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Albuquerque Car Accident Lawyer for New Mexico

Car accidents occur every hour of every day. They are one of the most common sources of personal injuries. Drivers who are responsible for the car accident are liable for any damages, whether that's personal bodily injury or property damage. Car accidents are stressful and traumatic and the insurance companies make the claim process against them hard to understand and difficult to process. Sadly, insurance companies always undervalue cases by people who bring their claims without an attorney seeking to pay you less than you deserve. To recover the money you are entitled to, the Gauthier & Maier Law Firm will work to get you a fair and adequate outcome. 

At Gauthier & Maier Law Firm, our Albuquerque car accident lawyers and Los Lunas car accident lawyers can help you resolve the confusion caused by making insurance claims, receive just compensation, help in getting you immediate treatment, and resolve your case in a timely manner. Do not shortchange yourself with other law firms that will undervalue your case for a quick check. Attorneys Shane Maier and Chance Gauthier were both former large loss attorneys for major automobile insurance companies like Farmers and Progressive and utilize their insider knowledge to benefit your claim. We are your local Albuquerque and Los Lunas Car Accident Lawyers who can get you the big results you deserve. We are proud to have a five-star Google Rating and have helped hundreds of clients receive the money they were owed. Contact us online or at 505-226-3205 to schedule a Free Consultation with Shane Maier or Chance Gauthier today. 

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Common Auto Accident and Car Accident Injuries in New Mexico

Injuries sustained from auto accidents and car accident can range anywhere from minor to fatal. The types of immediate bodily injuries that are often involved in personal injury claims include:

  • Broken bones
  • Lacerations and cuts
  • Nerve damage
  • Whiplash
  • Spinal injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Chronic pain
  • Emotional Distress and Anxiety

Any and all of the above injuries can be serious and life-threatening. All bodily injuries regardless of severity are compensable if you are the victim of the accident. In many cases, psychological, mental, and emotional injuries can be compensable, too.

We recommend that all car accident victims go for immediate medical treatment or soon after the accident to make sure they know the extent of their injuries. Further, insurance companies will seek to use any delay in treatment against you and claim that it shows that you were not injured. That is why a local car accident lawyer is critical to help you with your car accident claim. 

Types of Auto Accidents and Car Accidents in New Mexico

The types of auto accidents are the same pretty much anywhere, and they include single-car accidents or collisions between other vehicles, people, property, or animals.

The type of injuries you sustain are often the result, in part, of the type of car accident. Most common types of crashes involve the following:

  • Head-on collisions, which are among the most devastating types of collisions that result in serious and life-threatening bodily injuries
  • Rear-end accidents, which are among the most common and frequently result in whiplash and even concussions
  • Side-impact collisions, which are common, usually occur at intersections and result in a range of injuries depending on where the vehicle was struck
  • Roll-over accidents, which are less common but result in head and neck injuries
  • Sideswipe accidents, which are less common and occur when two or more vehicles travel parallel with each other and one swipes the side of the other vehicle
  • Blind spot accidents, which are less common and occur when one vehicle fails to spot another vehicle while changing or merging into another lane.

Liability for property and bodily damages can often be determined, in part, by the type of accident. It's important to remember, though, that accidents can be complex events, and so though the type may initially and seemingly indicate fault, a thorough investigation must be conducted for a clear understanding of where liability falls.  

Common Causes of Auto Accidents in New Mexico

Car accidents happen for many reasons. Typically, causes can be grouped into three categories: drivers, vehicles, and environment.


  • Intoxicated driving (e.g., alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, illicit drugs)
  • Distracted driving (e.g., eating, texting, disciplining children)
  • Drowsy driving or falling asleep while driving
  • Speeding or reckless driving
  • Decision error (e.g., driving too fast for the conditions, misjudging another driver's actions)
  • Recognition error (e.g., inattention)
  • Performance error (e.g., overcompensation, poor directional control)


  • Tires/wheels-related
  • Brakes-related
  • Steering/suspension/transmission/engine-related
  • Manufacture defects


  • Slick roads (e.g., ice, loose debris)
  • Glare
  • View obstructions
  • Signs/signals
  • Improper design of roadways

Most car crashes are the direct result of one or more drivers. Aside from crashes caused by drivers, vehicles, or environmental conditions, there are other reasons that don't fall within these categories. For instance, pedestrians can sometimes be the cause of an accident. In other circumstances, the cause can't be determined. 

