If you’ve been in a car accident, you probably have a lot of questions about how car accident fault works in Arizona, especially if negotiations with the insurance company don’t seem to be going your way. Here’s everything you need to know if you’ve been in an accident in Arizona: who’s at fault, how that impacts your case, and everything you need to know before deciding whether to settle with the insurance company or pursue a case.
Does it matter who is at fault in Arizona?
There are a few different types of approaches to car accident fault. For instance, if a state is “no fault,” that would mean that each individual person’s insurance company was responsible for their own damages, rather than whoever was at fault in the accident. In an “at fault” state, the insurance company of whoever is determined to have caused the accident is responsible for everyone’s damages. Arizona, on the other hand, is a “comparative fault” state. This means that it matters who is at fault, but that more than one person can be determined to be at fault, and the courts assess the percentage of how much fault lies with each person.
What is comparative fault?
Comparative fault recognizes that accidents are often caused by more than one person, which benefits you if you are the main person at fault, but could be a bad thing if you were the victim of an accident. The court estimates a percentage of how much each driver was at fault, and since the other driver’s insurance company knows this, they’ll be looking for things that they can blame on you to reduce your settlement. If you are not familiar with this practice, the other party’s insurance company could take advantage, leaving you with a settlement that’s much lower than what you are rightfully owed.
If your case goes to court, the jury will determine a percentage of how much each person was at fault, based on the strength of the evidence presented by each side in court. This means that any money you are awarded would be reduced by the percentage that you were determined to be at fault. For instance, if you were determined to be 30 percent at fault in an accident, and the other driver was 70 percent at fault, they would only pay 70 percent of your damages and medical bills.
Is there a time limit on pursuing litigation?
If you think you have a case and you aren’t happy with what the other party’s insurance company is offering, you may want to pursue litigation instead. Keep in mind, however, that you have only two years to pursue your case.
This may seem like a generous amount of time, but remember that the clock started rolling immediately after the accident, and you may have already spent some time in and out of hospitals and negotiating with the insurance company. If you suspect things aren’t going your way, it’s important to consult with a lawyer right away, because that two-year time limit also includes any time that might be spent on negotiations and other legal proceedings.
If you are in an accident, it’s important to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible, even if you’re not really sure yet that you will need one. Sometimes just having a lawyer is all it takes for the other party’s insurance company to take you seriously and start treating you fairly. For more information about determining car accident fault in Arizona or deciding if you have a case, contact Simon Law Group, PLLC, today.