Arizona Car Accident and Personal Injury Laws



If you've been injured in a car accident in the State of Arizona, you may have questions about how the laws will affect your property damage and/or personal injury claim. In this article, we'll review the laws most commonly associated with car accidents. To read the entirety of each law, click the link to the specific State of Arizona statutes in each section.

Here are the Arizona car accident and traffic laws we'll cover:

Pedestrian Laws

Pedestrians and Crosswalks

The driver of a vehicle must stop and yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian has reached the halfway point of the crosswalk, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the crosswalk as to be in danger.
Section 28-792

Pedestrian Control Signals

Whenever special pedestrian control signals, exhibiting the words Walk or Don't Walk or the symbols of a walking person or an upraised palm are in place such signals shall indicate as follows:

  1. Walk or Walking Person. Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right of way by the drivers of all vehicles.
  2. Don't Walk or Upraised Palm. No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, whether flashing or steady. Any pedestrian who has partially completed the pedestrian's crossing on the Walk or Walking Person signal shall complete the crossing to a sidewalk or safety island while the Don't Walk or Upraised Palm signal is showing.
Section 28-646

Crossing at Other Than Crosswalks

Pedestrians intending to cross a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.

Pedestrians must use only the marked crosswalk to cross between two adjacent intersections that have traffic-control signals in operation.

Pedestrians can cross an intersection diagonally only when it is authorized by traffic-control devices.
Section 28-793

Pedestrians on Roadway

Where sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon adjacent roadway, bicycle lane, or bicycle path.

Where sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians are permitted to walk only on or along the left side of the roadway or on it's shoulder facing traffic from the opposite direction.
Section 28-796

Pedestrians' Right of Way on Sidewalks

The driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alley, building, private road, or driveway shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian approaching on any sidewalk extending across the alley, building entrance, road, or driveway.
Section 28-856

Drivers to Exercise Due Care

The driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the driver's horn when necessary and must exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or a confused or incapacitated person in the roadway.
Section 28-794

Pedestrians Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

The driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the driver's horn when necessary and must exercise proper precaution upon observing an incapacitated person in the roadway.
Section 28-794

Driving Laws

Obedience to Traffic Control Devices

A driver must obey any traffic control devices applicable to the driver, unless directed by a traffic or police officer.
Section 28-644

Driving on Right Side of Roadway

Drivers must drive in the right lane of roadways with the following exceptions:

  • When passing another driver in the same direction
  • When there is an obstruction in the right lane
  • Upon a roadway with three marked lanes for traffic
  • Upon a roadway restricted to one way traffic
Section 28-721

Passing On the Left

Driver proceeding in the same direction must pass to the left at at a safe distance and shall remain in the passing lane until it is safe to return to the right lane. Drivers being passed must not increase the speed of their vehicle until their vehicle is completely passed by the overtaking car.
Section 28-723

Limitations on Overtaking on the Left

Drivers may drive to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle only if the left side is clearly visible and the overtaking vehicle can return to its lane without coming within one hundred feet of oncoming traffic.
Section 28-725

Passing On the Right

Drivers may pass on the right under the following conditions:

  • When the driver about to be passed is about to make a left turn. However, the driver attempting to pass on the right must not do so without driving off the pavement of main-traveled portion of the roadway.
  • When the roadway has two (2) or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.
  • On a one-way street where the roadway is free from obstructions and wide enough for two or more lines of moving vehicles.
Section 28-724

Following Too Closely

A driver must not follow another driver more closely than is "reasonable and prudent", having due regard for the speed of other drivers and traffic conditions along the roadway.

A driver who is towing another vehicle must leave sufficient space ahead of their vehicle to allow an overtaking vehicle to enter and occupy this space without danger.
Section 28-730

Drivers and Intersections

When two (2) drivers approach an intersection at approximately the same time the driver on the left must yield to the driver in the right.
Section 28-771

Drivers Intending to Turn Left at Intersections

A driver who intends to turn left at an intersection must yield the right of way to drivers approaching from the opposite direction.
Section 28-772

Drivers Entering or Crossing a Roadway

A driver about to enter or cross a roadway from any place other than another roadway must yield the right of way to all other drivers on the roadway to be crossed.
Section 28-773

Bicycling Laws

Bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as drivers of cars, and are subject to the same penalties as are drivers for violating traffic laws.
Section 28-812

Motorcycling Laws

Motorcycles

Motorcyclists must obey the same traffic laws as drivers of cars, and are subject to the same penalties as are drivers for violating traffic laws.
Section 28-903

Motorcyclists and Lanes of Traffic

Motorcyclists are entitled to the full use of a traffic lane and drivers must not take any action to deprive a motorcyclist of his or her right to use a full lane on a roadway. A motorcyclist must not pass another driver in the same lane. Motorcyclists are permitted to ride two (2) abreast in a single lane.
Section 28-903

