Albuquerque Car Accident Attorney
While occasional fender benders may be simple annoyances, other car accidents can involve high-impact crashes and result in catastrophic injuries. All it takes is a drunk driver behind the wheel or someone distracted by texting while driving for an individual’s life to turn upside down. If this unfortunate event happens to you, it is vital to gain the support of a Albuquerque car accident lawyer.
For many of us in New Mexico, driving is such an integral part of our daily routine that we often do not think about the potential for danger on the roads. While most car trips are uneventful, you can never truly predict when a routine drive will lead to a car accident. At Berenson & Associates, PC, in Albuquerque, our attorneys help people who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents.
Car Accident Lawyers Who Will Stand by You
If you have been injured due to a negligent, reckless, or careless driver, you don’t have to deal with your injuries alone. An experienced Albuquerque car accident lawyer at Berenson & Associates, PC, is ready to work hard for you and help you fight for the compensation you need to recover after common causes such as:
- Drunk driving car accidents:
Drunk driving is a severe issue in New Mexico and across the nation. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than one-third of fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. involve alcohol. Additionally, thousands more adults and children are injured in collisions caused by intoxicated drivers.
- Distracted driving car accidents:
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, distracted drivers have become a serious impediment to safety on the roads. Now that almost everyone has a cell phone, many car wrecks every year are caused by drivers texting behind the wheel. If a negligent driver has hit you, the odds are high that they were distracted at the time of the collision.
- Texting and driving car accidents:
As smartphones have become more prevalent in everyday life, so has their use while driving. Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving and can skyrocket a driver’s chances of causing a collision.
- Uninsured motorist car accidents:
Following a car accident, finding out the other driver was uninsured can exacerbate the situation by a large margin. This can make seeking compensation a real headache, as insurance companies will try their hardest to blame you. While using an uninsured motorist may seem like a moot concept on the surface, there is always a possibility that a driver is uninsured for reasons other than financial hardship.
- Dram shop liability cases:
New Mexico is one of several states with laws that allow victims of drunk driving accidents to pursue legal action against both the driver of a vehicle and parties who negligently provided the driver with alcohol. These are known as dram shop liability cases – “dram” is an old word relating to selling spirits by the drink. Under this concept, alcohol vendors and social hosts who recklessly provide alcohol to a guest or patron can be held partially liable for any damages.
- Head-on collisions:
Head-on collisions are devastating to all parties involved, guaranteeing that recoveries and repairs will range into the thousands. To make matters worse for those struck by negligent drivers in a head-on car accident, proving liability can be difficult due to the chaos of the moment. Witnesses may be unable to recall who strayed into oncoming traffic and give conflicting reports.
- Rear-end collisions
It is rare for the cause of rear-end collisions to be anything but the negligence of the rear driver that crashes into another vehicle. Rear-end collisions also often occur while the front vehicle is not moving. The result is an abrupt and violent exchange of force from the back vehicle to the front, causing severe injuries. Victims in either car may experience brain injuries, spinal cord damage, whiplash, and even death.
We also have a vast knowledge of insurance issues related to car accidents and can help you navigate the often complex environment after an accident.
Common Injuries From Car Accidents in Albuquerque, NM
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, approximately three million people in the United States are injured in car accidents each year. Ranging from minor cuts and scrapes to life-threatening brain injuries, a car accident can cause a person to suffer injury to nearly any part of their body in the event of a collision, including such injuries as:
- Brain and head trauma: Closed head injuries such as concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can occur if a vehicle occupant’s head strikes a hard object in the vehicle, such as a steering wheel, window, windshield, or dashboard. Even if a person does not suffer any physical trauma, the impact of a crash can cause the brain to jostle within the skull, causing bruising and possible brain hemorrhaging.
- Back injuries: The torque that a body can experience upon impact can cause considerable damage to a person’s spinal cord, back muscles, and discs. Ranging from temporary discomfort to varying levels of paralysis, back injuries can cause chronic pain and severely limit a person’s quality of life.
- Face injuries: Injuries to the face can be caused by the deployment of airbags, flying projectiles, and shattered glass. Commonly suffered facial injuries include lacerations, dental damage, jaw injuries, and cheekbone fractures.
- Neck injuries: The intense whipping motion from the impact of a car accident can cause damage to the muscles, tendons, and discs in a person’s neck. Common neck injuries include whiplash, neck strains and cervical radiculopathy.
