Tips for victims and perpetrators
Stay informed and protect your rights with our comprehensive guide to New Mexico's hit-and-run laws. This article offers insights into state statistics, legal obligations, penalties, and crucial steps to take if involved in a hit-and-run accident in NM.
Traffic accidents are an unfortunate reality of driving in New Mexico, but when the responsible party flees the scene of the accident, the situation becomes even more distressing.
Also known as a “hit-and-run,” fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime in New Mexico. This article provides an overview of New Mexico’s hit-and-run laws, as well as advice on what to do if you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident.
Hit-and-run statistics in New Mexico
When the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed hit-and-run statistics, it found that New Mexico had the highest number of fatal hit-and-run crashes per 100,000 people in the nation.
In New Mexico, hit-and-run crashes account for 17 to 19 percent of all crashes each year.
|New Mexico hit-and-run statistics|
|Year||Fatal crash||Injury crash||Property damage only||Total hit-and-run||Total crashes||Percent hit-and-run|
|Source: New Mexico Department of Transportation|
New Mexico hit-and-run laws
Pursuant to New Mexico Statutes Section 66-7-201, you must do three things following a crash to avoid a hit-and-run charge:
- Stop your vehicle at the scene of the accident (or as close to the scene as possible),
- Provide your name, address, insurance company, insurance policy number, and vehicle license number to any person involved in the crash, and
- Render reasonable assistance to anyone injured.
If you collide with an unoccupied vehicle, you must do the following:
- Stop your vehicle at the scene of the accident, and
- Locate the owner of the property or leave a written note providing your name and contact information.
What are the penalties for a hit-and-run in New Mexico?
A hit-and-run is a crime in New Mexico. The penalties you face depend on the nature of the crash:
|Hit-and-run penalties in New Mexico|
|Type of crash||Charge||Jail||Fine|
|Property-damage only||Misdemeanor||Less than 1 year||$1,000|
|Serious bodily injury or death||Fourth-degree felony||3 years||$5,000|
What should I do if I fled the scene of an accident?
Leaving the site of an accident is unquestionably the incorrect choice. However, people sometimes make mistakes. There are numerous explanations for why one might leave an accident scene, including:
- Fear of confronting the victim
- Fear of the financial or legal consequences
- Failure to realize you hit something
If you flee the scene of an accident, the law requires that you immediately call the nearest police station and report the accident. Doing so might not save you from a hit-and-run conviction, but it’s the right thing to do, and it may result in you receiving a lesser sentence than if law enforcement tracks you down.
How do I recover damages after a hit-and-run accident?
Recovering damages following a hit-and-run accident in New Mexico can be tricky.
If you have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, it will typically cover hit-and-run accidents.
If your damages exceed your UM coverage (or you don’t have UM coverage), you’ll need to file a lawsuit against the hit-and-run driver. Obviously, filing a lawsuit against the hit-and-run driver requires that the police or your attorney are able to track down the driver.
Five FAQs about hit-and-run accidents in New Mexico
Let’s take a look at some questions about hit-and-run accidents that we haven’t addressed yet:
This depends on your policy and insurer, but generally speaking, claims made under your UM coverage don’t increase your premiums.
The hit-and-run driver will face additional penalties for failing to carry insurance. For the victim, compensation will need to come from the victim’s UM coverage or as a result of a lawsuit against the hit-and-run driver.
While it’s not required, hiring a personal injury lawyer is typically a good idea if you suffered an injury in a hit-and-run crash. Learn more about when to hire a personal injury attorney.
If you’re able to identify the hit-and-run driver, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the driver, otherwise, your claim will be forever barred.
It’s never a good idea to chase after the hit-and-run driver. Doing so puts you and others at risk. Instead, call the police and tell them everything you can about the hit-and-run vehicle.
Being informed about your rights and responsibilities on the road can make a big difference when navigating the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident. Reach out to an experienced car accident attorney if you need additional help.