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Car Accident Settlement Process and Timeline in Phoenix, Arizona

Statistically year-to-year, over 95% of car accident cases settle instead of going to court. The settlement process offers swifter and more cost-effective resolutions for all parties involved. If you’re looking to resolve an ongoing car accident case, here is what you can expect from the settlement process.

Reporting a Car Accident in Arizona

Arizona state law does not require private citizens to report a car accident. Only law enforcement officers must report an incident when a case results in an injury, death, citation, or damage exceeding $1,000. The officer interviews eyewitnesses and victims and completes the investigation the following day.

Some car accidents occur in remote locations and others do not involve enough damage to merit police intervention. People can still report the incident through the Phoenix government website, but they are not required to do so.  Reporting an accident requires some general information:  

  • The time and date of the accident
  • The location of the accident
  • The names of the people involved, their ages, addresses, contact information, and insurance information
  • A description of how the accident occurred

Car Insurance Laws in Arizona

Arizona requires drivers to carry liability insurance in case of an accident. The mandatory insurance coverage is intended to reimburses victims for personal injury, emotional distress, and property damage. The minimum coverage limits include:

  • Bodily harm: $15,000 per person
  • Bodily harm with multiple injured people: $30,000 per accident
  • Property damage: $10,000

The Arizona Motor Vehicle Division also allows residents to purchase a bond, also known as an SR-22. An insurance company files the policy with the state to let government officials know a driver has the minimum liability requirements. The minimum limit in Arizona is $40,000.

Fault-Based Insurance

Arizona is a fault-based state, which means the driver at fault for an accident must compensate victims for damages. The state does not recommend individuals admit fault following the accident, even if they believe they’re guilty.

While some car accidents are black and white, others are not. When it’s not clear if a driver is entirely the cause of an accident, Arizona courts apply the legal doctrine of comparative fault. For instance, a jury may find one driver is 75% at fault, so that driver can only recover 25% of their damages.

Admitting fault can undercut someone’s personal injury case. The person puts themselves at risk of losing their Arizona car accident settlement and the money that comes with it by admitting fault. While someone can apologize for the accident and express remorse, they shouldn’t admit fault.  

The Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident in Arizona

The statute of limitations determines how long someone has to bring a case to court. The time limit prevents plaintiffs from threatening ongoing lawsuits long after the accident. The statute of limitations begins on the day of the incident.

People who suffer a personal injury in a car accident in Arizona have two years to file a claim under §12-542. Injured persons must bring their lawsuit forward within the two years to avoid the court throwing out the case.

Settling a Car Accident in Arizona

Injured persons prefer Arizona car accident settlements to avoid the time and expense associated with a formal trial. The settlements also come with more certainty because parties do not have to leave the decision up to a jury. These negotiations are private, so courts do not have any authority over them.

Both parties should gather as much pertinent evidence as possible before the settlement. That includes medical records and bills, photographs of injuries, accident site videos and photographs, and witness testimony. Don’t forget to look at the accident report filed by law enforcement.

The collective evidence will support the injured person’s claim for damages.  For instance, if a car accident results in the victim suffering a broken leg, the victim will demand the other driver pay their medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering during recovery from the injury.  In more severe Arizona car accident cases, settlement may involve compensation for future medical care and severe emotional distress.

Injured persons should make a demand letter to the insurance company for the at-fault driver outlining their claims, injuries, and desired compensation. The insurance company investigates and evaluates the demand and decides whether to open negotiations to settle the claim short of a lawsuit. A settlement means the victim and insurance company agreed on an amount to compensate the injured person for their damages. If the case does not settle, the injured person files a lawsuit.  

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact a personal injury lawyer. They will help you fight for what you deserve.

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