Cars play essential roles in the day-to-day lives of New Mexicans. Accidents can and will happen in a state where cars are so vital and commonplace.
You can lower your chances of being hurt or worse in an accident by obeying the rules of the road. What you can't do is control other drivers' choices.
Have you been injured in a car accident that was someone else's fault? Review your case with a New Mexico car accident attorney if so. They can fight for the compensation you may deserve.
The Role of a New Mexico Car Accident Lawyer
New Mexico uses the "at-fault" or "tort" system to determine how a car accident victim may seek compensation. In New Mexico, a victim can seek compensation for their medical bills and related losses by filing a claim with the insurance of a negligent driver who caused their accident. A victim's own insurance would be responsible for compensating them if New Mexico were a no-fault state.
Some drivers don't carry the insurance they are required to. Or, conversely, their insurers may refuse to offer fair settlements.
A victim can still seek compensation through the courts when this is the case. A New Mexico car accident attorney can advise you of your options.
Building a case against a negligent driver or negotiating with an insurance company can be challenging for a victim who has minimal experience with the claims process.
If you are seeking compensation after an accident, a New Mexico car accident attorney can assist you by:
- Identifying the negligent parties
- Investigating your accident
- Gathering evidence of negligence
- Determining your claim's potential value
- Filing a claim
- Determining if an insurance company's settlement offer is fair
- Going to court if necessary
- Updating you on your case's progress
Being injured in an accident someone else caused can be painful in numerous ways, financially and physically. A New Mexico car accident lawyer can handle your case while you focus on your recovery.
New Mexico Overview
According to the New Mexico Department of Transportation's (NMDOT) New Mexico Traffic Crash Annual Report, 36,555 traffic accidents were reported in New Mexico in 2020. In addition:
- 15,545 people sustained injuries in New Mexico motor vehicle accidents in 2020
- 30% of crashes resulted in an injury
- Distracted driving played a role in 19.2% of accidents
- Distracted driving crashes occur every 29 minutes in New Mexico
- A motor vehicle accident occurs every 14 minutes on an average day
- Someone sustains an injury in a motor vehicle accident every 34 minutes
- In recent years, New Mexico's fatal crash rates have been higher than the national average
- Alcohol plays a role in about half of accidents resulting in pedestrian fatalities
- Victims who don't wear seatbelts are much more likely to lose their lives in collisions than victims who do in New Mexico
- Approximately 100 crashes occur on an average day
- Accidents involving large commercial trucks occur about every three hours
- Accidents involving motorcycles occur about every 10 hours
- A vehicle strikes a bicyclist about once every 33 hours
The report also points out that what may appear to be sudden increases in accident rates in cities or regions across New Mexico could be the result of improved crash reporting methods and technologies. It is not always the case that accident rates are suddenly spiking when they appear to be. Sometimes, law enforcement agencies are simply improving their means of reporting accidents.
According to the report, there are also some positive developments. Crashes involving teen and young adult drivers are becoming much less common, as well as crashes involving motorcyclists.
A New Mexico car accident attorney can show you may be eligible to receive compensation by showing your accident resulted from someone else's negligence. A negligence case consists of these four basic elements:
- Duty: A party may be found negligent if they had a duty of care to someone who was injured. All drivers have a duty of care to those with whom they share the road. As such, establishing this element of a negligence case usually isn't a challenge. The fact that you were driving means other motorists owed you a duty of care.
- Breach: A breach occurs when a party doesn't fulfill their duty of care. For example, if someone gets behind the wheel while intoxicated, a breach has occurred.
- Cause: A breach doesn't always result in an accident. Your New Mexico car accident lawyer will work to show that a negligent party's breach directly caused you to be injured.
- Damages: The final element of a negligence case involves showing you incurred losses (damages) for which you may receive compensation.
As your New Mexico car accident attorney builds a negligence case, the insurance company may focus on building a defense.
Your New Mexico car accident lawyer can gather the evidence you need to guard against not receiving a fair compensation from the insurance companies. This may include:
- Witness statements
- Police reports
In other instances, an insurance company will argue a victim's own negligence played some role in their accident. They may argue this to suggest a victim deserves less compensation than they're seeking.
An insurance company might also downplay the severity of a victim's injuries and losses. To negotiate for a proper settlement, it is important to provide thorough documentation of damages.
You do not have to face off against a large insurer alone. A New Mexico car accident lawyer will understand how insurance companies defend themselves financially. They will use this understanding to fight for compensation.
Negligence 'Per Se'
It is sometimes easy for a New Mexico car accident attorney to show that a party who caused an accident was negligent. Under the legal doctrine of negligence per se, a party will be assumed to be negligent if they broke a law whose purpose is to guard against the type of accident a case involves.
For example, perhaps you have the misfortune of being involved in an accident with a speeding motorist. Negligence per se dictates that they would automatically be considered negligent because they were disobeying the law.
It is still important to establish a link between their negligence and your injuries. Safety laws also vary from one state to another. A qualified New Mexico car accident lawyer can apply their understanding of the relevant laws to build a strong case when you have been the victim of negligence.
New Mexico car accident lawyers can also work to prove negligence when a driver did not break the law. It is possible for a driver to be negligent without doing anything illegal. A lawyer could show why a behavior qualifies as negligent even if it was not technically against the law.
Every case is unique. It is impossible to say for certain what compensation may be available to you without knowing your case's details. A meeting with a New Mexico car accident attorney will allow you to ask questions about this topic and broaden your understanding of the possible processes and options ahead of you.
