Both drivers sometimes play a part in causing a two-car accident, and an insurance company may assign each driver a percentage of the fault. If both parties contributed, it typically falls under the legal concepts of comparative negligence, modified comparative negligence, or contributory negligence, depending on the state.
In states that follow a pure comparative negligence rule, each party can recover damages according to their fault percentage, whereas in states that follow a modified comparative negligence rule, a party can only recover damages if they are less than 50% or 51% at fault. With contributory negligence, you cannot seek damages if you are even 1% responsible.
An experienced car accident lawyer can evaluate your case and tell you whether you can pursue compensation.
How Fault Is Determined in a Car Accident Case
The “duty of care” doctrine determines a party’s liability in any personal injury case. In a car accident case, this concept breaks down into proving four critical elements, as follows:
- Identifying that the driver had a duty to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of other people sharing the road
- Proving that the driver failed to fulfill this responsibility through his actions or inactions
- Demonstrating that by breaching this duty, the driver caused the car accident that resulted in injury to another driver
- Illustrating how the injuries resulted in bodily, emotional, and economic damages for the injured driver
When the plaintiff accomplishes the above four criteria, they succeed in establishing negligence. The jury connects the negligence to the damages and the court orders that the at-fault party compensate the plaintiff for the amount of the damages uncovered in the fourth element.
Hiring an attorney with extensive experience in car accident cases in your state will help ensure fault is accurately assigned so you can pursue a fair settlement or court award.
For a free legal consultation, call 866-499-8989
Arizona Law Regarding Shared Fault
First, let’s discuss how fault affects financial compensation in the state of Arizona.
Arizona Statute § 12-2505 dictates that each party can recover compensation even if both drivers are partially responsible for a car accident.
This is because Arizona personal injury law is based on pure comparative negligence (as opposed to pure contributory or modified comparative negligence).
Understanding Comparative Negligence
If an investigation determines that both drivers contributed to the accident, the insurance adjuster or jury compares one driver’s degree of fault to the other’s.
In Arizona, a driver can recover compensation for their injuries as long as they are not totally at fault for the accident.
However, your degree of fault will determine the compensation you are entitled to. This reality underscores the importance of hiring a personal injury attorney to represent you in an accident involving shared fault.
Click to contact our personal injury lawyers today
Example of Pure Comparative Negligence
Suppose you were proceeding through an intersection with a solid green light. A car coming from the opposite direction turns left in front of you, causing you to T-bone the vehicle. You sustain whiplash, a broken wrist, chest contusions, and car damage.
You then file a lawsuit against the other driver, suing for $20,000 in damages.
Also, an investigation finds the other driver to be 80% to blame for failing to survey the intersection. However, it is also determined that you were texting at the time of the crash and could have potentially avoided the accident had you been paying closer attention. The insurance company assigns you 20% fault.
In this situation, you would receive 80% of that demand ($16,000) because the insurer takes off 20% for your part in the accident.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
How Other States Handle Situations Where Two Parties Are at Fault
Many other states approach the situation of multiple at-fault parties differently than Arizona. Let’s explore two common systems used in other states:
Modified Comparative Negligence
In states that apply modified comparative negligence, you typically cannot recover damages if you are found to be greater than 50% or 51% at fault for the car accident. Whether it is a 50 or 51% bar depends on the state.
In a state that follows a modified comparative negligence rule, you cannot file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver if you share more than half of the blame. Instead, you are responsible for your own damages.
Some states have a rule of contributory negligence. In these states, you cannot receive compensation for your injuries if you are found to have contributed to the accident or your injury to any degree. Even if you were just 1% at fault for the accident, you are responsible for your own expenses.
Contact Zanes Law for Answers to All Your Arizona Car Accident Questions
If you were injured in a car accident in Arizona and are concerned that both you and the other driver contributed to the collision, call the car accident attorneys at Zanes Law. Our team can investigate your accident to ensure that the fault is assigned correctly. We have offices throughout the state and never charge a fee unless and until you receive compensation.
If the other party’s insurer accuses you of having a percentage of responsibility for the crash, we will present all the evidence we find to lessen your fault or place the entirety of the blame on the other driver. Our auto accident injury attorneys will fight for the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Contact us for a free case evaluation regarding your car accident claim.