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Understanding Arizona’s Pure Comparative Negligence Law

February 26, 2023 Legal Team

A person who has been injured due to the negligent actions of another may have the right to seek financial compensation for the damages they’ve suffered. However, in certain cases, the injured party may have been partially responsible for their own injuries, in which case their ability to claim damages could be limited. This is known as comparative negligence, and it can significantly reduce the amount of damages that the plaintiff is eligible to receive.

What is Comparative Negligence? 

Comparative negligence is an important concept in the world of personal injury law and refers to the degree of fault each party holds for an accident or injury. Depending on the type of comparative negligence in place and the amount of fault attributed to each party, the victim may or may not be able to recover damages. The following types of comparative negligence include:

Pure Comparative Negligence 

One type is pure comparative negligence, which is applied in a few states, including Arizona. Under this law, a plaintiff injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence can still receive compensation even if they are 99% at fault. However, their total compensation will be reduced by their percentage of fault. 

Modified Comparative Negligence 

Additionally, modified comparative negligence applies in most states and functions similarly to pure comparative negligence but with one major difference—the plaintiff cannot recover damages if they were more than 50% or 51% (depending on the state) at fault for the accident or injury. If they are less than 50% at fault, they can recover damages, which will then be reduced by their percentage of fault. 

Contributory Negligence 

Finally, there is contributory negligence which applies only in a handful of states. Under this system, plaintiffs are barred from recovering damages even if they are only 1% at fault for the accident or injury—no matter how small their contribution might have been.  

Example of pure comparative fault in Arizona: One driver (Driver A) ran a red light while speeding and crashed into another driver (Driver B) who was texting but going the speed limit and going through a green light. In this situation, it’s clear that both parties are at least partially at fault. 

Had the driver that was hit not been texting, they may have seen the speeding driver and been able to avoid them. It’s also clear that the driver who was speeding and ran the red light was significantly more at fault than the other driver.

At some point, there would be a determination made regarding the percentage of fault for each party. In this case, it could be said that Driver A was 75% responsible for the accident and Driver B was 25% responsible. 

Driver B is awarded $100,000. In this case, Driver A would only be responsible for 75% of this, so Driver B would take home %75,000. 

Types of Evidence That Will Be Used to Prove Fault

It’s important to know what types of evidence you need to prove that another party was at fault in an accident. The most common types include:

Video Footage

In many cases, there is video footage of the accident. This can come from a witness who recorded the incident, but most often comes from a doorbell camera from a home nearby or a surveillance camera from a nearby business. 

Witness Testimony

If there were eyewitnesses to the accident, their testimony can be very valuable in helping to prove fault. A witness’s account of what happened can help corroborate your version of events or provide additional evidence that helps establish liability. 

Expert Witnesses

Expert witnesses are professionals with expertise related to the type of accident. For example, in a car accident claim, this might include experts that can review an accident scene and re-create it digitally to provide insight into how the accident occurred and who was responsible. 

If you need assistance with any type of personal injury claim in Phoenix, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a free consultation.