If you’ve sustained serious injuries in a car accident, you may be wondering why you would need an attorney if the accident wasn’t your fault. When an insurance company indemnifies their policyholder, they assume liability for the accident. It thus becomes their responsibility to pay out the claim. Since insurance companies are for-profit businesses, they have every incentive to reduce the value of your valid claim to the extent possible.
They can do this by blaming the accident on you, saying your injuries were not related to the accident, or otherwise offering you less than you’re entitled to. A Scottsdale AZ car accident lawyer can help you fight back against unfair insurance company tactics.
How Is Car Accident Fault Determined?
Just because the police officer on the scene agreed with you about who was at fault for the accident, doesn’t mean that the other driver’s insurance company will.
What Elements Do You Have to Prove?
In a negligence claim, you will have to establish three elements:
- Duty: You must show that the other driver owed a duty of care to other drivers on the road. Drivers must obey the laws of traffic and yield when necessary.
- Breach: You must establish that the other driver breached their duty of care. Maybe they didn’t look before changing lanes, were speeding, were drunk, or otherwise failed to obey the laws of traffic.
- Cause: You must establish that the breach of duty was the direct or proximate cause of your injuries.
Once those three elements have been established, a fourth element comes into play: damages. You will argue that the other driver (or their insurance policy) owes you for the damages their negligence caused. This can include medical expenses, lost time from work, and pain and suffering damages.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
Under Arizona’s comparative negligence fault system, each person can be assigned some blame for an accident. While many accidents have one individual who is 100% at fault for the accident, others aren’t so cut and dry. In some cases, a driver may have illegally merged into a lane, but the driver they struck was speeding at the time of the accident. So each party may be assigned some of the blame.
In these cases, you are still entitled to recover the total amount of damages minus your percentage of the blame. So if you are 25% at-fault for an accident and you have $10,000 in damages, you would be entitled to recover $7,500 or 75% of your total damages.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
Your first priority should be to make sure that you and your passengers are safe. If you are able, document the incident as thoroughly as you can. This includes taking photographic evidence with your phone showing the damage to both vehicles. Take pictures of the surrounding area and take note of whether there are any surveillance cameras around that may have caught the accident. You may want to take pictures of witnesses to the accident in case their testimony is helpful to your case.
You will also want to get the other driver’s insurance information. Record the license plate number of their vehicle as well as the make, model, and year. If there are witnesses nearby, get their contact information. The police will file a report that includes witness statements, but you won’t be able to rely on police to make your case for you. Their duty is to secure the scene, ensure everyone is safe, and then clear the scene so that traffic may resume.
How a Scottsdale AZ Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
In Arizona, you report the accident to your own insurance company, but file a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy. The insurance company then processes your claim and makes you a settlement offer.
The more serious your injuries are, the more important it is to have an attorney look over this offer to ensure that it is fair. Most insurance companies will not offer fair first offers because they’re hoping you’ll take anything they give them. An experienced Scottsdale AZ car accident lawyer will know what the value of similar car accident claims looks like. They can help to ensure that the insurance company offers you a fair settlement.
Contact Pak Law Offices Today
If you’ve been in a serious car accident, Pak Law Offices will be your advocate. We offer free consultations and work on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t get paid unless you get paid. To speak to Scottsdale AZ personal injury attorney, contact us today.