A silver car with a crushed rear-end after a car accident in a city.

Driving defensively can help reduce the risk of car accidents, but sometimes, even the most conscientious drivers can’t avoid the careless actions of other motorists. When you find yourself involved in a car collision, the consequences of someone else’s negligence could include painful injuries, mounting medical expenses, lost wages, and numerous other daunting challenges.

To make matters worse, the financial strain caused by treatment costs and time off work can swiftly erode your savings and may even plunge you into debt.

Seeking assistance from the at-fault driver’s insurance company sometimes proves futile, as the insurance adjuster might attempt to place the blame on you. Even if they approve your claim, they could offer far less than you deserve based on shared fault, undervaluing your damages, or both.

With the insurance company placing obstacles in your path to recovery, how can you secure the compensation you need following a car accident?

Contact an Albuquerque Car Accident Attorney Today

Navigating a car accident claim involves numerous potential challenges, but an experienced car accident attorney can help you secure the optimal settlement. At Olson Personal Injury Lawyers, we are committed to assisting injured individuals in obtaining the support they need for recovery.

We will evaluate your car accident case, address your questions, and discuss the options for pursuing a claim. Your initial consultation is free, and you will not owe us any fees unless we achieve a successful resolution.

Contact us today to explore your options further.

What Intersections See the Most Car Accidents in Albuquerque?

A car accident can occur anywhere, and you should be vigilant no matter where you’re driving. However, the University of New Mexico has identified some intersections that have both high levels of traffic and collisions:

  • Montgomery Boulevard and San Mateo Boulevard
  • Coors Boulevard at Irving Boulevard
  • Paseo Del Norte at I-25
  • Coors Boulevard and Quail Road
  • Eubank Boulevard at I-40
  • Montgomery Boulevard/Montaño Boulevard at I-25
  • Osuna Road/San Mateo Boulevard and I-25
  • Louisiana Boulevard at I-40

If you can’t avoid these intersections, always look carefully before proceeding, even if you have the light. Intersection accidents most commonly occur because a driver runs a red light or stop sign. While you can’t prevent others from violating traffic laws, you can watch for vehicles that don’t appear to be stopping or slowing down.

Who Is at Fault in an Albuquerque Car Accident?

Although external factors like weather or malfunctioning car components sometimes cause or contribute to collisions, most car accidents stem from driver error. Unfortunately, there is often disagreement about whose error caused a car accident.

It’s also possible for both drivers to share fault for a car collision. New Mexico uses pure comparative negligence statutes for personal injury cases like traffic accidents, and under this system, each driver is assigned a percentage of fault for the collision and is expected to be responsible for their own share of the damages.

However, you can seek compensation from the other driver for the percentage of damages they caused. For instance, if you were each 50 percent responsible, you could recover 50 percent of your damages from the other driver.

Who Decides How Much Fault Each Driver Has in an Albuquerque Accident?

This is a pivotal question because it can affect your potential settlement. There are several possibilities, depending on the circumstances of your accident:

  • The other driver’s insurance company. If you file a claim on their insurance because you believe they’re at fault, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to review your claim and determine if you had any fault and, if so, how much.
  • Your insurance company. The same scenario happens in reverse if the other driver files a claim on your insurance because they think you were at fault. Your insurance company assigns an adjuster to review the accident details and determine how much fault the other driver has.
  • Both insurance companies. When both drivers make claims, adjusters from the two insurance companies will negotiate with each other to decide who gets what. (If you both have the same insurance company, two separate adjusters will be assigned to review the accident independently, and they may negotiate with each other.)
  • The court system. This is actually a very rare occurrence because most of our car accident cases settle out of court. But sometimes, an insurance company will stubbornly refuse to pay a reasonable amount for a client’s damages despite our best efforts at negotiating a fair deal. When this occurs, we’re fully prepared to fight for your rights in court.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer if the Insurance Adjusters Can Sort This Out?

You need a lawyer because the insurance adjusters do not work for you; the adjuster from your own insurance company works for the insurance company, and their job is not to ensure you get everything you need but to save the company money.

The reality is that they are tasked with keeping costs down, and the same is true of the other drivers’ insurance companies. Consequently, each will try to blame the other adjusters’ clients.

The good news is that your adjuster will argue for assigning a lower percentage of fault to you. However, they may ultimately settle on a slightly higher percentage than is fair if they feel they’ve saved enough money.

At the same time, they may not put up a fight if the other insurance company undervalues some of your damages because that won’t affect their bottom line—just yours. So, while the insurance adjusters can sort things out, this approach often leaves the injured person without enough money to fund their recovery.

Your lawyer, however, only works for you, and we have one goal: to get you the best settlement possible. We only get paid when you do, and we know all the tricks insurance companies use to cut costs at your expense.

