No matter who may or may not have been at fault, the first thing you need to do if you are involved in an accident is to make sure you are safe. Pull to the side of the road if you are able so that you won’t be in the way of other traffic. Make sure anyone who is injured receives care.
A big part of protecting yourself is preserving the evidence, which includes making an accident report, getting witness information, and even taking pictures. Understanding the reporting laws is especially important because it not only protects you; you can be fined or have your license suspended for failing to report an accident. If there is a dispute as to the cause of the accident, you will need to have the information to prove your side of what happened. There are a lot of variables when it comes to how to prove you are not at fault in a car accident.
No Bright Line Rules
Anyone who is legally operating a motor vehicle on a public road has a license and has passed a test regarding road rules. Tests for every state include basic information like speed limits, signs, and right-of-way when making turns. Unfortunately, the rules are not always as clearcut in practice. It may not be obvious at first who’s at fault in an accident, and you can be blamed for an accident you did not cause. Parties may disagree about whether or not a rule was broken or if that was the cause of the accident, especially in cases with multiple variables, like accidents caused after making turns.
Proving Who Is At Fault
It is always good to refresh yourself on the rules of the road, as many people forget details over the years. Knowing the rules will make you a safer driver, and it can keep you from being found at fault in an accident. However, nobody plans on being in an accident, and even the best drivers make mistakes. It may take a disinterested party to evaluate the evidence and objectively decide who caused an accident.
The Accident Report
You will find that you have a much stronger case if you already have law enforcement on your side. The officer making the report will collect all the information at the scene, including drivers’ identifiers and contact information, insurance, vehicle details, and location. There is also a section where the officer can show which parts of the cars were damaged and how the accident occurred.
An officer probably won’t write a ticket even if it seems clear that a law was broken, but that information will be included in the report too. Staying calm and providing accurate information at the scene will help make sure the accident report is accurate and reflective of your side of the story. An accident report which favors you can be used in court and by your insurance company to help you recover damages.
Right Turn Accident
If you are proceeding through an intersection with a green light, you will have the right-of-way when turning right or going straight. Arizona also allows drivers to come to a complete stop at a red light and turn right, as long as they follow the rules regarding right-of-way. Many drivers turn right on red without coming to a complete stop, or they don’t check for vehicles proceeding through. This can lead to accidents, especially if the drivers proceeding through the green light are going too fast for the conditions. This can make it impossible to estimate how close they are, making it difficult to determine who is at fault, in whole or in part.
How To Win A Left Turn Accident
Most people realize that the person making a left turn is usually the one who gets the blame when there is an accident. That is because the person making the left turn is the one who is required to stop and yield to other traffic before making the turn. There are situations where the person making the turn is not at fault:
- Driver conditions can have a great deal of influence. Was the other driver intoxicated? Distracted? Fatigued?
- Other traffic rules may be the real reason for the accident. For example, a driver who is speeding recklessly may crash into a left-turning driver who should have had plenty of time and room for the turn.
- Road conditions or other physical conditions may have contributed to the crash. These can include broken pavement or a sudden downpour.
- Mechanical or equipment failures can cause accidents.
Preparing a case involving a left turn accident can involve a lot of preparation, making it even more important to document the accident immediately and get help from someone who is experienced with these kinds of accidents.
Other Important Legal Limitations
Always keep in mind that the clock is ticking when there is the potential for a lawsuit. Under the Arizona Statute of Limitations, you will need to file your claim within two years or forfeit your claim entirely. That doesn’t mean you can wait to notify your insurance company that you have been in an accident, or that you can wait to get a police report; those actions need to be taken as quickly as possible. But you can only protect your claim by meeting all the deadlines, both before and after filing.
Another important factor to consider is the level of blame you might have in an accident. Under Arizona law, you can recover damages from an incident even if you were partly at fault. Arizona uses a system of comparative negligence, which takes into account all the circumstances involved. For instance, if you are found to be 5% at fault, you can recover from the accident, but your damages will be reduced by that 5% amount.
Clearly, there are a lot of rules involved when it comes to accident law. Just figuring out who is at fault can be difficult, and others may take advantage of you if you don’t have someone knowledgeable on your side. At Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience, PLC, we have 60 years of experience helping people with different kinds of accidents. If you have been in an accident, it will cost you nothing to call and discuss your situation with one of our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys.