When you are injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, you could find yourself facing exorbitant medical bills, lost income, and numerous other afflictions. Most crash victims are, understandably, anxious to settle the matter with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier so they can recoup their damages and put the whole incident behind them. Before you begin the process of seeking fair financial compensation, though, there are some things you need to know that will help you along the way.
How to Build a Strong Claim for Compensation
Immediately following a car accident in Albuquerque, there are steps you can take right away to protect your right to recovery. Once you’ve taken the appropriate immediate steps, you should also contact a personal injury attorney such as Will Ferguson & Associates to represent you.
New Mexico law requires anyone involved in an accident to remain at the scene. Pull over as close as you safely can without leaving the immediate area. Drivers are also required to provide their name, phone number, address, and vehicle registration number to the other driver, any passengers, and the responding officer. All drivers must also be able to show a valid driver’s license if asked. Having this information is the first step toward filing a claim or potential lawsuit. Collecting it at the scene of the crash will save you a lot of legwork and headaches down the road.
Notify Law Enforcement
Although not every car accident has to be reported to the police, state law does require it for accidents resulting in injury, death, or property damage of more than $500. Even if your accident does not meet these criteria, having an officer respond to the scene will generate an official report of the incident. This report will contain, among other things, a sketch of the accident scene and the officer’s determinations about who caused the accident and how. This report could act as a crucial piece of evidence later on if the insurance company or other driver tries to shift blame for the crash onto you in order to avoid liability.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Do not turn down medical care at the scene. Not only can the sudden and violent nature of a car accident result in a surge of adrenaline that can mask the pain caused by potentially severe injuries, but not all injuries are immediately obvious in the moments following an accident. Let paramedics examine you and be honest about any symptoms you are experiencing. If they recommend that you go to the hospital, go. Delaying medical treatment could allow any potential injuries to worsen. A gap in care will also allow the insurance company to claim that your injuries were not caused by the accident or they must not be that bad because you did not get them tended to right away.
If you do not go directly to the emergency room after an accident, you need to visit an urgent care center or make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Ideally, you should get a thorough medical evaluation on the same day as your accident.
Collect Evidence From the Accident Scene
New Mexico is a tort state. This means that before the other driver’s insurer will pay your claim, you will have to prove that they were at fault for the accident. As previously mentioned, the police accident report can be an essential tool for proving fault, especially if the other driver received any citations.
Other important forms of evidence are:
- Videos and pictures of the scene and your injuries
- Statements from bystanders who saw what happened
- Your detailed notes regarding what happened in the moments leading up to the crash as well as the moments after
Notify the Insurance Companies
New Mexico is not a fault state, so drivers are not forced to rely on their own insurance carrier for injury claims. They are, however, contractually obliged to notify their insurance carrier following an accident, even if it was not their fault.
All auto insurance policies have a section requiring the policyholder to notify the insurer of any accidents within a specified timeframe and to cooperate with their investigation. In turn, the insurance company is obligated to defend you against lawsuits or claims filed by anyone else involved in the incident. If you fail to notify your insurance company in accordance with their policy, you could lose that protection.
Next, you need to inform the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier of your intent to file a claim. Unless it is rejected, you should receive a letter of acknowledgment along with a claim number. This is your first step in recovering fair compensation for your damages. An insurance adjuster will likely contact you soon after and offer you, or even bully you, into accepting a quick settlement. Do not respond to their offer until you have spoken with an attorney.
New Mexico Statute of Limitations
In New Mexico, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is three years from the day the incident occurred. If you do not file your claim before this deadline expires, you will lose your right to seek financial compensation for your damages, no matter how significant they may be.
Although three years certainly sounds like plenty of time, it is not wise to wait to seek an attorney to file your claim. Important evidence could be lost, medical records could be compromised, the at-fault driver might move, or any number of other things that can impact the outcome of your claim could arise. As soon as you are able to do so, you need to reach out to an experienced Albuquerque car accident lawyer and get the ball rolling on your personal injury claim.
Compensation for Car Accidents in New Mexico
Insurance carriers in New Mexico pay out roughly $1 Billion in car accident claims every year. You can estimate the value of minor injuries and damages by totaling your quantifiable costs, such as medical expenses and lost earnings, then multiplying by a number between one to three times to get an approximation of your pain and suffering. A multiplier of one is suitable for mild soft-tissue injuries. A multiplier of two or three is more appropriate for significant injuries, such as herniated discs, concussions, and broken bones.
Serious injuries and wrongful deaths should be handled by a skilled attorney to guarantee the best possible results for victims and their families.