How Is Liability Determined in Arizona Car Accidents?

Posted on April 29, 2024 in Car Accidents

One of the main questions that arise after a car accident in Arizona is, “Who is liable?” Legal liability means someone has the financial responsibility to pay for another person’s accident-associated injuries. How insurance companies – and the civil courts – determine who is at fault in an accident 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.

Rear end accident in Arizona

Is Arizona a No Fault State?

States classify themselves as either at-fault or no-fault insurance states, with a few exceptions that use hybrid laws. Arizona is one of the majority. It is an at-fault state, along with 38 other states. This means the party at fault for your crash may 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. Most torts are based on negligent behavior. This means that if someone acts negligently or carelessly and injures another person, the injured party has the legal right to bring a claim against the negligent person.

A driver in Arizona could be held liable for a car accident for committing many different torts, such as:

  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Drowsy driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Recklessness, including aggressive driving and road rage
  • Speeding
  • Racing
  • Tailgating
  • Failure to yield
  • Making an unsafe pass
  • Weaving in and out of traffic

Arizona’s insurance system is different than no-fault states, where all drivers must first seek benefits from their own insurance companies regardless of who was at fault. In Arizona, if someone is negligent or irresponsible, that driver will have to pay for an injury 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 a car accident they caused. 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.

If you are involved in an Arizona crash and sustain injuries and financial losses, the driver that caused your wreck should have at least these amounts of coverage available to pay for your losses.

How Do Police Determine Fault In an Accident?

After any motor vehicle accident that involves personal injury and/or serious property damages, the police should be called to respond to the scene of the crash. While emergency medical personnel treat any injured accident victims, the police will investigate the collision, take photographs, interview witnesses, and prepare an accident crash report to memorialize the occurrence.

Through these actions, law enforcement officers may make an initial determination of who is at fault in the accident and how it occurred. In some cases, an accident reconstructionist may be needed to recreate the crash to decide what happened in a car accident in Arizona. Based on the investigation performed at the scene or a later study to determine who is at fault in an accident, the police may issue traffic citations to the driver or drivers they believe were responsible for the crash.

If the other driver in your car accident received a traffic ticket, that does not necessarily mean they were at fault or can be held liable for your injuries and losses. Arizona criminal traffic laws are different than civil liability laws and may yield different results. Talk to an experienced car accident lawyer to fully understand your legal rights under the circumstances of your car accident in Arizona.

How to Prove Liability After a Car Accident

Before you can recover financial compensation from another driver or their insurance policy, your car crash attorney must determine and prove liability. This can be tough to do, depending on the case. Most collisions between two drivers involve one of the drivers acting negligently or recklessly behind the wheel. However, the other driver’s insurance provider may deny its policyholder’s fault for the accident.

A skilled car collision lawyer must present clear and convincing evidence to prove the other driver’s liability and recover compensation for an accident victim. Depending on the situation, relelvant evidence  may include:

  • Eyewitness descriptions of the accident
  • Photographs or video footage
  • Police reports
  • Traffic 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. Potentially liable parties in a car accident case could include:

  • Another driver
  • The driver’s employer if the driver was working at the time of the crash
  • An automobile part or vehicle manufacturer, if a defective part fails and causes a collision
  • A property owner if their negligence led to the accident
  • A municipality or city if there was a roadway defect or dangerous condition caused by the city

Under Arizona car accident laws, once your lawyer builds a strong liability case, they can help you file a claim against the responsible party or entities to recover fair compensation for your losses.

Does Arizona Have Comparative Negligence Laws?

If you bring an Arizona liability claim, the other side may claim you were also at fault for the crash. This is called comparative negligence and the defendant may try to shift some blame to you to avoid paying your legal damages. Under this argument, the defendant claims they should be less liable for your car accident because you contributed to the crash in some way.

In some states, this defense could prohibit you from receiving financial compensation, even if only one percent of the fault is assigned to you. Fortunately, Arizona is a comparative negligence state.

In Arizona, you could still be eligible to receive compensation even if a court finds you 99 percent responsible for causing the car accident. However, comparative negligence will reduce your financial recovery by the amount of fault that is attributed to you. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help you determine everyone who may bear liability for your crash, navigate your state’s laws, prove who was at fault, and negotiate for the maximum compensation possible after a car accident in Arizona.

Contact Gallagher & Kennedy to Learn More About Who Is At Fault in an Accident in Arizona

After being injured in an Arizona vehicle crash, you need time to focus on your recovery, not worry about protecting your legal rights. The tenacious car crash attorney at Gallagher & Kennedy can help determine who is at fault in an accident, and build a strong case to help you recover the financial compensation you deserve. Call us at (602) 691-5736 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation and case review today. Your case is our cause!