| Read Time: 4 minutes | Car Accidents
new mexico car accident guide

Whether you’re driving down the streets of Albuquerque or on our sprawling rural highways, accidents can happen anywhere in New Mexico.

Unfortunately, these accidents often cause life-changing injuries that put physical, emotional, and financial stress on the victims. 

If you get into a New Mexico car accident, you don’t have to go through it alone.

At Flores, Tawney & Acosta, P.C., our attorneys dedicate themselves to your recovery from day one.

Our goal is to pursue the compensation you need to move forward from this traumatic experience.

We hope this guide will help you understand the basics of the car accident claims process and how various New Mexico laws may affect your case.

Is New Mexico a No-Fault State for Car Accidents?

No, New Mexico is not a no-fault state. Instead, car accident laws in New Mexico are fault-based, placing financial responsibility on the person or entity at fault for the accident.

Additionally, New Mexico follows the pure comparative negligence doctrine. This means that a victim may pursue compensation even if they were partially—or even mostly—at fault for the accident.

However, the court also reduces the plaintiff’s total compensation by their percentage of fault, up to 99%.

Here’s an example of how much a victim may receive out of a $1,000,000 award at different levels of fault:

  • $800,000 if the plaintiff is 20% at fault,
  • $500,000 if the plaintiff is 50% at fault, or
  • $100,000 if the plaintiff is 90% at fault.

New Mexico’s negligence laws are much more forgiving than those for other states.

For example, many states follow a modified version of comparative negligence that bars compensation if the plaintiff is 50-51% or more at fault

Damages Available Under New Mexico Law

In New Mexico, victims may seek three types of damages after a car accident: economic, non-economic, and punitive. The amount of each damage type depends on the nature of your injuries as well as the circumstances of the accident.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the core losses that make up your claim. This category includes damages with a standard cost or value, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.

For example, if you have $15,000 in vehicle damage and $25,000 in medical expenses, you have $40,000 in total economic damages.

Non-economic Damages

Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate in car accidents. Instead of reimbursing victims for tangible losses, non-economic damages provide compensation for subjective losses.

In other words, they can’t be calculated by adding up receipts or bills. The most common form of non-economic damage is pain and suffering.

However, this category also includes loss of companionship, loss of quality of life, permanent disability, and disfigurement.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages aren’t as common as the other two categories. This is because they aren’t meant to reimburse the victim for any particular loss. Instead, the court awards punitive damages in cases where the defendant acted with wanton, reckless, or intentional disregard for the safety of others. 

How Long Do You Have to File a Police Report After a Car Accident in New Mexico?

There are two instances when you must report a New Mexico car accident to the police:

  • When the accident causes bodily injury or death to any person, or
  • When property damage in the accident exceeds $500.

In addition, drivers involved in a car accident that meets the criteria must submit a written report of the accident to the department of transportation within five days. 

Generally, the best thing to do after an accident is to call 911. When the reporting officer shows up, they will most likely fill out an accident report detailing the damages and injuries.

This is a crucial piece of evidence for your claim, as it establishes an official record of the car accident. Without it, the insurance company may minimize or deny your claim.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident in New Mexico?

According to NMS § 37-1-8, victims injured in a New Mexico car accident have three years to file a lawsuit.

This means that you must bring an action within three years from the date of injury. However, there are a few exceptions which may alter the time limit depending on the circumstances.

The first exception occurs when the victim is a minor or incapacitated at the time of the accident. In this case, the victim has either:

  • One year after reaching the age of 18 or termination of incapacity to file a lawsuit, or
  • Three years from the date of injury.

The time limit that applies is whichever gives the victim the most amount of time to file.

For example, if the victim was 14 when they received the injury, they have until their 19th birthday to bring an action. However, if they were 17 years old, they would have three years from the date of injury to file. 

The second exception is when the responsible party is a government agency or public employee.

Under NMS § 41-4-16, victims must give the government entity a claim notice within 90 days of the incident. This notice should include information regarding the time, place, and circumstances of the injury as well as evidence of damages.

Since this situation drastically reduces the amount of time you have to file, we highly recommend reaching out to one of our car accident attorneys.

How Long Does an Insurance Company Have to Settle a Claim in New Mexico?

An insurance company must respond to your claim “within a reasonable time.” Unfortunately, there aren’t any specific requirements in New Mexico for insurance companies regarding settlement timelines.

This means that they often use any tactic necessary to draw out your claim timeline. The goal of the adjuster is to get desperate victims to accept an offer much lower than they deserve.

Having an attorney on your side helps even the odds against the insurance company, especially if your attorney knows the signs of unfair claims practices. 

Have More Questions About New Mexico Car Accidents?

If you have any questions about your New Mexico car accident claim, contact Flores, Tawney & Acosta, P.C. today. We’ll examine your claim and explore your legal options based on your unique situation.

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call us at 575-222-1000. We proudly serve clients throughout New Mexico from our practices in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Carlsbad.

Author Photo

Connie J. Flores

Mrs. Flores is a lifelong resident of El Paso who graduated from Irvin High School in 1990. She attended the University of Denver and graduated in 2003 with honors from the National Honor Society. Mrs. Flores went on to attend the University of New Mexico School of Law and graduated in 2008 where she was a recipient of the Dean’s Award. She was admitted and licensed to practice law in the State of New Mexico in September 2008 and in the State of Texas in May 2009.