Determining Liability in Slip and Fall Accidents: A New Mexico Perspective

Scratches and bruises are the most common injuries that might result from a slip-and-fall incident. However, these accidents often cause injuries that are far more serious. In fact, the National Floor Safety Institute estimates that one million individuals visit the emergency department annually as a result of slip and fall incidents. These incidents can be particularly dangerous for the elderly, who are more likely to suffer from life-threatening complications as a result of their injuries.

However, in New Mexico, not every slip and fall accident qualifies as an actionable claim under premises liability laws. If you've been injured and need answers concerning New Mexico's premises liability laws or guidance filing a claim, don't hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Will Ferguson & Associates in Albuquerque. Our premises liability lawyers in New Mexico are ready to help you and yours if you've been hurt on another person's property due to negligence.

Premises Liability Claims in New Mexico

Determining Liability in Slip and Fall Accidents: A New Mexico PerspectiveEssentially, premises liability comprises a property owner's legal responsibility to protect the well-being of invitees. That said, when someone is hurt on their property, they can't automatically file a premises liability claim in New Mexico. For instance, if an accident occurred due to your own carelessness rather than the owner's negligence, you would have no legal grounds to sue them.

Similarly, if a property owner has warned you enough about a dangerous condition, you may not have a case. In New Mexico, fault and negligence are evaluated on a comparative basis. If the plaintiff and the defendant are both found partially at fault, then the damages will be divided proportionately to each party's degree of negligence.

And, of course, there are some exceptions to laws on premises liability in New Mexico. For instance, if the accident happened while you were trespassing on another person's private property, you cannot file a claim for premises responsibility against that person.

Liability For Slip-and-Fall Claims in New Mexico

Homeowners, company owners, and lot owners in New Mexico are each individually liable for the security of their own properties. Nevertheless, an owner's responsibility to look after you as a visitor depends on your status as a guest. Three distinct categories exist:

  • Invitees: Anyone granted permission to enter private property for an authorized activity, typically for business, is considered an invitee. An invitation to the premises could be made explicitly or implicitly. Homeowners are responsible to their invitees to check the property, maintain it safely, and display any appropriate warning signs.
  • Licensees: The law also permits a licensee to access a property, but the licensee does so for his or her own benefit and not the owner's. Consider a friend who drops by unexpectedly or a utility provider who wants to do some maintenance on the property.
  • Unauthorized individuals, or trespassers: Anyone entering someone else's property without their owner's consent or legal authorization is committing trespassing. Unless the trespasser is a child under the age of 18, the owner of the property has no responsibility to protect the trespasser from harm whilst they are on the property. With that said, a landowner can't use physical force against a trespasser only to keep them off their property.

Who is at fault for your accident will also determine who is liable. Someone else might be held liable if someone other than the property owner is responsible for your injuries. Employees while on the clock or those who make the products might be held liable. Before submitting a claim, you must ascertain your position on the property and the owner's actions or lack thereof.

Defenses to Slip-and-Fall Claims

Winning a lawsuit involving a slip, trip, and fall is not always easy. Due to the huge volume of cases that are deemed frivolous or fraudulent, the courts often examine these cases with great care. To improve your claim, you should think about the other party's potential defenses and how they could try to avoid paying. Typical defenses comprise:

  • Unawareness of the danger: Perhaps the property owner will claim that the danger was so novel that they could not discover it in time to remedy the situation. The proprietor may not have had constructive notice of the issue if the danger was recurrent, like a business that waxes its floors once a week.
  • Open and obvious dangers: A potential defense to a premises liability lawsuit may be that the fall-causing hazard was so plain and visible that any reasonable person could have noticed it and taken precautions. Some examples are clearly defined areas that are undergoing construction or spills that are brightly colored and easy to see.
  • Comparative responsibility: Your actions, such as staring at your phone or wearing shoes that aren't safe, may have contributed to your accident, according to this defense. The doctrine of comparative negligence or responsibility does not exclude monetary recovery in the state of New Mexico. Unfortunately, it can potentially lower your compensatory compensation based on your degree of culpability.
  • Pre-existing conditions: Insurance companies may attempt to deny payment for injuries sustained in slip and fall accidents if they learn that the policyholder had a pre-existing ailment or injury when the accident occurred. Remember that defendants are obligated to treat plaintiffs the same way they were when the accident occurred. This means that they are liable whether the accident worsened a pre-existing condition or if the condition was already present.
  • Filing requirements or deadlines missed: You must ensure that you do not make any filing errors with your slip-and-fall claim, such as failing to include certain information or delaying the filing process with an insurance company. An insurance company may be able to reject your claim if any errors are made. Furthermore, keep in mind that you have a limited amount of time from the date of your injuries to bring a personal injury claim in New Mexico, as per the state's statute of limitations. This time limit of three years often starts on the day of injury, with a few exceptions.

An attorney specializing in slip and fall accidents can help you gather information and formulate arguments considering these potential defenses. If you want to prevent typical mistakes while submitting claims, your attorney can do it. To construct a solid case that anticipates the above defenses and beyond, hiring a lawyer from the start is the way to go.

Contact a Premises Liability Lawyer in New Mexico

Here at Will Ferguson & Associates, we've been here to support clients like you who have suffered from personal injuries or disabilities through no fault of their own. Contact our New Mexico premises liability lawyers at Will Ferguson & Associates at (505) 243-5566 if you've been injured on someone else's property due to suspected negligence and want to know whether you're entitled to compensation. Our attorneys are ready to help you safeguard your legal rights at this time.

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    1720 Louisiana Blvd NE #100 Albuquerque, NM 87110
    Rio Rancho

    333 Rio Rancho Boulevard Northeast Rio Rancho, NM

    1720 Louisiana Blvd NE #100 Albuquerque, NM 87110
    Rio Rancho

    333 Rio Rancho Boulevard Northeast Rio Rancho, NM