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Can I Be Found Liable if My Car Is Rear-Ended in an Accident in New Mexico?

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Most people assume that the rear driver is always at fault for a rear-end collision in New Mexico. However, this is not the case. It is possible for the front or lead driver to be found liable for this type of accident in certain circumstances. If you were rear-ended by someone in New Mexico, you may still be eligible for compensation.

What Causes Rear-End Collisions?

A rear-end collision is when the front of the following driver’s vehicle crashes into the back of the lead driver’s vehicle. In other words, Driver B strikes the back of Driver A. It is often possible for Driver B to prevent a rear-end collision by paying attention to the road, leaving adequate following distance and driving at a reasonable speed. This will allow the driver to hit the brakes and come to a stop before crashing into the back of Driver A.

Since the responsibility to prevent a rear-end collision is typically with Driver B, he or she is often held liable (financially responsible) for the crash. In many cases, the following driver engages in negligent or dangerous driving practices that result in a rear-end collision, such as texting and driving, speeding, or tailgating. However, there are circumstances where Driver A is responsible for the crash instead.

When Is the Lead Driver Held Liable for a Rear-End Collision?

Although it is uncommon, some rear-end collisions in New Mexico are found to be the fault of the lead or front driver, or the fault is divided between both drivers. This might be the case if the lead driver made a negligent or unsafe decision that put the following driver in a position where he or she did not have enough time to hit the brakes and avoid a rear-end collision. Examples include:

  • Brake-checking. Driver A intentionally slams on the brakes to warn Driver B to stop tailgating.
  • Unsafe lane change. Driver A switches to Driver B’s lane without checking to see if it is safe or if there is enough room.
  • Broken taillights. Driver A has taillights and/or brake lights that don’t work, and Driver B fails to see that Driver A is slowing down or has stopped.
  • Drunk driving. Driver A is driving erratically because he or she is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Reversing. Driver A reverses into the front of Driver B’s vehicle.

Determining liability for a rear-end collision takes an analysis of the positions of both vehicles, their speeds, and the actions and behaviors of both drivers. If an investigation concludes that the front driver created the underlying cause of the crash, his or her car insurance company will be responsible for paying for the accident rather than the rear driver.

Shared Liability for a Rear-End Collision

If the following driver is not found to be entirely responsible for a rear-end collision, it is possible that both drivers will share fault for the crash. New Mexico is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that two or more parties can share fault for the same accident. If an injured victim is allocated a percentage of fault for a rear-end collision, he or she can still recover at least partial compensation for medical bills.

The “pure” part of New Mexico’s comparative negligence law means that a victim can be allocated any degree of fault and still be eligible for financial compensation. However, his or her financial award will be reduced by an equivalent amount. For example, if you are found to be 30 percent responsible for a rear-end collision for broken tail lights but Driver B is 70 percent responsible for not paying attention to the road, your financial recovery would be reduced by 30 percent.

If you get rear-ended in New Mexico and an insurance company is blaming you for the crash, contact a Albuquerque car accident lawyer for assistance with the claims process. You may still qualify for compensation.