Human error causes most car accidents. Negligent, reckless, distracted and drunk drivers can cause catastrophic collisions. After a collision with another vehicle, you need to determine who was at fault to take the next step. New Mexico is not a no-fault state, meaning it matters if someone else caused your accident. You will file your auto repair and medical reimbursement claims with the at-fault party’s insurance provider. Navigating New Mexico’s fault laws after a car accident may take help from an Albuquerque car collision lawyer.
New Mexico Is a Fault State
Most states use either fault or no-fault systems, with a few hybrid states that offer both types of insurance. No-fault states are in the minority, with only 12 that use these systems. In no-fault states, it does not matter who caused the accident – each party will file a claim with his or her insurer regardless of fault. New Mexico is a fault state, meaning it uses a tort-based system. The party responsible for the wrongdoing that caused the car accident will be financially liable to all victims involved.
You will need to open a claim with the at-fault person’s insurance company to pursue damage recovery. As long as the at-fault driver has adequate car insurance, the company should offer a settlement that pays for your medical expenses and property damage repairs. If you suffered serious injuries or the insurance company is not offering enough, you may pursue compensation through the courts instead. A personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party may result in a better compensation award than insurance alone. A personal injury lawyer can help you build a strong court case after an auto accident.
Basic Insurance Requirements in New Mexico
Every driver in New Mexico must maintain a certain amount of auto insurance. Insurance minimums make the at-fault system work, ensuring every driver has the means to take financial responsibility for his or her actions. Driving without insurance is a crime that could lead to vehicle impoundment, driver’s license suspension and fines. Insurance requirements differ from state to state. New Mexico uses a 25/50/10 setup, requiring three main types of insurance to operate a vehicle.
- $25,000 in bodily injury insurance per person
- $50,000 in bodily injury insurance per accident
- $10,000 in property damage insurance
If you get into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, he or she may be unable to pay for your losses. Even though that driver should be financially responsible, a lack of insurance may make it impossible for the driver to pay your settlement. In these situations, a claim with your insurance company may provide compensation instead. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance, this will cover your damages. If your insurer denies the claim or you do not have this coverage, a lawsuit may be your only other outlet to pursue recovery.
Do not claim fault for a car accident. Do not admit you were at fault to the other driver, the police or your insurance company. Instead, wait for an investigation of the accident to determine its cause. Factors you are unaware of could have contributed to the crash, such as a dangerous roadway or the other driver’s comparative fault. Admitting fault right away could end an investigation and place 100% liability with you, even if you were not actually 100% responsible.
The police and insurance companies may investigate your car accident after you submit an insurance claim. If you hire a lawyer, the firm will also assign staff to investigate the crash. Determining fault may take analyzing the scene of the accident, looking through photographs, reading police reports and speaking to eyewitnesses. If another driver caused your accident, that party will owe you compensation through his or her insurance company under New Mexico’s fault laws.