Even at low speeds, motor vehicle-pedestrian accidents can result in very serious personal injuries or wrongful death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released statistics stating that approximately 64,000 pedestrians are injured by vehicles every year in the United States, and of those injured, approximately 5,000 pedestrians are killed each year.
As in any auto accident, when a pedestrian is injured there are several issues that must be addressed right away. These include liability, comparative fault (if any) of the pedestrian, and the availability of insurance coverage to pay for accident-related damages.
When it comes to determining liability, New Mexico is a fault-based system. This means that the party at fault for an accident will be responsible for any resulting personal injury and/or property damage he or she causes. New Mexico law also recognizes a principle called comparative negligence. This means that any compensation to the injured party will be reduced to the extent that the injured party‘s action contributed to the accident. For example, if you are 20% at fault for an accident you will only be compensated for 80% of your injuries.
When it comes to pedestrian accidents, many people believe that because pedestrians have the right of way that the pedestrian can never be at fault for an accident. This simply is not true. Just like a driver, pedestrians have a duty to exercise reasonable care, and failing to do so is considered negligent. Keep in mind that even though there is some negligence on the part of the pedestrian, the pedestrian can still recover damages against the negligent driver. In cases of auto-pedestrian accidents, these recoverable damages can be quite substantial even with the offset for comparative negligence.
If you are injured as a pedestrian by a negligent driver you will likely be able to file a claim with the driver‘s insurance company to cover the cost of your medical care, lost wages and other damages caused by the accident.
New Mexico law requires that all drivers maintain insurance coverage. Liability coverage provides payment for medical treatment, lost wages and other damages. New Mexico law requires that everyone carry at least $25,000 per person, and $50,000 per accident of bodily injury liability coverage.
Despite the legal requirement that everyone carry certain basic insurance coverage there are times that an injured pedestrian might have to look to other sources of coverage for compensation. This happens when 1) someone doesn‘t carry the required bodily injury liability coverage, 2) the limits of liability coverage are not enough to cover the damages associated with the injuries, 3) when there is a hit and run accident and the at-fault driver cannot be identified, or 4) when the pedestrian is at fault. In these circumstances some additional coverage options include medical payments coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist‘s coverage, or your own health insurance coverage.
Medical Payments Coverage
When necessary you can seek coverage under your own auto insurance policy‘s medical payments coverage. This is coverage that pays for medical treatment incurred by the insured and any family members resulting from an accident.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
New Mexico law does not require that you purchase Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage, but it is generally an inexpensive coverage that can be purchased as supplemental coverage to your liability and collision coverage.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is meant to protect you if you are in an accident with an at-fault driver that either does not have insurance coverage or whose coverage limits are inadequate to cover your damages. For example, if the at fault driver has the state minimum $25,000 in coverage but your damages are in excess of $40,000 your underinsured motorist coverage will pay the remaining $15,000 dollars.
Pedestrian-auto accidents are typically quite severe. This article is meant only as an overview. If you or a loved one have been injured in such an accident, you should immediately seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury law attorney.
The Limits of Insurance Coverage in a New Mexico Auto Accident
New Mexico Leads the Nation in Uninsured Motorist
Comparative Negligence Decided by Jury in New Mexico Personal Injury Cases