You understand the expenses that come with being a car owner. In addition to the fees for registration and insurance, there’s also the cost of maintaining the vehicle and keeping it roadworthy. In the event you’re in a crash, you’ll need to find the money for even more expenses. Medical bills and property damage costs add up fast. It’s not uncommon to be overwhelmed by the presence of a significant financial burden. If you believe your accident resulted from the negligent actions of another driver, our Albuquerque car accident lawyers may be able to help you seek monetary recovery for your losses.
At Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm, we have extensive experience helping accident victims file claims and seek compensation for accident-related injuries and more. We have a comprehensive understanding of the laws that apply to your claim, so you won’t have to worry about deadlines or complications.
Recovery is a long process. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you could be looking at months or longer of physical therapy, doctor’s appointments, and evolving treatment plans. We’re here to handle the paperwork and conversations for you, so you can focus on your health and spending time with your family. We’ll keep you updated every step of the way.
If you’ve been in a crash and are seeking representation, you may be wondering how often we handle cases. Car accidents are not uncommon in New Mexico, so we’ve helped many clients get their lives back in order. We’ll do the same for you. Let’s take a look at just how often crashes happen in New Mexico.
How Common Are Auto Accidents in New Mexico?
The New Mexico Department of Transportation, Traffic Safety Division (NMDOT), releases an annual traffic crash report. Their most recent report, from 2017, includes a list of highlights that brings to attention the most important accident facts.
While less than one percent of collisions resulted in fatalities, nearly 30% resulted in injury. On average, an accident occurred every 11 minutes. Distracted driving caused a wreck every 56 minutes, and drunk driving caused an accident every four hours.
Nearly a fifth of the crashes was hit-and-run, meaning the negligent driver left the scene before sharing information with the other involved party or assessing the scene for injuries or fatalities. In regard to the fatalities, 10% of unbelted occupants in passenger vehicles were killed, compared to only 0.1% of belted occupants.
As a result of the report, traffic safety concerns in need of improvement include pedestrian and motorcyclist fatalities, drunk driving, hit-and-run accidents, crashes involving heavy trucks, and inexperienced drivers.
Understanding Why Collisions Happen
If you’ve been in a crash, determining how and why it happened is an important part of building a strong claim. We’ll determine those facts by conducting a thorough investigation. To start, we’ll access the official police report, your medical records relating to the accident, and any evidence you collected from the scene like photographs. Witness testimony is also useful at this stage. If necessary, we can bring in an accident reconstructionist to rebuild the crash from beginning to end.
The report mentioned above lists the top contributing factors for the accidents in the state. The most common causes include:
- Driver inattention. Distracted driving was the leading cause of accidents in New Mexico. Common actions and behaviors that resulted in driver inattention include talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, rubbernecking, adjusting the radio, grooming, and smoking. Anytime a driver’s eyes are off the roads, hands are off the wheel, or mind isn’t focused on the task at hand, there’s an increased risk of getting into an accident.
- Failed to yield right-of-way. There are rules drivers are supposed to abide by at intersections when it comes to yielding. If a driver neglects to acknowledge a yield sign, or they turn at an intersection before they’re supposed to, a crash can easily occur.
- Following too closely. Tailgating is a dangerous driving behavior. People who drive too closely to others may do so because they’re impatient or late to their destination, they want to go faster than the person in front of them is going, or they’re an aggressive driver. If the lead car needs to perform an emergency stop or something like a construction zone quickly comes up, it’s likely the tailgating vehicle will cause a rear-end accident.
- Alcohol/drug involvement. Drivers who choose to drink and drive are putting lives at risk every time. A drunk driver’s ability to understand what’s going on around them and act accordingly declines. They’re more likely to swerve, have poor reaction time, and drive too fast or slow for the speed limit or road conditions.
- Excessive speed. Speed limits exist for a reason. When everyone on the road follows the limit, the risk of getting into an accident decreases. Unfortunately, negligent drivers often travel much faster than the posted limit. This decreases the control they have over their vehicles. If a sharp curve or unexpected roadblock pops up, the chances of getting into an accident are higher.
- Drove left of center. Drunk and distracted drivers are at risk of traveling across the center lane of traffic and driving into oncoming traffic. Head-on collisions are the most fatal of all the traffic accident types.
Your accident may or may not have resulted from one of the causes above. Regardless of why it happened, we’ll make sure the negligent party is held accountable for their actions.
Determining the Type of Wreck You Were In
The type of accident you’re in will also be included in your claim. This is because it often determines what type of injuries you sustain and how severe the property damage is. Some of the most common types of collisions our clients deal with are rear-end, side-impact, sideswipe, head-on, and multi-vehicle pileups.
