Carlsbad Car Accident Lawyers
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Auto accidents are commonplace, and their results can range from mundane to devastating. We do not always envision them happening to us, but when they do, we are often at a loss as to our next steps. In addition to recovering from physical injuries, we must also contend with insurance companies and navigate the complexities of the legal system.
If you are wondering what to do after a car accident in Carlsbad, our New Mexico car accident lawyers can help. We will evaluate the facts of your case, help you understand your options, and work with you to strategize a path toward maximum compensation. Tell us about your case, and we will tell you what we can do to help.
What should I do after an accident in Carlsbad, NM?
Again, each auto accident is unique and should be evaluated and handled on a case-by-case basis by an experienced Carlsbad car accident attorney. However, no matter the accident, there are a few steps you should consider taking early on.
Get Medical Attention
Your wellbeing is the top priority in any case; therefore, even though receiving medical attention may not always be the first step you take, this step is still listed first. In any accident, the first step you should take is an evaluation of your own injuries where possible and then that of any passengers in your vehicle. If your injuries are extreme, immediate medical attention may take priority over everything else.
In addition to attending to your own safety, seeking medical attention is also a very important evidentiary step in your case. The treatment records created by your healthcare providers will be the primary source of evidence for your injuries. The treatment records will go toward showing your non-economic damages, and the associated billing records will help substantiate your economic damages.
Do not underestimate the impact of relatively less severe injuries on your case; have a healthcare professional evaluate all of your injuries, no matter how small. Also, consider that some injuries (for example, whiplash) may only become apparent well after the accident took place. The impact of these injuries should also not be underestimated.
Report the Accident
After you have evaluated your injuries, be sure to report the accident to the police. Even if the accident is relatively unserious, it should still be reported. The police report will serve as the first formal documentation of the accident and as another important source of evidence.
Exchange Information, Identify Witnesses, and Collect Evidence
While at the scene of the accident, be sure to exchange information with any other involved drivers. Information you should collect includes names, contact information, license plate numbers, insurance providers, and policy numbers.
Also, be sure to collect the contact information of any witnesses, for they can often contribute information that only they have access to. For example, in a rear-end collision case, a witness who had been driving behind the at-fault driver may have been able to witness that driver speeding, running lights, or swerving before the collision took place. This information can go a very long way in substantiating your case.
Where possible, also collect information documenting the scene of the accident; roadways are changeable environments and not conducive to preserving evidence. Therefore, collect footage—photography, audio, and video—documenting things like weather and road conditions. Even a screenshot of your weather app showing the conditions at the time of the accident can be helpful.
Consult With a Lawyer
Finally, do not hesitate to consult with a Carlsbad car accident attorney; and be very careful what you reveal to insurance companies and potential adversaries before speaking with a Carlsbad automobile accident lawyer. Insurance companies are not neutral third parties—even your own—and their primary interest is in saving money. Their settlement offers often reflect the legal minimum they can offer rather than the amount you deserve.
Having one of our injury attorneys evaluate your case first can ensure that you know your full rights and are being treated fairly. Remember, anything you say to an insurance company can be used against you in litigation. Therefore, never sign forms or waivers provided by an insurance company and never admit fault before consulting with an attorney.
Read More: How to Negotiate with Insurance Companies
Auto Accident Statistics
Car accidents happen every day. According to the National Safety Council, an estimated total of 42,060 deaths occurred the United States in 2020 as a result of motor-vehicle accidents.
The numbers are similarly concerning in New Mexico; according to the New Mexico Department of Transportation, in 2019 a motor vehicle crash occurred every 11 minutes and a person was injured in a crash every 26 minutes. According to the same report, there were 48,124 traffic crashes reported on public roadways in the state in 2019.
A total of 119,118 people were involved in these crashes. The total number of people injured was 20,415, and the total number killed was 425. Expressed differently, there was an average of 132 crashes per day involving a total of 326 people, 56 injuries, and 1 fatality.
The top contributing factors to crashes in New Mexico in 2019 were driver inattention (19%), failed to yield right of way (14%), and following too closely (11%). The top contributing factors for those involving fatalities in that same year were alcohol/drug involvement (53%), drove left of center (9%), and excessive speed (7%). In regards to your accident, whether your car is intact or totaled, whether you were sideswiped or rear-ended in Carlsbad, our Carlsbad car accident lawyers are equipped to evaluate and handle your case.
Read more: New Mexico Traffic Crash Annual Report, 2019
Awards & Recognition
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION (2016-2020)
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION (2017-2020)
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA (2016-2020), JOE CAPUTO (2016 – 2020) & BURGESS WILLIAMS (2016-2017) BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA (2009, 2011-2012, 2014-2021), JOE CAPUTO (2019-2021), BURGESS WILLIAMS (2019-2020), NEIL SOLOMON (2020-2021), & CHRISTINA HAGEN (2021) BY SUPER LAWYERS (A THOMPSON REUTERS COMPANY)
MEMBERS JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA (2017-2020), JOE CAPUTO (2019-2020), BURGESS WILLIAMS (2019-2020), NEIL SOLOMON (2019-2020), COLE GUMM (2019-2020), CHRISTINA HAGEN (2020) & BRENDAN MCQUAID (2020)
LIFETIME MEMBERS JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA & JOE CAPUTO
AWARDED TO ZINDA LAW GROUP (2016-2019) BY THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA IN 2015, 2016, 2017, AND 2020
AWARDED TO JOE CAPUTO (2016-2019) BY THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS
AWARDED TO ZINDA LAW GROUP IN 2018 BY INC.
