Mistakes happen, even when you’re behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. If you believe that you are at fault for a car accident in New Mexico, it’s important not to admit fault and to realize that you may still be eligible for financial compensation from your own car insurance provider, the other driver’s insurance company or a third party. Here’s what you need to know to protect your rights in this scenario.
Who Pays for a Car Accident in New Mexico?
First, understand who normally pays for a car accident in New Mexico. It is a fault-based insurance state, meaning the driver or party that committed a tort (act of wrongdoing) is responsible for paying. In a no-fault state, on the other hand, all drivers seek financial damages from their own car insurance companies, regardless of fault.
When a motor vehicle collision takes place in New Mexico, the claim goes to the car insurance company of the at-fault driver. All drivers in New Mexico must carry at least $25,000 in liability insurance for bodily injuries per person, $50,000 per accident and $10,000 in property damage insurance. This coverage pays for damages suffered by others, not the policyholder.
If you want coverage for your own medical bills and vehicle repairs regardless of fault for an accident, you will need to purchase additional insurance. For example, collision coverage pays for your own vehicle repairs or replacement after an accident, while comprehensive insurance pays regardless of what damaged your car, including vandalism or acts of God.
What Happens if Both Drivers Share Fault for a Car Accident?
It’s important not to admit fault after a car accident, as this can automatically place 100 percent of liability with you even if you were not the only party to blame. There may be other contributing factors and liable parties, such as the manufacturer of a defective auto part, the government for a roadway hazard or the other driver for negligence. Instead, wait for an official investigation to identify the cause of the crash.
New Mexico is a comparative negligence state. State law holds that if an injured party is partially responsible for a car accident, he or she can still recover financial compensation if the other driver is also to blame. Even if you caused the car accident, you could still be entitled to partial compensation even with up to 99 percent of the fault. However, the courts will reduce your financial recovery by an amount equal to your percentage of liability.
Steps to Take if You Cause a Car Accident in New Mexico
The steps that you take after a car accident can impact your insurance claim and ability to recover compensation. Your first priority is your personal safety. Get to a safe location and check yourself for injuries. Then, call the police to report the crash. While you may be tempted to apologize for the accident or confess to being at fault, resist this urge when speaking to the other driver, the police and an insurance company. You are not required to admit fault.
Next, call your own car insurance provider to report the accident. State the facts of the case as you know them to be true. Don’t speculate about who or what caused the crash. Do not agree to give the insurance company a recorded statement about the accident and do not sign anything sent to you from the insurance company until you’ve consulted with an attorney.
Finally, contact a car accident lawyer for assistance with the claims process. You are in a tricky situation as the person at fault for a car accident, but you may still be entitled to financial compensation from one or more parties for their contribution to the crash. Taking the right steps can preserve your rights and lead to a payout for your losses. A car accident lawyer will protect your best interests and help you understand your legal options every step of the way.