneys will look at as the case progresses.

  1. Who was at fault?

The law in Arkansas is that a driver must be at least fifty-one percent at fault to be held liable for another driver’s injuries. In some cases, such as a case where one car has functioning brake lights and is rear ended, liability is clear. In others, not so much. For example, if a driver (let’s call him Bill) is turning left at an intersection and collides with another driver (who we will call Susie), who is at fault? Bill says that he had a green arrow so he proceeded to turn. Susie says that she had a green light so he proceeded through the intersection. Both Bill and Susie were coming home from work and neither of them have any criminal or traffic history that would allow one to cast doubt on the other. Bill wants to make a claim against Susie for injuries Bill suffered in the car wreck. Is Susie at fault? In this scenario it is hard to tell. These are two honest people, who disagree on who was at fault. The disagreement might hurt Bill’s case. If Susie’s insurance company offers a settlement amount, which it might not even do in this scenario, it will more than likely be a lower offer than would be made if the wreck was clearly Susie’s fault.

  1. What injuries were sustained?

If liability is clear, the next question is what injuries were sustained because of the wreck. Injuries are proven by turning over to the insurance company, copies of medical records that show how much and what kind of treatment someone had because of the accident. This can get tricky. People in car wrecks need to treat their injuries, but the treatment need to be done at the behest of a doctor. For the insurance company to accept treatment, it must be shown that the treatment was related to the car collision. This is done by seeing a doctor who then refers a person who has been in a car collision other medical providers like a specialist or physical therapy.

  1. What are the at fault driver’s policy limits?

Drivers in Arkansas are required to carry liability insurance policies that have limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence. On such a policy, the most that the insurance company will pay to settle one person’s case is $25,000. Some drivers have higher limits, but many carry only minimum limits required by law. If the at fault driver’s policy limits are $25,000, then that is all that the insurance company will ever offer to settle the case. Do not assume that the insurance company will offer limits, but it is important to know what the limits are in cases where the bills start to stack up.

The above is a list of things that your attorney will try and find answers to as your case progresses. Every case is different, but this should give potential clients an idea of what attorneys work when trying to determine how much a case is worth. If you have been in a car wreck, call the attorneys at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton. We would love to speak with you and help you in any way we can.

 

I’ve Been Diagnosed With Mesothelioma. Do I need to hire an attorney?

by Richard Atkinson | November 17th, 2016

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you probably know that over 80% of the cases of this type of cancer are caused by exposure to asbestos. If you believe your mesothelioma was caused by working with asbestos and are considering taking legal action against your employer or a manufacturer, you are not alone – asbestos manufacturers have been involved in lawsuits since the 1920s. Consult a mesothelioma attorney to determine the best course of action given your situation.

The Connection Between Asbestos and Mesothelioma

Asbestos has been used in the construction industry since the late 19th century,  but its use increased greatly during World War II for fireproofing and insulation. Subsequently, the rate of diseases caused by asbestos has increased since the 1950s.

Mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs, usually doesn’t show up until at least 15 years after asbestos exposure, and more likely its after 30 to 40 years. The length of asbestos exposure seemingly needed to cause mesothelioma can be as short as one to three months.

Because it takes decades for the disease to appear, the connection between mesothelioma and asbestos wasn’t discovered until the 1970s. Even so, asbestos manufacturing continued until 2002.

Mesothelioma Lawsuits

The majority of mesothelioma cases end in settlement, however some go to trial. Compensation, whether through a settlement or verdict by a judge or jury, cover medical expenses, physical and mental distress, lost wages and bills. The defendant in these cases is usually an asbestos manufacturer or employer who neglected to implement safety measures after the link between asbestos and mesothelioma was discovered.

If you have developed mesothelioma and are in Central Arkansas, contact a Conway mesothelioma attorney to learn about your options and determine if other parties are liable for your condition.

What To Do Following An Equipment Accident

by Richard Atkinson | November 16th, 2016

People who work in professions where they deal with dangerous equipment and machinery face a risk every day of getting injured. When you’re injured on the job due to the equipment you are required to use for your profession, you could be entitled to worker’s compensation or you might have a suit for negligence, depending on the circumstances.  If you have been in an equipment accident, take these steps following an accident:

  1. First and foremost, immediately seek medical attention for your injuries.
  1. Once you have taken care of immediate medical needs and are out of danger, report your injury to a supervisor or superior. Make a record of the date and time, and name and title of whom you spoke with.
  1. Were there witnesses? Take down their contact information. You may need witnesses if you choose to pursue a claim in civil court.
  1. Take photos of your injuries, the location of the accident and the equipment involved.
  1. If possible, hold on to the equipment that caused the injury.

Consult a Little Rock Equipment Accident Lawyer

Once you’ve taken the necessary steps to seek medical attention, report your injury and ensure documentation of the injury and location, discuss your accident with a personal injury lawyer. If you were in an equipment accident in Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville, Little Rock or anywhere else in Arkansas, get in touch with a Little Rock equipment accident lawyer to determine what compensation you’re entitled given your situation.

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