Contrary to popular belief, pedestrians do not always have the right-of-way in New Mexico. There are situations where a pedestrian can be held liable, or legally responsible, for being struck by a car for crossing without the right-of-way. Even if the pedestrian suffers more severe injuries than the driver of the motor vehicle, he or she may be at fault for the accident in certain circumstances.
What Are a Pedestrian’s Rights in New Mexico?
Every roadway user has a responsibility to understand and obey the rules that apply to them when navigating the roads. This includes pedestrians who walk, jog or run in Albuquerque. Pedestrians are not automatically given the right-of-way, or the right to cross a road, in New Mexico. They must yield the right-of-way to motor vehicle drivers, in some situations.
According to New Mexico Statutes Section 66-7-334, a pedestrian must wait in a place of safety, such as a curb, until any vehicle that is close enough to constitute a hazard has passed. Only then may the pedestrian step out into the road. If the pedestrian is crossing at a controlled intersection, the pedestrian must wait until receiving the signal to cross. If crossing at an unmarked intersection or stop sign, the pedestrian will have the right-of-way. However, the pedestrian must still wait until it is safe to cross.
Generally, pedestrians must use crosswalks or intersections to cross a street. Crossing at any other point is known as jaywalking, and it is illegal in New Mexico. At a crosswalk, a pedestrian always has the right-of-way. A motor vehicle driver must come to a complete stop to allow a pedestrian who is in the driver’s half of the road to cross. Pedestrians should also use sidewalks whenever available, rather than walking in the road. If they have to walk in the road, they must keep as far to the right as possible.
Determining Fault for a Pedestrian Accident
After a vehicle-pedestrian collision, police officers and investigators may have to return to the scene of the crash to determine fault. They may need evidence such as a police report, eyewitness statements and surveillance camera footage to understand what happened. Generally, fault or liability for a pedestrian accident will go to the party that violated a traffic law, such as a driver who ran a red light.
If a motor vehicle driver is at fault for a pedestrian accident, his or her automobile insurance carrier will be responsible for paying for harm caused, including the pedestrian’s medical expenses and lost wages. If the investigation finds that the pedestrian caused or partially contributed to the accident, however, the pedestrian may be eligible for less financial compensation – or no compensation at all.
What Is New Mexico’s Pure Comparative Negligence Law?
If a pedestrian broke a law, stepped out into traffic, was walking while intoxicated or otherwise is at fault for getting hit by a car in New Mexico, he or she may lose the right to recover financial compensation from the motor vehicle driver’s insurance carrier. New Mexico uses a pure comparative negligence law in cases involving shared fault.
As long as a pedestrian is found to be less than 100 percent at fault for the accident, he or she can still recover a portion of financial compensation. The courts will simply reduce the pedestrian’s financial reward by an amount equivalent to his or her percentage of fault.
If an investigation finds that a driver is 80 percent at fault for a pedestrian collision for texting while driving, for example, but a pedestrian is 20 percent at fault for crossing the road when he or she didn’t have the right-of-way, the pedestrian could still recover 80 percent of a financial award. In this example, the driver would be ordered to pay $8,000 instead of $10,000 (after subtracting 20 percent for the pedestrian’s fault).
The “pure” part of New Mexico’s comparative negligence law means that a pedestrian can be any degree at fault, up to 99 percent, and still be eligible for a financial recovery. For more information about your rights after a pedestrian accident in New Mexico, contact an attorney today.