Being responsible for an accident doesn’t shield someone from injury. Often, an at-fault driver is hurt worse than the person they hit.
If you were hit by a negligent driver, and they were seriously harmed, you may think that you have no recourse for compensation. Bad faith actors, such as unscrupulous insurance companies, may try to convince you that this is true.
The truth is this: The extent of an at-fault driver’s injuries has no bearing on your ability to receive compensation for your suffering.
Arizona’s At-Fault System
Being an at-fault state, Arizona places liability on the person responsible for an accident. When someone hits you in traffic, they are responsible for your injuries and your property damage.
Normally, this responsibility is covered through insurance. The at-fault drivers’ insurer covers your medical and property expenses. These payments top out at a certain point, depending on how much coverage the driver has.
When it is necessary to take the matter to court, the at-fault system is still relevant. In a civil case, you are suing someone for their part in your injuries. If the court agrees that the defendant is responsible, it rewards you with financial compensation.
Within this system, Arizona also has something called “comparative negligence.” Civil law acknowledges that each party’s actions may have contributed to the overall injuries. It then assigns a percentage of blame to each party. Perhaps you were hit by a speeding driver, but you also rolled through a stop sign. The court would then hold you somewhat accountable for the crash.
In a comparative negligence system, you can receive compensation only related to the defendant’s percentage of fault. Put simply, if the defendant is 80% responsible for the crash, you can receive 80% of the overall compensation. Arizona also uses a “pure” comparative negligence model. Even if you are found 99% responsible for your injuries, you can still receive 1% of the damages.
The at-fault driver’s injuries have no bearing on the outcomes described above. They are still legally responsible for any injury they caused another.
What If the At-Fault Driver is Killed?
Fault relates to the moment of injury. Therefore, when an at-fault driver is seriously injured or even killed, they are still held liable for the incident.
Going Through Insurance
The at-fault driver’s insurance should still cover you. At the moment of impact, the driver was alive and insured.
Collecting benefits can be more challenging if the driver is killed. Normally, insurance companies have two stories to sift through, eventually uncovering the truth. The fact that there are two accounts can make it easier to spot lies or inconsistencies.
If the driver is killed, however, insurance companies have only your side of the story. The deceased’s insurer could dispute your claims, making it more difficult to collect your benefits. In these scenarios, you need the help of a good attorney to argue your case.
Personal Injury Claims
If necessary, you can file a lawsuit against the deceased’s estate.
When someone dies, their “estate” is all the property they left behind. Someone must handle the affairs of the estate. This person is called the “executor.” If your case goes to court, this executor will act as the plaintiff. The executor can also settle with you, avoiding court.
If you win the case or settle out of court, you become one of the estate’s creditors. Before an executor can distribute property to beneficiaries, they must handle any of the estate’s leftover debts. Your compensation is considered one of these debts.
Filing a personal injury claim after someone’s death comes with challenges. You may experience resistance from the decedent’s family. This is understandable. From their perspective, they are dealing with their grief, and along comes a stranger demanding money. They might not believe your story, or they may fight back out of anger. Allow your attorney to handle this problem. Getting involved will only add to the frustration on all sides.
If you were hit by a negligent driver, we can help, regardless of the at-fault driver’s injuries. Call us today at (602) 483-6114, or set up a free consultation online.