"Lane Splitting"

Motorcyclists must not pass another driver in the same lane. Commonly known as "lane splitting," motorcyclists sometimes attempt to pass other drivers when traffic is slowed, or bumper to bumper. To move forward through traffic motorcyclists sometimes drive between cars. Doing so is not only illegal, but quite dangerous.
Section 28-903

Helmet Law

All motorcyclists must wear helmets while riding on roadways. If the motorcycle is not equipped with a windshield, then motorcyclists must also wear protective eyewear while riding on roadways.
Section 28-964

Motorcycles and Headlights

Every motorcycle riding on a roadway must have at least one and not more than two lighted headlights turned on.
Section 28-924

Driving Offenses and Accident Requirements

Reckless Driving

A driver who drives in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving, and can be fined and imprisoned.
Section 28-693

Driver's Duty to Give Information and Render Aid

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person, including other drivers, passengers, and/ or passersby must give their name and address and the registration number of the vehicle the driver is driving. And, on request, exhibit their driver license to the person struck or the driver or occupants of or person attending a vehicle collided with.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Section 28-663

Accidents Involving Death, Personal Injury, or Substantial Bodily Injury

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person must immediately stop and remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Section 28-663.

Section 28-663 reads in part that the driver must give their name and address and the registration number of the vehicle the driver is driving. And, on request, exhibit their driver license to the person struck or the driver or occupants of or person attending a vehicle collided with.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Section 28-663
Section 28-661

Accidents Involving Only Damage to Another Car or Property

A driver involved in an accident resulting only in damage to property or another car which is driven or attended by any person must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Section 28-663.
Section 28-662
Section 28-663

Accidents Involving Damage to Unattended Car or Unattended Property

A driver who collides with a parked car or who collides with other property which is unattended must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must attempt to locate and notify the driver or owner of the damaged car or damaged property.

Once located the driver who caused the accident must give the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle that caused the accident.

If the driver or owner of the damaged car or property cannot be located, the driver who caused the accident must attach a written note to the damaged property in a conspicuous place giving the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle that caused the accident.
Section 28-664

Driver's Duty to Notify Police Department

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death must immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice to the nearest police department, county sheriff, or highway patrol.
Section 28-666

Accident Reports Filed By Police Departments

A law enforcement officer who investigates a motor vehicle accident resulting in bodily injury, death, damage to the property totalling more than $1,000, or a citation must complete a written report of the accident within 24 hours after completing the investigation.

A law enforcement officer who investigates a motor vehicle accident that results in damage to the property totalling $1,000 or less, but that does not result in a citation or bodily injury or death, must complete a portion of the written report of the accident within 24 hours of completing the investigation.
Section 28-667

Accident Report Forms

The department must prepare and on request supply to police departments, sheriffs and other suitable agencies forms for accident reports.

The written reports to be made by investigating officers must provide sufficiently detailed information about the the cause of the accident as well as the conditions and the persons and vehicles involved.
Section 28-669

Open Alcohol Container Law

An opened container of an alcoholic beverage cannot be kept in the passenger compartment of a vehicle on Arizona roadways. Passenger compartment does not include the trunk, a locked glove compartment or the area behind the last upright seat of a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a trunk.

Passengers of a hired vehicle, such as a bus, limousine, or taxi, and passengers in the living quarters of a motor home can consume and possess an opened container.
Section 4-251

Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

It is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drug, or under substances that cause impairment to the slightest degree.

Also, it is unlawful for a person to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more within two hours of driving or being in control of the vehicle.
Section 28-1381

Ignition Interlock Device

A driver who is guilty of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant might be ordered to have installed at his or her own expenses an ignition interlock device. The ignition interlock device will serve to restore the driver's driving privileges during the pendency of the driver's probation. If an ignition device is installed, it must be installed in every car owned or operated by the driver.

An ignition interlock is a device which measures any amount of alcohol contained in a driver's body. Before starting the car the driver must blow into a tube emanating from the ignition interlock device. If the device then detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than is permitted by law the car will not start and the violation will be reported to the prosecutor, the probation officer, and/or the judge. At that point the driver may be subject to loss of driving privileges, immediate arrest and incarceration up to the maximum term provided by law.
Section 28-1401

Liability Laws

Arizona Dram Shop Law

Arizona has a Dram Shop Law. Dram Shop Law refers to the liability of establishments with liquor licenses who serve alcohol to patrons or to minors for injuries intoxicated patrons or minors cause to third parties such as in car accidents.

