In order to establish negligence in New Mexico, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty, that the defendant breached that duty, and harm or injury to the plaintiff was proximately caused by the defendant’s breach of duty.
Pure Comparative Negligence
New Mexico abandoned the doctrine of contributory negligence and adopted the doctrine of pure comparative negligence in Scott v. Rizzo. Pure comparative negligence means a plaintiff is able to recover from a defendant whose negligence contributed to his injuries, even if a trier of fact finds that the plaintiff contributed to his own injuries. A plaintiff’s contributory negligence does not bar his recovery altogether, but does serve to reduce his damages in proportion to his apportioned fault. Thus, while the doctrine of comparative fault considers the plaintiff’s own negligence when determining the liability arising from an injury, it abandons the all-or-nothing approach of contributory negligence.
For example, if a court finds that a plaintiff’s negligence was even as high as 99%, and a defendant’s fault was found to have been 1%, the plaintiff will still be able to recover 1% of the total damage award rendered by the court.
Joint & Several Liability
Per New Mexico Statute Sec. 41-3A-1, New Mexico has abolished joint and several liability amongst joint tortfeasors unless one of the statutorily defined exceptions apply. Otherwise, defendants are severally liable in all other cases in proportion to their percentage of fault under the pure comparative fault system.
Where one defendant has paid more than their pro-rata share of liability that defendant has the right to seek contribution against any other joint defendant who has not paid their proportional share.
Compensatory damages are awarded by a court to compensate the plaintiff for injuries suffered as a result of the negligence of the defendant(s). The award is meant to restore the plaintiff – as much as possible – to the condition they were in prior to the injury occurring.
Actual damages are meant to reimburse the plaintiff for out-of-pocket expenses for items such as medical expenses. General damages may also be awarded for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of opportunity, and loss of future income.
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant rather than to compensate the plaintiff. In New Mexico, punitive damages are only awarded when the defendant’s behavior was deemed by a court to be either reckless or intentional.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in New Mexico. Should you have a question/concern specific to New Mexico law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of New Mexico.