If you or somebody you care about has sustained an injury caused by the negligence of another entity or individual in New Mexico, you should be able to recover compensation for losses. This includes not only compensation for your medical expenses related to the incident but also your lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and pain and suffering damages. It is important to understand the steps involved in filing a personal injury claim in New Mexico.
1. Seeking Medical Treatment
After sustaining any type of injury, whether or not it is caused by someone else, you need to seek medical treatment. Often, individuals do not feel much pain after a traumatic incident, but this should not be used as an indicator that there is no injury. The signs and symptoms of some injuries, including head trauma, may not appear until hours or even days after the incident occurs.
Seeking immediate medical care accomplishes two goals. First, this helps ensure that individuals are treated for any seen or unseen injuries. Second, this establishes a solid link between the incident and any injuries, something the insurance carriers are going to look for when making payment decisions.
2. Speaking With an Attorney
If a person sustains an injury caused by the careless or negligent actions of another individual or entity, they need to speak to a skilled New Mexico personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. When an attorney gets involved, they will be able to use their resources to handle every aspect of the claim.
Most personal injury victims do not have the money to fully investigate the incident or see the claim all the way through to the end, but an attorney will. Lawyers will typically handle these claims on a contingency fee basis, which means they take on the brunt of the costs and will not charge legal fees until after the case is complete. If an attorney takes a case on a contingency fee and does not win, the client will pay no legal fees.
3. Filing an Insurance Claim
If there is an insurance carrier involved in the case, the first step will be filing a claim with the insurance carrier. After a car accident, individuals file a claim with their own insurance carrier, who will then, in turn, file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. However, these are not the only types of insurance carriers involved in personal injury claims. Claims could also be made against a homeowners’ insurance carrier or a commercial property insurance carrier.
Insurance claims often take months or even up to a year to resolve, depending on the complexity of the case and the level of negotiations that occur.
4. Filing a Lawsuit in Civil Court
In the event the insurance carrier or at-fault party refuses to offer a fair settlement, it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit in New Mexico civil court. This pushes the case into a different type of system, where the discovery process will begin. Personal injury lawsuits could take years to resolve, though most claims are still settled before they go all the way to a jury trial. It is imperative to have an attorney involved in the discovery process and in ongoing negotiations. In the event a negotiated settlement is not reached, the case will go to a jury trial.
5. Time Limit for Filing a Lawsuit
Personal injury victims in New Mexico need to be aware that there is a two-year statute of limitations in place for these claims. Failing to file a personal injury lawsuit against an apple party within this two-year time frame will likely mean that the victim becomes unable to recover any compensation for their losses.