Uninsured/Underinsured Car Accidents

A young uninsured female driver on the road

New Mexico drivers are required to purchase a minimum amount of auto insurance. Unfortunately, many drivers do not purchase insurance or purchase minimum insurance that will not cover a victim’s damages. When the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough assets or insurance coverage to cover the victim’s injuries, the victim can pursue an insured/underinsured car accident claim.

If you or your loved one has been seriously injured in an auto accident, it’s important to discuss your case with an attorney. One of the skilled attorneys at Hunt Law can help you decide on the best strategy. If filing an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim is the most strategic option, we can help you pursue the total amount of compensation. Contact Hunt Law today to schedule a free consultation.

New Mexico Auto Insurance Requirements

Under New Mexico law, all drivers must carry bodily injury and property damage liability insurance coverage. Currently, New Mexico drivers must carry the following minimum amounts of liability coverage:

  •  $25,000 per person for bodily injury or death
  •  $50,000 per auto accident or bodily injury or death, and
  •  $10,000 for the accident for property damage 

Even if a driver has purchased minimum auto insurance coverage, they may not cover your injuries. Suppose you suffer a bone fracture in an accident and require surgical treatment to place rods in your bone. If you’ve suffered a compound fracture and require surgery and rehabilitation, your medical expenses could easily exceed $25,000. Similarly, if your vehicle is totaled, your property damage likely will be greater than $10,000.

Uninsured Drivers in New Mexico

Despite New Mexico law requiring drivers to cover minimal auto insurance, many drivers continue to drive without insurance. New Mexico has the fourth-highest percentage of uninsured drivers in the United States. According to a recent study, 21.8 percent of New Mexico drivers do not have adequate insurance coverage. As a result, there is a significant chance that drivers will be injured by at-fault drivers who do not have auto insurance to cover their damages. 

Pursuing a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against the Uninsured Driver

Under New Mexico law, victims of personal injury accidents have a right to pursue compensation from the party or parties who caused their injuries. As an injury victim, you can pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused your injuries. Most victims pursue compensation by submitting a claim with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company. When the driver does not have insurance or is uninsured, pursuing a direct personal injury lawsuit may be beneficial. However, When a driver does not have car insurance, it is unlikely they have enough assets to cover all your damages.

Pursuing a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against a Third-Party Driver

Another option is to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against another at-fault party. For example, suppose the driver who caused your accident was intoxicated while driving. If the driver’s employer negligently hired the driver, who had previous DUIs on his record, you may be able to pursue compensation from the employer. If a defective auto part contributed to the accident, you could file a claim against the manufacturer or distributor. Alternatively, if another driver also contributed to causing the accident, you may be able to pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit against that party. 

What Is UM/UIM Insurance?

Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance (UM/UIM) applies when the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your damages. When the driver who caused your accident has no auto insurance or the driver’s liability insurance doesn’t cover all of your property damage, medical expenses, and lost income. New Mexico drivers aren’t required to purchase uninsured motorist protection. However, many comprehensive auto insurance policies include uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is also beneficial for victims injured in hit-and-run accidents where the at-fault driver cannot be identified.

What Does Uninsured/Underinsured Insurance Cover?

The amount of benefits available through your uninsured, underinsured motorist coverage depends on the specific details of your policy. When you purchased an auto insurance policy, you may have been able to add on UM coverage, or it may have come with your comprehensive auto insurance policy. 

Your policy will state how much coverage you have and the requirements you must meet before the coverage kicks in. Most policies clearly state that you can only use UM/UIM insurance after another at-fault driver who was uninsured or underinsured caused your injuries. Most UM policies cover the following types of damages:

  • Medical expenses, including hospital stays and rehabilitation
  • Prescription costs
  • Lost wages
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Disfigurement
  • Physical impairment

Your UM/UIM insurance may be able to cover the difference between the lack of insurance and your policy limits. Suppose you were injured in a car accident and have incurred medical expenses. The driver has $40,000 in liability coverage for bodily injuries. If you have enough coverage through your policy, the insurance provider will pay the remaining $125,000. 

Stacking Uninsured Motorists Policies in New Mexico

Stacking insurance benefits can help victims obtain the total coverage they need after being injured in a car accident. Suppose you and your spouse have purchased UM/UIM policies for two vehicles. if an at-fault driver injures you, you can stack the insurance limits of both of these vehicles. Even though the accident only involved your vehicle, you can combine the $25,000 UM/UIM policies for both vehicles. 

As a result, $50,000 will be available to you. All named individuals on your UM/UIM policies can stack coverage. In most cases, your spouse and any relatives who live with you can stack all of the UM/UIM policies when you are a named insured individual. The laws regarding stacking insurance benefits are complex in New Mexico, and you’ll benefit from discussing your case with an experienced car accident attorney.

Discuss Your Case with a New Mexico Car Accident Attorney

Have you been injured by a driver who lacks adequate insurance coverage to pay for your damages? An experienced attorney can help you evaluate your case and decide the best strategy for pursuing compensation when the at-fault driver lacks adequate insurance coverage. Contact Hunt Law today to schedule your free case evaluation.