Many people do not understand the actual value of their accident claim in the initial stages of processing. Insurance company adjusters are well-known for evaluating claims highlighting any technicality they can find to deny or lower the value of the claim, as this process is designed to benefit the insurance company. This event occurs in situations of serious injury because the company could stand to pay out extensive benefits that could be avoided with even a minor issue regarding negligence. Chief among those issues is the comparative negligence defense that is used as a negotiating tactic when claims are being settled, and especially when discussing long-term general damages for pain-and-suffering.
Determining Comparative Fault
Arizona is a “fault” insurance claim state that implements pure comparative negligence when accident injury claims are settled financially. What this means is that all injured claimants are compensated for damages that are not caused through their own negligence. Although the local law enforcement agency that investigated the accident will issue a report stating who is generally at fault, the actual degree of fault is not officially determined until a case is heard by a jury. Cases settled out of court are done when the negotiators reach consensus agreement. The cases that go to court are usually the result of an inability to agree, which will result in a jury determining the official comparative negligence percentage for each driver in the collision.
How Comparative Fault Percentage Applies
Injured claimants who are approved for financial compensation receive recovery based on their total damages claimed. This amount is then discounted by their comparative fault percentage. This typically applies only to drivers, as passengers are usually not assessed for causing an accident. The pure comparative doctrine means that even those who are 90% at fault for an accident will still receive 10% of their total damages when the case is settled. Individual claimants who do not retain legal representation are always at a disadvantage when settlements are being finalized, and especially if the case goes to court. All other parties will commonly have legal teams ensuring their comparative fault percentage is being properly applied, and those without counsel could easily have their compensation reduced even more without a legal team protecting their interests.
This component of an accident adjudication alone is enough to justify retaining an experienced auto accident attorney in Arizona who understands how to craft a case for maximum financial benefit. All insurance claims adjusters are trained professional negotiators who are primarily obligated to protecting the insurance company and their client, and are only responsible to claimants based on the extent of policy coverage. Claimants with representation often receive up to three times as much financial compensation as do those without counsel.