What state laws could have an impact on a slip and fall claim filed in Arkansas? In this article, we'll look at how long you have to file a slip and fall lawsuit in the Arkansas court system, as well as how being partly at fault for an accident might affect your insurance settlement or court award. Finally, we'll touch on Arkansas rules for filing a slip and fall claim when a government agency or employee might be at fault.
(To learn more about slip and fall claims, including what to expect in an insurance settlement or lawsuit, check out all the helpful articles in our Slip and Fall section.)
In Arkansas, the time limit for filing a slip and fall accident lawsuit is three years. This three-year period typically begins on the date of the accident, and it includes all weekends and holidays. If you do not bring your slip and fall case to court within three years, you'll most likely be barred from bringing it to court at all.
Keep in mind that this three-year time limit only applies to cases filed in court. It does not affect how long you have to file an insurance claim related to a slip and fall accident. It's a good idea, though, to file claims with insurers quickly following an accident. If you file the claim promptly and get the process started, you'll be able to preserve more time in your three-year lawsuit-filing window, to either file a lawsuit later on if need be, or just use the prospect of going to court as a bargaining chip if settlement negotiations break down.
Each state sets its own rules for determining how an injury case is affected when the injured person (the one who files an insurance claim or lawsuit) is also partly at fault for the accident. These rules apply in slip and fall cases, and Arkansas uses a "modified comparative negligence" system, which reduces or even eliminates an insurance settlement or court award for injured claimants or plaintiffs found to be partly at fault for their accident.
Here's an example of Arkansas' modified comparative negligence rule in action. Suppose that you're injured in a slip and fall accident at a restaurant. You decide to file an insurance claim or a court case to get compensation for your injuries (medical bills, time missed at work, etc.). After investigating your insurance claim or considering all the evidence in your case, the insurance adjuster or the jury decides that your total damages -- all monetary and other losses related to your injury -- should be $20,000. However, the adjuster or jury also decides that you were 10 percent at fault for your accident, and the restaurant was 90 percent at fault.
How does this affect your settlement or award? Under the Arkansas rule, your total award is decreased by an amount equal to the percentage of your fault. Here, that means your $20,000 total is decreased by $2,000, representing the 10 percent of fault assigned to you, and you receive $18,000 total.
It's important to remember that, because Arkansas is a "modified" comparative negligence state, your damages award drops to zero if you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault. In this situation, you cannot collect anything at all (no part of the $20,000 in damages in the example above) from any other at-fault party.
If an Arkansas government employee or government agency played some role in your slip and fall, you'll have to follow a different set of rules if you want to seek compensation. For instance, if you fell on a broken staircase in city hall or slipped in the parking lot of a state agency, you will likely need to file an administrative claim for your injuries and other losses, before you can look to other legal remedies (like a lawsuit).
In Arkansas, you must begin by filing the required claim forms with the Arkansas State Claims Commission. The forms are available on the state claims commission website, along with instructions. Since it takes the State Claims Commission about six to eight weeks to process claims, plus additional time for any motions and hearings, it's wise to file these forms as soon as possible after your slip and fall accident. The Arkansas State Claims Commission also has a Frequently Asked Questions page with more information. If a local government agency or employee might be to blame for your slip and fall (i.e. a city, county, or town), start by contacting that municipality and asking about the proper procedure to follow.