Comparative Negligence In Arizona


Arizona is a “Comparative Negligence” state:

12-2505. Comparative negligence; definition

A. The defense of contributory negligence or of assumption of risk is in all cases a question of fact and shall at all times be left to the jury. If the jury applies either defense, the claimant’s action is not barred, but the full damages shall be reduced in proportion to the relative degree of the claimant’s fault which is a proximate cause of the injury or death if any. There is no right to comparative negligence in favor of any claimant who has intentionally, wilfully or wantonly caused or contributed to the injury or wrongful death.

B. In this section, “claimant’s fault” includes the fault imputed or attributed to a claimant by operation of law, if any.

What exactly does this mean if you’re involved in a personal injury claim in Arizona? 

It means that each person determined to have fault for an occurrence that results in injury to another is only responsible for the percentage of fault attributable to him/her.

Example: Car A is stopped, then is rear-ended by Car B, who is then rear-ended by Car C and pushed again into Car A.

Car A driver sustained injuries.  But—who caused the injuries?  Car B or Car C?

In Arizona, this determination must be made, and if the case cannot be settled by agreement, it will be settled at a jury trial.

So, if Car B is found 75% at fault, and Car C 25%, then Car B driver is responsible for 75% and Car C is responsible for 25% of Car A driver’s damages,

That is how “comparative negligence” works in Phoenix, Arizona. Personal injury law can be very complex. Having the right law firm will make all the difference in your case.

Most personal injury cases in Arizona hinge on the legal theory of “negligence.” Negligence refers to when someone does not take the proper care in doing something, which ultimately causes another person to be injured. Negligence is a complicated area of law, so it is helpful to break a case down to its basic elements. In order to win a negligence case, you must prove the following four things:

  1. Duty — That the defendant owed some type of duty to you, usually by virtue of your relationship. For example, a doctor has a duty to care for the health of his or her patient (e.g. providing the patient with proper medical care).
  2. Breach — That the defendant breached his or her duty to you by failing to exercise reasonable care. In the doctor-patient example, the doctor may breach the duty to care for a patient by administering the wrong treatment for the patient’s condition.
  3. Cause — That the defendant’s actions caused your injury.
  4. Damages — That there is some way that the court can compensate you for your injury. In a medical malpractice case, for example, the court may award the plaintiff with money damages to cover the cost of the medical care necessary to fix the doctor’s mistake.

Keep in mind that Arizona negligence laws follow the doctrine of comparative negligence, as opposed to other states that rely on contributory negligence laws. Under Arizona’s comparative negligence laws, an injured party is allowed to recover even if he or she is 99% at fault. The plaintiff’s money damages are then reduced by the amount in which he or she is at fault. Arizona does, however, block any recovery by the plaintiff if he or she intentionally caused or contributed to the injury or death.

Under the harsher contributory negligence laws used by other states, the plaintiff may not recover any damages if he or she contributed in any way to the injury — i.e. even if the plaintiff’s fault was as little as 1 percent.

The following chart highlights some of the main provisions of Arizona’s negligence laws.

A.R.S. §12-2505Definition of Comparative NegligenceIf the jury finds the plaintiff at fault, he or she is not barred from recovery. Instead, the plaintiff’s damages will be reduced by the proportionate degree of his or her fault.A plaintiff cannot recover if he or she intentionally caused or contributed to the injury.
A.R.S. §12-2501Right to ContributionIf 2 or more people are both liable for someone’s injury, there is a right of contribution — meaning the responsibility for paying the plaintiff’s damages is shared among all those responsible for the injury.

Note: State laws are constantly changing — contact an Arizona personal injury attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

More Information

If you’d like to find more information on this area of law in general, check out FindLaw’s section on negligence. You can also learn more about your case by browsing FindLaw’s more specific negligence topics relating to personal injurycar accidentsmedical malpractice, and product liability. Finally, if you are considering filing a claim, you may wwant to retain a personal injury attorney to help guide you through the complicated deadlines and procedures associated with Arizona negligence claims.