Arizona Auto Accident Laws & Resources

If you were in a car accident, you have important rights under Arizona auto accident laws. Arizona auto accident laws help car accident victims to seek compensation for their injuries. Yet Arizona auto accident laws can be confusing.  Victims unrepresented by an experienced Arizona car accident lawyer may be unsure what their options are. Without help, you may not know what the next step is.

In this guide, we will discuss some important Arizona auto accident laws. These laws may be important to your case. For more information about your rights under Arizona law and to determine what your case might be worth, contact an experienced Arizona auto accident lawyer today.

Arizona is a Fault-Based State

Like most states, Arizona auto accident laws operate on a fault-based system. This means that the party determined to be at fault for causing the car accident will be responsible for paying for any resulting damages. As a practical matter, the at-fault driver’s car insurance provider will pay for all damages. They will  typically pay up to the amount of the insured’s policy limits. The victim’s recovery, however, may be less under Arizona’s comparative negligence standard. 

Comparative Negligence in Arizona Auto Accident Cases

Arizona follows a comparative negligence standard in auto accident cases. This standard is ARS Section 12-2505. In Arizona, a car accident victim’s award of damages gets reduced based on the percentage of fault placed on the victim. In some cases, the victim intentionally contributed to the accident and subsequent injuries. In that instance, the victim cannot recover damages, even if he or she was not 100% at fault for the car accident.  

In a typical car accident case, the jury is responsible for calculating two important figures. The first is the total amount of the plaintiff’s damages. The second is the percentage of fault that is attributable to each party for the accident. For example, suppose you were in a car accident in Arizona. The other driver failed to yield the right of way and struck your vehicle. However, you were speeding at the time.

The jury decides that your total damages should be $150,000. This amount includes your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. The jury finds that you are 30% responsible for the accident since you were speeding. Under Arizona’s comparative fault rule, you will receive 70% of the $150,000 damage award, or $105,000.

Arizona Auto Accident Laws Statute of Limitations

ARS Section 12-542 sets for the statute of limitations for filing a car accident lawsuit in Arizona. Those injured in a car accident have 2 years from the date of the injury to file a claim. If the car accident victim fails to file a lawsuit until after this time expires they will likely forfeit the right to file a lawsuit. There are exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations under applicable Arizona laws.

Note that the Arizona statute of limitations has nothing to do with the amount of time that you have to make an insurance claim. This time period is specific to your insurance policy.

Arizona’s Minimum Insurance Liability Coverage Amounts

Arizona, like most states, requires that every motor vehicle in operation has liability insurance. The required minimum amounts of liability car insurance coverage in Arizona are:

  •   $10,000 for property damage caused by the driver of the insured vehicle.
  •   $15,000 for bodily injury or death of one person caused by the driver of the insured vehicle.
  •   $30,000 for total bodily injury or death liability caused by the driver of the insured vehicle.

Many drivers will purchase insurance coverage above the minimum amounts. This helps to cover damages resulting from serious injuries and vehicle damage. They do this to avoid personal liability in the event of exceeding policy limits.

Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in Arizona

Some drivers fail to produce proof of insurance following a car accident or traffic stop. They will likely have both their vehicle registration and driver’s license suspended. There is a process to reinstate both the vehicle’s registration and license. You will need to pay the required fees and provide proof of insurance to the Arizona Motor Vehicle Department. Moreover, if you do not have insurance you may be personally liable for the other driver’s injuries and property damage.   

Arizona Auto Accident Laws for Accidents Involving Uninsured Drivers

According to research by the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 12% of drivers in Arizona do not have insurance. If you are in a car accident in Arizona with an uninsured driver, you have several options:

  •   Sue the other driver. You can still file a lawsuit against the other driver. But if he or she has no assets it can be difficult to collect on any judgment awarded.
  •   Sue a third party. Some auto accidents are due to factors other than driver error. For example, a brake failure or road condition may have contributed to the accident. In which case, you may be able to file a claim against a third party.
  •   File an uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) claim. If you have UIM insurance, you may be able to seek compensation from your insurance company.

Types of Damages in Arizona Auto Accident Cases

Under Arizona auto accident laws there are no limits to the amounts pursued or awarded in a car accident case. In Arizona, there are several different types of damages that you may be able to recover, including:

  •   Medical Expenses
  •   Lost Wages
  •   Pain and Suffering
  •   Property Losses

Medical Expenses

Medical expenses typically make up a large portion of economic damages in an Arizona auto accident claim. These expenses include the costs of treatment for injuries resulting from the accident. Additionally, estimated costs for future medical treatment. Some common types of recoverable medical expenses include:

  •   Ambulance costs
  •   Hospitalizations
  •   Physician visits
  •   Physical therapy
  •   Chiropractic care
  •   Medication
  •   Surgeries

To estimate costs of future medical expenses, an Arizona auto accident lawyer will consult a medical expert. In many cases future medical expenses will exceed immediate medical costs. Car accident victims that are not represented by an experienced Arizona car accident lawyer often accept an initial insurance settlement. This may be a mistake. The settlement may not include compensation for the costs of future medical treatment.

