Understanding how NM personal injury claims work ensures you receive fair compensation if you’re ever injured due to someone else’s carelessness or misconduct. Navigating the intricacies of personal injury claims can be daunting without the help of an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide you through the process.
Even if you have a skilled lawyer working on your case, it’s important to understand your rights under New Mexico law to pursue damages.
In this blog, we walk you through the legal principles, the steps to take after an injury, and the process for filing NM personal injury claims in the civil court system. We’ll answer the following questions in this comprehensive guide:
- What is a NM personal injury claim?
- What are the types of personal injury cases in NM?
- Which laws and statutes apply to personal injury claims in NM?
- What steps should you take after sustaining a personal injury?
- How do you file a NM personal injury claim?
- How do you determine liability and damages?
- What are some tips for working with personal injury attorneys?
- Do all NM personal injury claims go to trial?
What is a NM personal injury claim?
A personal injury claim refer to the legal process you can use to seek compensation for injuries or harm caused by someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions.
Most NM personal injury claims happen after car or truck accidents, medical malpractice cases, slips and falls, workplace accidents, and injuries or death from using a defective product.
To pursue a personal injury claim in New Mexico, you must prove the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached that duty, and caused your injuries as a result.
You can seek compensation that covers medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property loss among other damages.
Most people opt to consult with a NM personal injury attorney to ensure their rights are protected and they received the maximum compensation allowable under the law.
What are the types of personal injury cases in NM?
Personal injury lawyers provide legal services when you’re injured because of another person’s carelessness or deliberate actions. You may experience a temporary or permanent disability that impacts your ability to work or live your life normally.
Most personal injury attorneys handle multiple types of personal injury cases. Others may specialize in one type only. It’s best to choose a lawyer who specializes in your type of personal injury for the best results.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Claims against at-fault drivers who fail to follow the motor vehicle code are among the most common types of personal injury cases in New Mexico. Unfortunately, our state has earned the distinction of being the worst U.S. state for careless driving. It’s consistently ranked in the top 3 on this list since 2011.
Vehicle accidents can leave you with debilitating injuries. Worse yet, if you’re killed by a careless driver, your surviving family members are left behind. A personal injury attorney can help.
Your health and well-being – and sometimes your life – is on the line every time you entrust your care to a medical professional or healthcare facility. Even treatment for minor injuries can impact your life in unforeseen ways.
Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. It’s unclear how many people are living with permanent injuries caused by negligent medical care since many do not publicly disclose their conditions. It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 5 Americans have suffered from medical malpractice.
Failing to maintain all areas of a property can lead to someone else’s serious injury or death. That’s why the New Mexico courts take premise liability cases seriously. Property owners who ignore issues, hazards, or other dangers that can cause serious accident or injury are guilty of negligence under the law.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are one of the leading causes of accidental injury and death in New Mexico. It’s not just older residents who become victims of this type of personal injury. No one is immune from the risk.
Next to motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall incidents are among the top reasons for NM personal injury claims.
Workers’ compensation is a complex category that falls under NM personal injury claims. Workers who are hurt on the job typically don’t sue for civil damages. The workers’ compensation benefits system is expected to meet their needs.
However, sometimes it’s appropriate to bring a third-party liability claim. For instance, a driver hurt making an official delivery for his employer could sue the at-fault driver in addition to collecting workers’ compensation benefits.
New Mexico law classifies wrongful death as a type of personal injury claim. Under The Wrongful Death Act, Statute Section 41-2-1, wrongful death is defined as a death that was “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.”
In addition to wrongful death lawsuits, at-fault parties also may face criminal charges in New Mexico depending on the circumstances of the incident.
Which laws and statutes apply to personal injury claims in NM?
Like other states, New Mexico has laws and statutes that apply to personal injury claims. These guidelines dictate damage caps, the statute of limitations, and define comparative negligence and joint and several liability.
Statute of Limitations
New Mexico law places a statute of limitations on personal injury claims. This is the legal deadline by which you must file against at-fault parties.
In New Mexico, the statute of limitations is 3 years from the date of the injury or the date when the injury was discovered (or should have been reasonably discovered). Some exceptions and variations exist depending on underlying circumstances.
Working with a NM personal injury attorney is the most effective way to ensure you don’t miss critical deadlines.
Comparative negligence is the legal principle that applies to all personal injury cases in New Mexico. It’s used to determine the degree of fault and allocating responsibility for an accident between the parties involved.
The court evaluates the actions and behaviors of all parties and determines the percentage of fault attributed to each.
In New Mexico, a “pure comparative negligence” doctrine applies. So, even if you’re partially responsible for your injuries, you can still recover damages from the other party.
Joint and Several Liability
Joint and several liability determines how responsibility and liability for damages are allocated among multiple defendants. Each defendant in your case is held individually responsible for the entire amount of damages awarded, regardless of their degree of fault.
