If you’ve been in a car accident recently, you want to give serious consideration to ensuring your physical and financial health. Insurance companies may encourage you to settle any claims quickly on their terms. But remember, you do not have to settle quickly or under their terms.
Arizona law protects you from unfair claims or settlements. So whether you are the victim of an an accident due to an unsafe driver, or accused of causing an accident, we can help.
Our team at Petersen Johnson is here to help you get the best settlement and best medical care possible under the law. So before you settle with an insurance company, be sure to talk with us first about your rights.
One of the first things we need to fully understand your accident and your case is your accident report. In Arizona, vehicle accident reports are fairly standardized. With a little insight, you can understand the details documented in your accident report in order to help ensure you get the settlement the law guarantees you.
First Things First: Get a Copy of Your Accident Report
You absolutely must obtain a copy of your accident report. You need it and we need it to provide your best legal representation.
Arizona law enforcement officials are required to complete a detailed accident report at the scene of every accident. Once complete, they then submit the report to the Arizona Department of Transportation Traffic Records. Once your accident report is filed, you have the right (and personal obligation) to get a copy of it.
It’s important that you get a copy of your accident report as soon as possible. When it comes to protecting your rights under Arizona law, time is not your friend.
If you have not already obtained a copy of your accident report, you can do so online here.
The details documented in the report will be used as evidence in your case, whether or not you go to court to seek damages or protect yourself from claims. Insurance companies will use this report to determine and settle claims. So even if your case does not go to court, your accident report will affect your outcome.
Details in your report will include information about all involved parties, the vehicles involved, and the officer’s determination for who was at fault and what caused the accident. If you were involved in the accident, you have a right to obtain a copy of this report.
Remember, your accident report contains legally important information and will be used for you or against you by insurance companies and in court.
Understanding Your Arizona Accident Report
Once you have a copy of your accident report, you can begin to understand the details of your case.
Who did the officer cite as “at fault?”
How did the officer document damages to the vehicles involved?
What does the report say about you and your involvement?
Knowing these facts before you talk with your insurance company — or anyone else except your lawyer — is important to protecting yourself and your rights.
Fortunately, the Arizona accident report is standardized and fairly simply to decipher. Here’s what you need to know:
1. The top section in blue includes the basic summary of your accident.
The number of people involved
The number of injuries or fatalities
The precise location of the accident
Whether an involved party left the scene
Give this section a careful read to identify any potential errors. Officers are only human and while it’s rare, it is possible that some of the details could be inaccurate. If they are, we will want to work together to correct the record to protect your interests.
2. The next section in red is considerably more detailed. This is where we see the who, what, when, where why and how of the accident.
Driver names, insurance information, vehicle information and other critical details will be found here. This section will even include details on whether or not you or the other party were wearing a seatbelt.
Needless to say, it’s crucial that you review every detail of this section as soon as possible so we have time to dispute or correct any inaccuracies.
3. The green and orange sections that follow contain contact information for involved parties and reporting officers. Again, you should verify the accuracy of this information.
4. The next sections in purple and green are your officer’s account of what happened in picture form and his or her own words. These accounts will be used as evidence by your insurance company and a court of law, so it’s important to understand what the officer enters here so we can work together to use this information for your benefit or correct the record if necessary.
5. The last section in yellow contains many small details of your accident that could have a big impact on your case. Go over these with a fine-toothed comb to identify any inaccuracies or missing information. One small detail here could have a very big impact on your outcome.
If you have a copy of your accident report and would like our help in understanding it, contact us today. We can help you carefully review all of the details of your report and take appropriate steps to ensure your rights are fully protected.