Knowing exactly what to do after a car accident is important when planning your next step, especially when you are not the person at fault for the crash. In New Mexico, the at-fault party pays for the injuries and property damage caused by a crash. Taking the correct steps immediately after a collision can help you protect your right to collect insurance benefits if you are not the driver at fault.
Pull Over and Call the Police
Immediately following a car accident that wasn’t your fault, pull over in a safe location and turn your hazard lights on to prevent additional collisions. Check yourself and others involved in the crash for injuries and render aid to the injured, if possible. Then, call 911 to report the accident without delay.
The law in New Mexico requires all drivers to report a car accident to the police if it causes injuries, fatalities or more than $500 worth of property damage. However, it is wise to call the police even after a minor car accident so that you can have a police report to use during your insurance claim. This is especially true if you plan on establishing that the other driver is at fault. A police report can contain important information about who or what caused the crash, such as eyewitness statements or a citation against the other driver for violating a traffic law.
Do Not Apologize or Admit Fault to the Other Driver
It is imperative not to apologize or admit fault after you are involved in an accident in New Mexico. Even if you know you didn’t cause the crash, your first instinct may be to say you’re sorry to the other driver. Apologizing, however, can be misconstrued as an admittance of guilt. The other driver may be able to use this against you during an insurance claim.
Since New Mexico is a fault state, the insurance provider of the driver responsible for the accident must pay for the medical bills and/or damage to property caused by the crash. Admitting guilt, even in part, can place liability for the accident with you. This is true even if an investigation would have shown that the other driver was at fault; if you say you caused the crash, an insurance company will take you at your word and forgo an investigation since you confessed.
By law, a driver has a responsibility to exchange information with all other drivers at the scene of an accident. This information includes:
- Full names
- Phone numbers
- Insurance information
- VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
It is also helpful to document the make and model of the other driver’s vehicle, as well as the license plate number.
Call the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
Contact the other driver’s insurance company after the accident to alert them of the crash and allow them access to the police report that you obtained at the scene. Since you were not the one who caused the accident, the other driver’s insurance company should pay for your property damage and other losses.
All drivers in New Mexico are required to carry minimum amounts of liability insurance to pay for the accidents that they cause. If you or your lawyer can prove that the other driver is at fault, you can access this coverage. You can also call your own insurance provider to have them contact the other party’s insurer and settle the dispute for you.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney for Assistance
If you have trouble collecting benefits from the other driver’s insurance provider despite knowing that you were not at fault for the car accident, you may need an attorney to assist you with the claims process. An attorney in Albuquerque has the knowledge and resources to prove that the other driver caused your crash. At The Fine Law Firm, we offer free consultations, where you can speak to a car accident lawyer about your case at no cost or obligation.