People who are at fault in a car accident often hesitate when it comes to reaching out to a lawyer. They figure there's no chance of recovery for themselves and they are on the hook no matter what. However, financial compensation may be possible for the at-fault driver in a car accident. Don't just accept that you've lost your chances if you caused the accident. Consult an auto accident attorney to understand how compensation may be possible if you're the at-fault driver.
You have nothing to lose by reaching out to Impact Legal – we provide free, no-obligation consultations. To schedule your free initial consultation, call or text us at 602-345-1818. We also have this convenient online form if you'd rather contact us that way.
What Does “Fault” Mean?
When you've done something to cause an accident, you are considered at fault or liable for the accident. If you're at fault, you will be responsible for paying for the injuries and losses sustained by the other drivers due to the accident you caused. Typically, your insurance policy will pay for these damages. Ultimately, if you are liable for an accident, you acted negligently or recklessly to cause it. Some examples of negligent or reckless behavior that often causes accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Reckless or aggressive driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failing to maintain vehicle
- Violation of traffic laws
Why Establishing Fault Is Important
Arizona and New Mexico are at-fault states. This means that the liable party will pay for the damages that resulted from the accident. Some damages that the at-fault party may ultimately be responsible for include:
- Medical bills, including emergency room costs, MRIs, X Rays, medication costs, physical therapy expenses, etc
- Lost wages, including past, present, and future lost income
- Property damage, including car repair or replacement
- Emotional trauma or physical pain, including but not limited to, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, wrongful death, emotional distress, etc
Comparative Fault May Allow At-Fault Parties to Recover
When more than one party's negligent actions (or inactions) have led to a car accident, Arizona follows a “pure comparative negligence” approach. This means that in the case of multiple negligent parties, liability can be shared and divided equally to the percentage at fault each party was in the accident. Subsequently, a party's compensation will be reduced by the percentage of fault they are proven to have had in the accident.
For example, if a plaintiff was rewarded $100,000 in damages, and they were found to be 20 percent liable, they'd receive $80,000 in compensation from the defendant who was found to be 80 percent responsible for the wreck.
As you can imagine, it's extremely helpful to consult an auto accident attorney to better understand how to determine the percentage of fault and collect evidence to better present your case to the insurance provider.
How Is Negligence Proven?
The evidence will be analyzed to establish the sequence of events that led to the accident, which will help determine which party was responsible. Four elements must exist to establish negligence:
Proving negligence in an accident can be quite difficult. These four elements must exist:
- Duty - It must be proven that the defendant (liable party) owed the plaintiff (injured party) a duty of care. In a car accident case, this means that the defendant had a duty to others on the road to operate his or her vehicle in a reasonable and safe manner.
- Breach - After duty has been established, it must be shown that the defendant breached his or her duty of care to use reasonable care while driving.
- Causation - Evidence that the defendant directly caused injury due to his or her actions must exist.
- Damages - Evidence should support that the plaintiff incurred losses (damages) as a result of the accident.
Are You At Fault Though?
Just because the responding officer or the insurance adjuster placed fault on you doesn't mean you are at fault. They could very well be wrong. It happens all of the time. If you don't believe the accident was caused by something you did or didn't do, it's wise to contact a lawyer. Your auto accident attorney will compile evidence to establish rightful liability. This may clear your name and allow you to obtain a higher accident settlement amount.
Some potential evidence that may help prove who was really responsible for the accident includes:
- Police accident reports
- Accident reconstruction analysis
- Property damage (damage to vehicles, surrounding objects, the road, ground, etc)
- Eyewitness reports
- Video and photo evidence from the scene
- Electronic crash data
- Medical records and bills
- Forensic analysis in some cases
Even if parties are pointing fingers and denying fault, there is usually neutral evidence that can be found to prove who caused the auto accident.
You May Still Have a Chance to Recover
Whether you're truly at fault or liability is contested, you may still have the chance to recover. Call or text our auto accident attorneys today to see what your legal options may be. Don't just give up and let your insurance company foot the bill. Your recovery is important, too. You can schedule a completely free consultation with us at 602-345-1818. You may also request a consultation by filling out our secure online form here.
The information on our website, including this blog, is for general information only. Every case is unique, so we highly recommend that you consult an auto accident attorney to discuss yours. This blog is not intended to serve as legal advice.
For car accident lawyers in Arizona, call 602-345-1818
For car accident lawyers in New Mexico, call 505-386-2807