Legal Memorandum: Damages for Medical Expenses, Lost Wages

Issue: When are plaintiffs entitled to compensatory damages for pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, past and future mental anguish, lost earnings and lost earning capacity in automobile accident cases under Arkansas law?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering; Automobile accident
Jurisdiction: Arkansas
Cited Cases: 337 Ark. 125; 828 S.W.2d 584; 713 S.W.2d 456; 992 S.W.2d 67; 309 Ark. 80
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 08/01/2000

Arkansas law is clear that the plaintiff injured in an automobile accident is entitled, upon sufficient proof, to recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.  McNeill Trucking Co., 309 Ark. 80, 828 S.W.2d 584, 586-87 (1992).  Plaintiffs are also entitled to damages for future medical expenses.  Arthur v. Zearley, 337 Ark. 125, 992 S.W.2d 67, 77 (1999).  Such expenses need not be proven with the specificity required to prove past medical expenses.

Future pain and suffering damages are allowed in Arkansas.  East Texas Motor Freight Lines, Inc. v. Freeman, 289 Ark. 539, 713 S.W.2d 456, 459-60 (1986).  The plaintiff must prove future mental anguish, pain and suffering, or the fact that injuries incurred in the accident were permanent, with reasonable certainty, and lay testimony is sufficient even without corroboration by an expert.  Id., 713 S.W.2d at 459-60.

Damages for loss of earning capacity are allowed under Arkansas law, upon a showing, with reasonable certainty, of the amount of earnings lost for a certain period of time and the period of time in the future during which wages will be lost.  Arthur v. Zearley, 337 Ark. 125, 992 S.W.2d 67, 77 (1999).

Thus, Arkansas law is well-settled that plaintiffs are entitled, upon a showing with reasonable certainty, to compensatory damages.


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