Comparative Negligence in Arizona

Under Arizona’s pure comparative negligence law, you can collect damages from a car accident unless you’re 100% at fault.
Written by Tiffany Leung
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
is a pure comparative negligence state so you are still allowed to submit a claim to the other driver’s insurance, as long as you are not 100% at fault. 
The amount you can recover from an at-fault driver after an accident varies greatly depending on the state’s comparative negligence laws. It’s beneficial to
know the law
in any state you’ll be driving to so that you can properly handle your insurance claims. 
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What is comparative negligence?

Comparative negligence is a principle that entitles plaintiffs to recover damages proportional to how much they’re at fault. 
In other words, if you get into an accident with someone else and you’re 30% at fault, you’ll have to cover 30% of the damages. Likewise, the other driver who is 70% at fault will have to cover the remaining 70% of damages. 
Comparative negligence principles are followed by personal injury lawsuits and third-party insurance claims. Both require an assessment to assign the fault, either determined by a judge/jury or an insurance provider. The assignment then determines what damages each party is responsible for covering.

Comparative negligence vs. contributory negligence

Comparative negligence can be viewed in three categories: pure comparative negligence, partial or modified comparative negligence, and contributory negligence. Each state’s law is based on one of the principles below:
  • Pure comparative negligence: The injured party may recover damages relative to the proportion of fault the other driver was assigned. 
  • Partial/modified comparative negligence: The injured party may only claim damages relative to their assigned fault if it does not exceed 50 or 51%. 
  • Contributory negligence: The injured party is not entitled to any compensation if they have any fault (even if it’s 1%). 
In the United States, the pure comparative negligence principle is followed by 12 states. The pure contributory negligence principle is followed by 5 states

What is Arizona’s comparative negligence law? 

Since Arizona is a pure comparative negligence state you are able to submit a claim to the other driver’s insurer as long as you are not 100% at fault. 
For example, if you are found to be 60% at fault, you’ll be required to cover 60% of the other driver’s damages. Similarly, since they are 40% at fault, their insurance will be required to cover up to 40% of your vehicle damages.

What happens if there are more than two responsible parties? 

If more than two individuals are at fault in an accident, the fault will be divided between them. You may file a claim with either or both insurance companies, and you’ll be able to claim compensation based on the percentage of fault each driver was assigned. 
Keep in mind: It's always a good idea to have
uninsured motorist coverage
in case you get in a car accident with a driver who doesn't have any car insurance or has insufficient insurance to cover the cost of your medical bills.

How is fault decided in a comparative negligence case?

When assigning fault, insurance companies will base the percentage on the evidence submitted with the claim and police reports. 
In case you’re at the scene of an accident, try your best to record as much information as possible. Important information includes the weather and road conditions, the time and date of the accident, and the types of cars involved (make and model). You should also get the information of the other drivers involved.
If possible, find witnesses to record what they saw and take pictures of any damages and the surroundings. This will provide objective evidence to back up your statements. 
The evidence you collect will help the insurance company assign blame fairly. 

How does car insurance work with comparative negligence? 

Since Arizona is a pure comparative negligence state, you are allowed to submit a claim with another driver’s insurance company regardless of your fault in an accident (unless you are assigned 100% of the blame). You’ll be compensated for part of your damages according to the percentage of blame assigned to the other driver.
As an example, imagine you are at a 4-way stop sign and you’re going through the intersection after stopping. Out of nowhere, another car appears on the perpendicular road and hits the back of your car before you leave the intersection.
The insurance companies investigate the case and they discover that the other driver didn’t see the stop sign while using their phone. Since the other driver wasn’t paying attention to the road, 100% of the blame is assigned to them, and you were assigned 0% blame since you followed all the rules.
Under Arizona’s comparative negligence law, you can recover 100% of your damages with the other driver’s insurance company. On the other hand, the other driver will not be able to make claims with your insurance provider since they are completely at fault.

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Yes. Insurance premiums are calculated based on several factors, including your demographics, driving history, amount of fault, and more. With an at-fault accident, you could find an increase of at least 20% to your premiums.
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