When you are in a car accident, somebody is usually at fault: not just socially, but in legal terms. This fault dictates how things are paid for, who is responsible for the accident, and how different claims are handled. But how does this fault actually work?
There are various ways that fault can be handed out, but areas like Arizona generally use pure comparative fault. This means that multiple parties can be at fault, with the proportional responsibility changing the overall outcome of the case and claim.
How does Pure Comparative Fault Work?
Let’s say that you are driving down a road and suffer a car accident that causes a fairly serious injury. In an ideal world, the party that hit you is 100% responsible because they caused the accident and the injury. If they were doing something like drunk driving or using their phone, that is also their fault.
However, if you were speeding or using your phone at the time too, then you might take some of the blame. This might not be much of the blame, below 10-20% at most, but there can still be times where it is proven that you were partially responsible for the outcome that created your injury.
In this instance, let’s assume that you were 10% responsible for what happened. Pure comparative fault means that you can still claim, but the accident was still an accident. However, it also means that your role in the car accident does not go ignored, either.
What does this mean?
If you have 10% of the responsibility, the other party (or parties, collectively) has 90%. You can still recover damages as part of your claim, but the amount that you get can be reduced by the percentage of fault that you are under.
In short, If you were going to win $50,000 from a car accident, a fault of 10% would reduce your damages down to only 90% of the starting value – a loss of $5,000. This would give you $45,000 in damages, which is not that much less but still a fairly noticeable drop overall.
Basically, the higher your fault, the less you get back because you have more of a role in causing the accident. In situations where you have no fault in the legal issue – or ones where there was not enough evidence to find anything like that – you will get the full amount since the blame is entirely on the defendant.
Dealing with Multiple Defendants
The harder part is understanding how to use this against multiple defendants. Some states, including Arizona, use several liability and not joint liability. This means that each defendant has their own blame evaluation – if one is 30% responsible and another is 60% responsible, then they will pay those proportions in damages, etc.
Employer liability is slightly different and works based on a different kind of claim, which you will usually need a lawyer to walk you through. It also depends on the cause of the accident since some are going to be classified as negligence that is not necessarily the driver’s fault.
Should I Worry About Fault?
Fault only matters if you are obviously at fault for something related to the accident, and even then, it will usually just be a small amount of fault. Using your phone while driving is a common reason to be found comparatively at fault, but it also does not wipe away your potential damages – it just reduces how much you will get.
Keep in mind that serious cases of being at fault can actually cause major problems to how much you will win if you succeed. It is even possible to be found almost exactly half at fault, which can massively reduce your damages. Being found more at fault than the other person is rare, but when it happens, it can be quite noteworthy (and very upsetting).
If you are interested in finding out more about the legal concerns you might have over fault, take a look here and see some of Phoenix’s other rules and laws. No matter what kind of accident you have been in, it is important to know what you are dealing with and what might raise, lower, or change the overall compensation that you can get.