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When Snowbirds Collide with Arizona Residents

By Breyer Law Offices on March 22, 2019

Residents from the northern states, as well as Canada, flock to Arizona every winter. Hoping to avoid the cold climates they come from, they stay in Arizona for several months. They come to enjoy the beautiful weather, while taking in the gorgeous scenery and the famous sights throughout the state. But they end up spending a lot of time on the roads, which is one of the reasons accidents spike in Arizona during the winter months.

If you live in one of the areas snowbirds find most attractive, and you want to avoid being involved in an accident, you’ll need to be especially vigilant during these months. But how can you tell if you live in one of the places snowbirds flock to? Do you know what risks they pose? As an Arizonan, do you know what to do if you are in an accident with a snowbird?

Popular Arizona Cities Among Snowbirds

Arizona has many great cities, making it difficult for many snowbirds to choose which to call home during the colder months. That said, some of the most popular choices include:

• Prescott
• Tucson
• Sedona
• Phoenix
• Scottsdale
• Tempe

While snowbirds can be found throughout all parts of Arizona, permanent residents of these cities should be particularly aware of the increased risks snowbirds pose to them during the fall and winter months.

Snowbirds Dangers on Arizona Roads

Some snowbirds travel with their own motor vehicles. Others choose to wait until they reach The Copper State so they can pick up something that is not considered legal on the streets where they’re from, such as a golf cart.

In either case, having more vehicles on the road increases the dangers on Arizona’s streets and highways. Whether it’s snowbirds or Arizonians, more cars means more traffic, and more traffic means an increased risk of an accident occurring.

Despite the regularity of their visits, snowbirds are essentially tourists. Being less familiar with the area, they may experience navigational issues, which can cause a number of different types of accidents. For example, heavy reliance on satellite navigation and GPS devices can result in accidents caused by distracted driving. Wrong-way accidents can occur when snowbirds don’t realize they are turning down a one-way street. And, when a snowbird gets lost, their confusion can lead to erratic maneuvers, likewise resulting in an accident.

But it isn’t only cars. During the fall and winter months, Arizonians will see far more motor homes and golf carts on the roads, as well, and each of these poses its own risks. Because golf carts don’t offer passengers very much protection, any person using one may be seriously injured if they’re involved in an accident. On the other hand, motor homes, which are extremely large, pose a greater risk to the vehicles around them. What makes matters worse is that many snowbirds do not regularly operate these types of vehicles, making them inexperienced drivers unused to maneuvering them.

Coverage in the Case of an Accident with a Snowbird

Arizona is a tort auto insurance state. This means that, when there’s an accident, injured individuals must go through the insurance company of the at-fault driver in order to claim benefits. The process is the same for any accident in Arizona, even if it involves a driver who isn’t a resident of the state, as is the case with snowbirds.

Unfortunately, not all snowbirds get proper coverage before coming to Arizona. While some may be covered by the insurance policies they carry at home, many will not. In the case of Canadian snowbirds, insurance does not typically extend beyond a person’s home country. Those who are aware of this may get additional coverage to protect them while they’re traveling. But many snowbirds have no idea they won’t be covered by their existing policy, or, if they are aware, they may choose to ignore it.

Arizona requires you to go through the at-fault driver’s insurance. But, what if you are in an accident where the at-fault party is a snowbird without coverage?

Unfortunately, many Arizonians are unaware that their insurance policies do not provide uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, and that it is not required by law. If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance and the injured party doesn’t have UM/UIM, there may not be a policy to collect on.

Contact an Attorney Who Can Help

Having insurance is important, but that will only cover so much. In Arizona, auto accidents are also governed by personal injury legal statutes. This means that when you’re in an accident, and the other driver is an at-fault snowbird without insurance, you can file a personal injury claim against them. You just need the help of a knowledgeable, local personal injury attorney, who has the experience to navigate these types of cases.

At Breyer Law Offices, P.C., we want to help anyone injured in a car accident in Arizona to get the compensation they need and deserve. If you’ve been hurt, contact us at (602) 267-1280 so we can get started on your case right away.

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