Any car accident can be a traumatic and stressful event. As a car accident victim in Phoenix, Arizona, you may experience shock and confusion, which may make it difficult to concentrate and think clearly at the crash scene. That is why you may not know what steps to take following an accident, even if the crash was not your fault.
Fault is an important factor in any car accident in Phoenix, Arizona. However, the steps to take at the crash scene are the same for everyone, regardless of fault. If you do not know what to do after a car accident that was not your fault, consider speaking with a Phoenix car accident lawyer.
An experienced attorney will protect your rights, help you navigate the legal process, and fight for fair compensation in your specific case.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident Not Your Fault in Phoenix
Knowing what to do after a car accident that was not your fault is important because the steps you take following the collision can affect your compensation claim. If you were involved in an automobile accident in Phoenix, Arizona, take the following steps to protect yourself and safeguard your rights.
Step 1: Stop your car
Arizona Revised Statutes § 28-662 requires all motorists to stop at the scene of a car accident and exchange information with other people involved. Many people have the temptation to leave the scene of a car crash. However, doing so is against the law. It is a criminal offense in Arizona to flee the scene of the accident.
For this reason, stopping your car is the first critical step you should take after being involved in a car accident in Phoenix, Arizona.
Step 2: Ensure your safety
The scene of a car accident can be a chaotic and stressful environment, especially if the crash involved more than two vehicles and/or there is heavy traffic on the road where your accident took place. It is important to ensure your safety after being involved in a collision.
If your vehicle is drivable, turn on your hazard lights and move the car to the shoulder of the road to avoid impeding traffic. However, if your car is disabled or the accident involves injuries or deaths, do not move your vehicle. Once you get to safety, check yourself and others for injuries.
Step 3: Call 911
It is vital to call the police even after a minor crash in Phoenix. If any property damage occurred or anyone suffered injuries or died in the accident, the responding officer will write a police report. The report can be an invaluable piece of evidence for your insurance claim.
When reporting the accident, stick to the facts. Be completely honest when answering the police officer’s questions. If you are certain that the car accident was not your fault, be sure to tell the officer why you believe the other driver was negligent. For example, if the other driver cuts in front of you without using turn signals, make sure the officer is aware of the driver’s negligent behavior.
Step 4: Exchange your information
While you wait for the police to arrive, you must exchange your information with other parties involved in the accident.
Arizona Revised Statutes § 28-663 requires all drivers involved in car accidents to exchange the following types of information with other drivers:
- The full name
- The address
- The driver’s license number
- The vehicle registration number
Obtaining the at-fault driver’s information is critical if you want to file a personal injury or property damage claim. However, be sure to verify that the driver provided the correct information. Sometimes, at-fault drivers may provide a false name or address to avoid paying the damages, especially if they do not have an auto insurance policy.
Step 5: Gather evidence at the accident scene
Do not assume that the responding police officer will gather all evidence at the scene of your car accident. The evidence you collect after the crash can substantially strengthen your future insurance claim. Types of evidence to gather at the scene of the crash include photos of vehicle damage and injuries, photos of skid marks and other relevant details, video footage from nearby surveillance or traffic cameras, witness statements, and others.
Step 6: Be careful what you say
The things you say and the words you use at the scene of your car accident in Phoenix could potentially affect your ability to obtain fair compensation. Even if the accident was not your fault, saying the wrong things to the police, the other driver, witnesses, or insurance adjuster could jeopardize your claim. When discussing the accident, stick to the facts and do not say anything that could be interpreted as your admission of fault.
Step 7: Talk to witnesses and collect their contact information
In most car accidents, at least a few people witness how the collision occurred.
Potential witnesses include:
- Drivers and passengers in other cars
- People in buildings nearby
Witness statements can be of great value for your future personal injury or property damage claim. That is why it is critical to write down their names and contact information, including the phone number and home/work address.
Step 8: Seek medical attention
If someone else caused your injury, you can hold them liable for your medical bills and other losses. However, seek medical attention as soon as possible to document the extent and nature of your injury. Failure to visit an emergency room or hospital immediately could hurt your car accident claim. The insurance company could argue that the delay in treatment means that your injury is not as severe as you claim or you were injured elsewhere.
Step 9: Notify the insurance company
Arizona is an at-fault insurance state, which means if the other driver is responsible for causing your car crash, their insurance company will have to pay for your damages and losses. However, you still need to report the accident to your own auto insurance company. Even if the accident was not your fault, this is necessary.
