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New Mexico Car Accident Report Basics

Auto accidents range from annoying fender-benders to life-altering wrecks. No matter how severe your New Mexico car accident is, knowing what to do in the aftermath can make things much easier for you going forward.

Understanding New Mexico auto accident laws is an essential part of your recovery process. We’ll get you up to speed on the New Mexico statutes that matter in the aftermath of your accident, like being aware of what and what not to do at an accident scene.

We'll discuss the importance of accident reports and police reports. We’ll also discuss what you'll need to file insurance claims. You'll learn about everything from personal injury claims to dealing with law enforcement and car insurance companies.

While it's good to hope you're never involved in an auto accident of any type, it's better to plan for the possibility. Read on to be prepared for accidents and accident reports in New Mexico.

Overview of New Mexico Car Accident Laws

It's important to remember that as a licensed motorist in New Mexico, you have obligations and responsibilities if you're part of an accident. The best way to stay legally compliant is to know what's required of you.

New Mexico Accident Law Basics

If you're in an accident that involves an injury or death, call 911 and stay put until law enforcement arrives. If you leave, you risk a hit-and-run conviction. If nobody is hurt and the damage is less than $500, you don't have to involve the police. But it's a good idea to do so. Having a police report, known as a Uniformed Crash Report (UCR), is essential for filing insurance claims or pursuing lawsuits.

If all drivers agree the event is too minor to require the police, you can still file a station report at the nearest police station. Police reports involving injuries, death, or more than $500 of damage are sent to the New Mexico State Traffic Records System (NMSTRS).

Copies of the police report can be obtained from the police station in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred or ordered through the New Mexico Department of Public Safety. A fee will be involved.

New Mexico Liability Insurance Requirements

Motorists in New Mexico are required to have liability insurance on any vehicle they drive. The minimum amounts allowed are:

  • $25,000 for death of or bodily injury to one person
  • $50,000 for death of or bodily injury to two or more persons
  • $10,000 for property damage in any one accident

New Mexico has an insurance identification database (IIDB) to track down uninsured drivers. When you purchase an insurance policy, your insurance company will give your information to the database.

If you're injured in an accident, the at-fault driver's insurance company is responsible for paying your medical expenses and other damages. For a more in-depth look at what your insurance claim process will be like, take a look at FindLaw's New Mexico Car Accident Settlement Process and Timeline article.

Fault and Liability in New Mexico

At the scene of an accident, it's normal to wonder who is responsible for paying for damages and personal injuries. New Mexico is an at-fault state. This means the person deemed most responsible for the accident pays the damages and medical expenses of the others.

The accident victims also have the right to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver if their insurance policy doesn't cover all the damages.

New Mexico also employs the pure comparative negligence doctrine, which means that anyone involved can recover damages if they aren't 100% responsible for the accident. This also caps recovery as well. For example, if you had $40,000 in damages but were determined to be 25% responsible for the accident, you would be awarded $30,000.

Findlaw's New Mexico Car Accident Compensation Laws article can help you better understand how the state's statutes work.

What To Do After an Auto Accident in New Mexico

Auto accidents can be terrifying and traumatic experiences. Even if you've escaped injury, it's normal to be upset and confused. While it might be difficult to think straight, having previously studied what to do can make a huge difference.

First and foremost, take a deep breath and assess the situation. Are you injured? Are your passengers okay? If you can, check on the well-being of the others involved in the accident. Cars are replaceable. People are not.

Your next step should be to call 911. Make sure to let the operator know about any injuries and their severity. While you wait for the police to arrive, take pictures of the car crash scene. If anyone saw what happened, get witness statements. If you can, alert your insurance company to the accident.

Even though the police report will contain vital information, it's a good idea to swap the following information with others involved in the accident:

  • Driver's license numbers
  • Contact information like a cell phone number, name, address
  • Insurance information
  • License plate numbers
  • Phone numbers

When the police arrive, give truthful answers to their questions to help them fill out the accident report. Even if you feel you were responsible, try not to admit fault.

The police will use their observations and the information provided by drivers, passengers, and witnesses to fill out the Uniformed Crash Report (UCR). Modeled on the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria, the UCR will describe the accident, adding additional objective factors such as:

  • Lighting/time of day
  • Weather
  • Road conditions
  • Traffic control devices
  • Sobriety
  • Road design

The UCR will be used by the insurance companies to determine fault.

If you were injured in the accident, seek medical attention. Keep copies of all medical bills and treatments. Your insurance company will require these at some point. If you encounter difficulty at any stage, consider speaking with a car accident lawyer.

Review of New Mexico Auto Accident Laws

The chart below summarizes the New Mexico accident report basics we've discussed. Knowing what to do with the written police report (UCR) will help greatly.

Relevant New Mexico Statutes

New Mexico Statutes Sections 66-7-206, 66-7-207

When To Report

A driver involved in a car accident must report the crash if it results in:

  • Death or bodily injury of any person

  • Property damage to an apparent amount of $500

How To Report

A driver must report the accident by the fastest means of communication immediately.

  • If an accident occurs within a municipality, the driver should report the accident to the police

  • If the accident didn't occur within a municipality, the driver should report the accident to the New Mexico State Police

  • The driver must also file a written report with the New Mexico Department of Transportation within five days of the accident

Note: State regulations are subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include federal decisions, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

More New Mexico Auto Accident Information

No two crashes are alike, but there's often overlap when it comes to basic facts. You might find the following answers helpful.

The guy who hit me wrecked my car, and it won't be fixed for weeks. Do I have to pay for a rental car?

If the other motorist in your accident was found to be the at-fault driver, their insurance company should pay for a rental vehicle while your car is being repaired. This is in addition to paying for the repairs themselves.

It's not a bad idea to keep a worksheet detailing the accumulating expenses due to the other driver's fault.

My neck didn't hurt immediately after the accident, but in the six months since, it's gotten so bad that I can't move it very much. Is it too late to file a personal injury lawsuit?

The amount of time you have to file a lawsuit is called a statute of limitations, which varies by state. In New Mexico, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury suit. Once that period has passed, it's very difficult, if not impossible, to bring a civil case to court.

If you're bringing something as serious and life-changing as a personal injury suit, consider speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney for legal advice about your New Mexico car accident case.

Related Resources

Filing a Car Accident Report? Get Help From a New Mexico Lawyer

If you're struggling after a car accident in the state of New Mexico, know that you're not alone. There are resources available to you. Depending on the severity of your accident, you may want to get professional legal help obtaining the compensation you deserve.

Learn more about your car accident claim by speaking with a New Mexico motor vehicle accident attorney today.

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