Arkansas Personal Injury Law
Statutes of Limitations: The amount of time you have to sue whoever caused your injury or damage.
- Personal Injury – 3 years from the date the injury was discovered
- Damage to Personal Property – 3 years
- Medical Malpractice – 2 years from the date of the act or 1 year from the discovery of the injury
- Legal Malpractice – 3 years
- Other Professional Malpractice – 3 years
Where to Sue: :
- Personal injury claims under $5,000 - Arkansas Small Claims Court (division of Arkansas District Court)
- Personal injury claims over $5,000 - Arkansas Circuit Court
How to Sue: :
Small Claims Court:
- Forms: You may either obtain a Complaint Form and Notice to Defendant from the District Court clerk in the small claims division, or, you can prepare these forms yourself using the sample in the Arkansas Small Claims Information Guide.
- Where to file: You can file your lawsuit where you were injured or at the defendant's domicile.
- How to notify the defendant (service): Service is made when a sheriff, deputy, or person over the age of 18 personally delivers the Complaint and Notice to Defendant to the defendant. The process server can also serve the defendant by certified mail or any other form of mail return receipt requested.
- Proving the defendant was notified: Complete the "Return State of Arkansas" form and return it to the clerk in the Small Claims Division of the Arkansas District Court.
- Attorneys: There is no legal representation permitted in Arkansas Small Claims Court.
- Appealing a small claim: The plaintiff or the defendant can appeal to the Arkansas Circuit Court within 30 days of the entry of judgment.
Arkansas Circuit Court: You should seek counsel from an Arkansas personal injury attorney in filing your personal injury lawsuit. Obtaining the advice of an attorney is important because personal injury suits can be complex. Mistakes in filing can result in the loss of your claim, dismissal of your claim, or the court imposing fines.
- Forms: General Civil Cover Sheet; Official Summons ; Complaint.
- How to File: File your Complaint, General Civil Cover Sheet, and Summons form with the clerk of the Arkansas Circuit Court and pay the filing fee, which varies depending on the county. The clerk will authenticate the forms before the defendant is served.
- How to Notify the Defendant: A sheriff, deputy, or disinterested adult over the age of 18 must hand the authenticated forms to the defendant, or the forms can be sent certified mail, or any form of mail with a return receipt. The person serving process should fill out the "Return of Service" and file it with the clerk of the Arkansas Circuit Court within 20 days.
What to Do if You Are Being Sued: :
- Time to respond to a Summons in Arkansas: 20 days.
- Get help from a lawyer.
- Contact your insurance company if the injury occurred at your abode or business. Your insurance company may give you an attorney if your insurance covers the plaintiff's personal injury claims.
What to Do if a Judgment Was Entered Against You: :
In Arkansas, if you fail to respond to service of process within 20 days, the court may enter a default judgment against you. If a default judgment is entered against you, the plaintiff will automatically be awarded the amount he pled for in his Complaint if determined appropriate by the court.
- Time to Set Aside a Judgment in Arkansas:
- An Arkansas court can set aside a judgment for inadvertence, excusable neglect, surprise, misrepresentation or mistake within a reasonable time, but not more than one year after entry of the judgment
- Discuss your situation with a lawyer when the court enters a default judgment against you.
Ways to Collect Your Judgment: :
- If you are successful in your Arkansas personal injury suit, you must then collect your judgment. It can be difficult to collect your judgment from the debtor, and if you have problems collecting your judgment you should file a Writ of Garnishment or Writ of Execution with the court that entered the judgment in your favor. A Writ of Garnishment will allow you to take money out of the debtor's bank account. A Writ of Execution directs a sheriff to seize a debtor's personal property and sell it to satisfy the judgment.
- Ask an Arkansas debt collection attorney for help in collecting your judgment.