Accidents are scary enough without worrying about liability issues. How do you respond if an insurer thinks you shared fault in your accident? Can you still recover damages if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt and someone ran into you in Tucson?
The answer lies in Arizona’s pure comparative negligence laws. This law is how courts decide how to adjust compensation between multiple drivers who share fault for an accident. Here’s what our attorneys say you need to know so that you’ll know what to expect if you’re in this situation.
What Is Pure Comparative Negligence?
Pure comparative negligence, or pure comparative fault, divides fault by assigning the parties a percentage of fault for the accident. The court makes the final decision, but lawyers and insurance companies may come to an agreement of fault on their own to negotiate a settlement.
In pure comparative negligence, as long as you are not 100% at fault for an accident, you can file a claim. Someone 80% at fault could sue someone 20% at fault. Whatever compensation each driver gets will be reduced by their total percentage of fault.
If a court awarded you $100,000 for an accident but ruled you were 25% at fault, you would only receive $75,000. Lawyers negotiate with courts and insurance adjusters on a case-by-case basis for splitting fault in situations like not wearing a seatbelt in a car accident.
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So I Can Sue Even if I Share Fault?
In Arizona, yes, you can sue even if you share fault for an accident, even a high percentage of fault. The question is whether it’s worth going through the process. You may get back just a small amount of money.
Getting the advice of an accident attorney familiar with Arizona’s laws can help you decide if it’s worth pursuing a claim. If you’re facing injuries, even a little money is better than nothing.
Do Not Admit Fault or Take Responsibility in Your Statements
If you say that you were at fault to the Tucson police officer, the other drivers, or an insurance company, it will be much harder to defend against accusations of fault. They can use anything you say against you. Stick only to the facts and let your lawyer argue about the level of fault.
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Other Forms of Fault Laws
Pure comparative negligence is one way to split responsibility, but there are two others you should know about if you get into an accident in another state. Most states in the country use modified comparative fault. Under this law, you have to be under 50% or 51% at fault to sue. Go over, and you cannot get compensation.
A few states and Washington D.C. use pure contributory negligence, a much older standard. In these states, you must have no fault in your accident to get compensation. In places with this standard, getting into an accident without a seatbelt could leave you with no way to get compensation.
South Dakota has a unique slight/gross negligence system that is much like modified comparative fault but much more subjective.
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How Do Lawyers Argue Against Fault Accusations
If an insurance company is accusing you of fault, speak with a lawyer immediately for advice. You may have a limited amount of time to dispute their decision, and a lawyer will start taking measures to reduce your percentage of fault.
Besides gathering more evidence to disprove accusations, if there is any, a lawyer can also dispute with the reporting officer to change errors in the police report. Insurance companies base their decisions on evidence, so if there’s a problem in the official record, it must be amended.
Another way to fight back is by handling any tickets you received. If you were cited for not wearing a seatbelt in your Tucson accident, it’s assured that the insurance company will use that against you. You’ll have to fight the ticket in court, and your lawyer may be able to help you.
If You Believe You Share Fault, Call a Lawyer
It’s important to always follow the law and practice seatbelt safety. But if you think you share fault after a Tucson car accident, or you’ve received a citation from an officer after your crash for not wearing your seatbelt, you will need legal help from Zanes Law to fight for your share of compensation.
Too many victims roll over too soon to the insurers. But thanks to Arizona’s pure comparative negligence laws, you could still receive money. Find out for certain by contacting a personal injury lawyer for advice after your accident. You could still recover damages even if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt.
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