How is Fault Determined in a Personal Injury Case in New Mexico?

Determining at fault in a New Mexico personal injury case with Roswell attorney

BAM! Life can change quickly for a personal injury victim. In the immediate aftermath of the accident, you think to yourself… “what is wrong with that maniac for causing this!” But guess what at the same time, the other person may be thinking, “what is wrong with that maniac for causing this!”. 

This issue frequently comes up with clients that come to see me. They’ll tell me the other person is clearly at fault, only to find out the other person is blaming them. Now what?

In every New Mexico personal injury claim, the issue of who is at fault is THE central question that must be answered.

Determining fault in a New Mexico personal injury case is crucial because it directly impacts the compensation the injured party can receive. New Mexico's comparative negligence system assigns percentages of fault to each party involved, affecting the final amount of damages the injured party can recover. This makes the question of fault vital in assessing the potential financial recovery and ensuring a fair and just outcome for all parties involved in the case.

So let’s jump in and answer this all-important question

In New Mexico, personal injury cases involve situations where individuals suffer harm or injury due to the negligent actions of another party. Determining fault in such cases is a crucial aspect of the legal process. The state follows a comparative fault system, meaning the court assesses the proportion of fault assigned to each party involved in the incident. This FAQ answer aims to provide a comprehensive overview of how fault is determined in a personal injury case in New Mexico.

What is Negligence in a Personal Injury Case?

Negligence is a legal concept that serves as the foundation for personal injury cases in New Mexico. To establish negligence, the injured party (plaintiff) must demonstrate the following elements:

  1. Duty of Care: The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care to act reasonably, considering the circumstances.
  2. Breach of Duty: The defendant breached the duty of care by acting in a manner that deviated from the expected standard of care.
  3. Causation: The defendant's breach of duty directly caused the plaintiff's injuries.
  4. Damages: The plaintiff suffered actual damages (e.g., physical injuries, emotional distress, medical expenses) as a result of the defendant's actions.

How is Fault Assigned in New Mexico?

New Mexico follows the principle of pure comparative negligence. Under this system, the court assigns a percentage of fault to each party involved in the incident, including the plaintiff. Even if the plaintiff bears a portion of the responsibility for the accident, they can still recover compensation for their damages, reduced by their percentage of fault.

What is Pure Comparative Negligence?

Pure comparative negligence means that each party involved in the personal injury case is held accountable for their proportionate share of fault. For instance, if the court determines the plaintiff to be 20% at fault and the defendant 80% at fault, the plaintiff's recoverable damages will be reduced by their 20% share of negligence.

How Does Comparative Negligence Impact the New Mexico Claim?

In New Mexico, the doctrine of comparative negligence significantly impacts the compensation the plaintiff can receive. The court calculates the total damages suffered by the plaintiff and then deducts the percentage of fault attributed to them. For example, if the total damages are $100,000 and the plaintiff is 30% at fault, they would be eligible to recover $70,000 ($100,000 - 30% of $100,000).

What If Multiple Parties Are Involved?

In cases where multiple parties share fault for the accident, each party's percentage of negligence is determined. It is possible for the court to find one party entirely at fault or for various parties to share the responsibility based on their respective degrees of negligence.

Can I Still Recover Compensation If I am Partially at Fault?

Yes, you can still seek compensation even if you share some degree of fault for the accident. New Mexico's comparative negligence system allows plaintiffs to pursue damages, albeit reduced, based on their proportion of responsibility.

Contact Our New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyers to Get the Help You Need

Determining fault in a personal injury case in New Mexico follows the principle of pure comparative negligence. The court evaluates the evidence presented to assign percentages of fault to each party involved. Understanding this process is crucial for both plaintiffs and defendants in navigating the complexities of personal injury litigation and seeking or defending against fair compensation. 

It is advisable for anyone involved in a personal injury case to consult an experienced New Mexico personal injury attorney to protect their rights and pursue a just outcome. 

Our dedicated personal injury team here at The Injury and Disability Law Center is here to help you. Schedule your free initial consultation today by calling our office at 575-300-4000, starting a chat, or filling out our online form

If you want even more information, feel free to check out my free eBook, Car Accident Cases Made Simple(r), where I discuss this topic and more.