When the cause of an auto accident is easily identified, liability will also tend to be easily identifiable. More complex auto accident cases, however, require the insight of an experienced auto accident attorney and the knowledge and expertise of expert witnesses. That is why it is important to hire local Albuquerque car accident lawyers who represent people throughout New Mexico. 

How Do I Get Compensation for an Auto Accident in Los Lunas, Belen, and Albuquerque?

One of the main things that car accident victims have to worry about is being fairly compensated for their injuries. There are two main ways that this will generally happen, and each has its own pros and cons. 


In an auto accident, resolving a case in a settlement means accepting the amount of money that an insurance company offers. One of the main benefits of handling a case this way is that it will typically end a case much quicker than going through the court system. In addition, a client and their attorney have a good deal of power during this process–they can negotiate until they get the amount they want and reject any settlement that isn't acceptable.

Going to Court

If a victim doesn't receive a fair settlement offer, they may need to file a lawsuit to get their compensation. Lawsuits may result in a higher payout, but they typically take much longer, and there is no guarantee that a court will side with you. Trials are inherently risky and are more of a form of art that requires a lot of practice and skill. That is why it is important to hire a local New Mexico car accident lawyer who is willing to go to trial and get BIG RESULTS.

Benefits of Filing a Personal Injury Claim in New Mexico?

After a car accident, insurance companies will investigate the cause of the wreck to see who was at fault. They will then offer to cover the victim's expenses. Insurance companies, however, are for-profit entities. They make money by bringing in premium payments and increase profit margins by minimizing the amount of money they pay out in settlements.

When an insurance company offers a settlement, that offer may not represent the true amount of compensation a victim deserves. Victims deserve to be compensated for their:

  • Medical bills, past, and future
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages, past, and future
  • Reduced earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • And more

Frequently, insurance settlement offers only cover property damage and medical bills for people without attorney representation, and only those that have been incurred so far. Sometimes the settlement will also include lost wages, but again, it may only include the wages lost to date and not necessarily future wages or loss of earned income. Much of it depends on the rules of your jurisdiction.

By hiring a lawyer and pursuing these other forms of compensation, accident victims can fight for and receive what they deserve for their injuries. 

After a Car Collision in New Mexico, Who Do I Sue?

There are many parties who might be liable for your injuries, and ultimately it will depend on the facts of your specific case. An experienced car accident lawyer will be able to help determine who the best person or people are to seek compensation from. 

If the other driver was driving under the influence or failing to obey the rules of the road, they could potentially be held liable. Additionally, a car manufacturer could be held liable if their car malfunctioned, and in some cases, a government entity could even be held liable if the conditions on the road are what causes a crash.

Should I Release Medical Records to Another Driver's Insurance Adjuster?

Generally, it is important to remember that the other insurance adjuster involved in the case wants to pay you as little as possible. While they may ultimately need to see your records, they only need to see specific records pertaining to your accident. If records are not necessary, but the insurance company receives them, they could use any health information against you. A local Albuquerque car accident lawyer can help edit this request to ensure that only the records needed are released. 

Further, it is always important to have an attorney with you when you speak to your own insurance company. You want to give only the facts. Your own insurer has its own company as its priority, too, and so it also wants to prevent a payout. This is especially true when you need to file a first-party claim with your own insurance.

How Much Money Can I Get from an Auto Accident Claim?

This is a very popular question -- everyone wants to know how much they could get from their auto accident claim in New Mexico. Unfortunately, one answer to this question does not exist. Any settlement or jury award will be based on the unique facts and circumstances of your case. Settlements can range anywhere from hundreds of dollars to millions of dollars or more. It also depends on the attorney you hire. Some are more inclined to settle as quickly as possible while others are willing to fight at all costs to ensure you receive maximum compensation. We are a trial law firm that is willing to put the time into your case to get you more money.

If I Don't Feel Hurt after an Auto Accident, Do I Have to See a Doctor?

Certain injuries might not present symptoms immediately after an accident, and getting to a medical professional can catch those injuries. In addition, an opposing attorney or insurance adjuster might try to argue that a delay in seeking medical treatment means that a victim's injuries were not actually from the accident. Going to the doctor after an accident can cut against these kinds of arguments.

What Should I Do after an Auto Accident in Los Lunas, Belen, and Albuquerque?

