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Can you seek damages if you bear some responsibility for a crash?

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2024 | Car Accidents |

A significant number of vehicle crashes aren’t solely the fault of one driver. In many cases, even if one driver is primarily to blame, an investigation will show that the other driver could have done something to prevent the collision in question.

Consider two very different scenarios. First, say you were driving down the road, within the speed limit. Suddenly a car came speeding toward you in the wrong lane. You had no time to get out of the way, and it hit you. This crash likely would be considered 100% the other driver’s fault.

Now, say a car ran a stop sign at an intersection where you had the right-of-way and hit you. That might seem like it was completely the other driver’s fault. However, maybe you were exceeding the speed limit and, because you had the right-of-way, you didn’t bother to look to each side to confirm that no one was approaching. The other driver’s insurance company would likely make the case that you bore at least a small percentage of fault. Can you still get compensation for your expenses and other damages in this kind of divided crash scenario?

How does Arizona law work?

State laws on negligence and compensation for vehicle collisions and other injurious events vary. There are multiple types of rules that determine how much a party that bears some responsibility can still recover.

Arizona is among the states that uses the “pure comparative negligence” rule. That means in a two-car crash, the driver with the greater share of fault is responsible for compensating the other. However, the amount they would owe if they were 100% at fault is reduced by the other driver’s percentage of fault.

The larger the damages involved are, the more that even minimal fault can cost you. Say your damages total $100,000, and you’re determined to be 20% at fault. The other driver would be required to pay (likely via their insurer) 80% of that, or $80,000.

Determining fault

Fault is determined by insurers using evidence like the police report, photos and videos of the scene (likely from multiple sources), each driver’s (and passengers’) accounts of what happened and other witness statements. Some crashes are so serious that law enforcement calls out crash investigators. With that said, if a crash survivor’s harm is significant enough, an independent investigation by a lawyer may be warranted.

This is a lot to think about at a time when you need to focus on your medical treatment and recovery. That’s why it’s wise to get legal guidance as soon as possible to protect your rights and fight for maximum compensation if/when you’re involved in a crash and you’ve sustained harm as a result.