After an accident, you may be struggling to heal from your injuries, repair or replace your damaged bike, or keep up with your responsibilities at home or at work. The last thing you want to hear is someone else claiming that the accident was your fault – especially when it wasn’t.
To respond effectively to a claim that you were partially or wholly at fault for causing your own injuries, it helps to understand how Arizona law deals with these arguments.
Understanding Comparative Fault in Arizona
The claim that the other party in a lawsuit was partially at fault for an accident is known as “comparative negligence.” It’s a common counterargument used by defendants in personal injury cases. Each state has its own rules for comparative (or contributory) negligence.
Arizona is a “pure” comparative negligence state. This means that if you are found to share any percentage of the fault for the accident, your damages are reduced by the amount of fault assigned to you – no matter how high or how low the percentage.
Here’s an example. Suppose you roll through a stop sign at an intersection, then pull ahead, only to be clipped by an oncoming car. Your damages are $100,000. At trial, it’s determined that the car’s driver is 10 percent at fault, and you are 90 percent at fault for rolling through the stop sign. Under Arizona’s comparative fault rule, since you were assigned 90 percent of the fault, your damages award is reduced by 90 percent, or $90,000. You still recover 10 percent of the total damages, or $10,000.
How to Respond to a Claim of Comparative Fault
A claim of comparative fault can be understood as the other party’s way to reduce the damages they have to pay. But that doesn’t mean you need to agree, especially if they are wrong. To respond effectively to a claim that you were at fault:
- Take notes. Get a notebook or open a computer file and start making notes about your accident. Label your first note with the current date and time, then write down everything you remember about the accident: when and where it happened, who was involved, how the weather was, what you and the other driver did, where things were in the scene.
- Gather evidence. Photos of the scene, your injuries, and your damaged bike can all help establish what actually happened. A copy of a police or accident report can also help set a timeline and show how certain events did (or could not have) occurred.
- Work with an attorney. Your lawyer can help you build a case that demonstrates exactly where fault should be placed. Your attorney will also ensure that claims by the other party are responded to appropriately and in a timely manner.
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The attorneys at the Folger Law Firm are dedicated to helping our clients seek the compensation they deserve. We work on a contingency basis, so you won’t pay fees unless we recover for you. Contact us today to learn more.