How Do Comparative Fault Laws in New Mexico Affect Recovery for Personal Injuries?
Each state has different laws regarding how the claims processes works after an incident where you have been injured. Some states have implemented a no-fault system, where for example drivers involved in a car wreck can turn to their own insurance, regardless of fault.
But New Mexico maintains a traditional tort system of liability, also called an at-fault system. In New Mexico, fault dictates whether you can recover – and if so, how much – damages after an accident. Here’s what you need to know–
AT-FAULT DRIVERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYING FOR ACCIDENTS
The basis of a tort system is that drivers are responsible for paying for the accidents that they cause. This means that if you are injured by a speeding, drunk, inattentive otherwise negligent person, you can file a claim with that negligent party’s insurance company, or you can file a lawsuit directly against that person or company.
CAN I FILE A CLAIM WITH MY OWN INSURANCE COMPANY?
The only time that your own insurance company may pay for some of your damages is in the event that you carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, or you carry Medical Payments Coverage (MPC), which helps to pay for your medical expenses in an accident, regardless of fault. Your insurer may also help cover your damages if you carry collision and comprehensive coverage for car accidents.
WHAT IF I’M FOUND PARTIALLY AT FAULT?
Many accidents occur because of a combination of factors. Fault may not be obvious, and officers and experts may conclude that both parties contributed to an accident. For example, a driver who ran through a red light at an intersection may be found to be 90 percent at fault for an accident. The driver who was hit, though, may have been on their cellphone at the time of crash, and perhaps could have avoided the accident if not for the distraction. As such, the other driver is found to be 10 percent at fault.
When a situation like this arises and you are found to be partially at fault for your accident, your compensation award will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. Using the example above, if you suffered $10,000 worth of damages, but are found to be 10 percent at fault, your compensation award would be reduced by $1,000. This is what’s known as a pure comparative fault theory of negligence, and was established by the New Mexico Supreme Court in Scott v. Rizo.
HOW OUR ALBUQUERQUE INJURY ATTORNEYS CAN HELP
If you are injured due the negligence of others and are worried about how allegations of fault may compromise your damages amount, you should call the Law Offices of Allan L. Wainwright today for a free consultation. Our experienced Albuquerque car accident lawyer will investigate the case and advise you as to the compensation award you deserve. Reach us now online or at 888-313-7452 for a free consultation.