We’ll calculate the value of your claim and work to ensure the insurance company pays appropriately for all your damages. Additionally, we’ll investigate the accident and gather as much evidence as possible to show you had no or very little fault.

What if You Have a Significant Percentage of Fault and You Can’t Recover Enough of Your Damages?

First, you should speak with an Albuquerque personal injury attorney to ensure your fault percentage has been calculated correctly. As noted above, the insurance adjusters’ estimates are not always accurate.

If you do have a high degree of fault, you can still recover whatever portion of fault the other driver has. When that isn’t enough, you might be able to recover from your own insurance if you bought the optional Medical Payments (MedPay) and Collision policies.

These will cover damages if you are at fault or if there isn’t enough evidence to show the other driver caused the accident. They can also be used if you have a single-car accident, which can occur for many reasons, such as weather, animals, obstructions in the road, and other issues beyond your control.

What Happens if the Other Driver Is Uninsured or Underinsured?

The best solution in most of these situations is to use your Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UI) insurance.

New Mexico requires insurance companies to offer this policy, but you can refuse it in writing. However, we strongly recommend that you don’t reject this valuable coverage.

In fact, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to purchase as much UM/UI coverage as you can afford. If an uninsured driver hits you, UM/UI will pay for your damages up to the policy limit.

You can also collect from UM/UI if the at-fault driver has some insurance, but it is not enough for your damages. We sometimes see this situation when the client has severe injuries, resulting in six figures or more in damages.

The minimum required liability insurance in New Mexico is $25,000 per person for bodily injury ($50,000 total per accident) and $10,000 for property damage (typically vehicle repair or replacement). You can purchase more significant liability coverage, but if the driver who caused your accident only has the minimum amount, you might have a coverage gap without UM/UI.

Can You Sue the Uninsured Driver?

Yes, but in many cases, this will not solve your problem. If the uninsured driver has few or no assets, we can seize them, but if we can’t pay the judgment, we may have no way to collect when you win.

We will not advise you to go through the stress of a lawsuit if you can’t realistically recover your damages.

In a few limited situations, you might have more luck suing a third party.

For instance, if a defective car part worsens your injuries, you might have a case against the manufacturer. Or, under certain circumstances, you could sue an establishment that overserved an already intoxicated patron who later drove drunk and caused an accident.

However, these cases are rare, and most of the time, UM/UI is the only option when the at-fault driver’s insurance is insufficient or nonexistent.

What if I Think the Police Report for My Accident Is Wrong?

The police report contains a great deal of information about an accident, including the responding officer’s understanding of how the accident occurred, which driver’s actions caused or contributed to it, and who was at fault. They interview drivers and witnesses at the scene and observe any evidence available, such as tire marks on the pavement, vehicle damage, or debris around the collision site.

While officers will do their best to determine the truth of what happened, they often have to deal with conflicting accounts and a lack of clear physical evidence. For this reason, it’s possible to challenge a police report if you believe something on it is incorrect or that the officer unfairly attributed fault to you.

The insurance adjusters who review your case will study the police report carefully, so we recommend securing a copy as soon as possible. It may take 1-2 weeks for the report to become available, at which point you can get one online or in person.

The Albuquerque Police Department provides more information about obtaining traffic accident reports here.

If you notice something wrong with your report, please contact an attorney immediately. The sooner we investigate your accident, the more likely we will find additional evidence to support your version of events.

What Damages Can an Albuquerque Car Accident Attorney Help You Seek in a Car Accident Claim?

Car accidents can have long-reaching repercussions, and the insurance adjusters involved in your case will want to minimize them so they can pay you as little as possible. To ensure you receive the settlement you deserve, your lawyer will discuss the following categories with you in detail:

Medical Bills

Injury-related bills can seem overwhelming after a car accident. Every time you open the mailbox or your inbox, there’s another one.

If you require continued treatment, this could only be the beginning. We’ll ask for copies of your current medical bills, and we’ll review some common costs that people often forget about or overlook when cataloging medical bills, such as:

  • Prescription costs. These may not be covered in full by your medical insurance, and sometimes, the insurer will refuse to pay entirely.
  • Out-of-pocket copays. There’s the deductible, then there might be a copay, or maybe only a certain percentage of your treatment is covered. One way or another, you’ll probably get a bill for some of your treatment costs.
  • Treatment that isn’t covered by your health insurance or isn’t covered after a certain point. As with prescriptions, the health insurance company can refuse to pay for in-hospital treatments, surgeries, and other procedures they deem “unnecessary.” After a car accident, many patients also run into the hurdle of finding out their insurance only covers X number of physical therapy sessions. When they need to continue with more sessions, these may be entirely out-of-pocket.
  • Reasonable travel expenses if you have to see a specialist for your injuries.
  • Out-of-pocket costs for mobility aids, plus any costs associated with making your home accessible. These might include aids like crutches, a cane, or a wheelchair and any changes you have to make to get around at home, such as putting in a wheelchair ramp or shower bars.
  • Buying equipment to use for physical therapy exercises you do at home. Your physical therapist will probably tell you that most of the physical therapy work happens at home between sessions. They will try to prescribe exercises you can do without equipment, but in some cases, it may be necessary to use weights, medicine balls, or other tools for resistance.
  • In-home care. If you require private nursing or in-home healthcare, we can seek to recover any out-of-pocket costs.

