Personal Injury -- Plaintiff Law
New Mexico Personal Injury Law
If you are hurt by someone’s negligent or intentional act, New Mexico law provides you with options to pursue a claim to hold them accountable for damages. Personal injury claims are based on tort law, which allows you to recover financial compensation for the losses you suffer from incidents like car accidents, slip-and-falls, dog bites, assaults, and many more.
New Mexico law handles some aspects of injury claims differently than other states, so it may be helpful to work with an attorney as you navigate through the process. This will help you protect your rights.
How Are New Mexico Negligence Claims Different?
The standard elements to prove fault and receive compensation for negligence claims requires you to prove that the other party:
- Owed you a duty to act reasonably
- Breached their duty to you by acting unreasonably
- Caused your injuries as a result of their conduct
- Made you suffer damages
However, New Mexico law uses a pure comparative negligence model when dealing with these claims. This model examines your degree of fault in the situation, if any, and proportionally reduces the amount of compensation you may receive as a result.
Say you are speeding in Las Cruces when another car hits you. If the insurance company or the court determines your speeding is 40% of the reason the accident happened, then you are only eligible to recover 60% of the damages.
What is the Process for a Personal Injury Claim?
How your personal injury claim will proceed depends on your injuries and your specific situation. Some helpful ways to make your claim run more smoothly are:
- Taking pictures of your injuries or damage to your property
- Maintaining accurate records of all medical appointments, bills, and related documents
- Keeping a log of time missed from work
These things will all serve as crucial evidence to prove the seriousness of your injuries and losses.
Oftentimes, the start of your claim begins with contacting your insurance company, and the insurance company of the person who hurt you. After the insurance companies consider the severity of your damages and examine the fault of the parties involved, they may offer you a settlement agreement.
However, if the companies disagree on who is responsible for the incident or you are dissatisfied with the amount, it may be necessary to pursue litigation.
Car Accidents in New Mexico
Since New Mexico uses the pure comparative negligence model, car accidents are not as clear cut as you may think. Say you are driving down I-25 through Albuquerque when you are hit by another car. To determine the liability — or fault — in the accident, the car insurance companies will consider the reasonableness of your driving as well as the person who hit you. Speeding, failing to wear a seat belt, distracted driving, and other factors may be considered when determining your level of responsibility for your injuries.
New Mexico law mandates the minimum liability coverage as $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for physical injuries, and $10,000 for property damage in car accidents. Your own policy may cover you if you are hit by an uninsured driver or the driver flees the scene of the accident. If you are not pleased with the settlement offer from the insurance companies, then you should consider speaking with an attorney to move forward with the claim and file a lawsuit.
Premises Liability in New Mexico
New Mexico law allows for premises liability claims, which cover injuries that occur because of dangerous conditions on property owned by another person or business. For example, property owners in Santa Fe have the duty to reasonably care for, inspect, and maintain the premises. The extent of this duty is based on your relationship with the owner, the use of the property, along with the foreseeability of injuries like yours and the cost to prevent them. Frequently, these claims address slip-and-falls, dog bites, or an injury on someone else’s property.
For children hurt on someone else’s premises, New Mexico recognizes the “attractive nuisance” doctrine. This creates a special duty to take protective measures if an owner knows children are likely to come onto the property where a dangerous condition exists that may cause serious harm or death. This commonly applies to swimming pools or other enticing conditions a child may see as fun. New Mexico law recognizes that children don’t understand the danger of the condition and allows you to hold owners liable for children’s injuries.
Products Liability in New Mexico
Injuries you suffer from a defective product or warning may be brought as a product liability claim in New Mexico. Whether it be a prescription drug, electronic device, or children’s toy, this type of claim allows you to hold anyone in the chain of manufacturing of the defective product accountable for your damages.
In New Mexico, you may base your product injury claim on a breach of warranty, negligence, or strict liability theory to be compensated. You may wish to go over your claim with an attorney to decide how to approach your product liability claim.
What Damages Can I Recover?
You may be eligible for a few types of damages under New Mexico law. Economic damages cover medical care, property damage, lost income, and other related expenses. Non-economic damages account for pain and suffering. Punitive damages that punish the person who hurt you may be allowed in cases of malicious, reckless, or fraudulent conduct.
New Mexico places some limits on the amount of damages you may recover as well. Injury claims against the state may not exceed $750,000. For medical malpractice claims, the cap is $600,000, but this limit does not include punitive damages or your cost of medical care.
The amount you are compensated will depend on the facts of your case specifically. Since New Mexico uses pure comparative negligence, it is important to remember the amount can be reduced in proportion to any fault you had in the incident. While an attorney cannot promise you a specific number, they may help you understand your eligibility for damages and advocate in your best interest.
How Do I Decide If I Need an Attorney?
You may find bringing a lawsuit on your own an overwhelming task, given the various filing requirements, legal research, and statute of limitations restricting the amount of time you have to bring your case. Since New Mexico personal injury law is complex, you may prefer to hire an experienced injury attorney to take you through this process.
If you’re concerned with how you will pay for a reputable attorney, injury lawyers typically don’t require a large upfront payment, but they do offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee. This means you pay the attorney fees and expenses from a percentage of your damages at the conclusion of your case.