Who Is Responsible For Paying Car Accident Damages?
One of the most common questions drivers ask after a crash is, “Who will pay for my damages?” Whether at fault or not, a driver will need to figure out exactly how to get coverage for costs such as vehicle repairs and hospital bills. An Arizona car accident can cost thousands of dollars for the drivers involved, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a driver’s responsibility to pay this money. In Arizona, the at-fault driver or another party will have to pay for the not-at-fault driver’s losses. Here’s how to tell who might have to reimburse you for damages after a car accident.
Arizona’s Fault Car Insurance Laws
There are fault and no-fault states, and some states that apply a mix of both types of laws. Arizona is a “fault” state when it comes to vehicle insurance. In a fault system, drivers have several options in terms of recovery. First, a driver may file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The driver can also file a claim with his/her own insurer, or file a lawsuit to seek damages from the liable party.
Determining fault is pivotal in collecting compensation for a car crash in Arizona, unlike “no-fault” states, in which a driver can only seek damages from his/her own insurer, regardless of fault for the accident. Under Arizona’s fault system, the first step toward damage recovery is assigning fault. This might take a police or insurance company investigation. If you can prove the other driver’s fault, you’ll seek recovery through the other driver’s insurance company.
The insurer will offer you a settlement, at which point you can accept it or negotiate a higher amount with help from an attorney. A lawyer might recommend filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver instead, in pursuit of additional damages such as lost wages and pain and suffering. In the event that you’re at fault for the crash, your own insurance company will have to cover your damages – likely with an increase in your insurance premiums.
Third-Party Liability for a Car Accident
Some car accidents involve the accountability of a third party, such as a vehicle part manufacturer or the city government. A government agency could be at fault for a crash if it failed to maintain a safe roadway. For example, if the city knew or reasonably should have known about a major pothole, failed to repair the defect, and someone’s car flipped after striking the pothole, the government could be liable for the driver’s damages. If an investigation finds one or more third parties at fault for your car accident, these parties could be responsible for paying your damages.
Pure Comparative Fault Laws in Arizona
On top of abiding by fault car insurance laws, Arizona also follows a “pure comparative negligence” doctrine. This means that an injured car accident victim might still be eligible for financial recovery even if he or she contributed to the crash. Say, for example, that you were speeding but the other driver ran a red light, crashing into you. In this case, the courts might assign 10% of fault to you, but 90% to the other driver. The jury would then reduce your damages by a degree proportionate to your percentage of fault.
In some car accident cases, multiple parties share fault for a single accident. If this is the case, the courts might assign different percentages of fault to each party, or make them jointly and severally liable for paying damages – in other words, all parties must pay the full amount of the settlement. It’s important to retain an attorney for complex car accident claims involving more than one party potentially at fault. You could receive damages from one or all parties depending on the circumstances.
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