NOTE: Executive Order 20-18 provides immunity to medical malpractice claims for physicians, medical assistants, and nurses responding to the COVID-19 pandemic for the duration of the public health emergency.
Statutes of limitations are legal restrictions that dictate a set length of time for the plaintiff to bring their lawsuit to court. When a case is filed within the statute of limitations in Arkansas, the evidence is fresher and more reliable; when you do not file your claim within this time limit, it may be thrown out, no matter how strong the evidence might be. If you’re unsure whether your case is within the Arkansas statute of limitations, it’s a good idea to consult an experienced attorney who can help you make sure that your legal rights are protected.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in Arkansas?
|Personal Injury||3 years|
|Property Damage||3 years|
|Medical Malpractice||2 years|
|Legal Malpractice||3 years|
|Contract Disputes||5 years for written contracts; 3 years for oral contracts|
Arkansas Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury and Negligence
Most personal injury cases must be filed within three years of the incident causing the injury in the state of Arkansas.
“The following actions shall be commenced within three (3) years after the cause of action accrues:
“(1) All actions founded upon any contract, obligation, or liability not under seal and not in writing, excepting such as are brought upon the judgment or decree of some court of record of the United States or of this or some other state; (2) All actions for arrearages of rent not reserved by some instrument in writing, under seal; (3) All actions founded on any contract or liability, expressed or implied; (4) All actions for trespass on lands; (5) All actions for libels; and (6) All actions for taking or injuring any goods or chattels.” (Ark. Code Ann. § 16-56-105)
Fraud cases fall under the same statute as personal injury claims.
Fraud suspends the running of the statute of limitations until the injured party discovers the fraud or should have discovered it by the exercise of reasonable diligence. (Russenberger v. Thomas Pest Control, Inc., 394 S.W.3d 303, 307 (Ark. Ct. App. 2012))
“Every action authorized by this section shall be commenced within three (3) years after the death of the person alleged to have been wrongfully killed.” Ark. Code Ann. § 16-62-102.
Arkansas Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
Arkansas Code §16-114-203 generally provides two years for victims of medical malpractice to file a legal claim, with some exceptions.
“Where the action is based upon the discovery of a foreign object in the body of the injured person which is not discovered and could not reasonably have been discovered within such two-year period, the action may be commenced within one (1) year from the date of discovery or the date the foreign object reasonably should have been discovered, whichever is earlier.” (Ark. Code Ann. §16-114-203)
“If the treatment by the doctor is a continuing course and the patient’s illness, injury or condition is of such a nature as to impose on the doctor a duty of continuing treatment and care, the statute of limitations does not commence running until treatment by the doctor for the particular disease or condition involved has terminated, unless during the treatment the patient learns or should learn of negligence, in which case the statute runs from the time of discovery, whether actual or constructive.” (Raynor v. Kyser, 993 S.W. 2d 913, 915 (Ark. 1999))
“All product liability actions shall be commenced within three (3) years after the date on which the death, injury, or damage complained of occurs.” (Ark. Code Ann. § 16-116-103)
The statute of limitations does not commence running until the plaintiff knew or should have discovered the causal connection between the product and the injuries suffered. (Martin v. Arthur, 339 Ark. 149, 159 (1999))
Statute of Repose for Construction Defects
Plaintiffs have four years from substantial completion of an improvement to real property for tort or contract actions for personal injury or wrongful death or five years for actions based on property damage. (A.C.A. § 16-56-112)
Child Sex Abuse
The statute of limitations on child sex abuse claims in Arkansas is three years from the age of majority (18) or three years from when a person discovered their injury.
Municipal Liability/Sovereign Immunity
Sovereign immunity applies, except that political subdivisions of the state are required to maintain liability insurance or self-insurance for motor vehicles.
Generally, a statute of limitations runs from when the injury is or should have been discovered.
Arkansas has modified comparative negligence, meaning that the plaintiff’s fault must be less than that of the defendant in order to recover compensation. Damages are reduced by the plaintiff’s degree of fault.
Charitable immunity exists, but actions may be brought directly against the insurance company insuring a charity in certain circumstances.
Cases in which the plaintiff is a child, insane, incompetent or imprisoned outside of the state may be pursued for three years after the legal disability is removed. For minors, the statute of limitations runs from their 21st birthday. The exception is wrongful death cases, which may be filed for one year after the person’s death.
If the identity of the defendant is unknown, a complaint may be filed with the appropriate court using a pseudonym (“John Doe,” etc.) and amended later. The statute of limitations will then not run until the defendant is identified.
Punitive damages are allowed, with the amount limited based on whether the award “shocks the conscience” of the court.
Arkansas is not a no-fault state, but drivers may carry no-fault insurance policies that pay for their expenses after an accident.
Frequently Asked Questions
Consumer Fraud Complaints
Arkansas residents can lodge consumer fraud complaints with the attorney general’s office online or by calling 1-800-482-8982.