- Psychological distress: The psychological impact of a car accident can be just as distressing as its physical effects. Serious collisions, particularly those that result in devastating injury or loss of life, can cause accident victims to develop various psychological disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
While more serious injuries typically result from significant collisions, even relatively mild fender benders can cause a person to suffer lifelong debilitation under the right circumstances. After an accident, you must seek a thorough medical evaluation because some injuries may not be evident at first.
Insurance Coverage Amounts in New Mexico
Under state law, drivers in New Mexico must have auto liability insurance, depending on the type of vehicle driven. To be “properly insured” under state law, you must meet the minimum coverage requirements.
Liability insurance protects other drivers if you are at fault in an accident. This insurance doesn’t cover your vehicle but will cover bodily injury and property damage that others may sustain in the accident.
In New Mexico, the minimum amounts are:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more persons
- $10,000 for property damage in one accident
This liability coverage pays the injured parties’ medical and property damage bills and other costs. Often, drivers will carry more than the minimum amount of coverage required because once policy limits are exhausted, you may be personally responsible for paying the balance.
New Mexico Traffic Accidents and Fatalities Have Reached a Record High
In 2021, the news in New Mexico was covered in reporting of traffic fatalities. Data has shown that 2021 was the deadliest year for traffic fatalities in New Mexico. Compared to previous years, traffic fatalities increased significantly to a total of 470 fatalities on New Mexico roadways.
Speeding, aggressive driving, and distracted driving are the most common contributing factors to fatal accidents. Although still too high, fatalities caused by drunk driving decreased in 2021, the lowest rate in two decades.
Data suggests that Albuquerque had an increase in congestion level, rising to 17%, increasing the average travel time by two minutes per day. New Mexico has one of the highest speed limits in the United States, at a maximum of 75 miles per hour on freeways and interstates and 55 miles per hour in residential areas. Combined with increased overall traffic, New Mexico sees hundreds of crashes involving pedestrians, passenger vehicles, large commercial vehicles, and motorcycles.
New Mexico has three interstate routes that span the state lines. Interstates naturally increase commercial truck traffic and, therefore, serious accidents. Accidents with large trucks come with an increased risk and potential for life-threatening injury or death. Interstate-40, Interstate-25, and Interstate-10 see many fatalities every year. Interstate 10, coupled with frequent high winds and travelers driving at high speeds, ranks among one of the most dangerous roads in New Mexico.
Potentially Liable Parties in a Car Accident
Most of the time, one of the drivers involved in an accident is likely to be the liable party in a car accident. However, that is not always the case. There are a number of other potentially liable parties, depending on the nature of the accident. These could include:
- A third driver not directly involved
- A delivery driver’s employer
- The producer or installer of a part
- The government responsible for the roads
How to Win a Car Accident Claim
Winning a car accident claim in Albuquerque follows the same basic process for winning most personal injury cases, which an auto accident is a variation of in New Mexico. This means that you must prove that the defendant is liable for the injuries you’ve suffered.
The first step in this process is proving that the negligence of the defendant was the cause of your injuries. There are three things that must be proven to demonstrate negligence:
A Duty to Care
In many situations, we have a duty to be cognizant of the people around us and the potential effects that our actions may have on them. We have a duty not to put them in any unreasonably risky situation as a result of our actions. This is a duty to care.
Your car accident lawyer must first establish that this duty to care exists. This is generally not difficult to establish in a car accident case. Vehicles are dangerous, and anyone involved with them has a duty to ensure that they do not create any risk on the roads.
Breach of Duty
Once a duty has been established, it must be shown that the duty has been breached. This means showing that something about the defendant’s actions or inaction did not meet their duty to care.
What this might be in the case of a car accident will depend on the nature of the accident and the defendant. Most of the time, it’s another driver, and the breach is something like a failure to follow the rules of the road, driving recklessly, or driving distracted. In other cases, it could be failing to produce or install a functioning part, having poor company policies for delivery drivers, or failing to properly maintain the roads.
Your car accident lawyer can investigate the situation to discover the proper liable party and what their breach of duty was.
Cause of Injury
Lastly, it must be shown that the breach of duty led to the injuries that you suffered. In a car accident, this probably will mean showing that the breach led to the accident and that the accident led to the injuries.
This might seem like something that wouldn’t need to be shown, though there are times when a breach might not be the cause of an accident. For instance, a headlight on a car might be defective, but that’s not the cause of the accident if a driver runs a red light and slams into someone passing through the intersection. The injuries also must be shown to come from that accident, as the defense could argue that an injury was a pre-existing condition or happened after the accident.
What Is Covered in a Car Accident Claim?
