Each year, millions of auto accidents occur throughout the United States and cause more than 33,700 deaths and $871 billion in damages and fees. According to the National Highway and Transportation Administration (NHTSA) there are approximately 15,913 accidents occurring every day across the United States.
Sadly, this number seems to be on a continuous rise as the number of reported accidents has been increasing significantly with what seems to be no end in sight.
To put this in perspective, in 2010 there were 5,338,000 reported accidents, which increased to 6,296,000 in 2015. In less than 5 years we have seen an increase of close to one million more accidents per year across the United States!
With more and more accidents occurring each and every year, skill and experience may no longer be sufficient enough to protect you and your loved ones from becoming one of these harrowing statistics.
Auto accidents are no longer a “what if” scenario, rather they are a “when.” You need to be prepared to act appropriately and efficiently following your accident.
By Law, What am I Required to Do After an Accident?
The first thing that needs to be done following an automobile accident is something incredibly simple and self-explanatory: stop driving and pull the car over to the side of the road where you will be out of harm’s way.
Even though your accident may not have seemed significant, failure to pull your car over and exchange information with the other driver is considered to be a “hit and run” which is a felony in Arizona.
Arizona law, A.R.S. 28-663 “Duty to give information and assistance” states that those who are involved in a car accident are required to:
- Give the driver’s name, address and the registration number of the vehicle involved in the accident to the other party or police officer present.
- On request, show the driver’s license the other party involved in the accident or police officer present.
- Render reasonable assistance to a person injured in the accident.
Failure to offer the required information listed above to either the police officer or other party involved may result in you being charged with a class 3 misdemeanor, which has penalties of up to $500 in fines and 30 days in jail.
Take the time to stop and speak with the other driver following a minor fender bender, it will protect you from potential criminal charges and fines.
Do I Need to Call the Police if I’m Involved in a Fender Bender?
Following an accident, if you or the other party has been injured, immediately call 911. If you or the other party were involved in a minor fender bender and neither of you sustained any injuries, by law a police officer does not need to come to the scene and the parties involved only need to share their insurance and basic identification info with one another.
Unfortunately, even though it is not required to obtain a police report for a minor accident, if there is money to be made people will find a way to dishonestly obtain as much as they can. To proactively protect yourself financially and legally from dishonest claims, it’s smart to have the police respond to the scene of the accident.
You will be presented with an opportunity to speak with the officer as well as to obtain a police report, which in addition to preventing false claims, is often required by your insurance company as well.
Obtaining a police report prevents the other party involved from making false claims after the fact or even distorting the truth to make it seem like you did something such as performing a “hit and run” or were the one at fault.
Protect yourself from false claims and potential issues with your insurance company and obtain a police report immediately following an accident.
What to Do Following a Fender Bender:
- Pull your car over to the side of the road where you will be out of harm’s way.
- Make sure no one is hurt. Call 911 if there are any serious injuries.
- It is not required to obtain a police report if the accident is minor, but obtaining one may be beneficial.
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver.
- Take pictures of any damage that happened to either car, as well as take pictures that include the area where the accident occurred.
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible following the accident. Be prepared to share pictures of the crash as well as the insurance information of the other driver.
- Contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your right to recover damages.
Auto Insurance Laws in Arizona:
Arizona is an at-fault state which means that the driver who caused the accident is required to pay for the damages that occurred. This allows for the at-fault driver’s insurance to cover the damage, and if their insurance does not cover all of the damage, the at-fault can be sued.
In the state of Arizona, A.R.S sections 28-4135 and 28-4009 require every motor vehicle operating on the streets to be covered by an insurance policy with minimum liability coverage in the following amounts:
- At least $15,000 per person in the case of injury or death
- $10,000 because of injury or destruction of property
In addition to requiring vehicles to be insured, the Arizona legislature has also enacted regulations regarding the length of time an insurance company has to acknowledge and pay for a claim that has been submitted.
Arizona laws and regulations require insurance companies to abide by the following timelines:
- An insurance company must acknowledge their receipt of a claim within 10 business days
- Insurance companies have up to 30 days to investigate a claim
- Once a claim has been affirmed or denied the insurance company must pay the claim within 30 days of the affirmation
Arizona has strict regulations requiring drivers to be insured and insurance companies efficiently paying insurance claims, however the regulations do not set a mandatory payout for each type of auto accident. Instead the total payout is determined by the type of insurance policy and what the insurance company determines to be sufficient.
Having an experienced personal injury attorney assist you with your accident will ensure that you receive the necessary money to cover the damages incurred by another driver’s negligence.
Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.