Arizona Auto Accident Laws & Resources
As of 2015, there were more than five million licensed drivers in Arizona, with eight million registered vehicles. If you plan to visit or live in Arizona, it is helpful to learn more about auto accident laws and statistics for the state.
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Comparative Negligence Rule in Arizona
When you attempt to hold another party responsible for your accident injuries, it is common for the person or party to blame you in part for the accident. In Arizona as many states, laws apply to accident cases where you have partial fault for the accident. This can reduce the amount of money you receive in compensation.
This rule is called comparative negligence. In Arizona, the total amount of compensation you receive will be reduced by the percentage of your fault for the accident. Arizona courts use this standard, and insurance adjusters often use it as well. Do not be surprised during an insurance settlement negotiation if the company tries to reduce their pay out by arguing you are partially at fault for the accident.
Auto Insurance Requirements in Arizona
All drivers in Arizona are required to carry a certain amount of insurance. You are required to carry at least $15,000 for bodily injury and $10,000 for property damage. However, bear in mind that patients who had to be admitted to the hospital after accidents in Arizona in 2011 had an average bill of $72,000. This means that many car accident victims face major deficits between what their auto insurance policy will pay and what is owed for medical bills.
At-Fault Law in Arizona
Arizona currently uses the at-fault system to handle most auto accident cases. This means that the person who is injured has the right to try to settle the accident claim with the insurance company, or go to court and try to prove fault and get compensation.
If you try to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages, note there is no cap on damages for personal injury lawsuits in Arizona. Damage caps are prohibited per the constitution of the state.
Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Arizona
In this state, you have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit from the date of the car accident. However, if you have a hidden injury that is not noticed until later, your time limit may begin on the date that you discovered the injury.
Arizona Accident Settlement Taxes
Going through a car accident is difficult enough. But if you get a settlement, you may wonder if you must worry about paying taxes on the money. Generally, personal injury settlements are not taxable at the Arizona state or federal levels. But there are exceptions.
For example, if you get a settlement for your physical injuries or sickness from the accident and did take an itemized deduction for your medical expenses related to the injury in prior years, that amount is taxable that you took a deduction for. But if you did not take a deduction the full amount is not taxable.
If the settlement is meant to replace income, then that claim could be taxed. But if you receive a settlement for wages you lost due to the accident, this is not usually taxable.
If the settlement is for a physical injury, it usually is not taxable at all in Arizona or at the federal level. But if you get a settlement for emotional distress, this is usually taxable.
Also, punitive damages that are meant to punish the defendant are taxable as income.
If you have any questions about the tax status of your settlement, be certain to consult with a tax professional.
Distracted Driving Laws in Arizona
Arizona is one of the only states that still has not passed a distracted driving law. Currently, there is a ban on all cell phone use by bus drivers. This law allows police officers to pull over drivers and give tickets without witnessing another violation.
However, note that text messaging while driving is illegal in Phoenix with a fine between $100 and $250.
Arizona Car Accident Resources
If you have a car accident in Arizona, you will undoubtedly be under a lot of stress. Below are some resources and tips to help guide you in the event you are in an accident:
- In Phoenix where an accident leads to death or serious injury, you are required to contact the Phoenix Police Department, the state highway patrol, or the Maricopa Sheriff’s Department.
- If you are in an accident with a state government worker, you have to file a Notice of Claim with the state Department of Risk Management or the Attorney General’s Office. Forms are not online, so you have to contact the department directly. For a claim against a county government worker, you must contact the county in which you want to file the lawsuit.
- If you are in an accident in Arizona with an unattended vehicle, you are required to leave a note with your name and contact information.
- Do you have questions about car accident laws for other states? The Lawsuit Info Center has car accident laws for all 50 states available at your fingertips.
If you want to send a demand letter to an insurance company to pay for your accident injuries, check out Lawsuit Info Center’s sample demand letters.
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Statistics and Notable Arizona Car Accidents
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, traffic fatalities on roads and highways in the state climbed in 2016 for the second straight year. ADOT noted that driver behavior continues to be the major factor in auto accidents. The department reported that 962 people died in auto accidents that year, which was 65 more than 2015, or a 7.3% increase. The number of car accidents also rose 8.6% to 126,845.
Some of the leading causes of Arizona traffic fatalities for 2016 were:
- Seat belts: 250 of those who died were not buckled up.
- Lack of attention and excessive speed: Going too fast for conditions was the most common driver violation. Rear end crashes were the most common type of accident, which is common in distracted driver accidents.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs: Crashes involving drug or alcohol impairment killed 406 people in 2016. Notably, the number of people who died from alcohol in accidents fell, but fatalities from illegal or prescription drugs increased.
Pedestrian accidents also rose in 2016 to 197 from 163 the year before. Motorcycle accidents also increased to 144 in 2016 from 134 a year earlier.
More accident statistics for Arizona from 2016, according to ADOT:
- 574 fatal accidents happened on county roads or city streets, and 291 accidents with fatalities happened on state highways.
- 525 fatal accidents happened in urban areas and 437 deaths happened in rural areas.
- In alcohol related accidents, 79% happened in cities and 21% happened in rural areas.
- One person died in an auto accident every 9 hours.
- Seven out of 10 crashes happened during the day.
- March was the most common month for accidents with 11,391.
- Friday was the most common day for all accidents in 2016 with 22,133.
For Phoenix alone, there were 25,952 car accidents in 2015, which is much higher than 2013 by several times. Total vehicle accident deaths in 2014 was 160. The most common places where car accidents happened in Phoenix were:
- Traffic calming areas on Hearn Road between 12th and 13 streets.
- Speed cushion in use on 24th
- Traffic calming keep left signs on 24th
Common reasons for car accidents in Arizona for 2014 were:
- Speeding: Arizona drivers were cited 36,000 times for driving too fast for conditions. Many accidents could have been avoided if the driver had been going an appropriate speed.
- Right of way: Drivers in this state were cited 14,000 times in 2014 for not yielding to other drivers. Ignoring yield signs when coming off a major highway was especially dangerous.
- Distracted driving: This violation was cited 7200 times in Arizona in 2014, most often due to cell phone use.
The Arizona Department of Transportation also reports that the average cost per accident victim is as follows:
- For a fatality: $1.5 million
- Accidents with injuries leading to incapacity: $76,398
- Accident with minor, non-incapacitating injuries: $24,400
One of the most notorious, recent car accident cases in Arizona occurred on Oct. 20, 2017 when a woman from Chandler was accused of causing a five car accident on I-10 that killed two. The woman allegedly was intoxicated and had her three-year-old daughter in the vehicle. Witnesses reported that the woman’s car rear ended an SUV that caused it to land in the opposite lanes of I-10. The two people in the SUV died. The woman is being held on a $500,000 bond for DUI, second degree murder and nine counts of endangerment.
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