Who Pays in a Car Accident Lawsuit?

July 20, 2020

A car accident in Arizona can cost thousands of dollars in medical bills, vehicle repairs and lost wages from missed time at work. As the victim of a serious car accident, you may not have to pay for these expenses if you did not cause the wreck. Arizona is a fault-based car accident state, meaning the person who caused the car accident will be responsible for paying damages. Determining and proving fault to get someone to pay, however, may take assistance from a car accident attorney.

Proving Liability for a Car Accident in Arizona

In a fault-based insurance state, victims with damages from a car accident must prove someone else’s fault to receive compensation from that party’s insurance company. Fault could go to the other driver, the driver’s employer, a vehicle manufacturing company or the City of Phoenix depending on the case. It is the victim’s burden to prove liability for a wreck. This often requires evidence such as police reports, eyewitnesses, photographs, billing statements and medical records. Hiring a car accident lawyer in Phoenix could make it easier to gather the right evidence and prove someone else’s fault for your collision.

If you or your lawyer succeed in proving fault, the negligent driver’s insurance provider will have to pay for your car accident. Your lawyer can help you negotiate a fair settlement agreement with the insurance company to receive a check for your property damages and health care costs. If the other driver alleges that you also contributed to the crash, you may receive less compensation from the insurer. Arizona is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning the courts will reduce your payment award according to your percentage of fault for the accident, up to 99%.

You may need to pay for your car accident if you do not have evidence proving the other driver’s fault. If you caused the crash or were the victim of a hit-and-run, you may need to seek coverage from your own insurance company instead. Your insurer may pay for an accident you caused if you have collision coverage or medical pay. You might need uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance as well to pursue compensation after a hit-and-run or a crash with an uninsured driver.

How Soon Can I Collect Payment for My Damages?

The average time in which an insurance company must pay a claimant is 20 to 30 days after settling a claim. However, collecting payment for your damages could take three months or longer after a car accident in Arizona due to negotiations before reaching a settlement. If you cannot settle and your lawyer needs to take your crash claim to court, it could take one year or longer to resolve your claim.

In the meantime, your lawyer may be able to help you pay your related bills through measures such as fronting the costs of your lawsuit, negotiating with the hospital on your behalf or insurance subrogation. If the liable party does not pay you on time, you could file a motion to garnish that person’s bank accounts or wages to pay off the debt. This will be a right you have after a court issues a judgment against a defendant during a car accident case. You may also be able to bring a lien against the person’s property.

What Are Compensatory Damages?

The compensation you could receive from an at-fault party for your car accident in Arizona has two parts: compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory are much more common. They refer to the damages the crash cost you, such as medical expenses, lost wages, property repairs, legal fees, travel costs and a rental vehicle. They can also pay you for noneconomic damages, such as physical pain and emotional suffering. Punitive damages are an additional award to punish the defendant for gross negligence. A judge will only award punitive damages during some car accident trials. Discuss your car accident with a lawyer for an estimate of what your case could be worth.