Some call it the Land of Enchantment. Others think of it only as the setting of the television classic Breaking Bad. Many claim that the country's best and spiciest chilies can be found here. But to locals, New Mexico is simply home. Well, according to an insurance study, 52 percent of car accidents occur within five miles of home and a mind-blowing 77 percent occur within fifteen miles of home. State residents, therefore, would be well advised to get familiar with the New Mexico car accident settlement process and timeline.
Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in New Mexico?
New Mexico's accident reporting requirements require an oral report to local law enforcement, as well as a written one, whenever:
- The accident resulted in an injury to a person
- Where there is property damage of $500 or more.
The oral report simply means calling your local law enforcement agency as soon as possible -- the city police, county sheriff, or for the more rural folks, the New Mexico State Police. In addition, a written report must be filed within 5 days with the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
Of course, regardless of reporting requirements, you should exchange your insurance and contact information with the other driver.
New Mexico Car Insurance Laws
New Mexico's mandatory minimum insurance requirements include liability insurance of at least:
- $25,000 for bodily injury to or death of one person,
- $50,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more persons, and
- $10,000 for property damage in any one accident.
How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in New Mexico?
Will your case go to trial? Probably not. Nearly all disputes over car accident damages end in settlement, as the parties would rather take a guaranteed payout than risk losing at trial. Settlements also save on legal fees and stress, both of which are found in abundance in a courtroom setting.
More importantly, settlements allow the parties to control the outcome, typically meaning they drop the pending lawsuit after negotiating for appropriate compensation and sign a written agreement.
New Mexico does not require mandatory settlement conferences in all cases, but the courts do make conferences available to parties. Even without a judge's help, it is almost always the case that your attorney will discuss settlement options with you and the other party.
What is the Average Car Accident Settlement in New Mexico?
Settlements vary widely, and providing any average would be misleading. For example, a fender bender causes less pain, anguish, and property damage than a street racer who crashed into a coffee shop. The more important consideration is the amount of damages in your particular case -- no other case is like it.
To determine a fair settlement amount in your case, the parties and their attorneys will likely consider:
- The amount and evidence of fault and damages
- Insurance coverage (insurance companies won’t pay more than policy limits)
- Car repairs
- Medical bills (past and future)
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages from time away from work
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in New Mexico?
New Mexico, like all states, has time limits (Statutes of Limitations) for filing a legal case: you have three years from the date of the accident for personal injury claims and four years for property damage.
Statutes of Limitations are strict time limits and are not extended due to pending insurance claims. Speak to an attorney early in order to ensure that you still have time to file a lawsuit if needed.
Talk to an Attorney About New Mexico's Car Accident Settlement Process
Determining damages, evaluating settlement offers, and making deadlines are all vital to the success of your claim and are all issues that experienced attorneys can handle better than the average citizen. The advice and counsel of an experienced New Mexico car accident attorney can help and can prevent other issues that could end your case before it begins.