Can a Pedestrian Recover Compensation if They Were Partially at Fault?

If you get into a pedestrian collision in Arizona, it can be difficult to determine fault. Although the pedestrian may be more severely injured than the driver, this does not automatically make the driver responsible for the crash. Instead, determining fault requires an in-depth investigation. If the pedestrian is found to be partially at fault for the accident, he or she can still recover financial compensation according to Arizona law.

Determining Fault for a Pedestrian Accident

Under Arizona law, it is necessary to determine fault for a pedestrian accident before the injured party can pursue financial compensation. This is because Arizona is a tort-based car insurance state. With this rule, the person or party responsible for the tort or wrongdoing that caused the car accident is financially responsible (liable) for related damages. States with no-fault insurance laws, on the other hand, require drivers to use their own auto insurance policies for coverage, no matter who is at fault. 

Fault for a vehicle-pedestrian collision generally goes to the party who violated a traffic law or roadway rule. For example, motor vehicle drivers in Arizona cannot legally talk or text on a handheld cell phone while driving; so, if a driver was texting when he or she struck a pedestrian, the driver would be liable. Drivers are often responsible for pedestrian collisions due to distraction, negligence, speeding, driving under the influence and other mistakes that lead to them failing to stop or yield to pedestrians.

A pedestrian could be responsible for a collision, however, if he or she was the party in the wrong at the time of the crash. If the pedestrian crossed the street when a traffic control signal said, “Don’t Walk,” for instance, the pedestrian could be at least partially responsible for a collision. A pedestrian could also be at fault for jaywalking, walking while intoxicated, distracted walking, walking on the road instead of a sidewalk or making another mistake that contributed to an accident.

Arizona’s Comparative Negligence Law

In Arizona, a pedestrian is not barred from financial recovery if he or she is partially at fault for a vehicle collision. This is because Arizona (like most states) uses a comparative negligence rule, not a contributory negligence rule. According to Arizona Revised Statutes Section 12-2505, an injured victim’s comparative fault does not take away his or her ability to recover financially. However, the victim’s damages are reduced in proportion to his or her degree of fault, if any. 

If Arizona were a contributory negligence state, any amount of fault allocated to the victim would bar him or her entirely from financial compensation. As it is, in Arizona, a pedestrian’s portion of fault reduces his or her financial recovery but does not take away 100 percent of the right to recover. For example, if a pedestrian is found to be 20 percent at fault for crossing when he or she didn’t have the right-of-way, his or her financial recovery would be diminished by 20 percent.

Arizona uses a “pure” comparative negligence law, meaning a pedestrian can receive monetary funds for an accident even if he or she is found to be 99 percent at fault for the accident. There is no cap below 100 percent on a victim’s degree of fault to still be eligible for compensation in Arizona. A modified comparative negligence state, however, caps the ability to recover at a certain percentage, usually between 49 and 51 percent.

Do You Have a Case?

Arizona’s comparative negligence law applies to every injured accident victim: both pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers. If you were either of these parties during a collision, contact a Glendale car accident attorney to find out if you have grounds to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Contact a lawyer even if you believe that you are partially to blame for the accident. You may still be eligible for financial compensation under Arizona’s negligence laws.