Arkansas Car Accident and Personal Injury Laws



If you've been injured in a car accident in the State of Arkansas, you may have questions about how the laws will affect your property damage and/or personal injury claim. In this article, we'll review the laws most commonly associated with car accidents. To read the entirety of each law, click the link in each section, and use the specific section numbers (search only the numbers) provided to perform a search on the database of Arkansas codes.

Here are the Arkansas car accident and traffic laws we'll cover:

Pedestrian Laws

Pedestrians and Crosswalks

The driver of a vehicle must stop and yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
Section 27-51-1202

Pedestrian Control Signals

Whenever special pedestrian control signals, exhibiting the words Walk or Don't Walk or Wait are in place such signals shall indicate as follows:

  1. Walk. Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right of way by the drivers of all vehicles.
  2. Wait or Don't Walk. No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, whether flashing or steady. Any pedestrian who has partially completed the pedestrian's crossing on the Walk signal shall complete the crossing to a sidewalk or safety island while the Don't Walk signal is showing.
Section 27-52-107

Crossing at Other Than Crosswalks

Pedestrians intending to cross a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.

Pedestrians must use only the marked crosswalk to cross between two adjacent intersections that have traffic-control signals in operation.
Section 27-51-1204

Pedestrians' Right of Way on Sidewalks

The driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alley, building, private road, or driveway shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian approaching on any sidewalk extending across the alley, building entrance, road, or driveway.
Section 27-51-602

Drivers to Exercise Due Care

The driver of a vehicle must exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the driver's horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.
Section 27-51-1204

Pedestrians Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

The driver of a vehicle must exercise due care to avoid colliding with any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.
Section 27-51-1204

Driving Laws

Obedience to Traffic Control Devices

A driver must obey any traffic control devices applicable to the driver, unless directed by a traffic or police officer.
Section 27-52-103

Driving on Right Side of Roadway

Drivers must drive in the right lane of roadways with the following exceptions:

  • When passing another driver in the same direction
  • When there is an obstruction in the right lane
  • Upon a roadway with three marked lanes for traffic
  • Upon a roadway restricted to one way traffic
  • When the right half of the road is in disrepair
  • When the vehicle is preparing to exit the roadway on the left
Section 27-51-301

Passing On the Left

Driver proceeding in the same direction must pass to the left at at a safe distance and shall remain in the passing lane until it is safe to return to the right lane. Drivers being passed must not increase the speed of their vehicle until their vehicle is completely passed by the overtaking car.
Section 27-51-306

Limitations on Overtaking on the Left

Drivers may drive to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle only if the left side is clearly visible and the overtaking vehicle can return to its lane without coming within 100 feet of oncoming traffic.

Drivers must also not overtake another vehicle if they are approaching the crest of a grade or a curve, an intersection or railroad crossing, or when the view is obstructed within 100 feet of a bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.
Section 27-51-307

Passing On the Right

Drivers may pass on the right under the following conditions:

  • When the driver about to be passed is about to make a left turn. However, the driver attempting to pass on the right must not do so without driving off the pavement of main-traveled portion of the roadway.
  • When the roadway has two (2) or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.
  • On a one-way street where the roadway is free from obstructions and wide enough for two or more lines of moving vehicles.
Section 27-51-308

Following Too Closely

A driver must not follow another driver more closely than is "reasonable and prudent", having due regard for the speed of other drivers and traffic conditions along the roadway.

Also, a driver who is towing another vehicle must leave at least 200 feet of sufficient space ahead of their vehicle.
Section 27-51-305

Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices

Drivers who are under the age of 18 must not drive while using a handheld or handsfree wireless telephone, except for the sole purpose of contacting emergency services.
Section 27-51-1603

Drivers who are 18 years or older must not drive while using a handheld wireless telephone for a wireless interactive communication, except for the sole purpose of contacting emergency services. Drivers are permitted to use a handsfree wireless telephone for wireless interactive communication while driving.
Section 27-51-1504

Drivers and Intersections

When two (2) drivers approach an intersection at approximately the same time the driver on the left must yield to the driver in the right.
Section 27-51-501

Drivers Intending to Turn Left at Intersections

A driver who intends to turn left at an intersection must yield the right of way to drivers approaching from the opposite direction.
Section 27-51-502

