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How to Recover Car Accident Compensation in New Mexico

Offered by Szantho Law Firm

Crashes are expensive, but if you’re the injured victim in a New Mexico car accident, the responsibility to pay is on the other driver.

Auto wreck victims are entitled to compensation for costs like medical bills, lost wages, pain, and car repairs. However, even if the case seems straightforward, getting results is often difficult.

The car insurance claim process is complicated and high stakes. That’s why many people turn to experienced New Mexico car accident lawyers to handle it while they focus on healing. Here is a look at how car accident compensation works in New Mexico and the issues accident victims must overcome to get the results they deserve.

New Mexico drivers must carry insurance

To legally drive in New Mexico, motorists must purchase liability car insurance or deposit $60,000, in surety bond or cash, with the state treasurer. Both are intended to cover damage and injuries to the other driver and their passengers in the event the insured person causes a crash. So, if you’re injured in a crash caused by someone else, their insurance will pay for your injuries, up to the policy limit.

New Mexico sets minimum mandatory standards for car insurance. Known as 25/50/10 coverage, the minimum requirement is:

  • $25,000 bodily injury (BI) or death per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury or death of two or more persons in one accident
  • $10,000 property damage (PD) in any one accident

If there is a loan on the vehicle, the driver will likely be required to carry physical damage or “full” coverage, too.

Optional car insurance

Car accident claims can add up quickly and the damage often costs more than minimum insurance will cover. Therefore, New Mexico drivers are encouraged to purchase larger policies and additional coverage that benefits themselves instead of just other people.

Optional car insurance coverage in New Mexico includes:

Comprehensive – Pays out for non-collision-related damages like theft, vandalism, and hail.

Collision – This pays for damage to your vehicle following a crash.

Gap coverage – This is for people with car loans. After a crash, the policy should cover the difference between the vehicle’s current value and what is still owed on the loan.

Medical payments (Med pay) – Pays your medical bills and funeral expenses. It may be used regardless of fault.

Rental car reimbursement.

Roadside assistance – If you break down, need a tow, flat repair, a jump, or similar aid, this policy will help pay for it.

Uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM or UIM) – If a driver is struck by another driver who has inadequate or no car insurance, the accident victim’s UIM policy can help cover their injuries. It can also be used in hit-and-run scenarios. There are separate UIM policies for bodily injury and property damage.

Purchasing UIM is highly recommended in New Mexico where about 1 out of every 5 drivers are uninsured, according to estimates.

New Mexico is an ‘at-fault’ state

New Mexico is an “at-fault” or “tort” state, which means the driver who caused the crash must pay for the damage. The state applies a pure comparative negligence standard to claims, too. So, even if a driver was 99% at fault in an accident, they could still technically file a compensation claim. However, they could only collect 1% from the other driver.

Diminished value

New Mexico allows an accident victim to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance over a vehicle’s diminished value. This is because, even after a car has been repaired, its resale value will be less than similar vehicles that were not in collisions.

Not just anyone can file a diminished value claim, however. A vehicle owner may seek compensation if they meet the following criteria:

  • The driver was not the party at-fault.
  • The driver can provide photos and records of repairs made.
  • It is within 4 years of the accident.

Car accident injuries and compensation

For the most part, the value of a car accident injury claim is determined by injury severity, pain, and anguish, as well as short- and long-term disabilities, if any.

Injured victims can pursue two types of damages: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages are typically for tangible costs with objectively verifiable prices, like medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs. Noneconomic damages are more subjective, but no less real: pain and suffering and loss of companionship in the case of a fatal car accident.

Some common car accident injuries that typically require significant treatment and compensation include:

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) like concussion, brain hemorrhage, "coup-contrecoup" brain injury, and fractured skull (penetrating brain injury).
  • Whiplash.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs) and paralysis.
  • Burns.
  • Internal organ damage.
  • Broken or fractured bones in the shoulder, arm, wrist, pelvis, legs, ankles, etc.
  • Disfigurement.
  • Soft tissue damage – muscles, ligaments, tendons.
  • Joint displacement – shoulder, knee.

Dealing with the insurance company

Getting compensation after an accident frequently means dealing with the insurance company. This is often a frustrating hassle. Insurance adjusters aren't there to help seriously injured people get better; their goal is to pay as little as possible on every claim. For this reason, many people choose to have a car accident lawyer handle the process for them while they heal.

Crash victims typically need two claims filed with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider – one for injuries and another for property damage.

When people carry optional coverage like UIM or collision, they may also file a claim with their own insurance provider.

In some situations, lawyers file civil lawsuits against at-fault drivers. A lawsuit can force the insurance company to pay up if they won’t negotiate.

Consult a lawyer first

Remember: Never accept an insurance settlement before consulting a lawyer. Insurance agents are known for offering quick turnaround settlements that pay for current medical bills but don’t provide much for future treatment or important losses like diminished earning potential.

An experienced New Mexico car accident lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company and help victims get the compensation they deserve. A lot of work goes into this. A car accident lawyer will typically investigate a crash, collect evidence, interview witnesses, build a strong case, estimate value, and negotiate aggressively with the insurance company. If the insurance company won't make a substantial offer, the lawyer may file a civil lawsuit on the client’s behalf.

Victims are understandably concerned about cost. That’s why car accident lawyers typically offer free case consultations and work on contingency. This means there is no out-of-pocket expense for their service. The attorney’s fee is an agreed-upon percentage of the settlement or verdict. They only get paid when they win.

Typically, attorneys want to hear from crash victims as soon as possible. There is a statute of limitations (legal deadline), and they need to start investigating before evidence fades away. If you were injured or lost a loved one in a New Mexico car accident, contact a local attorney to learn more about your claim and how to protect your legal options.

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Founded in 2007 by former New Mexico prosecutor Andras Szantho, our law firm fights for the rights of injury victims in car accidents and other serious personal injury claims. Lea...