The personal injury
law firm that puts clients first

How Is Liability Determined in an Auto Accident?

December 16, 2020Car Accidents

Being involved in a car accident can be a confusing and scary experience, particularly if you or a loved one have sustained any injuries. In the aftermath of a crash, it is crucial that liability be determined so that victims can secure compensation for their injuries, property damage, and other losses. However, determining liability after an Arizona car accident can be complicated. Here, we want to discuss how liability is determined after an accident occurs so that crash victims know what to expect as they move forward with their claim.

Arizona Is a Fault-Based State

Arizona operates under a fault-based system when it comes to vehicle accidents. This means that the person who caused the crash is ultimately responsible for paying for injury and property damage expenses. This differs from “no-fault” states in which drivers turn to their personal insurance carriers for coverage, regardless of who caused the crash.

Determining Fault Requires Evidence

Many types of evidence can be used to determine fault after an Arizona car accident. In fact, the more evidence that can be gathered, the more complete a picture can be drawn for insurance carriers or juries, if a personal injury trial ends up being necessary. Evidence from the scene of the crash is important. That is why we strongly encourage crash victims, if they are able to safely do so, to do the following immediately following the crash (if they are uninjured and after the scene is deemed safe):

  • Use a phone or another device to take photographs of vehicle damage, injuries, debris, skid marks, causes of the crash, traffic and weather conditions, and more.
  • Gather the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses to the crash.
  • Get the name, driver’s license number, and insurance information of all other drivers involved.
  • Ensure that the police come to the scene to conduct a preliminary investigation and ask the officer how to obtain a copy of the accident report.

All of this on-scene evidence will play a key role and helping insurance carriers determine who caused the crash. Additionally, we strongly encourage crash victims to work with an Phoenix car accident attorney who can obtain additional evidence. This can include the following:

  • Footage from surveillance cameras on nearby homes, businesses, or traffic systems.
  • Vehicle “black box” data.
  • Cell phone data records.
  • Any criminal reports made after a crash (particularly if the incident involved an impaired driver).

What About Shared Fault in an Arizona Car Accident?

Even those partially responsible for the crash may still be able to recover compensation for their losses. Arizona operates under a pure comparative negligence system, which means that recovery is possible even if a person is up to 99% responsible for the incident. However, the total amount of compensation a person receives will be reduced based on their percentage of fault.

Will You Need a Phoenix Car Accident Lawyer?

If you or a loved one have been injured in a vehicle accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of another driver in Arizona, you may need assistance from an attorney. Determining fault in the aftermath of a crash is not always straightforward, but an attorney can use their resources and legal knowledge to conduct a complete investigation, help determine liability, and secure the compensation you are entitled to.