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Why You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Advocates for fair justice often talk about how people without money don’t have the same kind of access as the rich. Well, if you live and around Fort Smith, Ark., or Northwest Arkansas, you now have the access you are entitled to through Phil Votaw, a personal injury lawyer who is looking to level the playing field. At Phil Votaw & Associates, we believe in holding negligent parties responsible and keeping our clients in the loop so they always know where they … and where their case stands.

What Does a Personal Injury Attorney Do?

A personal injury attorney helps injured individuals recover damages from those who are legally liable for causing an accident or injury. A personal injury attorney may help you file a lawsuit against someone else who caused you harm or injuries, or they might file an insurance claim against the negligent party. In those cases, we can also help you negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. If you’re not sure whether you have a personal injury claim or need a personal injury lawyer, it’s best to consult Votaw & Associates before signing any legal documents like medical authorizations, releases, or filing legal pleadings to begin a litigation case.

What Kind of Personal Injury Accidents/Cases Do We Handle?

If you have spent any time on our website, you know Phil is unlike any other accident lawyer. He works aggressively on behalf of his clients. The kinds of cases that could potentially lead to a personal injury lawsuit for money damages such as compensatory damages or punitive damages include (but are not limited to):

  • Motor vehicle accident crashes, including cars, trucks, and motorcycles: If you are involved in a car crash, cooperate with law enforcement and give them the information they need to fill out a crash report. However, do not admit liability, guilt, or fault regarding the wreck. Read more about what to do if you are involved in a car crash in our informative article.

  • Slip and fall accidents: If you slip and fall because a property owner was negligent in keeping the property safe, you might have a legitimate lawsuit for premises liability. When it comes to premises liability, you might encounter an aggressive dog and get bitten or even attacked. If this happens to you, you might have a lawsuit.

  • Workplace injuries: These kinds of injuries can be catastrophic, especially for those who work challenging jobs, with heavy equipment, or in a factory. It is not uncommon for a worker to lose a finger or a limb when equipment malfunctions.

  • Medical malpractice: Medical Malpractice cases are by far my favorite kind of case. The medicine and science are very complex, and the defendant doctors are all very smart, and usually have some of the very best defense lawyers in the state working for them. Health care professionals are supposed to take care of us and help us get better. However, make no mistake, modern medicine is a volume business, run by people, and they make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are debilitating, painful, permanent, and even deadly. Learn more about what is involved with a medical malpractice claim.

  • Wrongful death: Losing a loved one is traumatic, especially when it is due to the negligence of somebody else, like someone texting while driving, drinking while driving, or recklessly driving a semi-tractor trailer in the trucking industry. These kinds of losses are especially tragic because they are avoidable. Whether it was due to a car crash, big rig trucking accident, medical negligence/malpractice, workplace accident, or any other cause, we can help you determine if you or your another family member has a wrongful death case.

  • Product liability: Sometimes companies rush products to market and other times they turn a blind eye to known safety issues. If you have been injured due to a defective product, outdated product design or product failure, let us help you get to the bottom of any potential products liability claim.

As you can see, personal injury covers a lot of territory in Arkansas, ranging from a dog bite to catastrophic injuries, up to wrongful death. If you or anyone you know or love has been injured or killed, let us guide you through the legal process with experience, calm, knowledge, and compassion.

What Should I Do if I am Injured?

In the event you get injured because of someone else’s negligence, while you might think an aggressive attorney like Phil will say call a lawyer, the first thing he says you need to do is call the police, wait for medical assistance to arrive, and cooperatively work with law enforcement, if you are physically able.

Right after you call the police and receive medical assistance, you will want to document as much as possible about the injury using your cell phone camera as you can safely obtain. Sometimes, you can be injured and not realize it. so err on the side of being smart and go to the hospital. Also, if you decide not to go to the emergency room, it’s very common to feel pain the next day, or two or three days afterward. If you feel this, go ahead and go to the doctor, even if it has been a day or two. You never know how the insurance company is going to be to work with, so having a physician check you out and document any issues will be very helpful, and waiting too long can have terrible consequences to your case value.

Statue of Limitations with Personal Injury Cases

Under Arkansas’ personal injury laws, the injured person has three years from the date of the incident to pursue a legal claim for general negligence like car wrecks in Fort Smith or trucking big rig wrecks. But it is very important to remember that you only have two years from the date of negligence to pursue a medical malpractice case. Cases are not like “fine wine”, they do not get better with time. Call us early!!!

Understanding the Comparative Fault Rule in Arkansas

Arkansas is considered a “modified comparative fault” state. That means, in all cases in which damages for personal injury or wrongful death, a determination will be done to see how much each party contributed if any.

Let’s break this rule down: Let’s say you are driving, perhaps a few miles over the speed limit. As you are passing through an intersection, another driver blows through a stop sign and hits you. Potentially, you could be assigned a percentage of the fault because you were driving over the speed limit. It might be you are determined to be 10% at fault. So, if you were to be awarded $50,000, then you would receive $45,000 — minus your 10%.

However, what happens if you were determined to be more than 50% at fault? Then, you will not be able to collect any damages.

This is why you need an experienced Fort Smith medical malpractice attorney on your side fighting for you from the very beginning, and at every step along the way.

What Kind of Damages Can You Receive

There are two kinds of damages you can pursue: Compensatory Damages and punitive Damages.

Compensatory damages cover actual damages, like medical bills (this can include cost already incurred and what you expect in the future), any hospital bills, chiropractor bills, physical therapy expenses, non-economic damages like pain and suffering, and lost wages can also be very important if you were unable to work. Compensatory damages can also cover things like pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, disfiguration, and loss of future wages.

Punitive Damages are damages imposed on a defendant as “punishment” for their reckless and dangerous conduct. Keep in mind that insurance companies do not pay for punitive damages.

Why Work with Phil Votaw and Associates

You want someone who does this kind of work every day, like Phil Votaw & Associates, and the experienced attorneys who work with me. You need someone in your corner fighting for you and protecting your rights. We are not going to let anyone walk all over you. If you have a legitimate personal injury case, we will make sure you get fair compensation under Arkansas law and the negligent party is held responsible.

Our law firm works with regular folks every day, some of who live from one paycheck to the next. They are not the powerbrokers of the community, but they are the heart and soul of it, and I will make sure the power of the law is on their side. We will fight to make sure you receive the damages you are entitled to and help you navigate the legal process.

Personal injury cases can be very complex with a great deal of work and expense involved. Don’t handle this by yourself. Contact the team at Phil Votaw and Associates. We serve the people of Fort Smith and Northwest Arkansas.

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