Awarded to John C (Jack) Zinda (2021) by the American Association for Justice
I did not know what to do. I had never been hurt in a wreck before and this was a major accident that was not my fault. I reached out to Zinda Law Group and they were fantastic, answered all my questions, got me help immediately, and took care of everything!!
There comes a time when you need someone in your corner that you can trust. Our time came when we knew we needed the advice and counsel of an attorney. The day we walked into Zinda Law Group we knew we were covered.
There is a reason why this law firm has a 5 star rating. My experience with personal injury attorney Joe Caputo and all of the staff at Zinda Law Group has been excellent... I would definitely recommend Zinda Law Group.
Maria Ciara-Former Client
This is a really great firm! They settled my personal injury case in a year. Throughout the whole process, they were keeping in touch with me and helping me get the best treatment possible. They honestly know what they are doing. It was a pleasure working with these guys.
Everyone was so professional and was very interested in helping me with my issues. They were very upfront and honest about what I could expect.
I contacted Zinda Law Group after getting nowhere on my own with a personal injury case. I am so thankful I did. They took it off my plate and handled everything from appointments, to phone calls, and emails.
Understanding the law governing auto accidents
Car accident victims often do not understand the legal fundamentals impacting their case. This section will explain several legal highpoints in the law governing car accidents. An experienced Carlsbad car accident lawyer can help you understand the relevant law more thoroughly.
Negligence is the most common cause of action in personal injury cases, including those involving car accidents. The concept of negligence is intuitive; it is based on the notion that each individual owes all others a duty to use “reasonable care” in order to reduce the risk of injury. Successfully bringing negligence as a cause of action requires proving four elements:
1. Duty. Defendant owed a legal duty to plaintiff—namely, the duty to use reasonable care.
2. Breach. The defendant breached the duty.
3. Harm. The plaintiff suffered an injury.
4. Causation. The plaintiff’s injury or injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach.
Because the collective safety of all drivers and passengers on roads depends on each individual driver’s effort (or lack thereof) to drive safely, the notion of a “duty to use reasonable care” makes a great deal of sense on roadways.
That said, “reasonable care” is also an open-ended and fact-contingent concept; there are certain well-established baselines. For example, violating traffic laws—such as running red lights or driving while intoxicated—while driving is often considered to be unreasonable per se. However, not all scenarios are so clear; what may be unreasonable in one case may seem less so in another.
This variability is particularly important if your case comes before a jury. The Carlsbad car accident lawyers at Zinda Law Group can evaluate and argue these more nuanced fact patterns on your behalf.
Adding another layer of complexity to negligence law, New Mexico is a “comparative fault” state. Comparative fault is also a theoretically straightforward concept. It simply means that, when calculating damages, the relative contribution of each driver to the accident is taken into account proportionately.
Accordingly, if the plaintiff’s behavior contributed nothing to the accident, they are entitled to full damages. If the plaintiff contributed 30%, then they are only entitled to 70% of damages; if they contributed 50%, then their contribution cancels out the defendant’s, and neither party can recover. Conversely, if you contributed more than 50% to the accident, the opposing party may have a viable case against you.
In personal injury cases, there are typically two kinds of damages available to plaintiffs—economic and non-economic. Economic damages are those that can be reduced to a tangible monetary value; for example, medical bills, pharmacy bills, loss of income (both present and future), and lost earning capacity are all examples of economic damages. Non-economic damages refer to those that cannot be reduced to a monetary value; among other things, this includes your pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of a loved one (legally referred to as “loss of consortium”).
There also exists a third kind of damages known as “punitive” or “exemplary” damages. Whereas economic and non-economic damages exist to “make the plaintiff whole” (that is, to compensate the plaintiff by placing them in the same position as before the accident), punitive damages exist to punish wrongdoers. Courts are generally very reluctant to award punitive damages, but this form may be available in cases of extreme wrongdoing; our Carlsbad car accident attorneys can help you evaluate the likelihood of punitive damages in your case.
Statute of Limitations
Finally, it is very important to understand the statute of limitations governing your case. This is also a straightforward concept. It simply refers to the maximum amount of time that may elapse after which you may no longer bring your case.
In New Mexico, most personal injury cases, including those stemming from auto accidents, are subject to a three-year statute of limitations. In other words, after three years have elapsed after your accident, you may no longer bring your case.
Three years may seem like a long time. However, the sooner you have a Carlsbad car accident lawyer evaluate your case, the less risk there is that evidence may be compromised or forgotten. Further, the longer you wait to file a case, the more room an opponent may have to question the seriousness of the accident and injuries.
OUR Carlsbad car accident lawyers CAN HELP
From the relatively minor to the catastrophic, each auto accident requires a case-by-case evaluation. Even if your accident does not seem extremely serious, do not underestimate the value of your case before speaking with an attorney.
The Carlsbad car accident lawyers at Zinda Law Group are here for you; we believe that no victim of an auto accident—no matter the circumstances—should have to worry about their ability to afford excellent legal representation. We take great pride in providing that representation. You pay nothing unless we win your case; that is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with one of our accident attorneys in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Tell us about your case, and our Carlsbad personal injury attorneys will tell you how we can help.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.