Determining Car Accident Fault in Arizona

July 22, 2016

Determining Car Accident Fault in Arizona

There were more than 116 thousand vehicle accidents in state during 2015, and unfortunately, this number has steadily increased from one year to the next. A big portion of these accidents happened in the major Phoenix area. This is not to say that drivers in Arizona are unsafe; the most cautious drivers can still be involved in an accident caused by someone else’s distracted driving. For example, cell phone use, texting, alcohol and use of  mobile apps while driving contribute to many serious and fatal collisions.

Many drivers incorrectly assume that handling a claim following an accident will be easy since they carry insurance. This is not the case; under Arizona law, insurance companies have the right to argue liability. Arizona allows insurance to assign percentage of fault on drivers. From the insurance adjuster perspective, the small manipulation of claims so that small percentages of fault are assigned to victims yields great savings for insurance companies. When this happens, you need an attorney experienced in vehicle accidents to represent you.

When there is a vehicle accident at Arizona, who determines fault? Unfortunately, the answer is not an easy one. Car accident fault in Arizona is typically determined in one of two ways:

  1. The involved parties agree on how the fault should be divided. This is often the case in accidents where fault is obvious such as a rear end accident or one involving running a red light at an intersection, for example.

  2. The accident goes in front of a judge who then determines fault. If this is the case, then it is crucial to hire a skilled accident attorney to evaluate the case, give legal advice, and act as your representation.

Determining Accountability

An experienced attorney will investigate the details before, during, and after the crash to determine if there is one individual accountable or if there with other contributors. Many factors affect fault determinations. For example, some accidents are the result of poor road visibility, lack of street signs, or poor municipal lighting. These indicate that the city may be at fault. An accident caused by a drunk driver may have been caused by a negligent establishment who over-served and then allowed the patron to drive. Accidents caused by vehicle or equipment malfunctions may implicate the manufacturer.

Generally speaking, vehicle accidents are most often caused by driver error, but Phoenix’s comparative negligence laws make it necessary to investigate multiple people and companies since an injured driver is entitled to compensation from all negligent parties. This statue states that someone who is determined to be at fault can also claim another party as a contributor to the accident.


Damage to your vehicle from the accident is not the only thing to worry about following an accident. Punitive damages are often sought against the negligent party to cover pain and suffering, wage loss, and medical expenses. To do so requires a greater burden of proof. Your attorney will be able to collect evidence in favor of your compensation of punitive damages while also defending you against similar accusations.

The Right Kind of Attorney

If you have been involved in a vehicle accident, it is important to find an attorney who specializes in vehicle accidents. This is especially the case when the accident caused injury or a large amount of damage, or if you have been unfairly assigned fault. Accident laws in Arizona are complex and require a skilled attorney who can draw from previous cases similar to your own.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you overcome the unique challenges faced by victims of vehicle accidents. During our first consultation, we will discuss the specifics of your case, who should rightfully accept fault, and how to move forward in a way that will provide you with rightful compensation.