Determining fault in an accident can be a complex process. While some accidents are no-fault cases where no one’s negligence caused the accident, not all accidents “just happen.” Often there is a degree of negligence involved. In these cases, you could have a valid personal injury claim. Legally, negligence occurs when someone had a legal obligation to act reasonably and carefully — such as when driving. When there is a failure to act reasonably and carefully in times and places where it’s required, such as when practicing medicine, driving, or monitoring a workplace environment, then the negligent person is at fault and may be liable for damages in a personal injury lawsuit. But what happens when both parties involved in an accident share some of the blame? Can you still claim personal injury if you are partly at fault? In New Mexico, you may still be able to file a claim for compensation. A skilled personal injury attorney such as those at Albuquerque’s The Fine Law Firm can help you determine if you’re still eligible for compensation for your injury.
Understanding Percentage of Blame in New Mexico
Unlike many other states that follow the rule of contributory negligence which doesn’t allow any compensation to those with any fault in an accident, or states with a modified comparative negligence rule barring compensation for those more than 51 percent at fault, New Mexico is one of 13 states recognizing the legal theory of pure comparative fault. This allows you as an accident victim eligibility for recovery even if you share some of the blame for the accident. In fact, even if you are mostly at fault, you may still file a claim for compensation.
According to the rule of pure comparative negligence, your percentage of the blame reduces the amount of compensation you’re entitled to by an equal amount. In other words, if your monetary damages are $100,000 dollars but you’re found to be 40 percent at fault compared to the other party’s 60 percent fault, you’re still entitled to $60,000. Even if you’re found to be 90 percent at fault you could still receive $10,000 in damages under New Mexico’s theory of pure comparative fault.
It’s unlikely in New Mexico that any attorney would file your claim for compensation if you are 100 percent at fault in an accident.
How New Mexico Determines Percentage of Blame Calculations
When a personal injury case comes to court in New Mexico, a jury determines the percentage of fault for all parties. To determine these percentages, both parties show evidence of the accident collected by police and insurance investigators including photos, surveillance footage, eye-witness testimony, and victim depositions. Beginning with an assumption of 50/50 guilt, the percentage changes according to the findings. Findings include such details as your speed, whether or not you followed traffic rules, whether you wore a seatbelt, and if you ran a red light or a stop sign. When the jury determines the percentage of fault they take all of this information into consideration.
It’s important to recognize that an insurance company will always try to reduce the value of your claim by showing that you were at least partly at fault. A skilled legal team like those at the Fine Law Firm in Albuquerque has experience in collecting proof to defend your case by showing the other driver’s fault and demanding fair compensation for your injuries.