What if Both Drivers Are Partially at Fault in a Car Accident?
- Casey Hamm
- March 4, 2019
- Car Accidents
Arizona Statute § 12-2505 dictates that each party can likely still recover compensation even if both drivers are partially at fault in a car accident. This is because Arizona personal injury law is based on the idea of pure comparative negligence (as opposed to pure contributory negligence or proportional comparative negligence).
Understanding Comparative Negligence
If an investigation determined both drivers contributed to the accident happening, the insurance adjuster or jury compares one driver’s degree of fault to the other driver’s degree of fault.
In Arizona, a driver can recover compensation for their injuries as long as they are not totally at fault for the accident.
However, this degree of fault will determine the amount of compensation to which you are entitled.
Example of Pure Comparative Negligence
You were proceeding through an intersection at which you had a solid green light. A car coming from the opposite direction turned left in front of you, causing you to T-bone the vehicle. You suffer whiplash, a broken wrist, chest contusions, and car damage.
You file a lawsuit against the other driver, suing for $20,000 in damages.
An investigation found the driver to be 80 percent at fault for failing to survey the intersection. However, it also determined that you were texting at the time of the crash and potentially could have avoided the accident had you been paying closer attention. It assigns you 20 percent fault.
You would receive 80 percent of that demand ($16,000). The insurer took off 20 percent for your part in the accident.
How Negligence is Determined
In any personal injury case, the “duty of care” doctrine determines a party’s liability.
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 (i.e., the driver behaved negligently by violating a law such as driving while intoxicated)
- Demonstrating that by breaching this duty, the driver caused the car accident that resulted in injury to another driver (e.g., the driver’s intoxication caused your accident)
- Illustrating how the injuries resulted in bodily, emotional, and economic damages for the injured driver.
When the plaintiff successfully 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 compensates the plaintiff for the amount of the damages uncovered in the fourth element.
How Other States Handle Negligence When Two Parties Are at Fault
Many other states approach the situation of multiple at-fault parties differently than Arizona.
Proportional Comparative Negligence – In states that apply proportional comparative negligence, you cannot recover damages if you are found to be greater than 50 or 51 percent at fault for the car accident. Whether it is a 50- or 51-percent bar depends on the state. This block means you cannot file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. You would be responsible for your own damages.
Contributory Negligence – 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. If you were just one percent at fault for the accident, you are responsible for the costs of the accident.
Contact Zanes Law for Answers to All Your Arizona Car Accident Questions
If you were injured in a car accident and are concerned that both you and the other driver are partially at fault for the collision, call the car accident attorneys at Zanes Law. Our team will investigate your accident to determine fault and prepare for any accusations of fault. If the other party’s insurer accuses you of contributing to or causing the accident, we will present all the evidence we found to lessen your fault or place the entirety of the blame on the other driver.
We have offices throughout the state of Arizona, and we never charge a fee unless and until you receive compensation.
Our lawyers will do everything from A to Z to get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Call our firm today at 866-499-8989 for a free initial consultation.
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