What are Arizona’s Automobile Negligence Laws?


If you’re one of the thousands of people who have been in a car wreck recently, you’re probably dealing with a lot of stress. From financial issues to a ruined vehicle and painful injuries, an automobile accident brings a lot of complications. 

Depending on your situation, you may be able to receive compensation for your losses to ease this burden. Arizona allows recovery for medical bills, pain and suffering, damage to property, and even emotional distress from auto injuries. 

But first, you should know a bit about what counts as negligence in a car accident and how to determine liability. Going about this in the right way can be the difference between shouldering huge expenses and getting your costs covered.

Comparative Fault in Accidents

Arizona operates under a “comparative fault” rule, meaning that if someone is entirely to blame for the auto accident, they must take care of the resulting damages. In other words, liability for the crash falls on whoever caused it. But in some cases, it’s not only one person’s fault, but both to varying degrees. In this case, you’d share the responsibility.

For example, if you were in an accident that was 70 percent the fault of the other driver, you’ll receive 30 percent less for your recovery to account for the portion you were responsible for. In order to file a successful lawsuit for your resulting injuries and receive compensation, you have to prove that the other party acted with negligence.

What is Negligence in a Car Accident?

You can sue for negligence in a car accident, which refers to the at-fault party acting with disregard for their obligation to drive safely. Many lawsuits involving auto accidents involve such a principle, since the majority of drivers don’t cause car wrecks on purpose. 

A negligence claim will usually involve analysis to figure out whether or not an individual failed in their duty to exercise caution on the road. Talking to a legal professional is the best way to determine what counts as negligence in a car accident.

How do you Prove Negligence in a Car Accident?

To win a lawsuit for injuries from a car wreck, your attorney can help you conduct an investigation to figure out who caused the collision. Negligence can mean anything from talking on the phone while driving, being careless while merging, or speeding. Here are some of the most common ways you can prove the other driver was at fault:

Examination of Evidence

Usually, an automobile accident investigation consists of examining vehicle damage, assessing injuries, and reviewing documentation (such as photos) from the scene of the wreck. All of this information can give an accurate representation of who was at fault during the collision. 

Police Reports

A police report isn’t necessary for filing a lawsuit, but it can be helpful for your case. If you called 911 after the crash, the officer who came to your assistance should have documented the accident. The resulting police report may have information about who was at fault in the accident.


If you gathered contact information from witnesses who were near the scene during the accident, it will likely help your case. Your attorney might want to contact them to get a testimony.

Negligence vs. a Simple Mistake

What is the difference between negligence and an accident? A simple mistake doesn’t necessarily mean accident liability, while negligence does. An accident becomes negligence and gives you the right to recover damages when the mistake is in violation of the “standard of care.”

A few different factors will influence this, including the experience, physical capacity, and age of the defendant. In addition, the obviousness and suddenness of danger in the situation can impact the standard of care. If the other driver broke a traffic rule that led to your injury, this can be enough to show that they were negligent.

How can You Recover Damages?

In many cases, the best first step to take for recovering damages is contacting your insurance agency. The company will work with the other driver’s insurance agency to determine who was at fault in the accident. The agency may offer you a settlement for your injuries and property damage.

If you’re offered a damage award, the insurance company will send it in a settlement letter or agreement. In some cases, the appropriate action will be sending a letter to the responsible insurance agency requesting a specific compensation amount.

Keep in mind that once you agree to a payment or settle for your damages from the accident, you can’t get further recovery. So, you shouldn’t agree to a settlement or send a letter before consulting a personal injury attorney. They can help you make sure you’re getting what you deserve.

AZ Statute of Limitations for Auto Accidents

Each state has a specified time limit (statute of limitations) within which you must take legal action on filing an auto accident personal injury suit. If you take too long to file, you might be barred from collecting compensation, even if you have a strong case against the other driver. For car accidents, you have two years to begin your lawsuit.

There are a couple of exceptions to having to file within this 2-year period. If you only became aware of your injuries from the car wreck later on, you can file a suit within two years of the day you became aware of them. Another exception that may allow you to delay the statute of limitations is if the victim was a minor when the accident occurred. In this case, the claim can resume after they turn 18.

Need Help with Automobile Negligence?

If you’ve been severely injured in an accident or you didn’t get a fair settlement from the insurance company, you can sue for damages. Depending on the situation, filing a lawsuit can be complex. You might run into challenges with finding evidence or proving negligence. Working with a personal injury attorney is one good way to give the case your best shot.

Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.

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