First and foremost, you should contact emergency services and seek medical attention. But you also want to:

  1. Exchange information with the other parties to the accident, which includes names, insurance, driver's license, phone numbers.
  2. Gather evidence, like pictures and video of the scene, the surrounding location, the vehicles, property damage, injuries (if any).
  3. Get the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses as well as a brief recorded statement, if you are able to do so because their recollection will be best on the scene and preservation of it will be best if recorded either in writing or by video.
  4. Consult with an attorney so that you can obtain a good understanding of whether you have a compensable case and how to go about pursuing what you are legally owed.

What Should I Not Do After an Auto Accident in Los Lunas, Belen, and Albuquerque?

In juxtaposition to what you should do if in a car collision, here is what you should not do.

  1. You should never leave the scene of an accident. If you leave a scene, especially when someone is injured, it is a hit and run, a criminal offense. You must stay with your vehicle and contact emergency personnel if someone is injured.
  2. You should not leave your vehicle where it can pose a risk to others. If you can, move the vehicle to a safe location. If you cannot move it on your own, contact someone who can.
  3. You should not ignore calling 911. Even when no one is injured, you should still contact 911. The police will investigate and write a report that can later be used to help identify liability.
  4. Do not forget to exchange information. Try not to let fear or anxiety get the best of you. You really need to obtain contact and insurance information from the other party involved in the collision. Insurance will be critical to recovery of compensation.
  5. Do not underestimate your injuries. Some injuries are delayed (like whiplash) while other injuries may not seem serious (like bruising as there may be internal bleeding). You should get checked out by a doctor.
  6. Do not admit fault. Even if you think or know you are at fault, do not admit it. The other party may have contributed in some way, too. In comparative negligence states, you can still recover in most situations if both parties contributed to the accident.
  7. Do not contact or give a statement or documents to the other party's insurance company. You must speak to your own insurance company, but you are not obligated to do the same with any other insurance company. To do so could jeopardize your case. Either your attorney or your own insurance company can communicate with the other party's auto insurer.

How Much Will an Auto Accident Attorney Cost?

Here's another question where everyone wants to know how much they will have to pay -- many are reluctant because they are already financially vulnerable and hiring an attorney without the assurances of winning is a scary matter. One thing to consider is an attorney who takes on these cases on an hourly or contingency basis. At the Gauthier & Maier Law Firm, we only charge a fee if we collect money for you otherwise you owe us no money. Also, the complexity of your case may indicate steeper costs because expert testimony and other costs may be required.

Understanding Los Lunas, Belen, and Albuquerque Auto Insurance Adjusters

Auto insurance adjusters play an important role after a car accident, so you should know just who they are and how they operate. In short, adjusters are employees of insurance companies whose main job is to investigate accidents and determine what the liability of the insurance company is. The loyalty of the insurance adjuster lies with the company, not with you. One of the ways that insurance companies make money is by paying out as little as they are legally obligated to, and experienced auto insurance adjusters know how to do this.

Tactics Used by New Mexico Auto Insurance Adjusters

Becoming familiar with the tactics that auto insurance adjusters use while evaluating claims is the best way to avoid falling prey to them. While not an exhaustive list, a few of the more common tactics include the following:

Look for Inconsistencies

An insurance adjuster could ask for a very thorough recorded statement from you, which they will then meticulously comb through, looking for any details that suggest an inconsistency in your story, which subsequently might represent an out for the insurance company. For example, you might tell an adjuster that you only injured your arm in a crash, but later you find out you also sustained a concussion. They may then turn around and use this information to suggest that a different event caused your injuries as opposed to the accident.

Delay the Process or Avoid Contact

Depending on the case, some adjusters might attempt to delay the case as long as they can, hoping that you will begin to feel the pressure of unpaid bills piling up. The thought is that if your bills start piling up, you'll become desperate and willing to accept whatever offer they throw at you. In these instances, stand firm and continue to contact them, no matter how frustrating it becomes. 

Encourage a Rapid Settlement

On the other hand, adjusters may try to pressure to settle quickly in certain cases. This strategy might be used if the adjuster feels that you don't understand the full value of your claim, or that further investigation into it will uncover more damages that the insurance company could be liable for. Having the right attorney in your corner can ensure that you are taken care of in every situation.

How Can a New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Help?

For most accident victims, the world of personal injury law can be a new and scary place. Hiring the right attorney can help.

