Albuquerque Motorcycle Accident Attorney
How Long Do You Have to File a Motorcycle Accident Claim in Albuquerque?
Every state has a statute of limitations that limits the amount of time an individual has to file an injury claim after a motorcycle accident. These laws help ensure the legal process moves forward and that evidence remains available and witnesses’ memories are fresh. New Mexico’s statute of limitations is three years from the date of the crash for most motorcycle accident claims (New Mexico Statutes Annotated Section 37-1-8).
When the statute of limitations deadline has passed, you will likely be barred from recovering compensation at all. There are certain limited exceptions. For example, if it is a property-damage-only lawsuit then you have four years, if the case is against a government entity then you have two years, and if you are filing a wrongful death claim, you have three years from the date of your loved one’s death (which may differ from the date of the accident). These deadlines do not apply to insurance claims. Most insurance companies require you to report a motorcycle accident as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours.
How Your Injury Type Impacts Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
The type (and extent) of injury you suffer in a motorcycle accident can significantly impact your claim. The longer the recovery and more extensive the treatment you require, the more valuable your claim. To calculate an estimate of your motorcycle accident claim’s worth will involve first adding up your economic damages. Those include your:
- Current and future medical bills;
- Current and future lost wages;
- Diminished earning capacity if you are unable to earn the same level of income as before the accident due to your injury; and,
- Property damage.
Next, that total is often multiplied by a number typically between 1.5 and 5 to calculate your non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering, emotional distress). The more severe your type of injury, the higher the multiplier number chosen by the insurer or jury. Therefore, the value of your case will heavily rely on your diagnosis and the degree of injury (e.g., mild, moderate, severe), your injury’s prognosis, length of recovery, the extent of pain and suffering, your age and overall health, and other factors unique to your claim.
How is Fault Determined in a New Mexico Motorcycle Accident?
Motorists often blame motorcyclists for being reckless or careless on the road, but many accidents happen because of a car or truck driver’s negligent actions. However, proving fault and understanding how liability is determined is crucial to obtaining the compensation you deserve after a crash. Types of evidence of negligence that may help you hold another party accountable can include:
- Photos of the scene, the surrounding area, damage to the vehicles, and of your injuries
- Eyewitness testimony
- Police reports
- Video surveillance footage of the accident, if available
- Toxicology reports of the other driver(s)
- Cell phone records
- Your medical records
- Physical evidence from the motorcycle
- Your motorcycle’s maintenance records
- Testimony from an accident reconstruction expert
Determining who is at fault can be a particularly complex and time-consuming process. Another driver may be completely to blame, or a motorcyclist and a driver may share responsibility. As a result, determining who is to blame will often require a thorough investigation.
The Police Report
A police report carries a lot of weight in an insurance adjuster’s decision on fault. The report is unbiased evidence that gives various details about the accident, including:
- The final positioning of the vehicles
- The location and extent of damage to each vehicle
- Whether airbags were deployed
- Any skid marks on the road that show attempts to brake
- Statements from the motorcyclist and driver
- Interviews with witnesses
- Whether either motorist appeared intoxicated or was issued a citation
- Whether the motorcycle or car was malfunctioning
- Whether they viewed video footage of the accident
A traffic violation or criminal charges are often considered significant evidence of fault for the accident.
Some motorcycle accidents happen because both parties were negligent. For example, if a motorcyclist was following a vehicle too closely and the vehicle switched lanes without signaling, causing them to collide. In this case, both motorists may share legal liability for the crash. In New Mexico, the courts apply the law of pure comparative negligence to motorcycle accident cases. Under this system, each party is assigned a percentage of fault that reduces their awarded compensation accordingly. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 and found 30 percent responsible for your motorcycle accident, you will receive 70 percent of your award or $70,000. As a result, even if you are 99 percent to blame, you can recover some compensation.
Damages from Motorcycle Accidents
The average motorcycle accident costs thousands of dollars in damages. From paying off hefty medical bills and treatment costs to repairing or replacing your motorcycle, you could be facing expensive losses after someone strikes your bike. A personal injury claim could reimburse you for your losses, including:
Reimbursement for actual financial losses, such as:
- Existing and Future Medical Bills: Treatment expenses related to the injuries caused in the motorcycle accident, as well as the costs of any ongoing and future medical care you may require.
- Lost Wages: Compensation for the time missed from work while recovering, both up until now and income you will lose in the future.
- Diminished Earning Capacity: If your injuries forever interfere with your ability to earn an income, you may be entitled to compensation for the difference in the income you can make now compared to before the accident.
- Property Damage: The repair or replacement of your motorcycle if it was totaled and any other personal item destroyed by the crash (e.g., cellphone, clothing, helmet, etc.).
Compensation for subjective, non-monetary losses, such as:
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for the amount of physical pain you have had to endure and will in the future.
- Emotional Distress: If the accident or your injuries have caused psychological conditions, such as depression, insomnia, anxiety, terror, PTSD, etc.
- Disability or Disfigurement: If the motorcycle accident left you with a permanent disability or a permanent disfigurement that causes physical and emotional pain.
- Loss of Quality of Life: If your quality of life has been affected—for example, being unable to do things that you could do before the crash.
- Loss of Consortium: A spouse can recover this type of compensation for a loss of marital benefits, such as affection, companionship, services, or sexual relations.
- Punitive Damages: Compensation that is only awarded in cases involving a defendant who acted with an extreme disregard for the safety of others. It is meant to punish the at-fault party and deter others from similar harmful behavior.
- Wrongful Death: If the accident resulted in the death of a loved one, surviving family members can pursue compensation for funeral and burial expenses, loss of expected income, services, companionship, and more.
The Fine Law Firm has won six- and seven-figure cases for our clients in the past. We know how to navigate motorcycle accident and insurance claim laws to our clients’ best advantage. We can help you maximize your damages during a civil claim.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
The steps you take after a motorcycle accident are critical to protecting yourself, your health, and your claim for compensation.
Notify the police as soon as you can to report the accident and request medical assistance. Emergency responders will treat anyone involved and transport you to the hospital if need be. In addition, a police officer will create an accident report with details of the collision that can be critical to have when it comes time to file an accident claim.
Document the Accident
If you are not taken to the hospital, try to stay at the scene and photograph or take videos of the following:
- The scene as a whole;
- The positions of your motorcycle and all vehicles involved, including their damage;
- Any property damage caused in the surrounding area;
- Any debris or markings on the road, such as skid marks;
- The road conditions and any hazards, such as potholes or uneven lanes
- Street signs and traffic signals
- Your injuries
Speak to Witnesses
If anyone witnessed the accident, ask for their name and contact information and if they will make a recorded statement on your phone.
Seek Medical Treatment
If you were not transported to the hospital, be thoroughly evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible. Some severe injuries can have delayed symptoms, so it is best to go even if you think your injuries are minor. Any delay in treatment can also create challenges with your potential insurance claim. If you wait to seek treatment or fail to follow your doctor’s orders, the at-fault party’s insurer can argue that your injuries were not severe as you claim or were not caused by the crash.
Speak To an Albuquerque Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Obtaining the compensation you deserve can be challenging on your own. A motorcycle accident attorney can help you preserve evidence to build a solid claim, negotiate a fair settlement or represent you in court if necessary.