This provision of the law allows you to seek full compensation from any or all of the defendants, regardless of their ability to pay. Certain limitations and exceptions apply under the New Mexico Comparative Fault Act.
What steps should you take after sustaining a personal injury?
If you sustain a personal injury, it’s essential to take certain steps to protect your well-being, preserve evidence, and ensure your legal rights are protected. The following are some of the most crucial aspects of safeguarding your potential NM personal injury claims.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Medical professionals can document your injuries (and their cause). These records are helpful for proving your case later.
- Report the incident. If you were injured on the job, report it to your supervisor to comply with workers’ compensation laws. If the injury happened outside of work, report it to the proper authorities. For instance, you’d call the local police about an automobile accident.
- Gather evidence. Get photos of the accident scene, including hazardous conditions and damage to your property when applicable. Gather contact information for any witnesses.
- Preserve documents. Keep track of all documents related to your injury and any treatment related to it. Medical records, hospital bills, diagnostic reports, prescriptions, and receipts for out-of-pocket expenses are all recoverable under NM personal injury claims.
- Consult with a personal injury attorney. You may want to take this step as soon as possible. Your attorney can ensure you gather all the evidence you need and keep at-fault parties from pressuring you into accepting an unfair settlement.
Every personal injury case is unique. You may require additional steps based on your specific situation, which is why consulting with an attorney is advisable.
How do you file a NM personal injury claim?
Specific steps are involved in filing NM personal injury claims. You must make sure you’re following the laws and statutes outlining how such cases are handled within the state to boost your chances of a positive outcome.
Consulting with an attorney is the first crucial step in the process. Most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation to review and discuss your case before you decide whether you want to proceed.
If you decide to file your claim after speaking with an attorney, you can expect the process to go as follows:
- Investigation and gathering phase involves interviewing witnesses, reviewing medical records, and assessing the extent of damages.
- Demand letter and negotiations phase follows the evidence gathering. Your attorney drafts a letter of demand to the responsible party or their insurance company outlining your injuries and the compensation you’re seeking. Negotiations for a settlement can occur.
- Filing a lawsuit may happen if the at-fault party or their insurance company is unwilling to settle or offers unfair compensation as part of a settlement offer.
- Discovery phase is the stage of the lawsuit where both parties exchange information and evidence and conduct depositions of potential witnesses.
- Pre-trial proceedings can include motions, conferences, and additional negotiations between parties. Sometimes the court encourages a settlement during this phase.
- Trial begins if a settlement isn’t reached. Both sides present their arguments and supporting evidence to determine liability and damages.
Make sure you follow your attorney’s guidance throughout the entire process to improve your chances of success.
How do you determine liability and damages?
It’s your attorney’s job to determine liability and damages for your case. They do this by carefully reviewing the facts, evidence, and applicable laws before making recommendations about your NM personal injury claims.
Some of the steps they may take as part of the process include:
- Establishing the defendant owed a duty of care, breached that duty, and the breach caused your injuries.
- Gathering relevant evidence to support your case, including medical records and witness statements.
- Conducting a comparative fault assessment to determine if you have any fault in your injuries to accurately attribute liability.
- Compiling a list of economic, non-economic, and punitive damages to determine the total scope of damages for the claim.
Using these and other methods, personal injury attorneys are skilled in conducting a comprehensive analysis of the relevant facts of your case to determine liability and damages.
What are some tips for working with personal injury attorneys?
You are an integral part of the success – or failure – of your NM personal injury claim. Your willingness to work with your personal injury attorney ensures your rights are protected. Some of the things you can do to improve your chances of a successful outcome include:
- Following your attorney’s advice. It’s OK to have questions or even disagree with an approach. However, keep in mind your attorney has your best interests in mind and knows the complexities of filing NM personal injury claims.
- Keep all records and documentation. Medical bills, accident reports, correspondence, and other relevant documents help prove your case. Keep them well-organized and accessible for your attorney.
- Be responsive and timely. Failing to meet required deadlines can prove detrimental to your case. If your attorney requests information, provide them by the deadline to ensure the best results.
- Maintain realistic expectations. Personal injury cases are complex with many moving parts. It can take time to get through the process and address any challenges to your claim. Be patient and trust the process.
Do all NM personal injury claims go to trial?
No. Most personal injury attorneys do their best to settle NM personal injury claims out of court because it’s better for their clients. It’s emotional and stressful to recount accidents and incidents that caused your injuries in the courtroom. It also takes a lot of time to go through a trial, which may mean more missed work and lost income.
Settling your case is usually in the best interests of everyone involved. Sometimes trial judges encourage settlement before scheduling a court date if the two parties haven’t yet reached one.
Navigating the NM personal injury claims process
Navigating the NM personal injury claims process can be frustrating for the uninitiated. You don’t have to go it alone. Reach out to the experienced personal injury lawyers at Cameron & Russell to schedule your hassle-free consultation today.