Next, we’ll discuss the need for future treatment. Additionally, we may check back with you as your case progresses to determine whether your treatment is complete.

We never want a client to find they have more expensive medical bills to deal with after the case is settled, so we will typically wait until they are fully recovered to complete the claim.  However, if you have severe injuries that will demand long-term care, we can estimate your future healthcare costs so they can be covered in your settlement.

Lost Income and Earning Potential

At the same time that you’re inundated with medical bills, you may have to miss work due to your injuries. Even with paid time off or PTO, you’re still losing the value of your paid sick days.

Worse, most people only have a limited amount of PTO. If your injuries are severe and you’re out of work for weeks or months, you could lose considerable income in unpaid time off.

In more serious accidents, you might suffer a permanent disability that prevents you from returning to work. Some people are unable to work at all, while others might be able to take a less taxing job or work fewer hours.

In any of these situations, you’ve lost earning potential due to your injuries, and you deserve compensation. We’ll carefully calculate how much more income you would likely have earned if the accident didn’t occur and negotiate with the insurance company for a fair amount of damages.

Pain and Suffering

These are considered non-economic damages—you won’t receive an invoice, but you’ve still suffered a loss. Pain and suffering can include:

  • Physical pain and discomfort from your injuries. For some, this only lasts a few days or weeks, while others may develop chronic pain or suffer for months. While the insurance adjuster will be eager to minimize your pain, we’ll fight to get the consideration you deserve for your injuries.
  • Emotional or mental pain associated with your injuries, including anxeity, depression, PTSD, and other mental health effects. Car accidents can be terrifying, and many people experience a decline in mental health after an accident. If you have symptoms such as mood changes, difficulty sleeping, or feeling on edge, please discuss them with your doctor.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life. This is often associated with permanent disability or disfigurement that affects your ability to pursue your interests.

Pain and suffering can be calculated in multiple ways. Most often, the insurance adjuster will use the “Multiplier Method,” a calculation that starts with your economic damages.

These are multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5, which is assigned based on the severity of the injuries. However, we sometimes find the number too low when considering the injured person’s suffering.

If so, we’ll argue for a review of your injuries and their effects and advocate for a more accurate calculation.

In some cases, the adjuster may use a “per diem” model in which the injured person is paid a specific amount for each day they are still suffering from their injuries. However, this method isn’t always appropriate, especially in situations involving long-term or permanent injuries.

Property Damage

You can seek compensation for any property damages suffered in the accident. Usually, property damage is concentrated on the injured person’s vehicle, but occasionally, they may have damage to items in the vehicle, like a phone or laptop.

The insurance adjuster might downplay or underestimate the repair cost for your car or replacement costs if it’s too severely damaged. Your attorney will review the insurance company’s offer and fight for the full property damages you deserve, including the cost of a rental car while yours is in the shop.

In New Mexico,  you can also seek to recover the “diminished value” of your vehicle if it’s worth less as a result of the collision.

How Can You Get Help From an Albuquerque Car Accident Law Firm?

If another driver’s negligence injured you or a loved one, Olson Personal Injury Lawyers is ready to assist you. Please reach out to us anytime for a complimentary consultation to discuss your case details.

We’ll explore your options and strive to help you find the best resolution. If we accept your case, there are no upfront fees—you will only pay us once we achieve a successful outcome.

At Olson Personal Injury Lawyers, we take our responsibility to clients seriously. As a result, we’re always available to talk with clients and update them on their cases.

We believe you should never have to put up with an attorney who can’t be bothered to return calls or emails, and we work hard to make you a priority.

About Attorney Sean Olson

In 2012, attorney Sean Olson founded Olson Personal Injury Lawyers to support the needs of injured individuals. Inspired by his childhood soccer coach’s advice to “build others up,” Mr. Olson is dedicated to this principle.

His daily mission is to defend the rights of those harmed by another’s negligence, and he argues cases across the country.

Mr. Olson began his professional journey as a photojournalist whose passion for storytelling led him to the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. Graduating in the top one percent of his class, he focused on advocating for seriously injured individuals.

Outside the courtroom, he enjoys spending quality time outdoors with his family. Work with him and his team today when you call (505) 391-4149.