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How Is Fault Determined in an Arizona Car Accident?

Posted on June 22, 2020 in

Arizona follows a traditional fault-based system in car accident cases, meaning that the driver responsible for a collision must pay for the damages that the other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians suffer.

Proving fault in an Arizona car accident requires a great deal of evidence and the establishment of four elements: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. In addition, the portion of liability you share may play a role in your final settlement.

Element #1: Duty of Care

First, you will need to establish that the other driver owed you a duty of care at the time of the accident. Since all drivers owe each other a duty to drive safely and follow all applicable traffic laws and regulations, it is easy to establish this element in a car accident case.

Element #2: Breach of Duty

Next, you will need to prove the at-fault driver breached his or her duty of care at the time of the accident. This breach of duty varies depending on the cause of the accident. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, failure to yield to the right of way, running a red light, speeding, and texting and driving are common breaches of care in Arizona car accident cases.

Element #3: Causation

After you identify the breach of duty, you will need to prove that the breach directly caused the injuries you are suffering from. This is often the trickiest element to prove.

Your attorney can help you gather evidence to support your claims, such as medical records, surveillance footage, testimony from witnesses at the scene of the accident, and expert witnesses such as doctors and accident reconstruction specialists.

Element #4: Damages

Finally, you must prove that you suffered damages as a result of the accident that you can collect in your claim. These damages may be economic, involving your financial losses, or non-economic, involving your physical and emotional pain and suffering.

Common damages in Arizona car accident claims include the following.

  • Lost wages and loss of future earnings
  • Property damage, including vehicle repairs
  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Disability and disfigurement
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Your attorney will help you identify which damages you qualify for and determine the estimated amount of your settlement.

Arizona’s Comparative Negligence Rules

Your settlement may be at risk if you share a portion of the fault in your car accident case. Due to Arizona’s pure comparative negligence rules, the court will deduct the percentage of liability you share from your final settlement if it determines you were also at fault.

For example, say you are in a collision with a driver who failed to stop behind you at a stop light, crashing into the back of your vehicle and causing $50,000 in damages. However, the court discovers you had broken brake lights at the time of the accident and assigns you 40% of the fault. You will only receive $30,000 of your settlement.

Arizona allows you to collect compensation as long as the at-fault driver shares any portion of liability, even if you carry 99% of the fault. If the court assigns you 99% of the liability, you will receive $500 out of the original $50,000 settlement.

Do You Need an Attorney to Prove Fault?

The rules surrounding fault in Arizona car accident claims may seem straightforward, but require a great deal of legal knowledge to establish in the courtroom. For best results, contact a Prescott Valley car accident lawyer to help you with your case.

Your attorney can launch an in-depth investigation into your case and help gather the necessary evidence to prove each element of fault. In addition, your lawyer can connect you with expert witnesses who can corroborate your claim.

If you have not done so already, contact your attorney today to discuss your accident and plan your path forward.