Pedestrian accidents are increasing at an alarming rate in this country, and New Mexico has the unfortunate distinction of being the state with the most pedestrian fatalities. The reasons for the high number of pedestrian accidents are many, and not all of them involve only the negligence or recklessness of drivers.
If you are a pedestrian who has suffered severe harm in a pedestrian accident but is aware that you bear some of the fault for the catastrophe, you are probably wondering if you can still receive compensation. The answer is yes. The more skilled your pedestrian accident attorney, the more substantial the damages you are likely to receive.
How can a pedestrian accident be partly the injured party’s fault?
While it is undeniable that the driver of a car, enclosed by a cage of heavy metal, has far less vulnerability than the pedestrian crossing his/her path, this does not mean that the pedestrian is faultless if an accident occurs. Driver faults are easy to pinpoint — speeding, alcohol or drug impairment, distraction. It should be remembered, however, that with the exception of speeding, the pedestrian may be guilty of the same negligent or reckless behavior.
Just as a driver may ignore the rules of the road, creating hazardous conditions for the public as well as him or herself, a pedestrian can be equally negligent. In many situations, pedestrians are seriously injured because they:
- Jaywalk (e.g. ignore traffic signals, cross mid-block, rush off the curb without looking)
- Cross streets while intoxicated or impaired by illegal drugs or prescribed medications
- Walk while distracted by phone conversations, music, looking at a screen, texting
- Expect drivers to be careful and don’t exercise proper caution (e.g. don’t look both ways before crossing
If you have been seriously injured by a car while walking, or tragically lost a loved one to wrongful death, you should be aware that even if you were guilty of any of the above, you may still file a lawsuit against the driver whose misconduct played a part in the harm you suffered. In New Mexico, you are at a distinct advantage when making your claim because of our state’s “pure comparative negligence” laws. Nonetheless, having a legal representative with knowledge and a track record of successful outcomes is essential to winning your case.
What does pure comparative negligence mean?
Comparative negligence means that the law recognizes the possibility that more than one party may be at fault in a personal injury case and that a plaintiff may recover damages from a defendant even if the plaintiff is partly at fault. “Pure” comparative negligence means that, according to state law, the plaintiff may recover damages from the defendant even if the plaintiff’s fault is deemed by the court to be proportionately greater than the defendant’s.
As a matter of fact, in New Mexico, even if a defendant is considered only 10 percent responsible for the plaintiff’s injury, the plaintiff may be able to collect damages. The catch is that the percentage of fault attributed to the plaintiff will be deducted from the amount awarded.
To clarify, if you have been severely injured in a pedestrian accident for which you are found to be 50 percent responsible, you will receive only half of the settlement amount. If the amount awarded is $100,000, you will receive $50,000. If, one the other hand, you are found to be only 10 percent at fault, you will receive $90,000.
What puts you at an advantage if you are partly to blame in New Mexico?
The reason you are at an advantage in a personal injury lawsuit filed in New Mexico is that state statutes regarding comparative negligence vary widely from state to state. In states that follow a principle of “modified” comparative fault, injured parties are typically excluded from recovering any damages at all if found to be more than 50 percent, or in some states 51 percent, responsible for their own injuries.
In Alabama, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia, state laws follow the legal doctrine of “pure” contributory negligence, a harsh rule that bans plaintiffs from recovering any compensation at all if they have contributed in any way to their own injuries.
Though You Are Not Without Blame, You Can Still Receive Compensation in New Mexico
No matter what the circumstances of your pedestrian accident, and no matter how foolish or ashamed you feel for contributing to your serious injury, take the important step of consulting with a keen, compassionate pedestrian accident attorney. A superior lawyer like Lee Hunt will be able to assess your situation and determine whether you have a viable case to take to court.