How to File an Accident Report After a Car Crash in Phoenix, Arizona?
Under Arizona Revised Statutes § 28-667, law enforcement must prepare an accident report when investigating an accident that results in bodily injuries, death, or property damage exceeding $2,000.
The accident report usually includes the following information:
- The date and time of the crash
- The location of the car accident
- Information about the parties involved in the accident, including their names, addresses, phone numbers, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration numbers
- Information about the people who witnessed the accident
- A description of the facts surrounding the crash
- The responding police officer’s name and badge number
The most straightforward way to get an accident report in Phoenix is to report your crash to law enforcement and wait for their arrival. The responding officer will prepare a written report, which must be submitted by their law enforcement agency to the Arizona Department of Transportation within 24 hours. The agency will also provide a copy of the accident report to the parties involved in the crash.
How Can an Accident Report Affect Your Car Accident Claim?
Once you report your car accident in Phoenix to the insurance company, the company will assign an adjuster to launch an investigation into your claim. One of the first steps the adjuster will take is to review the accident report filed by the law enforcement agency. When dealing with insurance companies, it is vital to keep in mind that insurers are for-profit organizations whose profits depend on paying out less than they take in.
An accident report plays a critical role in your car accident case. If the report blames the other driver for the crash, the victim may not have to prove the at-fault driver’s negligence. When that is the case, insurance companies usually make a quick settlement offer and hope that the injured party will accept it.
However, those quick settlement offers are usually lowball offers that do not reflect the full value of the victim’s case. If you have received an initial settlement offer from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, consider consulting with a Phoenix car accident lawyer before accepting the offer.
Your lawyer will review the accident report and launch an independent investigation to determine fault (if the report does not indicate the other driver’s fault), gather all available evidence to strengthen your claim, and obtain the necessary documentation to prove your losses and damages, both past and future. The lawyer’s goal is to help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.
If the insurance company’s settlement offer is not sufficient to cover all of your losses and damages, your lawyer will prepare a counteroffer and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Car Accidents in Phoenix, Arizona
How common are car accidents in Phoenix, Arizona?
Phoenix accounts for the largest number of car crashes in Arizona. In one recent year, nearly 35,300 car accidents injured more than 9,311 people and killed 207, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).
Can Arizona drivers recover damages if they were at fault for the accident?
The short answer is, “Yes, they can.” Drivers in Arizona can seek compensation even if they are at fault for the accident. An experienced car accident attorney in Phoenix can help you understand Arizona laws and pursue the compensation to which you are entitled.
How to determine fault in a car accident in Phoenix?
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, determining fault in a car accident may require an in-depth investigation. Consider contacting a Phoenix car accident attorney to investigate your crash and examine the facts of your accident to determine fault. In some cases, it may be necessary to retain accident reconstruction experts to determine how the accident occurred and who can be held responsible for causing it.
How long do Arizona drivers have to file a lawsuit?
Arizona Revised Statutes § 12-542 provides a statute of limitations on personal injury claims filed by victims of car accidents. The statute of limitations, which is the time limit to bring a lawsuit, is two years from the date of sustaining the injury. If you do not file suit before the deadline expires, you may lose your right to sue and recover money damages.
What compensation can you seek after a car accident in Phoenix, AZ?
If you sustain injuries in a car accident, the expenses associated with seeking treatment can skyrocket. On top of mounting bills, you may also lose income due to your inability to work and earn a living. In that situation, it makes perfect sense to wonder, “How can I recover damages?” and “What compensation can I seek after a Phoenix car accident?”
Since each case is unique and no two car accidents are the same, the compensation you can recover depends on the circumstances of your crash and the severity of your injuries.
Some of the recoverable damages after a car accident may include:
- Past and future medical bills
- Pain and suffering and other non-economic damages (emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, and others)
- Loss of income and diminished earning capacity
The financial hardships faced following a car accident can be significant. For this reason, you might want to consider hiring a Phoenix car accident lawyer to help you pursue fair and full compensation from the at-fault driver.
How can a Phoenix, Arizona car accident lawyer help me?
Handling a personal injury case can be a confusing and stressful experience, especially when you do not know what to do after a car accident and are not familiar with the laws in Arizona. Obtaining fair compensation can be a complicated process, even if the accident was not your fault.
Consider hiring a skilled car accident lawyer to handle the legal aspects of your claim while you can devote your time and energy to returning to your normal life. Your lawyer will negotiate with insurance companies and help you fight for the compensation you deserve.