Most Important New Mexico Car Insurance Laws
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Most people don’t think about car insurance every day. For most drivers, the best-case scenario is that they don’t find themselves in any accidents and therefore don’t have to worry about their insurance. However, insurance becomes very important if you find yourself in an accident and are worrying about how to pay bills for yourself and your family. While it isn’t practical or necessary for most drivers to be experts on the law, it can be helpful to be familiar with some of the most important car insurance laws in New Mexico.
If you or a family member has been injured in a car accident in New Mexico, contact the New Mexico car accident injury attorneys at Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CAR ACCIDENTS?
In discussing car insurance, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of some of the different types of car accidents that happen regularly. Different types of car accidents can result in different types and severity of damage which may impact how much is paid and by whom.
A rear-end accident occurs when one vehicle collides with the back of another vehicle. There are several reasons why a rear-end accident might occur. For one, a driver might be texting while driving or they simply might not be paying close enough attention to the car in front of them as they approach a stop sign or a red light. They also could be following the car in front of them too closely. Whatever the case might be, rear-end accidents are very common and are typically relatively minor, but can also result in extremely serious consequences for the victim.
Side-impact accidents are often referred to as T-bone accidents because of the shape that they form at impact. They occur when the front of one vehicle impacts the side of another. Side-impact accidents are particularly dangerous because, as opposed to a rear-end accident, the vehicle is unable to offer the protection of an airbag or a crumple zone as effectively. Consequently, side-impact accidents account for a large percentage of traffic fatalities.
Head-on collisions, accidents that occur when the front of a vehicle impacts the front of another vehicle, are some of the most dangerous accidents that occur on the road because they often occur at high speeds. What’s more, because the vehicles are traveling in the opposite directions at impact, the force generated is that much higher. Head-on collisions can occur when a driver changes lanes to pass, or if they are simply driving on the wrong side of the road as a result of intoxication or failing to pay attention.
NEW MEXICO IS A “FAULT” STATE
Car insurance laws are governed on a state-by-state basis, which means that it is important to know the applicable New Mexico laws. One of the main distinctions between states is whether they are “fault” or “no-fault” states when it comes to car insurance, and New Mexico is a “fault” state. This means that the person who was at fault for causing an accident is responsible for the resulting harm to the other parties involved. Accident victims have three options in New Mexico for seeking compensation: filing a claim with their own insurance company, assuming that their damages are covered by their policy, filing a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, or by filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the driver who was at fault.
Speaking with a New Mexico car accident attorney about the New Mexico car insurance laws may be a good way to determine exactly what options are available to you and how to effectively pursue them.
MINIMUM INSURANCE COVERAGE
In New Mexico, it is a requirement that all drivers have car insurance. This means that it should be unlikely that you find yourself in a situation where the other party in your accident doesn’t have insurance from which you can seek compensation. The required amounts of coverage for New Mexico drivers are $25,000 of liability coverage for the bodily injury or death of one person in an accident caused by the insured, $50,000 of liability coverage for the total bodily injury or death liability in an accident caused by the insured, and $10,000 of liability coverage for property damage caused by the insured.
This liability coverage pays all of the medical bills, property damage bills, and any other costs of drivers in an accident with the insured up to the coverage limits. Remember that these numbers are simply the minimum amount and that it may be wise for drivers to carry more liability coverage given that, after the coverage limits are reached, the policyholder might be personally on the hook for paying the damages of the other driver.
There are other types of insurance for drivers to consider as well. Liability coverage only applies to cover the damages of the other driver, not the policyholder. Drivers will need a different type of insurance to cover their losses if they were in an accident and no one else’s coverage applies to offset their losses. For example, collision coverage options might be available to pay for repairs or replacement of a damaged vehicle after an accident. Uninsured motorist coverage might also apply in the situation where the other driver in an accident doesn’t have insurance or does not have enough insurance coverage to cover the damages they caused.
PENALTIES FOR DRIVING UNINSURED
According to the New Mexico MVD, there are several penalties for drivers found to be driving without insurance as required by the state. For one, vehicles that don’t have the required liability insurance may be subject to suspension of vehicle registration. After such a driver receives a letter from the MVD, they must turn in their registration and license plates within ten days of receipt or potentially face criminal penalties.
These penalties don’t even cover the other major potential source of loss for uninsured drivers, which is in the event of a car accident. Remember, liability coverage with insurance protects drivers if they are involved in an accident that is their fault. This means that an uninsured driver who is at-fault in an accident is likely going to have to pay the other damages of the accident victim out of their own pocket in addition to any penalties that might apply for the simple act of driving uninsured.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A NEW MEXICO CAR ACCIDENT
The time following a car accident is a very confusing time for most car accident victims. While you may not have an idea of exactly what to do, it can be helpful to have a basic, easy-to-understand plan for the steps that you should take after your accident. First, seek medical attention right away. This will help put you on the path to healing as soon as possible and may strengthen the connection between the injuries you suffered and the accident you were in.
Next, make sure to report the accident to the police and document it as thoroughly as possible. This could include taking pictures of the accident scene and the vehicles involved, gathering the contact information from potential witnesses, and making sure to keep any documentation that you receive like medical records and bills from vehicle repairs. Finally, consider speaking with an attorney as soon after your accident as possible.
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
Every potential claim is governed by legal time limits. Lawmakers don’t want potential defendants to have to worry indefinitely about potential claims or lawsuits, which is why statutes of limitations have been put into place in every state in the country. A statute of limitation is the legal term for the amount of time that an accident victim has to file a claim stemming from a given accident. According to New Mexico law, the statute of limitations that applies to car accidents in the state is three years. This means that car accident victims have three years from the date of their accident to file their claim or risk having it thrown out because of untimeliness.
There are certain exceptions that might apply to the general statute of limitations, however. One potential exception is if the accident victim does not discover an injury that was caused by the accident until long afterward. In this situation, the statute might not begin to run until the date of discovery of the injury. Also, if the accident victim is a minor at the time of the accident, then the statute of limitations could be put on hold until they reach the age of majority. However, it is advisable to speak to an experienced New Mexico attorney about your New Mexico car insurance claim as soon as you possibly can to avoid running into any sort of problems with the legal time limits.
CONTACT ZINDA LAW GROUP TODAY
Dealing with New Mexico car insurance laws on your own can be a hassle, but it doesn’t need to be. Zinda Law Group attorneys stand ready to assist you and your family through a potentially difficult time. What’s more, we believe that accident victims shouldn’t need to worry about their ability to afford legal representation, which is why you won’t pay us anything unless we win your case for you. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
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