In Arkansas, victims of personal injury must be aware that they have a limited timeframe to file a lawsuit. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations, and it varies depending on the type of injury. Understanding the statute of limitations is essential to avoid the serious consequences that could arise if your case is not filed before the deadline.
What is the Statute of Limitations and How Does it Work?
Although you may not be familiar with the legal term “statute of limitations,” it simply refers to the time limit set for filing a lawsuit in Arkansas. This time limit differs depending on the specific injuries sustained, which can make it a little confusing. Generally, the statute of limitations in Arkansas is three years. However, certain cases may have different time limits. For instance, some injury cases may allow several years to file.
To ensure that you understand the deadline for your specific case, it is advisable to consult with our Fayetteville personal injury lawyers. They can provide a free case evaluation and inform you of the precise date by which you must file your lawsuit. As the deadline approaches, it becomes increasingly crucial to take action, as failure to file before the statute of limitations expires can carry significant consequences. It’s important to note that each state has its own set of rules regarding the statute of limitations, so it is crucial to familiarize yourself with Arkansas’s specific regulations.
In essence, the statute of limitations acts as a ticking clock in Arkansas. It starts running from the moment your injuries occur or when you become aware of them. This ensures that evidence remains reliable and readily available for both parties involved. Over time, evidence can be lost, forgotten, or degraded, and witnesses become more challenging to locate or remember crucial details. By imposing a time limit, the statute of limitations ensures that the best possible case can be presented by both sides.
Different Statutes of Limitations for Injury Lawsuits in Arkansas
The statute of limitations in Arkansas varies depending on the type of injury. Understanding the time limits associated with different types of lawsuits is integral to avoid missing the opportunity to seek justice.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
Most civil lawsuits in Arkansas aim to recover damages for personal injuries. According to Ark. Code. § 16-56-105, personal injury victims have three years from the date of their injuries to file a lawsuit. This rule applies to cases involving both physical injuries and injuries to property. Common personal injury cases include car accidents, slip and fall accidents, construction accidents, nursing home abuse, and premises liability.
Wrongful Death Claims
If you have lost a loved one due to negligence or a crime, you have three years to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Arkansas. This allows surviving family members to seek compensation for their loss.
Product Liability Lawsuits
Product liability lawsuits in Arkansas also adhere to a three-year statute of limitations. These lawsuits aim to compensate victims for injuries caused by negligently designed or manufactured products, such as household items, tools, or vehicles.
Medical and Legal Malpractice Lawsuits
Victims of medical malpractice in Arkansas have two years to file an injury lawsuit under Ark. Code. § 16-114-203. However, the clock may not start immediately if you were unaware of your injuries, allowing for slightly more time to file. For legal malpractice cases, victims have the standard three years to file a lawsuit for damages under Ark. Code. § 16-56-105.
Other Types of Injury Lawsuits
There is a statute of limitation for virtually every type of injury in Arkansas, whether physical or financial. While most of these limits are set at three years, there may be exceptions. For instance, those with damages from a written contract dispute have five years to file their lawsuit under Ark. Code. § 16-56-111. Debt collection also allows for five years to file if the debt was properly documented, while fraud cases fall under the standard three-year limit.
Consequences of Failing to File Before the Statute of Limitations Expires
The statute of limitations rule is stringent in Arkansas to preserve evidence and ensure judicial efficiency. Failing to file before the expiration of the statute of limitations can result in the denial of compensation through the court system. Once the deadline passes, the defendant’s attorney will file a motion to dismiss your lawsuit, which the judge will likely grant unless an exception applies to your situation. If no exceptions apply, your claims will no longer be pursued.
For this reason, it is crucial to initiate your injury lawsuit as soon as possible. Gathering evidence from various sources and organizing it to support your case is time-consuming. After paying the necessary filing fees and submitting all the required documents, your case is considered commenced when served upon the defendant.
Exceptions to Arkansas’s Statute of Limitations
While it is always advisable to file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, there are exceptions that may provide additional time to do so. However, these exceptions are rare, and personal injury victims should not assume they apply automatically. Here are some accepted exceptions to the statute of limitations in Arkansas:
Exceptions for Minor Victims
One common exception to the statute of limitations in Arkansas applies to victims who were children at the time of their injuries. Personal injury victims who were under 21 when the accident occurred have three years after turning 21 to file a lawsuit.
Exceptions in Medical Malpractice Cases
Medical malpractice cases often involve complex evidence. Victims of medical malpractice are granted additional time to file their lawsuits if they serve a notice of intent to sue upon the healthcare provider within 30 days of the statute of limitations expiring. If the victim is under the age of 9, the statute of limitations will not begin until the child turns 11 or two years from the date of the malpractice, whichever is later.
Exceptions in Product Liability Cases
Victims in product liability cases generally have three years to file their lawsuits. However, if the lawsuit involves a breach of warranty claim, the deadline extends to four years.
The Discovery Rule in Arkansas
Arkansas follows the “discovery rule,” which grants more time for cases where injuries are discovered after the fact. Some victims may not initially know they have been harmed by another’s negligence. Under this rule, the statute of limitations begins from the date the injuries were discovered or reasonably should have been discovered, as long as it is within the allotted time under the law.
Suing an Arkansas Municipal Government Agency
Suing a government agency in Arkansas can be challenging due to sovereign immunity. However, municipal agencies can be sued for injuries when they carry liability insurance, such as accidents or premises liability. The statute of limitations in these cases is the same as in personal injury cases, but a notice of claim must be filed with the agency before the lawsuit.
Recoverable Damages when Filing Before the Statute of Limitations Expires
Filing your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires allows you to seek compensation for various damages. However, failing to file in time can result in the denial of the following types of damages:
Past, Current, and Future Medical Expenses
You can claim compensation for medical expenses related to your injuries, including emergency room services, hospitalization, surgery, physical therapy, and other necessary treatments. This includes both current and future medical costs.
If your injuries prevent you from working, you can claim lost wages in your lawsuit. Lost wages are calculated based on what you would have earned had you not been injured. Documentation such as pay stubs or tax returns provides evidence of your earnings.
Lost Future Earning Capacity
If your injuries result in permanent disability, you may be entitled to compensation for lost future earning capacity. This compensation accounts for the income you would have earned if not for your injuries, allowing you to pursue the work you desired.
Non-economic damages compensate for pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, and other non-financial losses. Although these damages are more challenging to quantify, they aim to compensate you for the intangible losses you have experienced.
Seeking Assistance from Our Arkansas Personal Injury Lawyers
If you require legal assistance for your personal injury case, our Fayetteville wrongful death lawyers are here to help. Contact us today at (479) 316-0438 for a free case consultation. We will guide you through the process and ensure that your lawsuit is filed in accordance with Arkansas’s statute of limitations. Let us help you seek the compensation you deserve.