Comparative Negligence and Motorcycle Accident Claims
The two-wheeled structure and unenclosed design of a motorcycle make for an exhilarating ride in the open air, but unfortunately, those same features leave motorcyclists particularly vulnerable to grave injuries in an accident. In New Mexico, fault matters in an accident. While several states have no-fault insurance laws that require each accident victim to file a claim against their own insurance companies, New Mexico operates under a pure comparative negligence insurance system. If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident in New Mexico, it’s important to understand how a fault-based comparative negligence system works and how to determine liability after an accident.
Understanding Comparative Negligence in New Mexico
Under a pure comparative negligence (or comparative fault) system, each person involved in an accident is responsible for their share of the liability. The person most at fault in an accident must pay for damages, but even when the other driver or rider shares a portion of the blame, they can still recover damages minus their percentage of fault. For example, if a driver is riding too close behind you and rear-ends you at a stop sign, but your brake light was out, you could be found 40% at fault for the accident. If the amount of your damages is $100,000, you’re liable for $40,000 of that, so you’ll receive $60,000 from your claim. In other cases, the accident may be completely the fault of a reckless, intoxicated, or distracted driver, in which case the at-fault driver is fully liable for damages through a payout from their insurance policy.
Determining Fault in Motorcycle Accidents
All drivers on the road owe a legal duty of care to keep others safe on the roads by taking reasonable precautions and following traffic laws. Determining liability shows the following:
- That a driver owed a duty of care to keep others safe through reasonable actions on the roadway
- That they breached this duty by acting negligently through distraction, recklessness, or intoxication
- That the driver’s act of negligence directly caused the accident
- That you sustained injuries in the accident
- That the injuries caused real economic and non-economic damages
Motorcycle accidents can cause very serious and even life-altering injuries, requiring extensive medical treatment and long recovery periods. In some cases, long-term disabilities may result. Once a New Mexico motorcycle accident lawyer helps prove liability, you can seek maximum compensation for your damages.
What Damages Can I Gain in a Motorcycle Accident Claim If I Was Not at Fault?
When another driver’s error, distraction, or recklessness causes you to have a motorcycle accident, you can recover full damages for the following:
- Your medical bills
- Future expenses for ongoing medical care
- Loss of future income if you’ve suffered disabling injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium (the full enjoyment of a romantic relationship or the ability to support and play an active role in your children’s lives)
- Disfigurement, loss of limb, loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional trauma in the case of egregious recklessness or wrongdoing such as road rage causing the accident
Once liability in an motorcycle accident case is clear, a New Mexico personal injury attorney can help you recover full damages, but in a comparative negligence state like New Mexico, accident victims may recover a percentage of their damages even if they shared fault in the accident.