In some states across the country, drivers will turn to their own insurance carrier after an accident occurs, regardless of who caused the incident. These insurance systems are considered “no-fault.” However, New Mexico is not a no-fault state when it comes to vehicle accidents. In order to recover compensation after an accident occurs, injury victims have to prove the fault of the other party. Here, we want to discuss how a fault-based system works and how this is different from a no-fault system.
New Mexico is Not a No-Fault State
New Mexico is not a no-fault state when it comes to vehicle accidents. In a no-fault state, any person involved in a vehicle accident will turn to their own insurance carrier to recover compensation for their injuries and property damage. In most accident claims in no-fault states, individuals are not allowed to file a lawsuit against other drivers involved, even if another driver was at fault for the incident.
Instead, New Mexico follows the traditional fault-based vehicle accident system. This means that any person who sustains an injury or property damage in a vehicle accident should be able to recover compensation from the at-fault driver. In a fault-based system, there has to be an investigation into the incident in order to determine liability for a crash. The insurance carrier for the at-fault driver will be primarily responsible for covering the property damage expenses and medical bills of the others involved.
Liability Must Be Determined in New Mexico
In order for a fault-based vehicle accident system to work, it is crucial to determine liability in the aftermath of a vehicle accident. However, determining fault is not always easy. Typically, there is a wide range of evidence that can be used to show what happened in a vehicle accident in order to assign liability. This evidence can include:
- Statements from eyewitnesses to the incident
- The police report
- Video surveillance of the incident
- Photographs taken after the accident occurs
- Vehicle “black box” data
- Mobile device data
- Evidence from accident reconstruction experts
Sometimes, vehicle accidents are relatively straightforward, and fault is assigned to one party. However, it is not uncommon for more than one driver to be at fault for a vehicle accident in New Mexico.
What About Shared Fault?
Every state has a system in place to determine what happens if more than one driver causes an accident. Typically, these are handled by something called “modified comparative negligence” laws. In this type of system, individuals can typically recover compensation so long as they are not more than 50% responsible for the incident. If they are 50% or more responsible for a crash, they will be unable to recover compensation. Any person less than 50% responsible for a vehicle accident in a modified comparative negligence state will see their compensation reduced based on their percentage of fault.
In New Mexico, there is a “pure comparative negligence” system in place. In this type of system, an individual can recover compensation for an accident even if they are up to 99% at fault. However, the total amount of compensation they recover will be reduced based on their percentage of fault, just like in a modified comparative negligence system.
For more information on accident liability, speak to a car accident attorney in Albuquerque today.