How Is Liability Determined in Arizona Car Accidents?
One of the main questions you will have to answer after a car accident in Arizona is, “Who is liable?” Liability refers to financial responsibility for another person’s accident-associated injuries. How insurance companies – and the civil courts – deal with car accident claims depends on that state’s liability laws. The laws in the state where your car accident occurred can determine whether someone else owes you compensation for your crash.
Arizona Is a Fault State
States classify themselves as either fault or no-fault insurance states, with a few exceptions that use hybrid laws. Arizona is one of the majority. It is a fault state, along with 38 other states. This means the party at fault for your crash will have to pay for your losses, including medical bills, lost wages and property damages. Arizona’s fault insurance law uses a tort-based system to determine liability for an auto accident. The driver or party guilty of a tort – wrongdoing – that caused the car accident will be financially responsible. A driver in Arizona could be liable for a car accident for many different torts.
- Driver distraction
- Failing to yield
- Making an unsafe pass
- Weaving in and out of traffic
Arizona’s insurance system contrasts no-fault states, in which all drivers seek benefits from their own insurance companies regardless of fault. Instead, the negligent or irresponsible driver will have to pay for a victim’s damages. The State of Arizona requires all motorists to carry minimum amounts of car insurance to make sure every driver has the financial means to pay for an at-fault car accident. Before you may lawfully operate a vehicle in Arizona, you must show proof of having at least $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage, as well as $10,000 in property damage coverage. The driver that caused your wreck should have at least these amounts of coverage available to pay for your losses.
How to Prove Liability After a Car Accident
Before you can recover financial compensation from another driver’s insurance policy, you or your car accident lawyer will have to determine and prove liability. This can be tough to do depending on the case. Most collisions between two drivers place liability with one of the drivers for negligence or recklessness behind the wheel; however, the other driver’s insurance provider may refute its policyholder’s fault for the accident. It will be up to you or your lawyer to prove liability through clear and convincing evidence.
- Eyewitness descriptions of the accident
- Photographs or video footage
- Police report
- Citations against the other driver
- Analysis of vehicle damages
- Car accident reconstruction
- Medical evidence
- Expert testimony
Your insurance company, the insurance company of the other driver, the police in Arizona and your car accident attorney may all investigate the collision to determine liability. A liable party during a car accident case could be a driver, a driver’s employer, a part or vehicle manufacturer, a property owner, or the city for a roadway defect. Once your lawyer determines liability, he or she can help you go up against that party in pursuit of fair compensation.
Comparative Negligence Law in Arizona
A defense you may encounter during your Arizona liability claim is comparative negligence. This is the argument that the defendant should be less liable for your car accident because you contributed to the crash as well. In some states, the comparative negligence defense could bar you from financial compensation, even with 1% of fault assigned to you. Arizona, however, is a comparative negligence state.
In Arizona, you could still be eligible for compensation even if the courts find you 99% responsible for causing the car accident. Comparative negligence can reduce your financial recovery, however, by an amount that matches your percentage of fault. Use an attorney to help you determine liability, navigate your state’s laws, prove fault and negotiate for maximum compensation after a collision in Arizona.