Insights

What Should You Do After a Car Accident in Arizona?

September 19, 2018

There are two types of laws related to car accidents: Fault and no fault. Arizona is a “fault” state. What is the difference and what does this mean for drivers?

Difference Between Fault and No-Fault Car Accident Laws

In a no-fault state, a driver or occupant of a vehicle involved in a car accident can sue any party regardless of who was at fault. States like Arizona require that fault be identified.

This means that the person filing a lawsuit related to a car accident in Arizona must prove that …

  • The other driver failed to obey traffic laws
  • The other driver was negligent
  • Injuries and damages were directly related to said negligence.

What Does the Arizona Fault Law Mean for Anyone Involved in a Car Accident?

In Arizona, not only does the law require that fault apply to lawsuits related to a car accident, but the courts must also apply the “pure comparative fault rule.”

Under this rule, comparative negligence on the part of all parties to an accident must be assessed and assigned by the courts. For instance, in a two-car collision, one driver may be found 75% at fault, which means the other driver is 25% at fault. All claims to be paid will then be divided accordingly.

In many instances the courts will find that all drivers shared fault for the accident.

If you are able, take photos and video of the accident site. Get shots from up close, mid-range and far away. Get shots of the surrounding area, traffic lights, signs, and any obstructions. If possible, talk to witnesses and get their contact information. This information will be used to determine fault, and without it, even a driver who did nothing wrong could be found liable.

Also important is to get checked by medical personnel as soon as possible. If an ambulance comes and recommends a trip to the emergency room, comply. Even if you feel perfectly fine, injuries such as whiplash have been known to appear days after a wreck. Remember, not only must negligence be proven, injuries must as well.

Should You Sue After a Car Accident?

Some struggle with the notion of suing after a car accident. Whether to sue is a personal decision and no attorney or anyone else can tell you what to do. In deciding, some things to consider include:

  1. Was anyone injured?
  2. Did the injuries result in medical debts, lost wages, other financial hardships?
  3. Were the vehicle damages extensive or minor?
  4. Was the other party to blame?
  5. Did both parties have insurance?
  6. Were there witnesses?
  7. Was good photographic/video evidence obtained?
  8. Can fault be reasonably determined?

If a person decides that the answers to these questions dictate filing a lawsuit against the other party, the next thing to consider is…

How Long Does a Person Have to File a Claim?

Arizona Revised Statutes 12-542 sets a two-year limit on filing lawsuits for most personal injuries, including injuries and damages stemming from car accidents. The exception is if the injury involves a government employee or entity, such as an automobile accident with a US Postal Service vehicle, a claim usually must be filed within 180 days.

The clock starts to tick the day of the accident, so if a person is not at fault for a collision, they have time to decide if this is the path they wish to pursue.

That said, know that the longer it takes, the harder fault is going to be to prove. Accident investigations are most fruitful when the event is still fresh in the minds of witnesses.

How Long Do Car Accident Lawsuits Take to Settle?

The time it takes to settle a claim for injuries and damages after a car accident depend on several factors, some of which cannot be controlled or avoided. Some claims can be settled in months, even weeks. Others can drag on for years. Factors affecting claims include:

  • The extent of injuries
  • Type of injuries
  • Insurance company policies
  • Factors related to the car accident
  • Whether fault is clearly established
  • Whether settling quickly is advantageous or not

Your Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Deciding whether or not to sue, knowing whether the other party is at fault, knowing when to settle a claim … all matters are difficult to deal with after a any type of accident. Not only are you recovering from injuries, but you may also be experiencing financial pressures, and pressure from work, family, and friends.

You may even experience gentle pressure from the other party’s insurance company offering a settlement. It happens. In fact, when there is clear evidence of fault, an insurance company may reach out to an injured person with an offer because they want the matter to go away.

Regardless of the situation, the best way to ensure that you are protected and receive the fair and just compensation for damages and injuries after a car accident is to seek legal advice right away.

The personal injury team at Tiffany & Bosco offers extensive experience in automobile accidents. Contact one of our attorneys for a free, no obligation consultation.

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