It’s not surprising that New Mexico is a state with a high rate of motor vehicle accidents. Just try driving on Interstate 25 on any given day during rush hour and you’ll see plenty of evidence. Unfortunately, it’s also a state with a high rate of uninsured motorists. According to the Insurance Research Institute, New Mexico has the third highest rate of uninsured motorists in the country. One out of every five drivers you are sharing the road with is operating an uninsured motor vehicle. This increases the chances that a distracted driver who collides with you on the freeway doesn’t have the means to pay for repairs. So, who foots the bill when the uninsured driver is at fault? To answer that question, let’s take a look at New Mexico’s insurance laws and what uninsured motorist coverage entails.
New Mexico’s Car Insurance Laws
In New Mexico it’s considered illegal to drive a vehicle that is uninsured. If a person is found driving without insurance, they are in direct violation of The Mandatory Financial Responsibility Act. The punishment for violating this act is at the discretion of the court, but is usually either a $300 fine or up to 90 days in jail. On top of that, the driver’s car registration is suspended and their plates are confiscated. While this punishment may sound like a compelling reason to purchase insurance, 20 percent of New Mexico’s drivers seem to believe otherwise. Many people break the law by driving an unregistered vehicle. Since you cannot control the decisions others make on the road, purchasing uninsured motorist coverage is the only way to insure financial protection after an accident with an uninsured motorist.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Insurance companies in New Mexico are required to offer uninsured motorist coverage as part of your policy. If you are looking to save some money and decide to opt out of it, you have to sign a document stating you don’t want to be covered. The purpose of the coverage is to protect you financially in the instance you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist and they are at fault. If you don’t purchase the coverage, you can attempt to sue the other driver for compensation. However, a driver who does not have auto insurance is less likely to have the monetary means to pay you.
So, is spending the extra money on uninsured motorist coverage worth it? If you live in New Mexico, the short answer is yes. After an accident you may be dealing with medical expenses, car repair bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. There is no way to ensure compensation from an uninsured driver, and you may end up paying for everything out of pocket. Paying extra for the coverage now may save you thousands of dollars later.
Steps to Take After an Accident With an Uninsured Motorist
No matter what kind of insurance coverage you have, there are several necessary steps to take after an accident with an uninsured motorist.
Call the Police
After being involved in any car accident, especially one resulting in injuries, it’s important to call the police and seek immediate medical attention. An uninsured driver may try to talk you out of involving the police for fear of the consequences. However, to receive compensation from an uninsured motorist policy you will need a police report that explains who is at fault and who is uninsured.
1. Don’t Accept Money
The uninsured driver may try to offer a sum of money to avoid you pressing charges, but you shouldn’t accept it. You will need your car to be appraised and your injuries to be treated before you have a clear picture of the finances. It’s best to avoid accepting money until you are able to get the advice of an experienced injury attorney.
2. Gather Information
While still at the site of the accident, it’s important to gather as much information as possible about what happened.
A few ways you can do this are:
- Take multiple pictures of all of the involved vehicles.
- Write down the other driver’s contact information and vehicle details, including license plate.
- Gather contact information from any witnesses.
- Take note of the name and badge number of the police officer.
3. Choose an Attorney
Choosing an attorney who is experienced in dealing with uninsured motorists can ensure you know all of your options after an accident. If you live in the Rio Rancho area, Sanchez and Piñon, Rio Rancho’s Injury Attorneys can provide you with expert advice. They have the experience to provide a personal level of representation and can make sure you receive fair and personalized legal representation.
4. File an Uninsured Motorist Claim
If you have uninsured motorist coverage, it’s important to file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you navigate this process and be certain the company provides you with the coverage you were promised.
5. Press Charges
This step is optional depending on your situation. You may want to try to press charges if you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage so you can get some financial compensation. While it’s possible an uninsured motorist doesn’t have the financial means to pay any of your bills, it’s also possible they simply chose not to buy insurance. Your attorney can help you weigh your options and decide if pressing charges is the right decision for you.
Have you recently been involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist? Are you looking for legal representation? Contact Sanchez and Piñon, Rio Rancho’s Injury Attorneys, today for a free consultation, where we can discuss the legal representation options and what’s that’s right for you.