Comparative Negligence in Arkansas

According to comparative negligence law in Arkansas, you can be compensated for damages from a car accident if you are found 49% or less at fault.
Written by Mary Cahill
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that each party involved in a car accident will be assigned a percentage of fault. As long as you are found 49% or less at fault, you are entitled to compensation for damages. 
Accidents happen fast and there are often differing opinions about who’s to blame. That’s where modified comparative negligence law comes into play. The purpose of this law is to assess blame and determine how much the involved parties can claim in damages.    
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What is comparative negligence?

Also known as comparative fault, comparative negligence is a legal principle in which victims of a
car accident
can receive a certain percentage of compensation to cover the cost of damages or injuries sustained in the collision. 
For instance, if you get into an accident and are assigned 30% of the blame, you are responsible for paying 30% of the resulting damages. The other driver will be responsible for the remaining 70%.   
Comparative negligence relates to personal injury lawsuits and third-party
insurance claims
(like when one driver files a claim against the other driver’s insurance). If there is a lawsuit, the percentage of blame will be determined by a judge or jury. 
As for insurance claims, it’s the insurance companies’ duty to use comparative negligence to assign each driver’s percentage of blame in the crash. 
MORE: How to determine who's at-fault in an accident

Comparative negligence vs. contributory negligence 

Each state uses one of three types of comparative negligence: pure comparative negligence, partial or modified comparative negligence, or contributory negligence. Let’s take a look at the differences. 
  • Pure comparative negligence: The injured party receives compensation for damages based on their percentage of fault. 
  • Partial or modified negligence: The injured party is permitted to receive compensation for damages so long as they are deemed as being no more than 49% at fault (depending on the state). 
  • Contributory negligence: The injured party is barred from receiving compensation if they are assigned any percentage of fault. 
The majority of states employ partial or modified comparative negligence, with only 12 states recognizing pure comparative negligence and just 5 states recognizing contributory negligence. 

What is Arkansas’ comparative negligence law?

Arkansas applies the modified comparative negligence law. As long as you’re responsible for less than half of the fault of an accident, you’re entitled to compensation for any sustained injuries in accordance with the percentage for which you are assigned. 

What happens if there are more than two responsible parties?

Some collisions involve more than two vehicles, and when this is the case, you can file a claim with either or both drivers’ insurance companies. Awarded damages will be based on the fault each driver is assigned. 

How is fault decided in a comparative negligence case? 

Insurance companies use a combination of police reports and submitted evidence to determine fault in a car accident. If you’re involved in a collision, you’ll want to document the following evidence to strengthen your case:
  • The
    make and models
    of the cars involved
  • The date and time of day
  • The weather conditions when the accident occurred
  • Witness statements 
  • Photographs of the damage 
  • Depending on the severity, contact the police
MORE: How different types of car accidents affect your insurance rates

How does car insurance work with comparative negligence?

Arkansas’ modified comparative negligence law permits you to file a claim against another driver’s insurance company as long as your percentage of the blame falls at 49% or lower
Take a look at the following scenario. You pull over on the left side of the highway to stop and check directions. While you're stopped, your car is sideswiped by another vehicle. Immediately
after the accident
, you file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. 
Upon reviewing the insurance claim, it’s determined that the other driver struck your vehicle because he was texting while driving. Since the other driver was deemed guilty of
distracted driving
, the insurance company places 60% of the blame on him. You are given 40% of the blame for the accident because you violated a traffic law by pulling over on the left side of the highway. 
With the modified comparative negligence standard applied, you can collect 60% of your damages from the other driver’s insurance. If the cost to repair your car was $900, the other driver’s insurance company covers up to $540 and you’re responsible for the rest.
Due to the other driver being 60% at fault for the accident, comparative negligence law prohibits him from filing a claim with your insurance company.
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Generally speaking, an insurance claim is filed prior to filing a lawsuit. Because a lawsuit can be filed at any time, you’ll want to settle your insurance claim first. If an agreement cannot be reached between the involved parties, you can consider filing a lawsuit and taking the matter to court.
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