No, New Mexico is not a no-fault state. New Mexico is an at-fault (or “tort”) state, which means that the driver who causes an accident uses their insurance to pay for the other driver’s bills from the collision. Police and insurance companies use the available evidence to decide who is at fault for the accident. Then the at-fault driver’s insurance pays to cover the other driver’s damages. Depending on their coverage, they might have insurance for their own damages, too.
“Fault” can be shared by drivers – for example, one driver could be 20% responsible for an accident while the second driver is 80% responsible. New Mexico has pure comparative negligence laws. That means after an accident, you can collect damages proportionate to your fault in causing the crash. For example, if you're 99% at fault, you can get 1% from the other driver.
Why You Should Care That New Mexico is a Tort/Fault State
In tort states like New Mexico, medical coverage only pays out after fault has been determined. That means there are more legal hoops to jump through and a longer waiting period before fault is decided and a driver can get reimbursed. This type of system has other implications for drivers, too, including some that vary by state due to nuances in local car insurance laws.
Here’s what tort insurance means for New Mexico drivers:
- Tort insurance is typically cheaper than car insurance in no-fault states.
- Drivers can sue the at-fault party for almost any type of loss after their collision. This includes lost wages, emotional distress, and hospital bills that exceed the at-fault driver’s coverage.
- You can collect accident damages in proportion to your fault in the accident.
- New Mexico has a statute of limitations of 3 years after a car accident. That means you have 3 years from the time of the car accident to sue the at-fault driver, or vice versa.
New Mexico vs. Other Tort/Fault States
|State ||New Mexico ||Nevada ||Arizona |
|Average Car Insurance Premium ||$497 per year ||$874 per year ||$720 per year |
|Statute of Limitations ||3 years ||2 years ||2 years |
|Rank Among Tort States (1 = cheapest) ||16 ||40 ||34 |
Note: Rates are an approximation based on a New Mexico driver with minimum coverage and a clean driving record. Actual rates will vary.
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