The losses and damages for which a victim may seek compensation in New Mexico typically fall into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Your economic damages are the losses you've incurred after an accident that have an objective dollar value. For example, bills for medical treatment are economic damages. If you were unable to return to work for some time after your accident, your lost wages would also fall into this category. An attorney can help you add up your economic damages when filing a claim.
Economic damages can also include future losses. For example, maybe you have sustained major injuries that have left you in need of long-term medical treatment. If so, your New Mexico car accident lawyer might calculate the potential cost of your future care when determining how much compensation you may be eligible for.
Perhaps your severe injuries permanently limit your earning potential. An attorney may also account for this when pursuing compensation.
In addition, a New Mexico car accident lawyer may assign a potential dollar value to non-economic damages. These are losses like pain and suffering, the physical discomfort and emotional unrest that are compensable as noneconomic damages. If you are in pain because someone else was negligent, you may deserve to receive compensation.
This can include compensation for mental and emotional pain. Many accident victims struggle with anxiety and depression. Life may become less enjoyable for them if their injuries prevent them from participating in certain activities. In these instances, compensation is sometimes available.
No lawyer can know the outcome of a case before it is settled.
What a New Mexico car accident lawyer can do is apply their experience to determine how much compensation you might deserve. If the insurance company offers too little, they can reject unfair offers and negotiate on your behalf. They can also sue and go to court if this is decidedly the best option.
Important Information About New Mexico's Pure Comparative Negligence Law
A car accident is not always solely the fault of one party. Sometimes, a victim's own negligence plays a definitive role.
For example, perhaps you approach a stop sign. You come to a full and legal stop. Then, you make a right turn.
A speeding vehicle rear-ends you. The operator of this vehicle is intoxicated.
It is easy to state the driver who rear-ended you was negligent. By speeding and driving while drunk, they broke two laws.
However, an investigation reveals your accident may have been avoided if you had taken the time to properly gauge the speed of the oncoming motorist. You failed to do so because you were distracted in some way when driving.
It could thus be argued that you are at least partially to blame for your accident. Under New Mexico's pure comparative negligence law, this could impact the amount of compensation you receive.
Maybe you would have received a sum of $10,000 if the other driver were entirely to blame. However, it is determined in this example that you were 20% responsible for your accident. You would thus only receive $8,000.
Various factors can influence whether New Mexico's pure comparative negligence law can apply to a case. A New Mexico car accident attorney can discuss this topic with you in greater detail if you have additional questions.
Accident Rates in New Mexico's 5 Most Populous Cities
According to NMDOT, in 2020, 13,421 motor vehicle accidents occurred in Albuquerque, situated as the county seat in Bernalillo County. Additional findings include:
- Alcohol played a role in 575 crashes
- 4,172 accidents resulted in injury
- 9,148 accidents in Albuquerque in 2020 only resulted in property damage
It makes sense that Albuquerque would have a high accident rate. NMDOT's report indicates 85.1% of motor vehicle accidents in New Mexico between 2016 and 2020 occurred in urban areas.
Accidents are more common when roads are more crowded. In a dense city, there are more chances for accidents to occur than there may be in a rural or less concentrated area.
NMDOT's report also indicates urban areas in New Mexico accounted for 76.8% of crashes in which alcohol was a considerable factor between 2016 and 2020.
Located in Doña Ana County, Las Cruces is southern New Mexico's largest city. NMDOT data indicates 2,729 accidents occurred in Las Cruces in 2020. This may seem to suggest Las Cruces had a much lower accident rate than Albuquerque.
However, it's important to account for the fact that Las Cruces' population is also much lower than in Albuquerque.
Albuquerque saw 23.9 crashes per 1,000 residents in 2020. Las Cruces saw 26 crashes per 1,000 residents.
Other findings include:
- Alcohol was involved in 112 crashes
- 835 accidents resulted in injury
- 1,885 crashes resulted in property damage only
It is not entirely clear why Las Cruces sees more accidents per 1,000 residents than Albuquerque. The fact that it is relatively dense when compared to Albuquerque or the presence of New Mexico State University may be a factor.
However, reports indicate college cities don't necessarily have higher accident rates than other communities. Law enforcement officials state that congestion plays a greater role in accident rates than the presence of a young student population. That said, the Census Bureau reports that 14% of drivers between 20 and 24 were involved in crashes in 2009. That is more than double the rate of older drives.
A total of 941 crashes occurred in Rio Rancho in 2020. It had a rate of 9.4 crashes per 1,000 residents. Additionally:
- 64 accidents involved alcohol
- 254 accidents resulted in injury
- 684 accidents only resulted in property damage
Rio Rancho is directly outside of Albuquerque. Despite this, it had a much lower rate of crashes per 1,000 residents. The only city in Sandoval County, a small portion of Rio Rancho extends to northern Bernalillo County.
Several major highways run through Albuquerque. This can increase the odds of accidents occurring. By comparison, very few highways run through Rio Rancho. This might explain the difference in accident rates.
According to NMDOT, 1,553 accidents occurred in Santa Fe in 2020. That is a rate of approximately 18.3 crashes per 1,000 residents. Other data includes:
- Alcohol was involved in 18.3 crashes per 1,000 residents
- 538 accidents left victims with injuries
- 1,002 accidents resulted solely in property damage
In 2020, 767 accidents occurred in Roswell, or 16.1 accidents per 1,000 residents. In addition:
- Alcohol contributed to 54 accidents
- 250 accidents resulted in injury
- 510 accidents resulted in property damage only
Regardless of where your accident happened, you deserve strong representation in the aftermath of a collision. A New Mexico car accident lawyer can seek what you may be entitled to while you get the rest you need. Start by searching for a New Mexico car accident attorney today.