What If I Am Partially Responsible For An Accident?
Our Arizona Injury Attorneys Take a Look At How Things Are If You Are At Partial Fault For An Accident.
You do still have a case. Let our experienced personal injury lawyers help you get the most out of your claim.
Some accidents are clearly caused by one person, but many others aren’t simple open and shut cases. Some accident victims are partially responsible for creating the situation that caused their injuries. This doesn’t change the fact that there will be medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses to be paid after an accident. Read on to learn more about how your personal injury claim will be affected if you were partially responsible for an accident.
How do you know if you are partially responsible for an accident?
While one driver may be primarily responsible for a car accident, your own driving may have contributed to the accident at least partially. Bad driving habits like speeding, failing to use turn signals, making wide turns, etc., can all contribute to an accident that was still mainly caused by another person.
After an accident, you may want to call the police to investigate the accident scene. It is uncommon, but the police may list one party as “at fault” in the accident report. The insurance adjusters can use this piece of evidence when determining what percentage of fault to assign to each party in an accident. Each of your statements, photos and video footage of the accident, tire tracks, the damage to the vehicles, and other evidence will also be used to assign fault. A police report won’t be determinative in assigning a fault- this will be agreed upon by the plaintiff and the insurance company if the case settles, or by the jury if the case proceeds to trial.
Can I sue if I am partially responsible for the accident?
Arizona is a comparative negligence state, which means you aren’t precluded from suing for your damages just because you were partially at fault for an accident. Even if you were 99% at fault for the accident, you can recover 1% of your damages if they outweigh the other driver’s in Arizona. Your negotiations with the other side’s insurance company will involve arguing for the lowest possible amount of fault to be assigned to you.
What to do after an accident when you may be partially at fault?
Even if you think you may have been partially at fault for an accident, don’t admit it at the scene or to the other parties. Try your best to remain calm when speaking with the other driver, and only exchange basic information without discussing the accident in detail. Your focus should be on collecting evidence that your attorney can use to argue for a lower percentage of fault on your behalf in the accident. Pictures and videos can portray the scene to insurance adjusters and in court far better than your verbal statements. If there are any eyewitnesses at the scene, you should get their names and contact information without extensive discussion about the accident. All of this evidence can later be used to argue for less percentage of fault for the accident to be assigned to you.
You should seek medical treatment as soon as possible after the accident even if you didn’t need emergency medical attention at the scene. However, before seeking compensation from the other party’s insurance company for your medical expenses, you should consult with at least one Arizona personal injury attorney. This will help you evaluate your claim and avoid accepting a settlement agreement far below your claim’s true value.
Will my insurance rates go up if I am partially at fault for an accident?
This depends on what type of insurance policy you have. Your auto insurance policy may have an accident forgiveness feature, meaning your rates won’t be raised after your first car accident, regardless of if you caused it. If your policy doesn’t have an accident forgiveness feature, you can expect your rates to raise after you are partially at fault for an accident. The higher your percentage of fault, and the higher the total damages caused by the accident, the more your rates may be raised.
Factors that Can Impact “At Fault” Determination
if you are a pedestrian injured in an accident, the fact that you were jaywalking can drastically reduce the amount you’ll be able to collect in a personal injury claim. However, your damages as a pedestrian are likely to be far higher than those of a motor vehicle driver. For example, you are determined to be 60% at fault after being injured while jaywalking, with the driver being 40% at fault. Your damages are $100,000, and the driver’s damages are minimal. Theoretically, you would be able to collect $40,000 in your personal injury claim.
Traffic laws can vary from state to state on which driver has right of way, how to proceed at traffic signals, etc. Additionally, state laws can vary based on how they assign fault after an accident. Some states are also “no fault” accident states, where drivers are required to maintain their own personal injury protection on their auto insurance policies. Check with a personal injury attorney in the state where your accident occurred before speaking with the insurance companies.
Agreeing to ride as a passenger with a driver you know shouldn’t be on the road
Ignoring the fact that the driver you’re about to ride with is potentially dangerous is a form of negligence that can decrease the amount you can recover after an accident. Drivers who have consumed alcohol, taken certain prescription medications, have certain medical conditions, or haven’t slept can be more likely to cause a car accident. This same logic applies if you ride in a vehicle that you know has mechanical issues, or if you do something to distract the driver who causes the accident.
Using Your Cell Phone
Distraction from cell phone use can be a factor in not just car accidents, but slip and falls, workplace accidents, and more. Your cell phone records can be pulled as evidence to show you were distracted at the time of the accident. You should consult with a Arizona personal injury attorney before speaking with insurance companies if you were injured in an accident while using your cell phone.
Bad Driving Habits
Failure to use headlights and turn signals, using turn signals incorrectly, speeding, drifting between lanes, stopping abruptly, and other reckless driving behaviors can contribute to an accident that is still mostly caused by a different driver. Unless you were in an accident where the driver who is at fault can be clearly identified, such as a rear end collision, you will need to defend your conduct to keep your assigned fault as low as possible.
Why You should not talk to the other side’s Insurance Adjuster after an accident in Arizona
After an accident, the insurance adjuster’s job is to get you to settle your personal injury claim for the lowest possible sum. One way to quickly reduce the total amount you collect is by assigning you blame in the accident. Adjusters are trained in how to make accident victims, who may already be feeling vulnerable, feel like they are on the same side. They may present deadlines to accept a low settlement agreement to apply pressure to personal injury claimants, or have them make statements on a recorded line that will later be used to damage their cases.
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