Bicycling Laws

Bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as drivers of cars, and are subject to the same penalties as are drivers for violating traffic laws.
Section 27-20-111

Motorcycling Laws

Helmet Law

All motorcyclists under the age of 21 must wear helmets while riding on roadways. All motorcyclists must also wear protective eyewear while riding on roadways.
Section 27-20-104

Motorcycles and Headlights

Every motorcycle riding on a roadway must have at least one and not more than two lighted headlights turned on.
Section 27-36-209

Driving Offenses and Accident Requirements

Careless Driving

It is illegal for any person to drive any vehicle in a careless manner and fails to keep a proper lookout for other traffic.
Section 27-51-104

Reckless Driving

A driver who drives in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving, and can be fined and imprisoned.
Section 27-50-308

Alcohol and Minors

An underage driver must not drive upon any roadway while under the influence of alcohol or similar intoxicant.
Section 6-65-303

Driver's Duty to Give Information and Render Aid

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person or damage to any vehicle must give his or her name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving. Also, upon request and if available, the driver must exhibit his or her driver's license or commercial driver's license to the person struck, or the driver or occupant of any vehicle collided with.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Section 27-53-103

Accidents Involving Death, Personal Injury, or Substantial Bodily Injury

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person must immediately stop and remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Section 27-53-103.

Section 27-53-103 reads in part that a driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person or damage to any vehicle must give his or her name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving. Also, upon request and if available, the driver must exhibit his or her driver's license or commercial driver's license to the person struck, or the driver or occupant of any vehicle collided with.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Sections 27-53-101 and 27-53-103

Accidents Involving Only Damage to Another Car or Property

A driver involved in an accident resulting only in damage to property or another car which is driven or attended by any person must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Section 27-53-103.
Sections 27-53-102 and 27-53-103

Accidents Involving Damage to Unattended Car or Unattended Property

A driver who collides with a parked car or who collides with other property which is unattended must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must attempt to locate and notify the driver or owner of the damaged car or damaged property.

Once located the driver who caused the accident must give his or her name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving. Also, upon request and if available, the driver must exhibit his or her driver's license or commercial driver's license to the person struck, or the driver or occupant of any vehicle collided with.

If the driver or owner of the damaged car or property cannot be located, the driver who caused the accident must attach a written note to the damaged property in a conspicuous place giving must give the name and address of the owner and driver of the vehicle he or she is driving.
Section 27-53-104

Driver's Duty to Notify Police Department

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, or total damage to all property resulting in $1,000 or more must immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice to the nearest law enforcement agency.
Section 27-53-202

Whenever the driver of a vehicle is physically incapable of reporting an accident and there was another occupant in the vehicle at the time of the accident capable of making a report, the occupant is responsible for reporting the accident.
Section 27-53-203

Accident Reports Filed By Police Departments

All motor vehicle accident reports made by the Department of Arkansas State Police, and its records of traffic violations, must be open to public inspection at all reasonable times. The name and address of a minor occupant can be included in a report, but it will not be open to public inspection.
Section 27-53-209

The responsible investigating office must complete the investigation with all possible promptness, and the investigating officer must file the report with the Department of Arkansas State Police within 5 days following the investigation.
Section 27-53-303

Accident Report Forms

The Department of Arkansas State Police shall prepare and upon request supply to police departments, coroners, sheriffs, and other suitable agencies or individuals forms for accident reports.
Section 27-53-206

Open Alcohol Container Law

It is illegal to consume alcohol in any vehicle commonly used for transporting passengers. The law does not specify transportation of an opened container of alcohol.
Section 5-71-212

Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

A driver must not drive after drinking an alcoholic beverage or consuming an intoxicant in an amount which renders the driver incapable of driving safely along roadways. In Arkansas, a driver is guilty of the offense of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or higher.
Section 5-65-103

Ignition Interlock Device

A driver who is guilty of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant might be ordered to have installed at his or her own expenses an ignition interlock device. The ignition interlock device will serve to restore the driver's driving privileges during the pendency of the driver's probation. If an ignition device is installed, it must be installed in every car owned or operated by the driver.

