Bicycle accidents cause serious injuries every year. It is important for injured victims to understand their rights, as they may not have to pay out of pocket for their medical bills, bicycle repairs and other losses. After a bike accident, knowing who is legally responsible can help you recover and move forward. If you need guidance and assistance to get your life back on track after a bicycle accident, consult with an attorney.
Is New Mexico a No-Fault State?
No. New Mexico is an at-fault state when it comes to car accident claims. This means the person or party most at fault for causing the collision is financially responsible, or liable, for related expenses. In New Mexico, an injured victim will file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. In a no-fault state, on the other hand, an injured bicyclist files with his or her own auto insurer, regardless of who caused the crash.
Who Caused Your Accident?
One of the first steps toward getting your bills paid after a bicycle accident in New Mexico is determining the cause of the crash. Determining fault will take an investigation by an insurance company. In general, the person who broke a law is liable. For example, if a motor vehicle driver ran a red light or was speeding, and this caused a bicycle accident, the driver would be liable.
Liability is often assigned to the party who is guilty of negligence. A party is negligent if he or she does not use the proper amount of care. Breaking a traffic law is an example of negligence, as is failing to pay attention to the road and falling asleep behind the wheel. Holding someone responsible for a bicycle accident often requires proof of negligence. Negligence consists of four elements: duty, breach of duty, causation and damages.
All drivers in New Mexico owe you a duty of care. Drivers have a responsibility to obey the law and drive prudently (drive in a way that minimizes the odds of an accident). A breach of this duty refers to any action or omission that a prudent driver would not make in the same circumstances. Causation means that the driver’s mistake was the direct cause of your bicycle accident. Damages refers to the compensable losses you suffered. If your attorney can prove these elements, a negligent party will be liable for your expenses.
What if the At-Fault Driver Is Uninsured?
Motor vehicle drivers are behind most bicycle accidents in New Mexico. Although all drivers are legally required to carry minimum amounts of automobile insurance in New Mexico, many break the law by driving while uninsured or underinsured. If the driver at fault for your bicycle accident does not have insurance, you may have no choice but to turn to your own insurance company for coverage. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance, this will pay for your losses.
If you do not have the right type of insurance, an attorney can help you search for a third party to hold liable instead. A third party is someone who was not at the crash but who is legally responsible in some way. Common examples are the manufacturer of a defective bicycle part, the employer of an at-fault driver or the government for a hazardous roadway defect. An attorney can help you search for all potential sources of financial reimbursement after a bike accident.
What if You Contributed to the Accident?
Even if you are found partially at fault for a bicycle accident, you can still receive financial compensation for some of your losses and expenses. New Mexico uses a pure comparative negligence law, which states that a plaintiff’s degree of fault alone does not bar him or her from monetary recovery. In other words, even if you contributed to the crash, you could be eligible for compensation for your bills and losses. The courts will simply reduce your financial recovery by an amount equivalent to your degree of fault. For assistance obtaining compensation for a bicycle accident in New Mexico, contact an attorney.