Lost Wages

If you miss time from work after a car accident, you may expect compensation for lost wages. You are also entitled to damages for any permanent reduction in income resulting from the car accident. This includes both being unable to return to work or needing to take a lower paying job.  An accident may leave you unable to perform the job duties associated with the position that you held before the accident. An example of this would be if you were a construction worker with a permanent shoulder injury. Your car accident caused an injury that prevents heavy lifting or operating certain machinery. Because of this, you need to find a new position or job altogether. 

Victims not represented by an experienced Arizona car accident attorney often make the mistake of accepting a lowball settlement. The settlement is too low because it does not compensate them for lost future earning capacity. An experienced attorney can establish the extent of your diminished earning capacity. They can convince the insurance company and/or a jury of the full extent of your damages.

Pain and Suffering

In addition to economic damages such as medical expenses and lost wages, Arizona auto accident laws allows the right to collect for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is a legal term that describes both emotional and physical injuries suffered by a car accident victim.

 Some examples of pain and suffering include:

  •   Depression
  •   Anxiety
  •   Post-traumatic stress disorder
  •   Chronic pain
  •   Disability or physical limitations
  •   Loss of enjoyment in life

Under Arizona auto accident laws, there are two ways to calculate pain and suffering. The first is the multiplier method. The second is the per diem method. The multiplier method involves applying a multiplier of the victim’s compensation to his or her economic losses. A multiplier can range between 1 or 5. The number decided on is then multiplied by the amount of economic damages.  For example, if your economic damages are $50,000, your pain and suffering damages could be between $50,000 and $250,000.

The per diem method involves multiplying the number of days that the victim will experience pain and suffering by a daily value. These amounts are case specific and depend on factors such as the extent of the victim’s injuries and suffering.

Property Losses

Accident victims are also entitled to recover damages for property losses. These losses typically cover the costs of repairing a damaged vehicle. 

 

Recovering Damages in an Arizona Auto Accident Case

If you have sustained injuries in a car accident in Arizona, there are several different ways that you can recover damages. 

Insurance Settlement

For most accidents, the first step will be to contact your insurance company to report the accident. Your insurance company will contact the other driver’s insurance company and work together to make a fault determination.

If the other driver is at fault for the accident, his or her insurance company will pay you for the damages. If you are at fault, however, your insurance company will have to pay for the damages to your vehicle.

Often when the other driver is at fault, you will receive a settlement offer in the form of a letter from their insurance company. This offer is often a lowball amount. Insurance companies attempt to limit their liability and take advantage of unrepresented parties. They expect that most people are unfamiliar with Arizona auto accident laws and the value of their claims.

 You can also send the insurance company a formal demand letter. This letter details the extent of your damages and requests a specific dollar amount to settle the case. Again, most unrepresented car accident victims undervalue their claims and settle for less than their cases are worth. For this reason, it is a good idea to consult with an Arizona car accident lawyer before accepting a settlement offer from the insurance company.

Lawsuit Settlement

The second option to recover damages for car accident injuries in Arizona involves filing a lawsuit. A lawsuit will typically name the insurance company, the other driver, and potentially third parties as defendants in the case. There are several reasons why it may be necessary to file a lawsuit. First, the insurance company may be unwilling to budge on their offer. In this case, you can go to trial to attempt to get more compensation from a jury.

Second, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations has expired. You may be in negotiations with the insurance company and confident in receiving a reasonable settlement. However, you will want to file a lawsuit to preserve your right to go to trial in the event settlement negotiations fail.

To recover damages at trial, you must prove that the other driver was negligent. From a legal standpoint this means that the driver failed to exercise a reasonable standard of care. This negligence resulted in the accident. Your contribution to the accident will affect the verdict under the Arizona comparative negligence standard.

 

Arizona Car Accident Statistics

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), in 2019 there were 129,750 motor vehicle accidents in Arizona. Of these, 36,926 resulted in injuries while 911 resulted in fatalities. Most car accidents in Arizona involve multiple vehicles (111,090) and occur in urban areas (114,457). Moreover, according to the ADOT:

  • Approximately 2.69 people suffered fatalities each day, or 1 person every 8 hours and 56 minutes.
  • 147 people sustained injuries each day, or 1 person every 9 minutes and 46 seconds.
  •   Alcohol related crashes account for 3.78% of all motor vehicle accidents and 25.69% of all fatal impacts.
  •   20,571 auto accidents in Arizona involved speed related crashes. 14,716 involved in-lane departures.
  •   Most auto accidents in Arizona occur during daylight hours (72.3%).
  •   The greatest number of auto accidents occurred on Fridays (19,966). The least occurred on Sundays (9,291).
  •   Nearly half (43.15%) of all accidents involve rear end collisions. Just 1.76% involved a head-on collision.
  •   Motor vehicle crashes resulted in some $18.442 billion in economic losses to Arizona for the year.

The ADOT also reports that the average cost per accident victim in 2019 was:

  •   $9,515,371 for a fatal auto accident
  •   $550,499 for a serious injury
  •   $149,132 for a minor injury

Arizona Car Accident Settlement Calculator

 Have you or someone you know been in a motor vehicle accident or otherwise injured in Arizona? Find out how much financial compensation you may be legally entitled to in just minutes with our free online injury Settlement Calculator. If you need an experienced Arizona car accident lawyer, reach out to us today. We offer risk-free consultations to help you get in touch with a lawyer. Protect yourself and the compensation you need.