Albuquerque & Rio Rancho Car Accident Attorney
Almost everyone who drives knows the shock and dismay of having a car accident. In many cases, these accidents are only inconvenient and costly. Accidents that involve serious physical injuries, however, are a far cry from fender benders– the former can be terrifying and life-altering. If you have suffered a severe injury as the result of a car accident that was not your fault, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney like Michael P. Jasso.
Lead attorney of MPJ Law Firm, which is based in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, Mr. Jasso is not only thoroughly informed about personal injury law, but is highly skilled in all matters regarding insurance claims. Known for his ability to think outside of the box, he is adept at developing new legal strategies, strategies that will help to get you every dollar of compensation you deserve. Even better, he works on a contingency basis — you pay him nothing unless he get you monetary compensation.
Increasing Numbers of Car Accidents
As the population increases and our roads become more congested, the possibility of collisions increases. As cars travel at higher speeds and drivers become more distracted — by eating, drinking, talking on the phone, or texting — the seriousness, as well as the frequency, of auto accidents increases as well.
The chance of being injured in a motor vehicle accident in the United States is one in 1,000 in any given year. If you are male, you are twice as likely to die in such an accident. Clearly, we should all do what we can to avoid being involved in a car accident, and protect ourselves from injury by wearing seatbelts, having airbags, putting our infants and young children in car seats, and taking other safety precautions.
Nonetheless, with so much of life beyond our control, we must also be prepared to handle the specifics of a car accident should one occur. Obviously, the first thing to do if you’re injured is receive emergency medical care. Once you are out of physical danger, you should contact your personal injury attorney. Be aware that you should not make any statements to an insurance adjuster, or sign any documents regarding the circumstances of the accident, until you speak to your lawyer since these actions may come back to haunt you later.
The Need to Take Action Promptly
Acting promptly will help your attorney’s investigation of the accident site immensely. Taking photographs, collecting evidence, and interviewing witnesses is always more efficient when done in the immediate aftermath of the event. Furthermore, there is a statute of limitations on filing a personal injury claim. In New Mexico, you have 3 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Even if your attorney is able to settle your case favorably through negotiations, it is important that these negotiations take place before that time limit is up because  threatening the insurance company with a lawsuit is always a good bargaining chip and  if you do have to file a lawsuit, unless you do so within the set time limits, you will almost definitely be prevented from getting a hearing.
There are significant differences in state laws regarding fault in car accidents. In New Mexico, a “pure comparative negligence” state, you can sue any other party who is to blame for the crash, but, if you are found to be partially at fault for the collision, the damages you recover will be proportionally reduced. In practical terms, this means that if you are awarded $100,000 in compensation but found to be 10 percent responsible for the accident, your award will be reduced to $90,000.
Car Accident Injuries
Almost any part of the body can be injured during an auto collision. Severe car accident injuries include:
- Head injuries — concussions, traumatic brain injuries, skull fractures
- Vision, hearing, and vocal problems
- Spinal or nerve damage — loss of sensation, back injuries, paralysis
- Neck and chest injuries — whiplash, collapsed lung, broken ribs, internal bleeding
- Injuries to internal organs, pelvis, abdomen
- Limb injuries — fractures, ligament and tendon tears, amputation
- Long-term or permanent disability
Obviously, death is the ultimate injury. The loved ones of those who suffer the loss of a family member in an accident caused by someone else should consult with an aggressive personal injury attorney. While the loss they have suffered is immeasurable, they may be able to sue for wrongful death and at least receive some financial support.
In addition to physical injuries, individuals almost always suffer mental anguish after being involved in accidents in which serious injuries have taken place. Emotional scars affect not only those who suffer injuries, but also those who witness such devastating scenes. It is common for survivors of car crashes to require psychological or psychiatric intervention after the event to treat PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), anxiety, or depression.
What Type of Personal Injury Damages Can You Obtain After a Car Accident?