An experienced attorney from Gauthier & Maier Law Firm, P.C. will be able to properly value your claim to ensure that you don't accept a fast settlement offer and leave money on the table. We are familiar with the applicable laws in your case, which means that we can advise you on what insurance adjusters can and can't do. Ultimately, we will work with you and your family to make sure that you get the best settlement offer possible while handling all of the difficult negotiations. 

Personal injury lawyers can help in non-auto accident cases, too. Insurance adjusters are involved in all types of personal injury cases, like:

  • Dog bites
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Product liability
  • Reputational harm

What do I need to do to win my Car Accident Claim?

Fault is a critical element of car accidents, and its proof is necessary before a victim can be compensated for property damage or medical bills. Sometimes, more than one person is at fault, and that can further complicate matters. In fact, the victim filing a claim could have contributed to the accident in some way, and when that happens, it affects the total sum of compensation. So, fault in car accidents in New Mexico is important to understand because it determines how much a victim may receive.

At Gauthier & Maier Law Firm, P.C., our car accident attorney will review your case and follow up on any allegations of fault on your part. We take these matters seriously because we want to make sure you receive full and fair compensation for all the damages you suffered. Contact us today at 505-226-3205 to schedule a Free Consultation today.

Finding Fault: Elements of a Car Accident Claim in New Mexico?

There are two different types of insurance systems when it comes to claims following a car accident: fault and no-fault. 

Most states use a fault-based insurance system. This means the driver who caused the accident (or their insurer) is financially responsible for the other party's losses. 

While negligence laws vary between states, to establish fault in a car accident you generally need to show four elements:

  1. The other driver owed you a duty of care. 
  2. The other driver breached that duty of care.
  3. This breach caused your injuries.
  4. You suffered losses as a result of your injuries.

Evidence such as witness statements, police reports, photographs, medical reports, and receipts may support your claim to an at-fault driver's insurer or personal injury claim in court. 

How Is Fault Used as a Defense in New Mexico Car Accident Claims?

The issue of fault in a car accident is often not a black-and-white one. Both parties' actions may have contributed to it.

When you make a claim against an at-fault party's insurer or file a personal injury claim in court, insurance companies often allege your negligence contributed to the accident. This is to reduce their financial liability or even bar you completely from receiving any compensation.

Insurance companies do this by raising either contributory or comparative negligence. The defense available to them depends on the law of the relevant state.

Comparative Fault

Comparative fault, or comparative negligence, is a partial defense used in personal injury cases. If both parties were at fault for an accident, the court allocates their responsibility in terms of a percentage and apportions the damages accordingly. 

For example, one driver changes lanes suddenly without looking and is hit by a speeding driver. Both drivers are at fault. If the first driver files a personal injury claim and the court finds their actions contributed 40% to the accident, then their damages are reduced by 40%. 

New Mexico is a comparative fault state allowing you to recover even 1% of the overall claim. 

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is a full defense to a personal injury claim. Under the contributory negligence rule, a plaintiff is barred from recovering any damages if they contributed to the accident in any way. So even if a judge or jury finds the accident was only 1% the plaintiff's fault, they can't recover any of their financial losses. Luckily, New Mexico does not follow this standard but it is adopted in many states. 

What Types of Car Accidents Require a Finding of Fault

All types of car accidents require a finding of fault. That includes any type of auto accident involving:


Any car accident has the potential to be traumatizing, but those that involve children can be particularly devastating. Children are more susceptible to serious and long-term injuries. Younger children specifically are not yet fully developed and thus less protected against the impact they sustain in auto accidents. For this reason, it is critical to get fair and just compensation when a car accident involves children in New Mexico. Physical injuries that may take years to heal and mental health issues that may take even longer to solve deserve to be properly considered in any kind of settlement or jury verdict.

Are Car Accident Claims in New Mexico Different for Children?

When it comes to making a personal injury claim for a child involved in a car accident, the child usually has the same right to compensation as an adult. They can seek damages for medical expenses, loss of ability to earn an income, and pain and suffering. In certain situations, they can also seek punitive damages. 

However, there are some key differences between car accident claims for adults and those for children.

Firstly, minors cannot file their own personal injury claim. Instead, their parents or guardian must do so on their behalf. Alternatively, a child can wait until they reach the age of majority (usually 18 years of age) to file their own claim. 

There are also different procedural requirements for personal injury claims involving children. For example, in many jurisdictions, a judge must review and approve the settlement agreement. 

