Car Accident Lawsuits in Albuquerque: When Do I Have a Case?
When you are involved in a vehicle crash in Albuquerque that is someone else’s fault, filing a car accident lawsuit may be an appropriate recourse. Sometimes referred to as tort or personal injury cases, these lawsuits help victims recover compensation for injuries and lost wages suffered as a direct result of the crash.
Distracted driving is the most common cause of automobile accidents in Albuquerque and nationwide, followed closely by driving under the influence. It leads the way in the most distracted driving deaths at 61.6 per million residents. Most of these accidents were attributed to distracted driving involving mobile phones. New Mexico also is ranked fifth in the nation for deadly drunken-driving accidents per capita, according to a report from Safewise.
It paints a bleak picture, but facts are facts. If you live in Albuquerque, you are more likely to die in an automobile accident than in any other state.
How to Determine Liability
Human error leads to 94 percent of all car crashes in the nation, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. When humans mess up while behind the wheel, the results can be devastating. Innocent victims can suffer from temporary or permanent disabilities because of that “oops” moment by an at-fault party. Their injuries can cause time off work and lost wages, which can be financially devastating for one-income families when the breadwinner is unable to work.
Determining liability in an automobile accident usually is straightforward in New Mexico. However, that does not mean that an insurance adjuster for an at-fault party will not try to protect their bottom line. The police must be contacted any time you are involved in a motor vehicle accident. Whether it is a small accident with minor injuries or a serious crash that lands you in the hospital, reporting it to the police will prompt an investigation. Police automatically are involved when an accident closes a major roadway or causes other interruptions to the normal flow of traffic. However, in situations where given a choice, and you believe the other party to be at fault, insist the police are contacted before either vehicle is removed from the scene or either of the parties involved leaves the scene.
Two kinds of motor vehicle accidents automatically determine fault as part of a provision known as admitted liability.
- Rear-end collisions usually result in fault being assigned to the driver of the vehicle who collides with the vehicle (or vehicles if it is a multivehicle accident) in front of them. Under New Mexico law, drivers have a legal duty to maintain proper distance and to remain alert for slowing and stopping.
- Failure to yield during left turns is another scenario when a specific driver is assumed to be at fault. Drivers who are making a left turn across the normal flow of traffic are obligated to yield to oncoming traffic.
Police investigators will evaluate the crash scene and speak with any witnesses before drafting an accident report. Insurance adjusters have access to the report, which usually provides findings on which driver was determined to be at fault in the crash. This information also can be used by a personal injury lawyer as evidence to support a victim’s claim for compensation. When Romero Law’s attorneys are called in by a car crash victim, one of the first things we seek out is an accident report.
What Happens if the At-Fault Party Denies Liability?
At-fault parties are required, by New Mexico law, to pay damages. Sometimes persons responsible for an accident go to great lengths to deny liability. It may be that their insurance company is advising them not to admit liability in the hopes the company can avoid hefty payouts to the other driver. It could also be that the at-fault party is being advised by a lawyer who is trying to limit the number of damages their client may owe if he or she admits guilt. Regardless of the reason, when it happens, it is best to immediately call in a personal injury lawyer who specializes in car accidents to consult on the case.
One of the first things our attorneys at Romero Law recommend is to begin collecting evidence to support your claim. In Albuquerque, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. Under New Mexico Statute, the plaintiff’s legal counsel must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is at fault in the accident. Once our team of auto accident attorneys is brought on the case, we immediately begin compiling proof to back up your claims. Evidence that can help prove fault in a car accident includes:
- Police accident investigation report
- Medical evaluations from all medical practitioners involved with your treatment
- Traffic citations and other traffic violations for the at-fault driver
- Photographs and video evidence of damage to both vehicles
- Insurance adjuster claims
- Eyewitness statements
- Cellphone records (if distracted driving is suspected)
What is the Statute of Limitations on Car Accidents in New Mexico?
Under New Mexico law, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit for a car accident is three years from the date of the accident. While it is true that injuries associated with a traffic accident sometimes are not immediately apparent, the sooner you contact a personal injury lawyer about your rights, the better the outcome.
There is an exception to the three-year statute of limitations for New Mexico. If the at-fault party is a government entity, the statute of limitations is reduced to two years from the date of the accident. This is known as the Mexico Tort Claims Act and covers all government employees who are acting in the line of duty when an accident occurs. As part of the act, there is a specific claims process that must be followed.
Our team at Romero Law has extensive experience in evaluating and prosecuting personal injury cases due to car accidents in Albuquerque. We can thoroughly assess your case to determine the best course of action and ensure your rights are protected.
How Likely is a Settlement?
Most personal injury lawsuits related to automobile accidents never make it to court. Roughly 90 percent of these cases are settled before it ever gets that far. This is a good thing. Court cases are exhausting for victims and can add to emotional distress they already may be experiencing from the car accident. It always is our goal at Romero Law Firm to settle client https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-black-iphone-5-5722159/cases out of court to spare them the anxiety and stress of sitting through a trial. Most defendants in personal injury lawsuits prefer to avoid a public spectacle of the courtroom as well. When car accident cases end up in court, the details of the accident, plus any jury awards, are public information. Oftentimes, settlements can include provisions that the details are not disclosed to parties outside of the plaintiff and defendant.
When pursuing a settlement, the process will look the same as if our team of auto accident lawyers was preparing for a court case. We gather all the evidence available in the case to support your claim, determine a fair compensation request, and present our findings to the legal representative for the at-fault party. It is not uncommon for the at-fault party’s legal counsel to prepare a counter-offer. Never accept an offer from the opposing legal team without first consulting your personal injury attorney. Our team will ensure you are not being low-balled.
Should the at-fault party refuse to negotiate or tries to make an offer that is not acceptable per our terms, we can proceed with the claim to court.
What Happens if a Lawsuit is Filed?
Personal injury lawsuits for car accidents are filed in the proper Circuit Court in New Mexico. Our team of auto accident attorneys prepares clients for court proceedings. If you will be testifying in your case, we can practice a cross-examination scenario to ensure you are ready to accurately tell your side of the story.
During a trial, both parties will present their evidence to the jury. This can include the appearance of witnesses and expert testimony. Once both sides have presented, the jury will consider the case before issuing a verdict. It is important to note that even if a case makes it to trial, it still is possible to settle before a verdict is issued.
How Much Compensation is Awarded?
There is no one figure we can provide to answer this question, as each personal injury lawsuit is unique. Car accidents claimants should request damages based on several factors, including outstanding medical bills, lost wages, and potential for future lost income due to temporary or permanent disability. The total compensation, whether via settlement or court award, depends on the severity of your injuries and other extenuating circumstances.
Other factors that may affect compensatory awards include:
- Circumstances of the crash (is the victim partially at fault?)
- Actions of the defendant prior to the crash (DUI, distracted driving)
- Severity and extent of injuries suffered
- Age and health of the victim
Romero Law’s team of personal injury attorneys can thoroughly review your case to assess average compensation anticipated for both out-of-court settlements and jury awards. Our assessment is based on damages such as medical and legal bills, income losses, and vehicle repair or replacement estimates. Non-economic losses like emotional distress and loss of quality of life also are factored into the equation.
Rely on the Aggressive Auto Crash Attorneys at EMR Law
The Law Office of E. Marvin Romero understands the emotional and physical toll victims of car crashes endure. When it comes to securing the compensation you deserve, our team of auto accident attorneys has the expertise needed to win cases and reach fair settlements. We will litigate tirelessly on your behalf and will not rest until we have resolved the case to your satisfaction.
Contact us online or by calling 505-595-2100 to schedule your free consultation with a caring member of our legal team.