If you were injured in a car accident, slip and fall incident, or a premises liability accident caused by another party’s negligence, you have the burden of proving culpability. This means that while you have the right to pursue compensation for your injuries, the negligent party can raise defenses to your claim. A common implication might be is that you're partially at fault for your resulting injuries. In New Mexico, this defense is based on the legal theory of pure comparative negligence. How may this affect the amount of compensation that you receive in your settlement?
How Pure Comparative Negligence Affects Your Personal Injury Claim
Unlike many other states, New Mexico is a pure comparative negligence state. Under this legal theory, the amount that you would be entitled to in a claim settlement is reduced by the percentage of your fault in causing your injuries.
However, you may still be entitled to some compensation if you're found at more fault than the negligent party—even if you were 99 percent at fault. Assuming that your total damages were $100,000, here's an example of compensation amounts, depending on your percentage of negligence:
- If the other party was 100 percent at fault, you could be entitled to $100,000.
- If the other party was 70 percent at fault, and you're found 30 percent at fault, you could be entitled to $70,000.
- If you were 90 percent at fault, you may be entitled to $10,000.
Other states follow harsher comparative negligent laws. In states that follow the contributory negligence rules, a plaintiff who was in any way at fault in causing an accident is completely barred from any financial recovery. Other states follow a modified comparative negligence doctrine, where an accident victim’s compensation is reduced by his percentage of fault, but if he is found 51 percent or more at fault, he is prohibited from receiving any damages.
What Should You Do If You Don't Agree You Were Partially Negligent?
The insurance company for the person who or business that caused your accident has a duty to investigate your claim and will look for evidence that you were comparatively negligent to reduce the value of your claim.
What should you do if you don't agree with the insurance adjuster’s analysis of fault? Retain one of our experienced personal injury attorneys as soon as possible. He can investigate your accident, collect evidence, interview witnesses from the accident scene, and hire the necessary experts to prove the other party and not you caused the accident. In addition, a knowledgeable attorney is much more qualified to convince an insurance adjuster of the responsibility to compensate you and negotiate a settlement that's fair to you.
Do you or a loved one need to file a claim for compensation following a personal injury accident? Call our Roswell office today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options, and what steps you need to take to prove the other party’s negligence.