An ignition interlock is a device which measures any amount of alcohol contained in a driver's body. Before starting the car the driver must blow into a tube emanating from the ignition interlock device. If the device then detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than is permitted by law the car will not start and the violation will be reported to the prosecutor, the probation officer, and/or the judge. At that point the driver may be subject to loss of driving privileges, immediate arrest and incarceration up to the maximum term provided by law.
Section 5-65-118

Liability Laws

Arkansas Dram Shop Law

Arkansas has a Dram Shop Law. Dram Shop Law refers to the liability of bars, hotels nightclubs and other commercial establishments who serve alcohol to patrons or to minors for injuries intoxicated patrons or minors cause to third parties such as in car accidents.

Under Arkansas law, it is illegal to sell alcohol to a minor or a clearly intoxicated person. Commercial establishments can be held liable for personal injury or property damage caused by minor or intoxicated person to whom they served alcohol.
Sections 16-126-103 and 16-126-104

Financial Responsibility Car Insurance Minimum Limits

In the State of Arkansas, each motor vehicle must be covered by an insurance policy that includes liability coverage of the following amounts for all damages resulting from an accident:

  • At least $25,000 per person
  • At least $50,000 for two or more people
  • $25,000 per occurrence for property damage
Section 27-22-104

Arkansas Insurance Information

For information about auto insurance requirements, see the Arkansas Insurance Department website.

Comparative Negligence (51% Rule)

In Arkansas, the victim in a car accident can sue the negligent driver for compensation. The victim's liability in causing the accident, their comparative negligence, affects the amount of compensation the victim receives.

If the victim contributed less than 51% of the negligence that caused the accident, then their compensation is reduced by the amount they contributed to the accident.

If the victim contributed 51% or more of the negligence that caused the accident, then the victim is barred from receiving any compensation.
Section 16-64-122

Example of Comparative Negligence (51% Rule)

One morning, Jackson was driving north on his way to work. At an intersection, he pulled into the left turn lane. At the same time, Melanie approached the intersection from the opposite direction. Suddenly, Jackson turned left into Melanie's lane and their cars collided.

Melanie sustained serious brain injuries and damage to her car, totalling in $100,000 dollars worth of damages.

After their investigation, the police determined that Jackson had failed to yield according to traffic laws. A pedestrian witness told police he saw Melanie texting at the time Jackson's car crashed into Melanie's. As a result, the police issued Melanie a citation for using a handheld mobile device while driving.

Melanie sued Jackson for $100,000 and claimed he was 100% at fault for the accident because he did not yield to her right-of-way. At trial, the jury found Jackson liable for failing to yield the right-of-way. However, the jury also found Melissa liable for using a handheld mobile device while driving and partially responsible for the accident.

The verdict stated Jackson's negligence equaled 70% of the accident, and Melanie's equaled 30%. The jury awarded Melanie only $70,000 dollars.

In the event the jury had found Jackson's negligence equaled 49% of the accident, and Melanie's equaled 51%, the jury would be barred by law from awarding Melanie any compensation for the damages.
Comparative Negligence: Section 16-64-122
Right of Way: Section 27-51-502
Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices: Section 27-51-1603

Arkansas's Fault-based Car Insurance

In Arkansas, the law requires car owners to purchase liability insurance. The victim of a car accident who is not at fault for the accident can choose to to file a claim with their own car insurance company, file a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver, or file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Section 27-19-713

Statute of Limitations

Arkansas has a five (5) year statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury claims. This means if a driver, passenger, or passerby is injured or sustains property damage at the hands of a negligent driver, the victim must either settle their claim within five (5) years, or file a lawsuit. If the victim fails to settle their claim or file a lawsuit within the five (5) year period the victim is barred from pursuing the negligent driver in court.
Section 16-56-115

Small Claims Courts

In Arkansas, victims of car accidents can choose to sue the negligent driver in small claims court. The jurisdiction of a small claims court regarding personal injury and property damage is limited to a maximum of $5,000, exclusive of filing fees and court costs.

For information about the small claims court in Arkansas, see the Arkansas Courts handbook.

Arkansas Government Tort Claims - Sovereign Immunity

In Arkansas, it is not possible to submit a claim against the state.
Arkansas Constitution, Article 5 Section 20
NCSL

Sources

State Government of Arkansas

Arkansas Department of Transportation

Arkansas General Assembly

Arkansas Database of Statutes

Arkansas State Police

Governors Highway Safety Association

Arkansas Bar Association

National Conference on State Legislature

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WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
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