What You Need to Know About Comparative Negligence in New Mexico

While it would be convenient to pin the blame on just one person when something disastrous occurs, this is often not how things are done, particularly regarding personal injury. An accident is seldom the result of a single factor.

This is particularly true in car crashes. One of the drivers may be held legally responsible for the collision due to reckless or illegal behavior such as speeding, drinking and driving, or failing to yield.

However, New Mexico's personal injury statutes acknowledge that a victim of a negligent driver's negligence may have contributed to the circumstances that resulted in the collision.

When it comes to personal injury cases, New Mexico is exceptional in that it uses pure comparative negligence. In short, this implies that you may legally seek financial restitution from the responsible person in the event of an automobile accident. Yet, the damages you may secure are lowered by the proportion of fault you're assigned after the collision.

In the meantime, read on to learn more about how comparative negligence or fault works in New Mexico, or contact a personal injury attorney in New Mexico if you've been involved in a vehicle accident or any other type of injury-causing incident.

New Mexico's Laws on Fault

Many state governments have implemented a "no-fault" approach. Each driver in these states must secure their own auto insurance policy. The policyholder's own insurance covers property damage and medical costs beyond the no-fault limits in a no-fault state.

Nonetheless, most jurisdictions have carved out exceptions for fatalities and catastrophic injuries. You can file a lawsuit against the person or entity responsible if your medical expenses exceed your insurance payout.

What is Comparative Negligence?

While most states use a fault-based system, New Mexico uses a tort-based or comparative negligence system. Therefore, each motorist is ultimately responsible for his or her actions and, ultimately, driving errors.

In other words, if someone else is at fault in an accident, they (and their insurance provider) could be held financially responsible for any resulting harm.

How to Prove Comparative Fault in New Mexico

In order to be awarded compensation for a personal injury, you'll need to prove five things.

  1. Other drivers have a responsibility (known as a duty of care) toward you and every other motorist on the road. When operating a motor vehicle, you have a legal obligation to exercise due care for other road users' safety and avoid causing an accident. A driver is responsible to everyone on the road, including those in other vehicles, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
  2. The offending driver disregarded this duty of care. A duty breach occurs when a driver does something that goes against or falls short of their commitment, though proving the other driver was at fault is not enough.
  3. You also must show that you sustained injuries and other damages as a result of an accident and the other party's action.
  4. Finally, you'll need to prove that the other person's violation was a direct cause of your accident in question. For instance, say that a driver is stopped at a red light and begins texting. If you then rear-end this driver at the red light, their infraction (even though texting while driving is prohibited) is irrelevant to the crash.

In other words, things could get complicated despite their seeming simplicity. The extent of your losses and damages must be proven as well. How bad are your injuries, and how much should you get for them?

The Effect of Comparative Negligence on Damages

So, if you're found to be partially at fault for your injuries, whatever compensation you could otherwise get in a claim settlement will be reduced accordingly.

But, because of New Mexico's pure comparative negligence laws, you may still be able to recover damages from the negligent party, even if you're 99% at fault. Here is an illustration of how compensation may look if your losses amounted to $100,000 against various potential levels of fault:

  • You may be eligible for a $100,000 settlement if the other party was completely at fault.
  • You may be eligible for $60,000 if the other party was 60% at fault.
  • Even if you were 90% at fault, you may still be eligible for $10,000.

Comparative negligence rules in certain other states are more stringent. If the plaintiff was even somewhat at fault for the accident, they could not sue for damages in a jurisdiction where contributory negligence is the law.

Some jurisdictions use a kind of comparative negligence known as the "modified comparative negligence doctrine," which holds that an accident victim's compensation is lowered by his degree of culpability but bars him from getting any damages if he is determined to be 51% or more at fault.

Disputing Your Assigned Fault

What You Need to Know About Comparative Negligence in New MexicoThe at-fault party's insurer has the legal right and obligation to examine your claim. It may attempt to decrease the amount of compensation you get by proving that you were partially responsible for the accident.

What should you do if you disagree with the insurance company's determination of fault? Ensure you call a personal injury attorney as soon as you can. Your lawyer will look into what happened, gather evidence, talk to eyewitnesses, and bring in specialists to show that the other driver was at fault for the collision.

Furthermore, a skilled lawyer is in the best position to persuade an insurance adjuster of their duty to pay you and to negotiate a reasonable settlement on your behalf.

Call a Personal Injury Attorney in New Mexico

Our clients are important to us here at Will Ferguson & Associates.  We've been assisting those with damages and injuries since 1983 and can do the same for you. Our practice is the biggest and most successful of its kind in New Mexico, and our injury attorneys have a stellar reputation for winning substantial settlements on behalf of our clients.

No matter the severity of your injuries, our New Mexico personal injury attorneys will work tirelessly to ensure that you are fully compensated for all of your financial and otherwise losses.

Get in touch with our accident lawyers at (505) 243-5566 to discuss your legal options following an accident that's occurred through no fault of your own.

Why Choose
Will Ferguson & Associates To Fight For You?

No Fees Unless We Win

We Communicate with You Every Step of the Way

Free Consultations

Over 40+ Years
Defending The Injured

Millions Recovered For Our Clients
Contact Us

Request a FREE Case Review.

    Required Fields *

    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