Vehicle insurance laws differ from state to state, which can make it tricky to be sure you are in full compliance with your state’s requirements. Every driver hopes they will not need to use auto insurance, but an uninsured driver will quickly realize the benefit of car insurance if they are involved in an accident. Whether or not you have insurance, it is always best to speak with an attorney with experience in New Mexico car accident law if you have been in a collision.
Auto insurance laws may seem complicated, but there are simple steps to making sure you have the insurance you need to drive within the state-mandated requirements. Let’s break down New Mexico’s auto insurance laws and take a closer look at how it is determined who pays for the damages in a car crash.
Insurance Requirements for Drivers
The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) website publishes the regulations dictating the amount and type of insurance that vehicle operators must carry. In the case of an accident, the New Mexico Insurance Identification Database (IIDB) can be used by law enforcement officers, state agencies, and courts of law to determine whether a vehicle has appropriate insurance coverage. Your insurance company is required to register your auto insurance information online so that your vehicle can be identified as properly insured.
Properly insured means meeting the minimum state requirements. Like most states, New Mexico requires liability insurance. Liability insurance protects other drivers in the event that you are at fault in a car accident. This form of insurance does not cover you or your own vehicle, but rather is designed to cover bodily injury and property damage the other party may have sustained in the accident. Because liability insurance does not protect you or your car, vehicle owners may consider purchasing additional insurance options that are not required by state law.
Drivers are required to have liability auto insurance at least to the minimum amount specified by state law. In New Mexico, the minimum amounts are:
- $25,000 for bodily injury to or death of one person
- $50,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more persons
- $10,000 for property damage in any one accident
If you do not have the minimum liability auto insurance, your vehicle registration may be suspended. In order to prove that you are within compliance of state auto insurance laws, you must provide documented proof of insurance to the New Mexico MVD when you register your vehicle. According to the New Mexico MVD, the following forms of proof are acceptable: a current auto insurance card, a copy of your current insurance policy, or a letter from your auto insurance company (on company letterhead) that verifies your auto insurance coverage.
Determining Liability in an Accident
New Mexico is what is called an “at-fault” state, or tort state. This means that when an accident occurs, the at-fault driver’s insurance should cover the injuries and property damage of the victim. That is why it is mandatory to have liability auto insurance if you drive a vehicle in an at-fault state. There are only 12 “no-fault” states. In these states, drivers must have personal injury protection (PIP) to cover their own damages in an accident, rather than the other party’s damages.
New Mexico also operates under a pure comparative negligence law. Each state has its own system of laws determining how negligence is handled in car accident cases. New Mexico’s pure comparative negligence law means that both parties can be at fault in a car crash, and a percentage is used to describe each party’s level of negligence. For example, it may be determined that the other driver is 80% at fault and you are 20% at fault in the accident. The more at-fault party is responsible for the other party’s financial losses, but even if you are partially at fault, you can still recover damages. Your compensation amount will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Because insurance payout is contingent upon who is at fault, a car accident lawyer working with you on your case will need to be thorough and analytical, examining every detail of the incident to understand what happened and who is responsible. Your lawyer will investigate various pieces of evidence to determine who is liable for the accident. This may include:
- Police reports
- Traffic camera video
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Physical damage, debris, or skid marks on the roadways
- Auto mechanic reports on the condition of the vehicle
- Dashboard camera footage
- Eyewitness reports
- Black box or vehicle event data recorder (EDR) information
Find a Car Accident Lawyer Who Knows New Mexico’s Legal System
After you have been involved in a car accident, you know that many things in your life are dependent upon your ability to recover damages. You may be dealing with steep medical bills, a loss of income or loss of vehicle, and severe physical and emotional pain. You should never leave the outcome of your case up to chance, but should instead align yourself with a law team that has the experience, knowledge, and conscientiousness to make sure that you are awarded the compensation you need to recover and move past the accident.
We know that our team at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm possesses those qualities. We have years of experience in successful legal advocacy. We have comprehensive, up-to-date knowledge of federal and state laws. But more importantly, we have a heart for doing what is right and going the extra mile for those who have been hurt. If you are looking for legal guidance following a car accident in New Mexico, we invite you to get in touch with our office today.