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The Stupid Motorist Law in Arizona is Back

stupid motorist law arizona

Few things are as scary as being trapped in a vehicle with water rising around you. But imagine that experience being followed by a fine. In Arizona, it is now possible that you’ll be held liable for driving onto a road that is temporarily covered by water and barricaded if you or your passengers need emergency assistance as a result of getting stuck.

What Does the Law Say?

The new Arizona statute emphasizes the importance of being cautious on a road that is temporarily covered by water and barricaded. It holds drivers responsible for driving onto such a road, only to be left stuck as a result of the rising waters. To be specific, the law states:

A driver of a vehicle who drives the vehicle on a public street or highway that is temporarily covered by a rise in water level, including groundwater or overflow of water, and that is barricaded because of flooding is liable for the expenses of any emergency response that is required to remove from the public street or highway the driver or any passenger in the vehicle that becomes inoperable on the public street or highway or the vehicle that becomes inoperable on the public street or highway, or both.

If a driver is convicted of breaking this law, they may be held liable for the expenses associated with an emergency response required to remove the driver or passengers from the area in danger and for removal of the inoperable vehicle, with a maximum responsibility of up to $2,000 per incident. Those expenses may be collected by a public agency, non-profit entity, or for-profit entity that has incurred them in their effort to save the driver or passengers.

According to the law, those expenses include “the costs of providing police, fire fighting, rescue, and emergency medical services at the scene of an incident and the salaries of the persons who respond to the incident but do not include charges assessed by an ambulance service that is regulated pursuant to title 36, chapter 21.1, article 2.” Additionally, the law states that an insurance company may exclude such expenses from coverage, meaning that a driver may not be able to count on their insurance policy to cover the expenses that directly stem from breaking this law.

As one news station has reported, the intent behind putting this law in place is to prevent dangerous emergency situations and allocate the financial burdens of emergency responses among those responsible. In addition to the maximum responsibility of $2,000, it is important to note that the driver may be responsible for other legal repercussions that are associated with the incident. For example, if you cause an accident and damage to another party’s vehicle as a result of your actions, you may be held liable for those damages under the law of negligence.

What Should You Do if You Encounter Rising Waters While Driving in Arizona?

If you are surprised by rising waters while driving, encounter a flooded road, or get hit with a flash flood, follow these tips to safety:

  • Do not ignore any roadblocks or barricades — they have been placed on the road for a good reason! Turn around if you can do so safely, and get to a safe place.
  • Avoid driving through moving water, as it can not only sweep your vehicle off the road but also cause your engine to stall, potentially causing irreparable damage.
  • If you must drive through standing water, gauge its depth as accurately as possible first. If water is rising around you, abandon the car and move to higher ground.
  • Turn on your headlights and hazard lights so that emergency personnel may see you more quickly and easily.
  • Stay calm and cool, and try not to become overwhelmed or frustrated.
  • Call for help as soon as possible.

Rising waters are just one reason you might be involved in a car wreck in Arizona. If that happens, you’re going to face an uphill battle to secure compensation for repair bills, medical expenses, and lost wages. To better protect your rights, let’s explore the steps you should take if you’re involved in an accident.

What Should You Do if You Are in a Car Accident in Arizona?

If you’ve been in a car accident in Arizona, it is important that you take certain steps to protect your legal rights, get the medical care you need in order to recover from your injuries, and preserve your right to recover compensation for your damages. Take the following steps after an accident:

  • Pull over to safety and call the authorities to report the accident.
  • Take photographs of the scene, any damage to vehicles or other property, and any personal injuries.
  • Obtain contact information for the other parties involved and any witnesses, and try to get or record a statement from any witnesses about what happened.
  • Seek out a comprehensive medical evaluation and the care you need for any personal injuries you’ve suffered in the accident.
  • Consult with an experienced and knowledgeable Arizona car accident attorney about protecting your legal rights and seeking compensation for your damages.

Regardless of the reason for your accident — whether it’s weather-related or not, you need a car accident lawyer you can trust.

How Can Gerber Injury Law Help with Your Arizona Car Accident Claim?

At Gerber Injury Law, we have helped clients achieve justice and fair recoveries for their injuries for nearly 30 years. Clients throughout Arizona trust us with their most complex cases, including car accidents where the facts are serious, murky, or hard to understand. In fact, we have recovered more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts since 2001.

An Arizona car accident claim can quickly become complicated, particularly where insurance companies are involved, and you need an attorney on your side to handle even the toughest negotiations against large insurers, who often have large legal teams and significant resources on their side.

If a fair and reasonable settlement is not possible, our Arizona car accident attorneys are ready to represent you at trial — in fact, we are trial attorneys with many years of experience litigating cases. You need an attorney with experience going to trial and achieving positive verdicts. Call our Arizona personal injury attorneys for a free consultation at 623-486-8300, or click here to reach us online.