The Phoenix personal injury attorneys at Entrekin Law Firm use Arizona’s personal injury laws to help car accident victims recover compensation. Our in-depth knowledge of these laws have allowed us to secure favorable verdicts and settlements in many cases. Here are some of the most important Arizona car accident laws to know.
Arizona uses a fault system when it comes to car accidents. When a car accident occurs, an investigation ensues to determine which driver was at fault. The at-fault party is responsible for paying for the damages they caused. Typically, the accident victim will file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Minimum Insurance Requirements
The Arizona Department of Transportation says that every motor vehicle operated on roads in the state must be covered by liability insurance through a company authorized to do business in Arizona. Specifically, this requirement applies to regular passenger vehicles as well as:
- Golf carts
Liability insurance covers the damages to someone else. The minimum insurance requirements for liability insurance in Arizona are:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death to one person in a single accident
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death to two or more people injured in an accident
- $15,000 for property damage
These are just the minimum limits. You can purchase higher amounts of insurance to provide greater coverage.
You can also purchase uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage that pays your medical bills and property damage if you’re in a crash with a motorist who doesn’t have any insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your damages. As the Arizona Department of Insurance and Financial Institutions explains, while you could sue the uninsured or underinsured driver, they may not have the financial resources to fairly compensate you. UM and UIM coverage minimums are the same as liability coverage for bodily injury or death. If you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you could file a claim with your own insurance company for coverage.
Reporting an Accident
A law enforcement officer must file a written report within 24 hours of an accident that involved:
- Property damage over $1,000
- A citation issued to any driver
Having a police report about your accident can be important for the resolution of your claim. You can provide this report to the insurance company to help support your position. The report may contain important information related to the accident, such as:
- Contact information for each party
- The exact location of the collision, including cross streets
- Road and weather conditions
- A pre-determination of fault
- Whether the other driver received a citation
- A diagram of the accident site
What is the Timeline to File a Lawsuit in Arizona?
Arizona has a two-year statute of limitations for most personal injury claims, ARS Section 12-542. This means that, generally, you only have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver if you are unable to resolve the case through a claim with the driver’s insurance company. There are times when you may have less time to file a claim, such as if the at-fault driver was an Arizona employee. In any event, you will not want to delay in contacting an experienced Arizona car accident lawyer because evidence may be lost or destroyed if a thorough investigation is not launched promptly.
How Fault Is Determined in an Arizona Car Accident Case
Most car accident cases involve negligence by one or more parties. A detailed investigation may need to be conducted to determine fault. This investigation may consist of:
- Visiting the accident scene
- Reviewing photos or videos of the accident
- Examining the physical damage to each vehicle
- Interviewing witnesses who observed the accident
- Considering the presence of skid marks or other physical evidence
- Reviewing phone records or other evidence of distracted driving
- Reviewing vehicle maintenance records if mechanical problems are believed to have contributed to the accident
- Considering the location and severity of the victim’s injuries
In some cases, an accident reconstruction specialist may use available data to recreate how the accident may have occurred.
What is Pure Comparative Negligence?
In some accident cases, more than one party may have acted negligently in causing the accident. Arizona uses a pure comparative negligence system that allows accident victims to seek compensation for their damages even if they were partially responsible for the accident. According to ARS Section 12-2505, if an accident victim also acted negligently in causing the accident, this does not bar them from being able to seek compensation for their damages. However, their damages are reduced in proportion to their degree of negligence.
Here is how this concept would work in practice:
Driver A turned left into Driver B. Driver A did not wait to see if it was safe to turn. Driver B was traveling 5 mph over the speed limit. The jury determines that Driver A was 95% at fault for the accident and Driver B was 5% at fault for the accident. Driver B suffered $100,000 in damages. Driver B files a lawsuit against Driver A. The jury awards Driver B $95,000 because Driver B was responsible for 5%, or $5,000 in this case, of the damages.
If you were injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you have the right to seek compensation for the losses you incurred. This may include compensation for:
Accident victims can recover compensation for the medical expenses they incurred because of the accident. These expenses may include:
- Ambulance charges
- Emergency room visits
- Hospital stays
- Diagnostic testing
- Follow-up appointments
- Prescription medication
In addition to costs that you have already incurred, you can also seek compensation for medical expenses you may incur in the future.
You can also recover compensation for the time you missed from work while seeking treatment and recovering from your injuries. If you are unable to work in the future, you can also seek compensation for your lost or reduced earning capacity.
Pain and Suffering
Arizona law recognizes your right to seek compensation for your pain and suffering. While this may be a non-economic loss, it still significantly affects you.
Speak to a Car Accident Attorney Today
If you’re involved in a car crash, it’s always a good idea to meet with a local attorney experienced in vehicle accident litigation. A Phoenix car accident attorney can help you understand the details of your case and your possible legal options moving forward.