Insurance companies are businesses much like any other. So, it’s no surprise that they often tell their policyholders not to admit fault at the scene of a car accident. In an effort to avoid financial responsibility for its policyholders’ fault, it may use a variety of defenses. Here are common defenses to car accident liability.
One common defense to liability for a car accident is comparative negligence. Comparative negligence looks at whether the injured party (filing the claim) contributed to the accident in any way, as this would prevent the defendant from being found fully responsible for the accident. New Mexico uses what is called a “pure comparative negligence doctrine,” which allows a plaintiff to recover compensation even if he or she is partially to blame. Simply put, if a plaintiff (the person bringing the claim) is found to have any degree of fault for the accident, he or she can still recover, but his or her compensation will be reduced by their degree of fault. For instance, if a plaintiff was found to be 30% to blame for a car accident, he or she would receive 70% of the financial compensation.
Other Liable Parties
Another method for defending against liability for a car accident is to blame someone else. An insurance company may blame another driver for contributing to the accident – or even for causing it all together. Other parties often blamed for car accidents include manufacturers of car parts or the government entity that is responsible for the upkeep of the road on which the accident occurred. By placing the blame on another party, it slows down the recovery process, which can be greatly detrimental for the victim.
Sometimes the defendant may argue that the plaintiff had a pre-existing condition. This means that he or she had an injury or illness that occurred prior to the accident and is not the result of the accident – or at least only the result of the accident. Victims are unable to recover compensation for pre-existing injuries. However, if a car accident exacerbated a pre-existing condition, the victim can still recover.
Failure to Mitigate Damages
Another common defense to car accident liability is the failure to mitigate damages. This means that the victim failed to take any actions that would have helped him or her to minimize the damage or loss. For instance, if a plaintiff waited a long time to see a doctor or failed to see any medical professionals at all, the defendant may argue that the injuries would not have been as serious had he or she sought medical attention.
Expired Statute of Limitations
Finally, the last common defense that defendants often use to eliminate liability is that the statute of limitations has expired. A statute of limitations is the legal amount of time that someone has to bring a claim for compensation. In New Mexico, there is a three-year statute of limitations for an injury claim, such as those resulting from a car accident. When a plaintiff files a claim outside of this period of time, he or she can be prevented from recovering anything.
MPJ Law Firm Can Help Those in NM Who Have Been Injured in a Car Accident
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car accident, it can have a huge impact on your life. When you are already dealing with physical, emotional, and financial issues, often the last thing on your mind is taking legal action against the person responsible.
At MPJ Law Firm, we will always act in your best interest and work to help you receive the compensation that you deserve. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!