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Deteriorating roadways in the United States are a major concern. We all hear politicians from different political ideology talk about investment in infrastructure to help us economically. However, fewer discuss the need for major updates to our roads for the safety of drivers and passengers of cars and trucks. A new report found that infrastructure investments have the potential to save 63,700 lives and prevent 353,560 serious injuries over a 20-year period if changes and updates were made to interstates and roads.

“Safety Benefits of Highway Infrastructure Investments” released earlier this month by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research and education association, details key strategies to accomplish that goal. The report noted that the U.S. is ranked nearly last among developed countries in annual traffic fatalities. This fact should not be ignored. The report listed six items that the group recommends to greatly reduce car accident deaths and injures. They recommended that key intersections be turned into roundabouts, install roadside barriers and clear roadside objects, add sidewalks and signalized pedestrian crossings on majority of roads, install median barriers on divided highways, install shoulder and center line rumble strips, and pave and widen highway shoulders.

Inattentive driving is a big cause of car and truck accidents. The changes outlined in the report would help alleviate careless driving and make our roads safer. Several cities in Arkansas are putting roundabouts in new developments to help alleviate traffic congestion. I hear complaints about these intersections; however, I believe that as they become more common, people will not have issues with their use. Several people have told me that they hated roundabouts at first but they really enjoy them now. We should all do our part to tell our politicians to start making these changes for the good of our economy and our safety.

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Determining fault in an Arkansas car accident is not always a straightforward affair. While some accidents lend themselves to simple explanations of what happened, others present a much less clear situation.

Surveillance CameraNormally, police or other investigative authorities will survey the scene of an accident for evidence that can help them determine what caused a car accident and who was at fault. Of course, this may mean collecting physical evidence from the scene of the accident, and it may also include noting skid marks, checking cell phone records, and surveying nearby homes and businesses for video surveillance.

As video technology has increased over the years, the price of high-quality surveillance systems has significantly dropped, making them more affordable for homeowners and business owners. While owners of these surveillance systems are not likely thinking about catching an accident on tape, police can request video that may be able to help them determine what happened in the moments leading up to a serious accident.

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Proving an Arkansas personal injury case against another driver is not always as straightforward as it may seem. In some cases, this is because determining what happened in the moments leading up to the accident is difficult to impossible, given the injuries sustained by the parties or a lack of available evidence. In other cases, however, it may be relatively easy to determine who was at fault for the accident, but proving that they can be held legally responsible can be an issue.

Windy RoadGovernment Immunity

Accidents involving a government employee can present particular difficulties for victims. This is because as a general rule, government entities and employees are entitled to immunity from personal injury lawsuits. However, in some situations, government immunity does not apply to an employee’s actions. For example, if the government employee is not acting within the scope of their employment, immunity may not attach. Similarly, if a government employee’s actions are intentional or especially reckless, immunity may not apply. Determining whether immunity attaches is highly dependent upon the surrounding circumstances of the accident.

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Earlier this year, the Arkansas Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a motorcycle accident case that was brought by a man who was injured when an overhead cable was accidentally pulled down by a passing tractor. The issue presented to the court was whether the owner of the wooden poles that held the cable could be held liable to the plaintiff for his injuries. Ultimately, the court determined that the owner of the poles did not owe a duty of care to the plaintiff, and the plaintiff’s case was dismissed.

Power LinesThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was riding a motorcycle behind a tractor on a rural road when the tractor’s sickle caught an overhead cable, pulling it down. The cable fell, causing the plaintiff to lose control of his motorcycle and ultimately resulting in a crash. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against several parties, including the driver of the tractor as well as the company that owned the wooden poles that held up the cable.

The company that owned the poles was not the same company that owned the cable. However, the company that owned the poles had previously entered into an agreement with the cable company to allow the placement of the cables.

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Earlier this month, the Arkansas Court of Appeals issued a written opinion affirming a trial court’s decision to deny all post-trial motions in a car accident case in which the jury found in favor of the defendant, despite the fact that the defendant admitted that he caused the accident. Ultimately, the court held that due to the conflicting evidence presented, the jury was free to find that any injuries the plaintiff sustained were not caused by the defendant’s negligence.

Car AccidentThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a rear-end accident in July 2009. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the defendant, who was the motorist who rear-ended the plaintiff. The defendant admitted that he was at fault for causing the accident but claimed that he was not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

Both the plaintiff and the defendant testified. The plaintiff explained that he was on his way to the gym when he was rear-ended by the plaintiff. He explained that after the collision, he had to “brace” himself to keep his head from hitting the steering wheel. He also reported that his vehicle sustained minor damage in the collision. On the day following the accident, the plaintiff went to the hospital, and a doctor ordered an x-ray. The plaintiff was prescribed painkillers and engaged in a three-month course of physical therapy. The plaintiff was seeking $10,000 in lost wages as well as compensation for his medical expenses.

