You're hurt in a car accident. What happens next? Here's what you need to know about compensation for car accidents in New Mexico.
New Mexico is a "fault" state for car accidents
In general, that means the person who caused your accident is responsible for paying your damages (financial compensation) for losses you sustained due to the accident. These can include medical treatment and lost wages if you were unable to work.
If another driver caused your accident, their liability insurance should pay for your costs up to the applicable policy limit. The state minimums for car insurance for privately owned vehicles in New Mexico are:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death for a single victim, per accident
- $50,000 total for bodily injury or death for all victims, per accident
- $10,000 for property damage, per accident
If your accident was caused by a commercial vehicle, or by another negligent party (such as a garage whose error led to the accident), different types of liability insurance may apply.
What if the driver who hit you didn't have insurance?
If the at-fault driver doesn't have insurance or doesn't have enough to cover the full cost of the accident, your uninsured/underinsured motorist protection (UM/UIM) kicks in if you have it. UM/UIM is optional in New Mexico. However, your insurance company is required to offer it to you, and we highly recommend carrying it.
Essentially, UM/UIM stands in for the other driver's liability insurance if they don't have it. It can also supplement it if they're underinsured. UM also covers you if you're injured in a hit-and-run accident where the driver is never found.
You may have some no-fault benefits on your policy
If you have certain types of optional coverage, you may be able to get compensation for certain losses from your own insurance company:
- Collision coverage pays for repairs to your vehicle, or a replacement if your car is declared a total loss. This is optional under New Mexico law. However, if your vehicle is financed, the lienholder probably requires you to carry it.
- Medical payments coverage pays for certain reasonable medical expenses for you and your passengers if you are injured in an accident.
You can file a claim for no-fault benefits while also pursuing compensation from the at-fault driver. When you get compensation from the at-fault driver's insurance company, your insurance company will likely want to take reimbursement from your recovery (this is called insurance subrogation). We may be able to negotiate with your insurance company to waive some or all of it to put more money in your pocket.
If you were partially at fault, you can still recover
New Mexico uses the "pure" comparative negligence standard in cases where the injured person is partially at fault. What that means is you can still recover compensation for your damages, but your recovery is reduced by your percentage of fault. For instance, if you were found to be 30 percent at fault and your damages were $100,000, your recovery would be reduced to $70,000.
Get an experienced Albuquerque car accident attorney on your side
Sorting out the insurance situation and getting the full compensation you need for a car crash is a complex process. Don't go it alone. The Szantho Law Firm will stand up for your rights and fight for the full and fair compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.