Injuries to Children from Car Accidents in New Mexico

The types of injuries commonly sustained by children in car accidents also differ from adults, which can impact the level of compensation they receive. As children's bodies are still developing, they are more prone to certain types of injuries. 

Common injuries in car accident cases involving children include those to the head or brain, spinal cord, and thoracic areas, as well as fractures and psychological trauma. 

Head or Brain Injuries

Head or brain injuries are one of the most common injuries sustained by children in car accidents, especially in children under one. Injuries of this nature can have serious, long-lasting impacts on a child's cognitive development and their ability to participate in school and other activities. 

Spinal Cord Injuries

Especially in babies and toddlers, the neck area is highly flexible. This makes the latter age group more susceptible to spinal cord injuries as a result of a car accident. 

Thoracic Injuries

In motor vehicle accidents, children under the age of one year have a higher chance of sustaining significant injuries to their heart and lungs as a result of a blow to the chest. Fractured ribs are another common injury. 


Given children's bones are still developing, they're more prone to fractures than adults. Depending on the location of the fracture, like a growth plate, there can be future issues in terms of growth and therapy.

Psychological Trauma

The trauma of a car accident can lead to ongoing psychological conditions in children, such as anxiety. These can require ongoing counseling or other treatment. 

Minors and the Statute of Limitations in New Mexico?

The statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim for a child involved in a car accident varies between states.

If a parent files a claim on behalf of their child, the state's standard limitation period for personal injury claims usually applies, starting from the date of the accident. 

However, when a minor wishes to file their own claim, many states delay the start of the statute of limitations until the child reaches the age of majority (often 18 years of age). 


If you are in a car accident in New Mexico, one thing you and the other driver typically do is share auto insurance information. This is especially true if you have been injured. But in a hit and run accident, the other party runs off before you or the police have a chance to identify them and/or obtain insurance information. These types of accidents are unfortunately very common.

Why Drivers in New Mexico Leave the Scene of a Crash

In the immediate aftermath of a car crash, a driver scared of the repercussions of causing an accident may flee the scene. Common reasons include: 

  • Driver's license suspension
  • Expired driver's license
  • No auto insurance
  • Driving a vehicle without permission
  • Driving a stolen vehicle
  • Warrant out for the driver's arrest
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or other chemical substance
  • Driver is in the country illegally

These are not the only reasons. For some people, they may have a genuine fear for their safety. Commercial drivers may fear the loss of their commercial driver's license (CDL). Whatever the reason, the problem for you is that they left the scene of the accident. 

What to Do After a Hit and Run Crash in New Mexico

Victims who have been hit by a driver who sped off should

  • Stay calm
  • Stay at the scene, but in a safe place
  • Call the police
  • Look for any witnesses who saw the crash and get their contact information
  • Take photos of the scene of the accident
  • Make notes of the car and/or driver, any details could be useful later

Victims should not try to follow the driver. The odds of tracking them down are extremely slim, and leaving the scene could make it more difficult to prove that there was a crash, at all.

Personal Injury Claims Involving Hit and Run Drivers

Because the driver fled the scene, tracking them down is the first step in a personal injury claim. When the person is found, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. Through this lawsuit, your attorney will negotiate a settlement in your favor or pursue trial if that's in your best interest.

Ways to find the person are many but specific to each case. There may have been cameras or eyewitnesses that can help lead to the car and/or driver. The police are following up on leads, too, and we communicate directly with the police, as appropriate. 

If the hit and run vehicle and driver are not found, you may have other options. For example, if you have uninsured motorist insurance. We will identify what those options might be, and if it is through your insurance company, we will work with the insurance adjuster directly. As you may know, even if it is your own insurance company, it does not mean your insurer has your best interests front and center of the claim. They worry about their profits and will try to minimize or avoid paying for some costs. As strategic negotiators, our hit and run lawyer will counter those attempts.

Contact an Auto Accident Lawyer in New Mexico Today

Auto accidents can be straightforward or complex. Regardless of which, it is in your best interests to speak to an auto accident attorney. At Gauthier & Maier Law Firm, P.C., we work hard for our clients to obtain fair and just compensation. Contact us using our online form or by calling us directly at 505-226-3205 to schedule a Free Consultation today.

Contact Us Today

Gauthier & Maier Law Firm is committed to answering your questions about Motor Vehicle Accidents, Medical Malpractice and Civil Rights law issues in New Mexico.

We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.