Premises Liability Laws in New Mexico: What You Need to Know
Unlike some states, New Mexico’s premises liability laws do not vary based on the visitor’s “invitee” or licensee” status. While this does simplify things a bit, there’s still a lot to know.
Similar to a personal injury claim, a premises liability claim hinges on the concept of negligence. In other words, one person’s negligence led to another person’s injury.
If you can win a premises liability claim, you’ll likely receive ample compensation for your medical bills, amongst other damages.
First, you need to know what New Mexico’s premises liability laws are. Read on to find out everything you need to know.
What Is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is a legal term that refers to a property owner’s responsibility to keep their property reasonably safe for visitors. It is important to note that specific conditions must be present in the incident in order for it to qualify as premises liability.
What Is the Property Owner Liable For?
It is a property owner’s responsibility to do one of two things. They must either maintain their property so that it is safe or they must provide an adequate warning of unsafe conditions.
Getting injured on someone else’s property does not automatically entitle you to compensation under premises liability. If the accident was deemed your fault and not the result of a property’s unsafe conditions, you cannot make a case against the property owner.
Similarly, if a property owner provided adequate warning of risky conditions, you may not be able to win your case.
For example, let’s say that the property owner hung a sign that said, “Uneven floorboards, do not walk here.” You walked across the uneven floorboards in spite of the sign, tripped, and injured yourself. A court may rule that you received an adequate warning and therefore the property owner is not at fault.
What If Both the Plaintiff and the Defendant Are at Fault?
New Mexico is a comparative fault or comparative negligence state. What that means is that if both the plaintiff and the defendant are found to be at fault, they will split the cost of damages accordingly.
In other words, let’s say that the court rules that you, the plaintiff, are 30% at fault while the defendant is 70% at fault. When the court determined the cost of damages you’ve accrued from the accident, you would receive up to 70% of it from the defendant. The other 30% would be your responsibility.
Are Trespassers Protected by Premises Liability?
If you were trespassing on someone else’s private property at the time of the accident, you cannot file a premises liability claim. This is the case even if your injury was caused by the property owner’s negligent maintenance.
What Kinds of Injuries Fall Under Premises Liability Laws?
Now that we’ve discussed how premises liability laws work in New Mexico, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what kind of injuries these laws cover.
Inadequate security implies that due to the lack of security measures, criminal activity is likely to occur. Whether or not a property is considered to have inadequate security will depend on a number of factors, including the area’s crime rate and the type of property in question.
Unsafe Physical Conditions
Unsafe physical conditions tend to be more clearcut but a lot of different accidents fall under this umbrella.
Slip-and-fall accidents are fairly common under premises liability. These accidents may be caused by weather conditions, such as ice or heavy rainfall, that the property owner failed to prepare for. They may also be caused by uneven or unstable flooring, unrepaired staircase railings, and more.
Unsafe physical conditions can also include elevators that have not been serviced, wiring that has not been contained, chemical exposures, and hanging objects that have not been secured well. Swimming pools that have not enclosed or maintained may also be considered unsafe physical conditions.
One case that can be difficult to prove (but does come up) is the case of inadequate lighting. The argument is built on the idea that due to poor lighting, the plaintiff was unable to see potential sources of danger and injured themselves as a result.
How Do I Open a Premises Liability Case?
If you’re reading this and believe you have a case, you should contact a premises liability lawyer. They can review the facts of your case and get to work on gathering the necessary documents, such as medical records and bills, to start building your case.
Your attorney will also investigate the property owner’s maintenance records to determine how long their property has been unsafe, whether or not they could have known about the damage, and more.
Bear in mind that these claims can take a long time to settle and it is important that you keep up with your medical treatment throughout. It will be filed in New Mexico’s small claims court system, known as the Metropolitan Court.
Note that in New Mexico, there is a statute of limitations of three years for any claims pertaining to personal injury. The starting point of this three-year window is the day of the injury with a few exceptions. The sooner you begin your premises liability claim, the better.
I Need a Premises Liability Attorney in New Mexico
Having reviewed New Mexico’s premises liability laws, it is clear to you that you have a case worth pursuing. Now, it’s time to find an attorney to take on your case.
At the Law Office of E. Marvin Romero, we work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us so that we may begin consultation and determine the parameters of your case.