Fault is a significant issue in auto accidents around the United States, and fault-based systems are pretty common. This concept decides many things after a car crash. Primarily, it determines who will receive compensation and how much they get. However, the fault theory has divided American states.
Some states have fault-based insurance and car accident laws. On the other hand, fewer states operate the no-fault system. Therefore, it’s vital to know what’s applicable in the state you’re driving in. An excellent car accident attorney can help you navigate this issue. In addition, any good lawyer should know the implication of the fault theory within the state they practice.
What Is the Fault Theory?
New Mexico is a fault-based auto accident state. Fault merely means responsibility. So, “who’s the fault party in a car accident?” actually means “who caused the car accident?” Therefore, the fault theory seeks to determine who will bear the losses from a crash by deciding who caused the accident.
So, since New Mexico is a fault-based auto accident state, responsible drivers bear the costs of collisions in the state. New Mexico’s fault-based accident system allows you to seek compensation in three ways. You can:
- File a claim with your insurer, who then proceeds against the fault party
- File a claim with the responsible driver’s insurance provider
- Institute a car accident lawsuit for damages in court
A no-fault state takes a different route. For no-fault states, all drivers will bear their losses from any accident. Therefore, any driver involved in a crash will have to file a claim with their insurance company. However, they can proceed against the fault-driver where their losses exceed a set threshold.
Proving Fault in New Mexico
You have to establish the responsibility of the other driver to claim compensation from them. In proving fault, one must demonstrate the following facts.
- Duty of Care: You must show that the other driver owed you a duty of care. This requirement is pretty straightforward because traffic laws require drivers to drive carefully for the safety of others.
- Breach of Duty: Secondly, you must show the exact action of the driver that was a breach of their duty of care. For instance, it could be overspeeding.
- Consequential Accident: Next, you must establish that the driver’s particular breach caused the accident.
- Direct Injuries: After proving the driver caused the crash, you must show that the collision directly caused your wounds and other losses.
- Damages: Finally, you must specifically convince the court or insurance representative that you deserve the damages you’re claiming.
Clear vs. Contested Fault
Sometimes, the responsibility is evident in a car accident such that it doesn’t require further proof. For example, in apparent fault crashes, the other driver is assumed to be responsible for the collision. Therefore, only concrete contrary evidence will shift this liability. Examples of clear fault cases include:
- Rear-end accidents
- Aggressive or careless driving
- Drunk driving collisions
- Distracted driving accidents
However, in some other accident types, the fault isn’t apparent. Here, it is not immediately clear that one of the drivers caused the crash. This is often seen in side-collisions. So, the lawyers and the court will have to consider the evidence more keenly to determine liability.
Consequently, relevant evidence would include:
- The police report
- Witness statements
- CCTV footage
- Accident reconstruction conclusions
- Nature and extent of vehicle damage
Comparative Fault Theory
Many fault-based car accident states balance their practice with the contributory negligence or comparative fault theory. Comparative fault allows the responsible driver to reduce the amount of compensation they pay. First, however, they’ll have to prove the other driver’s contribution to the accident.
So, the law shares the fault between both parties. The implication is that the responsible party will pay damages only at the percentage to which they contributed to the crash. For instance, imagine that the court determines fault to be 70/30 between the defendant (fault party) and plaintiff, respectively. Here, the fault driver will pay only 70% of the damages.
Survived an Accident You Didn’t Cause? We Can Help You Compensation!
Have you escaped an auto accident in New Mexico? Do you feel you’re not at fault, or you’re unsure? If this is the case, you’ll need excellent auto accident attorneys in New Mexico to help establish responsibility for the crash. Doing this on your own will be challenging.
So, it’ll be best to rely on the lawyers from FBD Law for help in your auto crash case. Our law firm has won millions of dollars in settlements for car accident victims in New Mexico. Therefore, we’re confident that we can win your case too. So, call our law office today to talk to one of our attorneys.