If you have suffered a personal injury in a car accident that was the fault of another driver, you are entitled to receive compensatory damages to cover:
- Medical, surgical, rehabilitative, and pharmaceutical out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost wages for the period of time you are unable to work
- Lost future wages if you develop a long-term disability
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disfigurement
At MPJ Law Firm we have an intricate knowledge of insurance procedures, outstanding negotiating skills, and the resources to bring in medical, forensic, and other relevant experts. In addition, we are well-prepared to photograph the site of the accident and interview witnesses. Having an attorney who is capable of taking care of all of these aspects of your claim gives you a great advantage when it comes to obtaining the compensation you deserve.
If the person who was responsible for your injury has behaved in a particularly egregious manner, driving while intoxicated or drug-impaired for example, he or she may also be ordered to pay punitive damages in addition to compensatory ones. Punitive damages are generally considerably higher than compensatory ones because they are designed both to punish the defendant for atrocious behavior and to discourage others from engaging in similarly awful behavior.
What happens if you have an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist?
Although all car owners in New Mexico are required by law to have minimum liability insurance, and although vehicles that do not have such coverage are subject to having their vehicle registration suspended, there are still a fair number of uninsured or underinsured cars on our roads. So what happens if you are injured in an accident with an uninsured driver?
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist insurance, sometimes called UM/UIM insurance, is required in the state of New Mexico to protect drivers from just such events. Insurance companies must not only offer this coverage, but be able to prove that they have done so. Adjusters must show you limits on UM/UIM insurance equal in value to your liability coverage and explain to you precisely what the cost of this coverage would be. If you refuse the coverage, the adjuster must have you sign a denial of coverage. If all of these steps are not taken, New Mexico reforms your policy on its own by providing you with this insurance, even if you have not yet paid a premium for it. At MPJ Law Firm we are happy to review your policies to assure you that your insurance policies are in full compliance with all of New Mexico’s legal requirements.
Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t carry liability insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage, on the other hand, steps in when you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver whose liability limits are too low to cover the damage or medical expenses.
and it is always a good idea to include this coverage on your policy to prepare for contingencies. Remember: your rates cannot be increased, nor your policy cancelled, if you have to use this coverage (no matter what some unscrupulous insurance agent may imply!).
What happens if you’re hit by an uninsured driver and don’t have uninsured coverage?
This is not a good situation which is why it’s important to carry an uninsured addendum to your auto insurance policy. New Mexico is a “fault” state, meaning a state in which the insurance of the person blamed for the accident is responsible for expenses. This is true whether or not that individual has insurance. You therefore have the right to sue the other driver personally for compensation if he or she is uninsured or underinsured. Unfortunately, though, in many cases a person who does not have auto insurance also lacks money or assets, so you may be trying to get blood from a stone.
MPJ Law Firm Has the Inside Track
With a background that includes working in a defense firm for insurance companies, Michael P. Jasso has a comprehensive knowledge of insurance practices, both ethical and unethical. For this reason, he is the perfect lawyer to handle personal injury cases involving car accidents.
In addition to being intimately familiar with the methods used by insurance companies to evaluate claims, he is keenly aware of the mistakes insurance companies or adjusters are likely to make, and even of the unfair practices some insurance companies engage in. This gives his clients a distinct advantage since when such mistakes are made, the claim increases in value.
There are not many lawyers who possess Mr. Jasso’s in-depth knowledge of unfair insurance practices or bad-faith actions on the part of insurance adjusters. He also has a comprehensive understanding of the Unfair Insurance Practices Act which allows policyholders to seek compensation, attorney fees, costs, and threefold damages if an insurance company refuses to pay the benefits it owes, or unreasonably delays paying those benefits. When you come to MPJ Law Firm after being injured in a car accident, you are making a wise choice. Because Mr. Jasso is equally at home performing a detailed analysis of accident data, negotiating with insurance companies, and litigating in a court of law, he is the attorney most likely to win you the largest possible settlement. Contact us today for a free consultation.