Is New Mexico a No-Fault State?
It can be overwhelming to recover from a car accident, particularly if you have serious injuries.
We understand that while you are recovering, you want to know your options.
You should first review information about New Mexico fault laws and New Mexico auto insurance requirements.
We can help answer any questions you might have and will be there for you every step of the way.
New Mexico Fault Laws
You might be wondering, Is New Mexico a no-fault state? The answer is that New Mexico is an “at fault” state.
It also follows pure comparative negligence rules. It is essential to know the differences between at-fault and no-fault states.
At-Fault Compared to No-Fault States
Typically, in an accident, one of the parties is deemed to be “at fault.” In a fault state, the person at fault—or their insurance company—is responsible to pay for injuries suffered in the accident.
In “no-fault” states, if a driver injured you in an accident, you would have to look first to your own insurance for compensation.
In those states, your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage usually covers your own medical bills and a portion of your lost wages up to the limits on your insurance policy.
You can sue an at-fault party in no-fault states only if your injuries meet specific threshold requirements defined by state law.
However, PIP coverage will not be an available option in New Mexico.
How Is the Determination of Fault Made?
In some cases, one driver is responsible for 100% of the accident. In many cases, however, two or more parties share fault.
Under New Mexico law, you can still recover for a portion of your injuries even if you were partially at fault.
However, the compensation you would have received will be reduced proportionate to your share of fault.
For example, if you were found to be 40% at fault, you would receive compensation for the remaining 60%. This is because New Mexico is a pure comparative negligence state.
Being a pure comparative negligence state means that even if the plaintiff is 99% at fault, they can recover damages for the 1% for which they are not at fault.
This differs from other states, which follow modified comparative negligence or contributory negligence. Yet nearly a third of states, including New Mexico, follow the pure comparative negligence rules.
In most cases, you will have to prove the four elements of negligence under New Mexico law to determine liability:
- First, the driver must have owed the victim a duty;
- Second, the at-fault driver must have breached that duty;
- Third, the breach of that duty must have been the direct cause of the accident; and
- Fourth, there must be compensable damages or injuries to the victim.
All four of these elements have to be present for there to be a showing of negligence.
Mandatory Liability Coverage
As in every state, you must purchase a minimum amount of liability insurance in New Mexico.
Liability insurance gives you coverage for any property damage or injuries that other drivers or passengers incur. New Mexico liability insurance requirements for automobiles have three different “floors.”
- $10,000 for property damage in any singular accident,
- $25,000 for injury or death of an individual, and
- $50,000 for injuries or deaths of two or more people.
These are the minimum amounts that drivers have to buy under New Mexico car insurance laws.
Sometimes these policies are called “full coverage” policies, however these policies do not include Uninsured (UM) or Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.
UM/UIM coverage is added protection. You pay your insurance company for this coverage and usually kicks in to help cover you if, for example, the other person does not have insurance or runs from the scene of an accident.
What If You Did Not Have Insurance and Were Not at Fault?
In New Mexico, as in most states, there are potential penalties for not carrying automobile insurance, including fines.
Even if you are found to not be at fault, these penalties will still apply to you.
You will also have to pay any medical bills or repair bills for your vehicle out of pocket rather than relying on the other party’s insurance.
Contact Our New Mexico Lawyers For Help
We recognize how traumatic it can be trying to recover from an accident, and we understand the worries you might be experiencing.
Our knowledgeable attorneys at Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conaway, P.C. can help you recover compensation for your injuries.