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Comparative Fault in New Mexico Personal Injury Lawsuits

Personal injury lawsuits and negligence claims are a method to determine who is at fault for causing an accident and secure damages from all at-fault parties. By filing a legal claim against an at-fault party, accident victims can potentially recover money damages for their accident-related costs. According to New Mexico law, when one person or a group of people owe a duty of care to others and breach that duty, they may be liable for the resulting harm.  This is the essence of a negligence claim, which forms the legal basis for many personal injury cases following motor vehicle accidents.The plaintiff in a lawsuit is the injured party and bears the burden of proving fault, or legal liability.  In some situations, multiple parties may be at fault.  Additionally, the plaintiff may have contributed to their own injuries. Comparative fault rules vary by state and include comparative fault, modified comparative fault, and contributory negligence doctrines.

New Mexico follows the doctrine of “pure” comparative negligence.  According to state statutes, a plaintiff may recover damages from a defendant who was at fault, minus the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. In a car accident, for example, if the plaintiff’s damages are $100,000, and the plaintiff is found to be 30% at fault, they will recover $70,000 of the damages.  The plaintiff would be responsible for $30,000.

Unlike other states that follow a “modified” comparative negligence model, a plaintiff in New Mexico may recover damages regardless of their degree of fault. In other words, even if a plaintiff is 99% responsible for causing an accident, he or she will recover 1% of the damages.  Modified comparative fault typically bars an injured individual from recovering damages if they are more than 50% at fault. Some states mandate that a plaintiff cannot recover damages if they are 51% at fault.

Moreover, in contrast to New Mexico’s comparative negligence doctrine, some states follow the legal doctrine of “pure” contributory negligence. This harsh rule bans a plaintiff from recovering compensation if they have contributed in any way to their injuries.  For example, when a plaintiff in a motor vehicle accident was speeding, and a judge or jury finds they contributed to the accident even minimally, they would be prevented from recovering damages in their lawsuit.  In some situations, this strict doctrine may be overcome through showing that the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid the accident.

New Mexico law provides accident victims with the right to pursue compensation from all at-fault parties.  At the Law Office of Matthew Vance, we can help prove liability and seek full compensation for all accident-related damages.  Throughout Albuquerque and elsewhere in New Mexico, personal injury attorney Matt Vance has successfully recovered financial compensation for many victims and their families.  For a complimentary, no-obligation consultation, contact our office by calling (505) 242-6267 or using our online form.

More Blog Posts:

New Mexico Court Denies Plaintiff’s Motions in Lawsuit Following Car Accident, Finds She Had Not Been Forthcoming Regarding Medical History, But Dismissal Not Appropriate, New Mexico Injury Lawyer Blog, May 12, 2017

New Mexico Court Holds Insurance Company Had Duty to Defend Tenant in Lawsuit for Injuries From Dog Attack, New Mexico Injury Lawyer Blog, April 12, 2017