Under Arizona law, it is illegal to serve alcohol to a minor or a person who is obviously intoxicated. A licensee is liable for the personal and property damages caused by the minor or intoxicated person after consuming liquor from the licensee's establishment.
Section 4-311

The law limits liability of the licensee in two cases. One, the licensee is not liable for personal injury or property damages caused by an intoxicated adult to the intoxicated adult's own property or person. Two, the licensee is not liable for personal injury or property damages caused by an intoxicated person to another adult who was present when the intoxicated person consumed the liquor.
Section 4-312

Financial Responsibility Car Insurance Minimum Limits

In the State of Arizona, each motor vehicle must be covered by an insurance policy that includes liability coverage of the following amounts for all damages resulting from an accident:

  • At least $15,000 per person
  • At least $30,000 for two or more people
  • $10,000 per occurrence for property damage
Section 28-4135
Section 28-4009

Arizona Insurance Information

For information about insurance requirement, see the Arizona Department of Insurance website.

Pure Comparative Negligence

In Arizona, the victim in a car accident can claim compensation even if they contributed to the causes of the accident. The victim's compensation is determined by their comparative contribution to causing the accident.
Section 12-2501

Example of Pure Comparative Negligence

One morning, Jackson was driving north on his way to work. At an intersection, he pulled into the left turn lane. At the same time, Melanie approached the intersection from the opposite direction. Suddenly, Jackson turned left into Melanie's lane and their cars collided.

Melanie sustained serious brain injuries and damage to her car, totalling in $100,000 dollars worth of damages.

After their investigation, the police determined that Jackson had failed to yield according to traffic laws. A pedestrian witness told police he saw Melanie reading a fold-out map at the time Jackson's car crashed into Melanie's. As a result, the police issued Melanie a citation for reckless driving.

Melanie sued Jackson for $100,000 and claimed he was 100% at fault for the accident because he did not yield to her right-of-way. At trial, the jury found Jackson liable for failing to yield the right-of-way. However, the jury also found Melissa liable for reckless driving and partially responsible for the accident.

The verdict stated Jackson's negligence equaled 70% of the accident, and Melanie's equaled 30%. The jury awarded Melanie only $70,000 dollars.
Pure comparative negligence: Section 12-2501
Right of way: Section 28-772
Reckless driving: Section 28-693

Arizona's Fault-based Car Insurance

In Arizona, the law requires car owners to purchase car insurance. The fault-based system in Arizona requires at least one driver to be held at fault for the car accident. The at-fault driver is responsible for compensating the victims of the car accident for personal injuries and property damages, using the auto insurance coverage they purchased from their insurance company.

For information about auto insurance in Arizona, see the Department of Insurance handbook.

Statute of Limitations

Arizona has a two (2) year statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury claims. This means if a driver, passenger, or passerby is injured or sustains property damage at the hands of a negligent driver, the victim must either settle their claim within two (2) years, or file a lawsuit.

If the victim fails to settle their claim or file a lawsuit within the two (2) year period the victim is barred from pursuing the negligent driver in court.
Section 12-542

Small Claims Courts

In Arizona, victims of car accidents can choose to sue the negligent driver in small claims court. The jurisdiction of a small claims court regarding personal injury and property damage is limited to a maximum of $10,000, exclusive of filing fees and court costs.

To submit a claim in small claims court, visit the Self Service Center webpage of the Arizona State Judiciary website.

Arizona Government Tort Claims - Sovereign Immunity

In Arizona, it is possible to submit a claim against a governmental agency or its employees for personal injury or property damage as a result of negligence on the part of the governmental agency or its employees.

The claim must refer to an lawful action on the part of the governmental agency or employee performed in the scope of their duties and they must have intended to cause injury or they were grossly negligent.

If the injury or property damage occurred as a result of an unlawful action, then the claimant can sue only the person(s) who caused injury or property damage individually. The governmental agency would not be liable.
Section 12-820.02

Example

If Melissa, an engineer with the Scottsdale Planning Department, ran a red light on her way to a worksite and caused an accident, then the City of Scottsdale would be liable for the property damage and personal injuries caused her.

If Melissa stopped for a few drinks and became intoxicated before heading to a worksite and causing an accident, then the City of Scottsdale can claim sovereign immunity. Melissa performed an unlawful act and was not acting in the scope of her duties when she became intoxicated on her way to the worksite.

To seek compensation for damages, injured parties would have to sue Melissa personally. The determination of whether or not Melissa was acting within the scope of her duties would have to be decided during a trial.

Arizona does not place a cap on the maximum amount of damages that can be claimed against a government agency or its employees.
Section 12-820.02
NCSL

Sources

State Government of Arizona

Arizona Department of Transportation

Arizona State Legislature

Arizona Department of Public Safety

Governors Highway Safety Association

Arizona Bar Association

National Conference on State Legislature

Print Friendly and PDF

How Much Is Your Claim Worth?

Find out now with a FREE case review from an attorney...

How Much Are Your
Injuries Worth?

Find out with a
free attorney review:

TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION