Most states use fault laws to determine liability for car accidents. Fault car accident laws mean the party at fault, or responsible for causing the crash, will be financially responsible. Some states use no-fault laws. In a no-fault state, each victim will seek restitution from his or her insurance company, no matter who caused the accident. Arizona is a fault state, along with 38 other states. If you get into an accident in one of the 12 no-fault states, however, you may need to know how to navigate the unique insurance claims process. Contact a personal injury lawyer who can guide you through the legal process and to maximize the amount of compensation you could receive.
No-Fault vs. Fault Car Accident Laws
No-fault vs. fault insurance policies mainly determine who will pay for injured parties’ damages after an auto accident. In a no-fault state, the injured person’s insurance company will pay for medical bills and vehicle repairs regardless of fault for the accident. In a fault state, victims must determine who caused the crash first, then file a claim for damages with that party’s auto insurer. The at-fault party will be financially responsible for all victims’ damages in a fault state and may not have coverage for his or her damages. In a no-fault state, all parties can receive benefits from their insurance companies for damages regardless of fault.
Filing a Lawsuit in a No-Fault State
Fault laws also decide when a car accident victim may file an injury lawsuit. Fault states offer the opportunity to file lawsuits against at-fault drivers after almost any crash. In a no-fault state, however, a victim may only bring an injury lawsuit in very specific circumstances. In general, injuries must be extremely serious or catastrophic to qualify a victim for a lawsuit outside the no-fault insurance system. Most no-fault states incorporate a threshold victims must meet before they may file lawsuits.
- Disabling injuries
- Permanent injuries
- Lost mental capabilities
- Significant loss of a bodily function
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of limb
- Wrongful death
The no-fault laws in the specific state will determine if and when an injured party may have damages serious enough to qualify for a lawsuit outside of the insurance system. If a car crash victim does not know whether he or she has grounds for a lawsuit in a no-fault state, consulting with an attorney could help. A lawyer will know how to navigate the state’s specific no-fault laws.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
Another important set of laws that may affect a car accident claim is comparative vs. contributory negligence. Arizona is a comparative negligence state, meaning more than one party could share fault for an accident and still receive compensation. In a contributory negligence state, a plaintiff’s partial fault for an accident will bar him or her entirely from obtaining a compensation award. Most states have transitioned to comparative negligence laws.
Even if you have the right to file a lawsuit after a car accident in Arizona, comparative negligence could impact your claim. The defendant may allege you were partially responsible for the auto accident and therefore deserve less compensation. If the courts find you were partially at-fault, they will reduce your recovery by your percentage of negligence. Ten percent (10%) fault, for example, would reduce your award by 10%. Since Arizona uses pure comparative fault laws, you could still be eligible for recovery even at 99% fault.
Navigating Arizona’s fault and comparative fault laws may take assistance from an attorney. A car accident lawyer may be able to minimize your degree of comparative fault or eliminate it using evidence related to your car accident of the other party’s fault. This could maximize your compensation award during a car accident lawsuit or insurance claim. If you need to take your car accident case to court, a lawyer can help you with complicated legal processes.