The final element of proving liability on the part of the defendant is proving that the costs that you incurred were a direct result of the injury you suffered because of the defendant’s breach of duty.
Once this connection is made, you can recover compensation for that cost through what is called damages. There are three different categories of damages that are awarded in a car accident claim:
Some of the costs of a car accident are straightforward expenses with a clear financial component, which makes them easy to calculate. The medical bills, the bills for the repair or replacement of your vehicle or other property, and any lost wages from missing work are included in economic damages.
If your injuries are more serious, then there may be future medical costs, expenses for physical therapy and other rehabilitation, and lost earning capacity if the injuries prevent you from returning to work in the same capacity as before. These future costs are estimated and also paid out under economic damages.
Financial costs are not the only thing that we sustain as a result of an accident. There are costs that are, in some ways, more intensely felt and sometimes longer lasting. However, because they are more mental and emotional in nature, they lack the financial component that makes them easy to calculate. Some of these costs include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Mental anguish
- Loss of the use of a body part
- Loss of household services
These are all things that could be paid out through non-economic damages and are, thus, given an estimated economic value. It’s not that the money is expected to solve the issue. Rather, it will ease burdens elsewhere in life.
It’s not often that punitive damages are awarded, as they are a kind of punishment for behavior that is particularly egregious. It’s possible, though, that there may have been something malicious or otherwise especially offensive. If so, these damages could be awarded.
There is one thing that could potentially reduce the damages that you are paid in a car accident claim. New Mexico operates on pure comparative negligence rules in regard to a damages award. This means that the defendant is given the chance to argue that the plaintiff is also at fault for their injuries. The defendant’s lawyers then have the burden of proof in arguing the three components of negligence with regard to the behavior of the plaintiff.
If they are successful, then the parties involved will be given a percentage value describing their fault. The plaintiff will then have their damages award reduced proportionately with their share of fault.
For example, if there is a plaintiff who is found to be 25% responsible for an accident on a damages award of $100,000, then the payment they will receive is $75,000. Unlike some other states, this is true even if the plaintiff is found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident.
Car Accident FAQ
While every car accident case is different, we at Berenson & Associates, PC, recognize that many people will have similar questions for their attorneys. Here are some common questions that Albuquerque car accident victims often have for our lawyers:
To be frank, you won’t know right away where liability lies. The smartest option is to assume that you are not and do not take responsibility upfront. You should also not apologize for the accident, as this could be misconstrued as an admission of guilt by another party’s insurance company.
Of course, you must get insurance information. Still, there are other things you should collect, such as eyewitness testimony, photographs of the damage and injuries, and a thorough description of the car accident scene.
Yes, especially if your injuries are serious. Even if you do not feel immediate pain, you should see your physician to be sure that you do not have any internal, painless injuries. This will also produce a trustworthy medical record you can use for your case.
No, not right away. Insurance companies are well-known for not offering the best they can on the first go, relying on people to jump at the chance to get any form of compensation. Tell them that you need some time to consider it, and go over the offer with a car accident lawyer.
Taking the other party to court is a powerful tool to seek compensation, to be sure, but it is not necessary. Most cases are resolved without going to court, but if the need arises, there are other options.
For example, some people can use mediation, which allows a neutral legal party to hear both of your sides of the story to guide you both to an agreeable solution. This can avoid the lengthy and often costly requirements of going to court. Another option is to certify the case for arbitration, which is usually much less costly.
When someone slams into the back of your car, that driver is fully at fault, right? Not exactly. While it will be difficult for the other driver to shirk all responsibility, they could still work against your claims. They may attempt to say that you are partly to blame, claiming that you reversed into the car behind you or harshly braked while turning a corner without warning or reason.
We all know that seat belts are critical in protecting ourselves when driving, but a memory lapse could mean you are not wearing one at the time of your car accident. If this can be proven, it could show that your negligence caused some of your injuries, taking liability out of the hands of the other party. You will need a creative car accident lawyer to show otherwise.
No. It is unreasonable to expect you to know each detail of your accident, especially if you were injured and disoriented by it. While you might feel like you are partly accountable, the reality could be that you are unaware of significant details that shift all the blame onto the other party. For example, can you be sure that the other driver wasn’t chatting on a cell phone?
Albuquerque Car Accident Lawyers Ready to Fight for You
We make a promise to each client: skilled, compassionate, aggressive service. We are lawyers who fight for results. Get in touch with our office today for a free consultation about your car accident case. Call us at 505-243-4400 or complete and submit our online contact form.