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Who’s at Fault in New Mexico Car Accidents?

The majority of car accidents are caused by human error, according to The Center for Internet and Society. It’s essential to figure out who is at fault in order to assign legal and financial liability for a wreck.

New Mexico Fault Laws

New Mexico is a “fault-based” state for car accidents. This means that fault is based on the mistakes each driver made. In some rare situations, one party may be completely responsible for the crash. In most cases, however, the accident is complex and more than one party is partially at fault.

Pure Comparative Negligence

If you are partially at fault, you may still be able to recover compensation after a car accident. New Mexico is a pure comparative negligence state. That means the compensation you’re entitled to is reduced by the percentage of your fault in causing your injuries.

For example, if you are 20% at fault for the wreck and the other party is 80% at fault, you can still recover up to 80% of your damages. If you had $100,000 in damages, you could get $80,000 from the other party.

Clear & Contested Fault

In some cases, there is “clear liability,” where one party is definitely at fault. Examples include drunk driving cases where the intoxicated driver crosses the center line, or rear-end vehicle crashes (the car that rear-ends the other one is almost always at fault).

Fault vs. Liability

Fault simply means that a driver caused the accident through their own actions. Legal and financial liability indicates the party who must pay for the victim’s damages.

The party who is at fault is not always the liable party. In some situations, someone other than the driver may be held financially responsible, even if the driver was somewhat negligent.

Liable parties other than a driver may include:

  • Defective parts manufacturer
  • Road construction crew
  • City, county, or state government
  • Employer of the driver
  • Maintenance company

Who’s at Fault in Certain Accident Types?

In some cases, there is clear fault or statutes have determined fault should lie with a certain party.

  • Rear-end accident – The person to the rear of the accident is usually to blame. They should have given the person in front enough space to stop.
  • Merging – The driver who swerves into another lane and hits a driver going straight is typically to blame.
  • T-bone – The driver who fails to yield right of way to a driver going straight is typically at fault.
  • Head-on – If one of the drivers crossed the center lane and hit another driver head-on, they may be at fault.
  • Blind spot – The driver that failed to ensure they were clear to merge or turn would be at fault. Even if a blind spot caused the accident, the driver who should have seen the other car is to blame.
  • Drunk driving accidents – The drunk driver is almost always at fault. They should not have been driving while intoxicated.
  • Distracted driving accident – It is illegal to drive while distracted. Distracted drivers are almost always at fault in these crashes.

How is Fault Determined?

There are elements of fault that a plaintiff (or victim) must prove to hold someone liable for their negligent actions. These elements are:

  • The at-fault driver had a legal duty
  • The at-fault driver breached that duty
  • The breach of duty caused the accident
  • The accident resulted in injuries and damages

For example, every driver has a legal duty to pay attention while driving. Driving distracted, especially texting while driving, may breach that duty to other people on the roadway. If that breach results in an accident that causes injuries to others, the distracted driver is at fault. They may be held liable for damages incurred by any victims.

What Evidence Helps to Prove Fault?

It can be hard to prove fault in a car accident. In many cases, both parties are pointing the finger at one another. Some evidence that may be used to prove fault include:

  • The police report or accident report
  • Pictures and video from the scene
  • Traffic camera or dash cam footage
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Black box data
  • Skid marks and measurements from the scene
  • Social media posts by the other driver
  • Traffic citations issued to the other driver

How Can a Lawyer Help?

The other party will certainly “lawyer up,” which means they will get a lawyer on their side to protect their rights. They may even try to blame you for the crash. You need to get an attorney who can represent your best interests as well.

Evidence from a car accident site disappears quickly. We need to interview witnesses and gather information as soon as possible. We will collect evidence to support your claim and ensure you get the compensation you need to cover your losses.

Get The Law Giant on Your Side

The Law Giant has a solid history of representing clients who need to get money to move forward with their lives. We know money doesn’t solve everything, but it can help you cover medical bills, lost wages, and more.

When you call The Law Giant, our team of legal professionals will immediately get to work for you. We have offices in Brownsville, Laredo, Mcallen, San Antonio, and Albuquerque. Call us today at 505-900-0000 or use our online contact form to reach out and schedule a consultation of your case.