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Proving Fault in a Pedestrian Accident

Earlier this year, Axios cited data showing that Arizona had the second-highest pedestrian fatality rate of any state in the country in 2022. Only New Mexico had a worse traffic safety record for pedestrians. A disproportionate number of catastrophic pedestrian collisions in Arizona happen within the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. 

A negligent driver—or any other negligent party—can be held legally liable for a pedestrian’s injuries. However, these cases can be complicated. In Arizona, an injured pedestrian must prove fault in order to establish liability. Within this article, our Phoenix pedestrian accident lawyer explains the central things that you need to know about proving fault after a collision in Arizona. 

Why it Matters: Arizona is a Fault-Based, Pure Comparative Negligence State

Does it matter who is at fault for a pedestrian crash in Phoenix? The answer is a clear and resounding “yes.” Arizona is a fault-based motor vehicle accident state—including pedestrian collisions. Further, a pure comparative negligence system is used to apportion the liability after a crash. Here is a more detailed overview of what that means for your case: 

  • Pedestrian Accident Liability is Based on Fault: When a car strikes a person walking, it matters why that happened. The at-fault party can be held liable for the resulting damages. In Arizona pedestrian accident claims, fault is generally based on negligence. The party—whether a driver, a truck company, or the pedestrian —who failed to take the proper care can be held liable for the crash. For example, if a distracted driver ran a red light and hit a pedestrian in Maricopa County, he or she can be held liable for the victim’s injuries. 
  • Pure Comparative Negligence Apportions Liability: More than one party may be at fault for a pedestrian crash. Indeed, it is not uncommon for both a driver and a pedestrian to share some of the blame. Under Arizona law (A.R.S. § 12-2505), a pure comparative negligence standard applies. A pedestrian who is partially at fault for his or her own accident can still recover compensation—but that compensation will be reduced. For example, if you are deemed 25% at fault for a pedestrian accident because you “jaywalked,” you would bear 25% of the liability for your own damages. To be clear, a single percentage point of fault could represent hundreds or even thousands of dollars. 

Every Serious Pedestrian Crash Requires a Thorough Investigation

Determining fault for a pedestrian crash in Arizona is not always such a straightforward process. In some cases, an injured pedestrian could be left dealing with a driver who is misrepresenting what happened to law enforcement officers and/or the insurance company. Every serious pedestrian crash requires a detailed investigation. A thorough investigation helps ensure that everyone’s story is heard and the truth is uncovered. Be proactive: Consult with a top-tier Phoenix pedestrian accident lawyer who can start an investigation right away after a bad crash. You do not want to rely on any insurance company to conduct a fair and impartial investigation on your behalf. 

An Overview of Evidence that Can Be Used to Prove Fault in a Pedestrian Accident

How do you prove fault in a pedestrian accident injury in Arizona? As with any other type of legal claim, the answer ultimately comes down to evidence. That is why an investigation is so important. You need strong, comprehensive, compelling supporting evidence that establishes why the other party bears liability for your crash. Relevant evidence can come in a wide array of different forms. Here is a list of some of the most common types of evidence used to prove fault in a pedestrian injury case: 

  • Police Report: Every pedestrian crash that results in injuries should be reported to law enforcement. In most cases, the first piece of evidence considered is the police report. An accident report will typically include details about the accident, statements from those involved, officers’ observations, and other important information. It helps to form the foundation of a claim. 
  • Photographs: Pictures can speak volumes about the accident scene. Photos might include skid marks, vehicle damage, road conditions, traffic signals, and injuries. Ultimately, the photographs provide a visual record of the scene at the time of the accident. They can be a valuable form of evidence to prove what happened and establish fault.
  • Your Testimony: What you experienced matters. Your account of the pedestrian accident is also significant evidence. You will have an opportunity to describe what you saw, heard, and experienced before, during, and after the accident. Being clear, consistent, and honest in your testimony is crucial. As a best practice, you should work with an attorney to write down what happened shortly after the crash. 
  • Witness Statements: Eyewitness testimony can be very compelling. Others who saw the accident can provide independent accounts of what happened. These statements can confirm details, provide additional perspectives, or even offer new information that wasn’t previously considered. Witnesses can include bystanders, other drivers, or passengers. 
  • Accident Reconstruction: In some pedestrian accident cases, the details of an accident are complicated or unclear. In such cases, professionals can reconstruct the accident using the available evidence, physics, and specialized software. The process can clarify things like the speed of the vehicles, the point of impact, and the movements of the people involved. It is particularly useful in complex cases where the basic evidence does not provide a clear picture of fault. In general, these types of expert witnesses are generally only brought in when there is a serious dispute over fault for the pedestrian crash.  

Contact Our Phoenix, AZ Pedestrian Accident Attorney Today

At The Law Office of Paul J. Dombeck, PLLC, our Phoenix pedestrian accident lawyer is standing by, ready to fight aggressively to protect your rights. Have any questions about proving fault in a pedestrian crash case? We can help. Contact our personal injury team now for a no-cost, no-obligation, and strictly confidential initial consultation. From our legal office in Phoenix, we handle pedestrian accident cases in Maricopa County and throughout the surrounding region in Arizona. 

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