When you’ve been in a car wreck, people immediately start asking you who’s to blame. You may still be struggling through injury recovery, and you’re already fielding questions about what happened.
This isn’t just people wanting gossip. Legally, fault is an important matter, especially in a car wreck.
Fault Is Important for Insurance Purposes
Generally, states fall into one of two car insurance categories: at-fault states and no-fault states.
In a no-fault state, insurance isn’t too worried about who caused a car wreck. Most of the time, each person’s insurance will cover their respective damage. There may be some instances where one person needs help from the at-fault driver’s insurance. This can happen if their benefits run out. Generally, however, fault isn’t a big concern.
In all the other states, fault is vitally important. These states require the person responsible to take care of everyone’s damage. This financial responsibility usually falls on the insurance company, as most people can’t cover the massive expense of medical care and auto repair combined.
Dealing with insurance companies in at-fault state can be a hassle. These companies are notorious for seeking any excuse to deny benefits. Before going to insurance in an at-fault state, you should speak with an attorney. They can help protect you and fight for your benefits when necessary.
Arizona is an at-fault state.
Fault Is Important in a Personal Injury Case
When it comes to a civil courtroom trial, fault is of the utmost importance. The entire purpose of the trial is to prove that one person is responsible for another’s injuries.
The plaintiff sues the defendant. The plaintiff’s attorney presents all the evidence of the defendant’s fault. In turn, the defendant’s team attempts to debunk these claims. Each side produces evidence, witnesses, and so on.
In a personal injury case, the plaintiff must prove their case using a “preponderance of the evidence.” Put simply, this means that the defendant most likely deserves to pay damages to the plaintiff. The court must be only 51% convinced of the defendant’s fault.
A civil case can spread fault around, especially when it comes to car accidents. The law recognizes that often, even a plaintiff can be somewhat responsible.
Arizona uses the “comparative negligence” system in civil cases. The court assigns a percentage of blame to everyone involved in the wreck. Then, it gives the plaintiff damages that are proportionate to the defendant’s percentage of fault.
Here’s a simple example of comparative negligence at work:
- Sarah sues Jim for damages after their car wreck.
- The court believes that Sarah is 10% at fault for the wreck, and Jim is 90% responsible.
- The overall damages equal $100,000. Since Jim is only 90% liable for the accident, he pays a total of $90,000 in damages to Sarah.
In Arizona, a plaintiff can receive a percentage of damages, even if they are 99% responsible for the incident. This is called “pure comparative negligence.”
Alex & Associates, P.C. is here to help investigate your car accident and hold the at-fault parties accountable. For a free consultation, fill out our online contact form or call us at (602) 483-6114.