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Personal injury case in Texarkana? There are a few things you should consider when choosing an attorney.

Texarkana is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. A lot of this is owed to the fact that the city straddles the state lines between Texas and Arkansas which certainly makes for an interesting city dynamic. However, when a resident of Texarkana is injured, they may find that the city’s dual statehood can muddy the waters regarding where to file their case, how it’s pursued, and which state’s laws apply. That said, none of this has to be particularly troubling for you if you hire the right lawyer who understands the law and knows how to win.

Which brings us to an important question: what exactly should you be looking for in an a personal injury attorney? You surely have your own list of characteristics that you’d like an attorney to possess, but, there’s probably one more attribute that should be added to the list; the number one thing someone in your position needs is for their attorney to be licensed in both states. A lawyer who is licensed only in Texas or only in Arkansas will always be fighting for you with one hand tied behind their back. Make no mistake about it, we are licensed and practice law in both Arkansas and Texas. Not every law firm can say the same.

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You need a lawyer who is licensed in both Texas and Arkansas. Here’s why:

Put simply, it matters because this particular city is located within two different states with two different systems of law. You may not think that there is that big of a difference between the two states, but, legally speaking, there is a night and day difference (we’ll explore some of these differences below). What that means for you in practical terms is that your rights can vary drastically depending upon where in Texarkana your accident occurred and/or where in Texarkana the defendant (the person who injured you) lives, since both of those factors play a role in determining where and how to seek compensation. Further, the options available to the defendant to fight back against you are different between Texas and Arkansas, and clearly the best way to maneuver through your case is to know EVERY avenue the defendant may take.

Here are some types of injury cases that work the same way in both Texas and Arkansas:

Cases that are based on general legal principles (i.e. negligence cases) will work more or less the same in every state in the United States. This applies to:

In those kinds of cases, you’re arguing essentially the same underlying argument of “negligence in tort,” which is a concept that predates the modern world. So, state law isn’t really going to modify the way these cases work. However, even in these cases where the basic arguments are the same, how much each case is worth, where you file it, how long you have to file, and several other important factors are definitely distinct between TX and AR. The takeaway here is that even when state law shouldn’t change the rights you have, the procedure by which the case is pursued is going to be different.

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Now, let’s talk about some differences you’ll see between Texas and Arkansas law.

As we mentioned above, there are some types of cases that work the same way anywhere in Texarkana, but for the following case types, TX law and AR law are so different that you can find that your rights are really very distinct, depending upon which side of the border you’re on when the accident occurs:

  • Work injury cases: First off, we’d say one of the biggest differences you’ll see between the two states is how each of them handles worker’s compensation. Texas is the only state where employers are not required to have worker’s compensation coverage for their employees. Since Texas is the only state not required to do this, then, you guessed it, Arkansas is required to have it. Arkansas businesses must provide workers’ compensation coverage for workers injured on the job–this is the law and there’s no way around it. So when it comes to work injuries, the two states are completely different, and Texarkana work accident victims will find that their rights vary drastically depending upon the specifics of where the accident occurred within the city and where the company is based.
  • Medical malpractice cases: Let’s discuss another major difference between Texas and Arkansas law: the way each state handles medical malpractice claims. In Texas, there is a cap on the amount that can be won in medical malpractice claims. So, if you’ve been injured lost a loved one due to the negligence of a health care provider, you are only allowed to collect $250,000 for your pain and suffering. However in Arkansas, there is no limit specific to medical malpractice cases. So, if your doctor’s office is near I-369, your case will face some challenges. If your doctor is near I-49, you’ve got a much better chance to hold your doctor accountable if they commit malpractice.
  • Dram shop cases: Dram shop laws hold bars and restaurants liable for improper service of alcohol. Bars are not supposed to serve people who are obviously intoxicated, such that the patron is danger to themselves and others. To be specific, in TX, someone must be obviously intoxicated in a bar for someone to bring forward a dram shop case against that bar itself. In Arkansas, the standard of intoxication is visibly intoxicated. This may seem like a minor distinction, but it drastically changes the way a lawyer pursues such a case.
  • Wrongful death cases: In both Texas and Arkansas, wrongful death cases are allowed, but the differences are vast. Wrongful death claims in Texas and Arkansas differ in who can file, how you can file, and when you can file a wrongful death claim. In Texas wrongful death cases, the law states that certain family members of a deceased person have legal status as “statutory beneficiaries.” These beneficiaries all can call the shots and are able to file their own individual claims. Arkansas wrongful death cases seem almost completely contradictory to Texas law. Here, the beneficiaries cannot file suit on their own. In Arkansas, the person termed the estate’s “personal representative” is the only one who can file the suit, meaning that one person is the only person calling the shots for every individual involved. Read more about Texarkana wrongful death cases here.
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Here are some examples illustrating how this plays out in Texarkana cases:

Most of the time, one state cannot tell another state how to manage its citizens. So, Texas citizens abide by their state’s law and Arkansans by their own state’s. In a worker’s compensation case, noting that Texas is an opt-in state when it comes to providing worker’s compensation, let’s say a Texas worker is doing a job on the Arkansas side of Texarkana. If the employee gets injured in Arkansas, that doesn’t mean he’s got worker’s compensation coverage because he’s in a state that requires it. No, since he is a citizen of Texas and a employed by a Texas business, he still has the ability to sue his employer for negligence (if his employer in Texas has opted out of WC coverage). In a practical sense, this means that he has the right to sue, but if the situation was reversed and he was from Arkansas working in Texas, he would not have the right to sue his employer.

Say that an Arkansan driver goes into the Texas side of Texarkana, gets drunk at a bar in that state, crashing into you on I30. Here, we have a tricky situation. This is what is called “Diversity of Citizenship,” where there is an issue of determining which state the defendant should be tried in. An Arkansas resident but a Texas crime? The action happened in Texas, so you’ll file in Texas. In this particular case, the jurisdiction of the action (the place where the “law speaks”) is Texas, so it will be filed here.

If there are more questions of diversity–basically that there are too many factors to determine where it truly belongs–you can even request a removal: your case will go from state court to federal court. Luckily, our attorneys are even licensed in federal court. Yes, that’s a real thing. Again, not all lawyers are licensed both Texas and Arkansas, nor in federal court, but we are. And because of this, we can provide you the appropriate legal representation to file in federal court, which often becomes necessary in Texarkana injury cases since the citizens from different sides of the border can’t always agree as to where the case should be heard, so federal court serves as a neutral playing field.

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Michael Grossman – Texarkana’s Personal Injury Attorney

If any of the above seems perplexing at all, don’t worry. We know the ins and outs so you don’t have to. Contact our office here in Texarkana at (903) 306-1016. We’ll answer your call 24 hours a day. Yet again…not every lawyer can say the same.

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