A car accident is often a frightening experience, and even less severe accidents could shape up to be a significant hassle. Dealing with the physical injuries, emotional trauma, and the financial repercussions of a collision on your own could be stressful and frustrating. An Phoenix car accident lawyer could help evaluate your case and take you through the process of a legal claim while you focus on your physical and personal recovery. En Español.
The first thing that usually follows a car accident is the exchange of auto insurance information. Car insurance companies typically handle the initial filing of insurance claims for bodily injury and property damage. However, different states follow different procedures and standards that determine how the insurance company might proceed with a claim.
At-Fault Insurance Standard
Arizona is known as an “at-fault” insurance state. Under the at-fault system, people injured in an auto accident in Arizona have the option of settling their claims with the insurance companies or proving fault and seeking damages in a court of law. In other states that follow a “no-fault” insurance system, injured parties cannot pursue legal action in court unless they meet a particular “serious injury” threshold.
Car accident lawsuits are usually based on negligence. To seek compensation against an at-fault driver based on a theory of negligence, the plaintiff must prove three basic elements. First, the defendant must have owed a duty, or legal obligation, to the plaintiff. All drivers are obligated to operate their vehicles with reasonable care and consideration of others they may encounter while operating their vehicle.
Second, the defendant must have breached their duty of care to the plaintiff. An example of this could be a driver who failed to stop at a red light and crashed into another driver.
Third, the defendant’s breach must have caused harm to the plaintiff. If, for example, in the same scenario, the defendant runs a red light, but no damage or injuries result to the other driver, they would likely have no have a basis for a negligence claim.
Certain aspects of state law may influence a car accident claim. An Phoenix car accident lawyer could ensure that a plaintiff understands concepts such as the statute of limitations and pure comparative fault.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations provides a timely deadline for claims to be filed in court. Under Arizona Revised Statutes §12-542, plaintiffs must file their personal injury case for property damage or bodily injury within two years of the accident.
Pure Comparative Fault Standard
In car accident cases, Arizona’s comparative fault rules could affect the amount of recovery a plaintiff receives. Arizona is among fourteen states that follow a pure comparative fault standard. Under this standard, parties could recover damages for property and bodily injuries, even if they are determined to be 99 percent at fault. However, their recovery is reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if a plaintiff is judged to be 50 percent at-fault for a particular accident, they may only be awarded half of their due compensation.
You do not have to handle your auto accident case by yourself. With the assistance of an experienced Phoenix car accident lawyer, you could have a knowledgeable ally that could help guide you through this process. Navigating the procedures and policies of insurance carriers and the court system could be daunting without legal help. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact Goldwater Law Firm at 602-502-6000 or fill our online form to schedule a free case evaluation.