Rear-end accidents, as mentioned above, frequently happen when a driver is tailgating another vehicle. They also happen regularly at intersections. If a traffic light has turned yellow and the leading car decides to stop and wait for the next green, the driver behind may accelerate too far and strike them.
Side-impacts also happen most often at intersections. They occur when two cars collide perpendicularly. Also referred to as a T-bone, these accidents are most dangerous for the driver or passenger on the impacted side.
Sideswipe wrecks happen when two cars collide parallelly. With a minor accident, the cars may only briefly touch, and no one gets injured. If, however, a driver loses control of their vehicle, they could sustain serious injuries or hit other cars nearby.
Head-on collisions are the deadliest. Often the result of reckless driving, head-on accidents happen when a driver drifts into the other lane. If the injuries aren’t fatal, it’s likely they’ll be catastrophic.
Happening most often on multi-lane highways and interstates, accidents involving more than one or two vehicles can cause serious damage. The property damage alone could total thousands and thousands of dollars.
Just like with determining the cause of a crash, an accident reconstructionist has the ability to determine the type of accident you were in. That can better explain why you were diagnosed with certain injuries.
Steps to Take After a Crash in Albuquerque
Remaining calm and clear-headed after a crash can be challenging, so having an idea of what to do can help you stick to a plan. After an accident, it’s important to stop your vehicle. Never leave the scene of a crash until you’ve spoken with the other driver and the police, if necessary. In New Mexico, you’re obligated to provide reasonable assistance to injured parties. This means calling 911 and requesting emergency medical services. Police officers will arrive along with them.
You’ll need to share your contact and insurance information with the other driver, so claims can be filed. This includes your name, address, vehicle registration numbers, insurance policy number, and driver’s license number. If there are any witnesses around, ask if they’ll provide you with their contact information so they can speak to your lawyer at a later time.
If the crash resulted in injury, death, or more than $500 in property damage, you’re legally required to report it to the Albuquerque police as soon as possible. Additionally, you’ll need to file a written report of the accident with the New Mexico Department of Transportation within five days.
After you’ve completed the steps above and have been evaluated by a physician, it’s time to start thinking about getting in touch with a car accident lawyer.
Proving Accident Liability in New Mexico
Our state operates under pure comparative negligence when it comes to determining liability for an auto accident. This means that even if you are determined partially at fault for the crash, you can still recover damages. For example, if the total losses for an accident are valued at $100,000 and you’re found to be at fault for 10% of the crash, you’ll only be eligible for $90,000. The more at-fault party is responsible for the other party’s financial losses.
Most car accident claims are built on the theory of negligence. To prove negligence, you need to show that you were owed a duty of care, that duty was breached, the breach caused your injuries, and you suffered financially as a result of your injuries. Your lawyer will be able to prove the other driver caused your accident and what it cost you.
Seeking Compensation for Car Accident Injuries
Car accident injuries vary greatly. Some of the more common ones include broken bones, lacerations, whiplash, contusions, and concussions. With prompt medical treatment and a well-established treatment plan, most patients make a full recovery within a matter of weeks or months. More severe injuries, however, can change a person’s everyday life. Traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries can result in life-long complications and disabilities.
Regardless of the injuries you sustained, you need compensation to cover those expenses. In New Mexico, you can seek monetary recovery for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
The property damage, medical expenses, and lost wages are considered economic damages. This means they are calculable with dollars and cents. Pain and suffering and punitive damages, however, are noneconomic. They are more challenging to calculate. Pain and suffering cover the trauma you experienced as a result of the accident. Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where gross negligence was present—like accidents involving drunk drivers.
Your Albuquerque attorney will take all your losses into consideration and only accept a settlement when it’s sure to cover everything you wrongfully incurred.
The Importance of Working with an Experienced Law Firm
When you’re facing injuries and time away from work, the last thing on your mind is filing a car accident claim. As time passes, however, the chances of receiving complete compensation decreases if you haven’t taken legal action. Additionally, conversations with insurance companies can be difficult, especially when they try to ask questions that could decrease your settlement offer. We understand how adjusters frame questions, so we’ll make sure nothing is said that could jeopardize your future.
The Albuquerque car accident lawyers from Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm are dedicated to helping crash victims recover as fully as possible from what they were wrongfully put through. We understand how overwhelming the aftermath of a wreck can be, which is why we’re here to handle your legal matters for you.
To learn more about how our personal injury lawyers can help you seek the compensation you’re owed for the losses you sustained in the accident, schedule a consultation with our firm today. We’ll discuss your situation and the merits of your case. The sooner we file your claim, the better your chances are of receiving full and fair compensation.