What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Arkansas?
Before we jump into the details of the law on the books in Arkansas, we should explain that a “statute of limitations” is simply a law that puts a strict time limit on your right to go to court and file a civil lawsuit after some type of harm. These deadlines differ depending on what type of case you want to file.
Arkansas Code Annotated section 16-56-105 sets the statute of limitations that applies to almost all lawsuits arising from a car accident (except those for wrongful death; more on this later). This statute gives a prospective plaintiff three years to ask the state courts for a civil remedy for any personal injury or damage to personal property.
So, in the context of a vehicle accident case, that means if anyone was hurt in the crash -- whether a driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian -- or had their vehicle or other personal property damaged, they must get their lawsuit filed against any potential defendant within three years. For these injury and property damage cases, the three-year “clock” starts running on the date of the accident.
If someone died as a result of the car accident, and their family member or a representative of the estate wants to file an Arkansas wrongful death lawsuit, the same three-year deadline applies, but the “clock” starts running on the day of the accident victim’s death, which could be later than the date of the accident itself.
Whether it’s an injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim, the case will almost certainly hinge on whether someone’s negligence was the cause of the crash. Learn more about Proving Fault for a Car Accident.
It’s crucial to understand and abide by the statute of limitations as it applies to your situation. That’s because if you try to file your lawsuit after the statute of limitations deadline has already passed, the defendant is sure to ask the court to dismiss the case, and the court is very likely to agree that a dismissal is appropriate.
You want to leave yourself plenty of time to file a lawsuit, even if you’re confident that your case will settle. At the very least, keeping all your options on the table will give you more leverage during settlement talks. So if the three-year deadline is approaching, it may be time to talk with an experienced Arkansas car accident attorney.
by: David Goguen, J.D.