The Availability of Punitive Damages in Arkansas Personal Injury Cases

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.

Most 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.

Punitive damages are designed to punish especially reprehensible conduct. As a result, punitive damages awards can be very large, sometimes far exceeding the award for compensatory damages. In some cases, punitive damages are limited by statute. However, typically if a plaintiff can prove at least one of the following, puntive damages are available:

  • The defendant knew or should have known that his conduct would “naturally and probably result in injury or damage and that he or she continued the conduct with malice or in reckless disregard of the consequences, from which malice may be inferred”; or
  • The defendant’s conduct was intentional.

The Arkansas Supreme Court Struck Down a General Limit on All Punitive Damages

As noted above, punitive damages awards can be substantial. In fact, the awards can be so substantial that the Arkansas legislature tried to impose limits on punitive damages. However, in a 2011 case, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the legislatively imposed limit on punitive damages. The court’s decision was based on a clause in the state’s constitution, which reads that “no law shall be enacted limiting the amount to be recovered for injuries resulting in death or for injuries to persons or property.”

As a result of the court’s decision, some Arkansas plaintiffs are not limited in the amount of punitive damages that they may receive when they can prove that the conduct involved a certain level of recklessness or intentionality. However, plaintiffs must prove that punitive damages are appropriate by “clear and convincing” evidence. This is a high standard, and many personal injury victims will not be eligible for punitive damages.

Anyone who has been injured in an Arkansas accident should seek out a dedicated personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss their case. In almost all injury cases, strict timelines are imposed that can bar a late-filed case, preventing an accident victim from receiving any compensation for their injuries.

Have You Been a Victim of a Serious Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Arkansas accident, and you believe another party is responsible for your injuries, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all that you have been put through. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the Pfeifer Law Firm have ample experience handling all types of injury cases, and we know when to seek punitive damages on behalf of our clients. Call 501-374-4440 to set up a free consultation today to discuss your injuries with a dedicated personal injury attorney.

See More Posts:

13 Fatalities Reported in a USA Holiday Tour Bus Crash in California, Arkansas Injury Lawyer Blog, November 4, 2016.

Arkansas Supreme Court Discusses Sole-Remedy Provision of Workers’ Compensation Law, Dismissing Plaintiff’s Appeal, Arkansas Injury Lawyer Blog, January 5, 2017.

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