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Most car accidents involve the fault of one or more of the parties involved. Generally speaking, anyone injured in a car accident can file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver they feel was responsible for the accident. However, in some cases, an accident may involve not just the fault of one or more of the parties involved but also a negligently designed or poorly maintained roadway. In many states, lawsuits against state and local governments based on poorly designed or maintained roadways are permitted, but Arkansas’ system of government immunity almost completely eliminates a government’s liability in these situations.

Logging TruckArkansas law does permit an accident victim to file a personal injury lawsuit against another driver they believe to be at fault for the accident causing their injuries. If successful, the injured party can receive compensation for their past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering caused by the accident.

As it pertains to claims against the government, Arkansas has a very strict system of government immunity. Arkansas government immunity prevents injured parties from filing personal injury cases against the state and local governments except in some very rare situations.

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It’s common knowledge that drunk driving is against the law. However, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, each year across Arkansas there are approximately 150 deaths caused by drunk driving. For whatever reason, the fact remains that too many drivers do not see a problem with getting behind the wheel after they have had too much to drink.

Beer TapsIn Arkansas, not only is it a criminal offense to drive while intoxicated, it can also give rise to civil liability for any damage or injuries caused in a drunk driving accident.

In addition, the Arkansas Legislature has done its part to help the victims of drunk driving accidents obtain financial compensation following an accident by enacting what is commonly known as a “Dram Shop” law. Arkansas’ version of a Dram Shop law, located in Arkansas Code Section 16-126-104, allows for some drunk driving victims to seek financial compensation from the vendor that knowingly sold the drunk driver alcohol. In order for a vendor to be held liable, the victim must prove that the establishment knowingly served someone who was either under the age of 21 or “clearly intoxicated.” In many cases, this is difficult to prove and may require a detailed investigation immediately following the accident.

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When someone is injured due to the negligence of another party, the injured party is entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person whom they claim is responsible for their injuries. If the accident victim is successful in proving their case, they may be entitled to various types of damages awards, depending on the circumstances of the accident and their injuries.

GavelMost common are compensatory damages, which are designed to make the plaintiff whole again. As the name implies, these damages are meant to compensate a plaintiff for the medical and other expenses, pain, and lost income with being involved in an accident. However, in some cases, punitive damages are also appropriate.

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Last month, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case brought by a woman against her husband’s previous employer, alleging that her husband’s exposure to asbestos while on the job caused the cancer from which he ultimately died. In the case, Hendrix v. Alcoa, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case because the sole remedy for her loss was through the state’s workers’ compensation program.

Old FactoryThe Interplay Between Workers’ Compensation Claims and Personal Injury Claims

When someone is injured on the job due to the negligence of another party, there may be one or more potential claims available to the injured worker or their family. The workers’ compensation program is mandatory for many Arkansas employers and acts as a type of insurance for employers. If an employee is injured on the job, the employee can obtain workers’ compensation benefits without having to establish who was at fault for their injuries. However, workers’ compensation claims are mostly limited to medical expenses and lost wages, and these claims will not include compensation for pain and suffering.

In some situations, an injured worker’s eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits will not prevent that worker from filing a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent third party that caused the worker’s injuries. These “third-party” lawsuits are preferred for many injured workers because the potential recovery amount can be much greater, due to the availability of damages for the worker’s pain and suffering.

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In June of last year, the Supreme Court of Arkansas issued a written opinion in a wrongful death case brought by the estate of a woman who died while in the care of the defendant nursing home. In the case, Courtyard Gardens Health and Rehabilitation v. Sheffield, the court was tasked with determining if an arbitration clause contained in a nursing home admission contract was valid when it was signed by an emergency temporary custodian with Adult Protective Services (APS). The court determined that the custodian lacked the authority to consent to arbitration on behalf of the nursing home resident.

Signing a ContractThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in the case, Sheffield, is the administrator of the estate of an elderly woman, Holliman, who died while in the care of the defendant nursing home. Prior to her death, Holliman lived by herself. One day, APS received a complaint about the conditions that Holliman was living in, and an APS worker was sent out to Holliman’s home to check on her well-being.

The APS worker noticed several deficiencies in Holliman’s living situation and petitioned the court to take temporary custody of Holliman in order to find her a better living situation. The petition was granted, and the APS worker was named as Holliman’s custodian. He eventually placed Holliman in the defendant nursing home after signing an admission contract containing an arbitration clause.

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