Elliott & Smith Law Firm

Wrongful Death Claim May Follow Auto Accident in Arkansas

One individual was killed, and two other people were seriously injured after a motor vehicle crash in Eastern Arkansas.


Fayetteville, AR -- (ReleaseWire) -- 08/02/2019 --Fox News covered the story, reporting that the incident occurred around 8:00 p.m. on June 26, 2019. Arkansas State Police Troopers investigating the crash said that one victim was pronounced dead at the scene, while the two injured individuals were transported to a local hospital for emergency care. The causes of the accident and the condition of the surviving victims were unknown. Even as the investigation continues, the deceased victim's surviving loved ones may already be considering their legal options.

One remedy may be to file a wrongful death claim, which is similar to a personal injury case in that the allegations are usually based upon careless or reckless acts. For a negligence-based car accident, a claimant must prove that the responsible party breached the duty to drive carefully, which directly led to the crash. However, wrongful death cases are different because the victim has died. Instead, certain surviving family members may have the right to compensation for their own losses.

J. Timothy Smith, a founding partner at Elliott & Smith Law Firm in Fayetteville, AR, explained wrongful death cases in more detail. "In Arkansas, the personal representative of the deceased person's estate has legal standing to file a claim. Whether that's someone named in the will or appointed by a probate court, the personal representative is the one with the power to act. He or she brings the wrongful death case for the benefit of the surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, or other relatives." 

Mr. Smith noted that there are some misconceptions about how these cases work. "Many people don't realize that personal injury matters, including wrongful death actions, typically start off by filing an insurance claim. Motorists in Arkansas are required to carry minimum amounts of auto insurance coverage to protect against exactly this kind of situation." 

In a fatal auto accident claim, the personal representative would seek damages for the losses suffered by surviving family members. Examples include loss of the deceased individual's income, guidance, and contribution to the household. Mr. Smith pointed out that the claims process is far more complex than some claimants expect. "People need to realize the importance of retaining an experienced lawyer in a wrongful death case. They think they can handle themselves because it's not actually in court. This is a mistake – an insurance claim is still a legal matter and there's a lot at stake for your rights." 

He added that wrongful death cases may also arise out of other circumstances, such as a slip and fall on property, defective products, medical malpractice, and many more.