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Determining Fault After a New Mexico Car Crash

January 18, 2023
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Around 100 people per day are killed in motor vehicle accidents in the United States. What's more, according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System of the United States Department of Transportation, in 2018 alone, 33,650 fatal motor vehicle accidents resulted in about 36,560 deaths. Based on these statistics, automotive accidents are the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide.

It goes without saying that if you have been injured in an accident, you may feel concerned, apprehensive, and tense. It is normal to be anxious about missing work and losing pay or work as medical expenses mount.

Even if the accident or injuries look minor at first, you may be entitled to compensation if someone else's carelessness causes your injuries and other losses.

However, it is not as simple as it may seem. You will likely need to file a personal injury claim and determine fault. The procedure of making a claim for personal injury may be difficult, lengthy, and more involved than you anticipate, but an experienced team of accident attorneys can assist you.

New Mexico Auto Accident Data

Unfortunately, there were 470 automobile-related deaths in New Mexico in 2021. This is a substantial rise from the state's 2019 total of 425 road fatalities. According to Jeff Barela, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico Department of Transportation, the primary causes of fatal accidents in New Mexico during the last year were speeding, aggressive driving, and distracted driving. Even more tragically, the number of traffic-related deaths in 2021 was the highest in at least a decade.

The number of road deaths attributable to drunk driving declined throughout the same time. In 2019, there were just under 180 DUI-related accidents in New Mexico. In 2021, there were just 110 remaining. Barela claims a nearly 25 percent decrease in drunk driving-related accident fatalities over the previous year as proof of the lowest number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the last two decades.

Despite this, recent insurance statistics found that New Mexico drivers were the second worst in the US owing to the state's high proportion of reckless and drunk drivers.

In addition, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for New Mexico seems to support these results. Per NHTSA statistics, New Mexico ranked fifth for reckless driving, twelfth for speeding, and tenth for driving under the influence arrests.

Determining Fault After a Car Accident

Determining Fault After a New Mexico Car CrashNumerous states have adopted a "no-fault" system. In these states, each motorist is responsible for having his or her own insurance coverage. If you are injured in a no-fault state, your own vehicle insurance will cover your property damage and a portion of your medical expenses up to the no-fault limitations.

Still, most states include exclusions for deaths and catastrophic injuries. If your injuries are so serious that they surpass your insurance coverage, you may sue the responsible party for the remaining amount.

On the other hand, New Mexico follows a tort-based system, which is the same as a fault-based system. Each driver is thus liable for his or her own behavior and ultimate errors on the road.

In other words, if someone causes an accident, he or she (and his or her insurance company) may be held liable for damages, including bodily injury.

How is Fault Determined in New Mexico?

There are five fundamental characteristics that must be proven so that you can secure damages if you file a personal injury claim:

  • Other motorists owe you and all drivers on the road a duty of care: The law states that as soon as you get behind the wheel, you owe those on the road a responsibility to use reasonable care to prevent an accident and protect the welfare of others. A motorist bears a responsibility to all road users, including other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicycles, and motorcyclists.
  • The motorist in question violated this duty of care: If a motorist performs anything that violates or falls short of their obligation, there is a duty breach. This violation generates a presumption of culpability. However, establishing that the other driver committed an error is insufficient.
  • This breach of care ultimately caused your accident: You must also demonstrate that the precise cause of the crash was the other driver's breach. Consider the possibility that a motorist was texting while driving under the influence, both of which are certain violations. If you are the one who rear-ends him at a red light, however, his violation had nothing to do with the collision.
  • Finally, your injuries were caused directly by the car crash: After establishing that the other motorist owed you a legal obligation, breached that duty, and so caused the collision, you must demonstrate that you were injured as a direct result of the collision.

This may all seem basic, but it may get complicated. Suppose you have preexisting injuries and are involved in an accident. Even if their driver caused the collision, the insurance company might claim that the collision did not cause your injuries.

Moreover, you must also demonstrate the magnitude of your losses and damages. How severely were you injured, and how much compensation do you deserve for your injuries?

Contact a New Mexico Car Accident Attorney

The majority of vehicle collisions result in minor injuries or damage. At face value, accidents involving very little property damage and no serious injuries may not necessitate legal counsel.

However, working with an attorney is almost always beneficial, even for minor injuries. Unconsidered aspects of settling a car accident claim include a number of factors that a qualified personal injury lawyer can review with you and yours.

Remember that the best way to safeguard your legal rights after a crash is to consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

Call our automobile accident attorneys at Will Ferguson & Associates at (505) 243-5566 to find out whether you are eligible for compensation for your injuries.

If we determine that you and your family are qualified for compensation, we will handle every aspect of your legal claim and connect you with a team of highly regarded Albuquerque car accident lawyers.

Contact us immediately for a free, no-obligation consultation about your New Mexico auto accident. We are here to assist you in seeking justice.

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