In New Mexico, it’s important to understand the compensatory system for damages in case of personal injury.
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For one, many folks are injured in car accidents every year. According to the New Mexico Department of Transportation, in 2018, a motor vehicle crash happened every 11 minutes. On any given day during that period, an average of 128 crashes occurred, resulting in 54 people being injured.
Beyond auto accidents, maybe you were injured in a work-related accident, or due to some other situation where a third party is at fault.
Either way, you need to know what your rights are and how you could potentially get enough of a settlement to cover things like medical bills and missed income due to time not worked.
How Long Do You Have to Make a Personal Injury Claim?
New Mexico law stipulates that you have three years to file a personal injury case. That means the statute of limitations dictates that if you don’t make a personal injury claim during that time frame, you essentially lose your ability to do so.
How Were You Injured?
Typically when you’re talking to a New Mexico lawyer about your personal injury case, you will need to define how you were injured:
- In an auto accident?
- At work?
- At a place of business due to faulty equipment, facilities, etc.?
- From a product?
- Due to sexual assault?
- In a healthcare facility or due to medical malpractice?
PI cases vary greatly in terms of their settlement amounts. Why? Because there could be caps on how much you’re awarded.
Economic vs. Non-Economic Damages
Economic damages are the calculable totals you’ve suffered as the injured person as a result of your injury, like medical bills and lost income.
Non-economic damages define in a broad sense the other types of harm you’ve suffered from the injury and the negative effects as a result of that harm. This is where you and your attorney discuss losses related to pain and suffering, the loss of enjoyment of life, and so forth. A jury is not asked to base the plaintiff’s non-economic damage award on income loss or the future calculation of lost income. It is often quite subjective.
Currently, in medical malpractice suits, non-economic damages for medical malpractice are capped at $600,000. There are no damage caps to date in New Mexico for non-economic damages from other types of personal injury.
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Tips for Getting a Fair Settlement in Your Personal Injury Case
Before you start negotiating with the defendant, as a plaintiff, it’s always a good idea to have a framework in your head for the amount of money you need, the nature of your injury, and a solid narrative for how that injury has negatively impacted your ability to work, pay your bills, and care for yourself or your family.
Start with the minimum figure you would accept. If you were unable to work, document how long you were out of work and be prepared to provide documentation (W2 statements, pay stubs, a letter from your boss, or a P&L statement if you’re self-employed) to demonstrate the literal amount of income you lost.
During the time you were unable to work, were you forced to:
- Fall behind on other bills?
- Go into debt?
- File for bankruptcy?
The more details you have on hand as to the minimum dollar amount that would make you whole, the faster the negotiation could be.
Get all of your paperwork together. The more documentation you have, the better. Documentation should include:
- Medical bills
- Diagnosis from physicians, as well as all medical reports
- Police reports
- Witness statements
- Any documentation that proves who was at fault
Know when it’s time to engage an attorney. Managing the claim process for an auto accident (and some PI cases, especially worker’s comp) can be relatively straightforward. In those situations, the insurance adjuster is likely going to follow a relatively straightforward formula to settle the case quickly and cost effectively.
However, advocating for yourself, particularly when you’ve been injured, is often a tall task, and there are often immediate signs that it’s time to seek the insight and counsel of a lawyer.
The Signs It’s Time to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Sometimes, the size of the task is simply too great, and you should consider working with an attorney licensed in New Mexico who can act as your advocate and help you get a fair and expedient settlement.
The amount of the settlement is high. If you have a simple pain-and-suffering case and just need to be reimbursed for some doctor’s visits, then you can probably handle this on your own. However, if you’ve lost your home or your damages could be in the tens of thousands of dollars, then it could be time to talk to a professional.
It’s also a good time to talk to a personal injury lawyer in New Mexico if:
- You’re permanently unable to work
- You will need medical treatments well into the future
- You need to prove fault
Listen, sometimes accidents are just that. Something like a minor fender bender or slip-and-fall at work can usually be resolved without a lawyer or the courts.
However, you deserve to have a discussion with a licensed expert to weigh in on your situation and to advise what is your best course of action. Having an attorney on your side also ensures you have an advocate who can explain court actions in simple terms, getting you to a fair and just settlement, no matter the nature of your injury.
Please note that this article was created for advertisement purposes, and it does not constitute any contractual legal relationship, nor imply one.