Hobbs Hit-and-Run Attorney
In the busy city of Hobbs, New Mexico, where the roads are as dynamic as its people, an accident can happen at any moment, especially on the road. Imagine a day like any other, where you’ve just finished picking up supplies from McCoy’s Building Supply, a well-known spot in Hobbs, and as you carefully drive out of the parking lot, you suddenly get T-boned by a speeding driver. In a whirlwind of confusion and chaos, the person who hit you, possibly uninsured, flees the scene, leaving you with various emotions and unanswered questions.
Or picture a casual lunch at Buffettime, a popular restaurant with the locals, after which a routine drive down N. Turner Street turns harrowing as you get broadsided, your car spinning out of control until it crashes into a telephone pole. In these seconds, the driver responsible for the accident disappears without a trace.
Such accidents are not just physically damaging but also emotionally traumatizing. You end up with a damaged vehicle, possible injuries, and an overwhelming sense of injustice. The need for a knowledgeable and compassionate Hobbs hit-and-run lawyer becomes paramount in these critical moments. The Law Office of W. Shane Jennings, deeply rooted in the Hobbs, New Mexico community, understands the unique challenges and legal nuances that victims of hit-and-run accidents face in this region. With their expertise, they aim to guide you through the legal labyrinth, ensuring your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you deserve.
After a hit-and-run in Hobbs, New Mexico, it can be daunting. You might find yourself struggling with questions about medical expenses, car repairs, and the complexities of insurance claims, all while dealing with the emotional impact of being a victim of this type of accident. A hit-and-run accident attorney in Hobbs at The Law Office of W. Shane Jennings steps in as your advocate and ally, offering expert legal advice and a thorough understanding of New Mexico’s traffic laws and insurance policies. We commit ourselves to providing personalized care and support, helping you recover financially and emotionally.
Are Hit-and-Run Crashes Common in Hobbs, New Mexico?
According to data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, New Mexico is one of the top three states for reported hit-and-run accidents in the United States. In 2017, there were 737,100 crashes in the United States, with 138,500 injuries and 1,819 fatalities. Additionally, pedestrians were the highest number of deaths in these types of accidents, with every 1 in 5 hit-and-run accidents involving them.
Additionally, since 2006, research showed that the number of hit-and-run accidents each year has an upward trend. More troubling, the percentage of accidents with fatalities where the driver flees is also rising, and it reached a high of 5.5%. Considering accidents where pedestrians are victims, this figure jumps to 20.5%.
In Lea County, where Hobbs is, the top causes of hit-and-run accidents include driver inattention, failure to yield to the right of way, following too closely, improper turns, excessive speed, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Why Do Drivers Leave the Scene of An Accident?
Drivers leave the scene of an accident for various reasons, often fear or other complicating factors. Here are some key reasons:
- Fear of Legal Repercussions: The most common reason for fleeing is fear of facing legal consequences. This is especially true if the driver caused the accident or if there are serious injuries or property damage. The fear of legal repercussions can be overwhelming, prompting the driver to escape rather than confront the situation.
- Outstanding Legal Issues: Some drivers may already have outstanding legal problems, such as warrants for their arrest for unrelated crimes. Being involved in an accident might lead to their apprehension about these existing legal issues, so they flee to avoid this possibility.
- Driving Under the Influence: If a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may leave the accident scene to avoid DUI charges. The penalties for DUI can be severe, including hefty fines, loss of driving privileges, and even imprisonment.
- Lack of Valid Driver’s License: Some individuals involved in accidents may not have a valid driver’s license. This could be because their license is expired or suspended, or they never got one issued. Fear of getting penalized for driving without a license can prompt them to flee.
- Immigration Concerns: In cases where the driver is an undocumented immigrant, there is a fear of deportation if they are found at the scene of an accident. This fear can override their judgment, leading to a hit-and-run situation.
- Uninsured Drivers: Some drivers may not have insurance because they cannot afford it or have chosen not to purchase it. The financial implications of being involved in an accident without insurance can be devastating, leading them to escape the scene to avoid financial liability.
- Panic or Confusion: In some cases, drivers may simply panic or become confused, especially if inexperienced or young. This panic can cause them to make a hasty decision to leave the scene without fully understanding the consequences of their actions.
Despite these reasons, leaving the scene of an accident is illegal. It leaves victims without immediate assistance and complicates the legal process. A Hobbs’s hit-and-run accident lawyer plays a crucial role in such scenarios. They help victims go through the legal system, gather evidence, and deal with insurance companies. In unsuccessful negotiations, a legal representative can represent the victim in court, fighting for fair compensation and justice for their injuries, pain, and suffering.
How Are Damages Covered in a Hit-and-Run in Hobbs, New Mexico?
In the event of a hit-and-run accident in Hobbs, New Mexico, specific procedures and insurance coverages can help victims cover the damages incurred.
Firstly, it’s essential to understand that New Mexico law requires all drivers involved in an accident to remain at the scene, provide necessary aid, and exchange information with other parties involved. Fleeing the scene, which constitutes a hit-and-run, is a criminal offense and can result in severe penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and revocation of driver’s license. The severity of the penalties depends on the extent of the injuries or damages caused by the accident.
If you’re a victim of a hit-and-run, your ability to recover compensation largely depends on whether the at-fault driver eventually gets identified and whether they have insurance. If the driver is found and insured, you or your hit-and-run lawyer in Hobbs can file a claim against their liability insurance for damages such as property damage, medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
However, you may need to rely on your insurance coverage if the at-fault driver remains unidentified or is uninsured. This is where uninsured motorist coverage can be crucial. If you have this optional coverage, it can cover expenses for injuries and damages. Additionally, collision coverage can pay for the damage to your vehicle, and MedPay can cover injuries up to the policy limits. It’s important to note that these coverages are optional in New Mexico. If you only carry the minimum insurance required by law, you might have to pay for the accident-related costs out of pocket until the at-fault driver is found.
In any case of a hit-and-run, it’s vital to report the accident to law enforcement and your insurance company as soon as possible. Documenting the scene and gathering as much information as possible can help the investigation and support your insurance claim. Also, seeking medical attention immediately after the accident is crucial for your health, as well as having medical documentation linking your injuries to the accident.
It’s also advisable to consult with a hit-and-run accident attorney. A hit-and-run accident lawyer in Hobbs can guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights, assist in filing insurance claims, and negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you receive fair compensation. They can also represent you in legal proceedings to pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault party if necessary.
Is Fleeing the Scene of an Accident a Crime in the State of New Mexico?
Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime in the State of New Mexico, as outlined by several statutes:
- Stopping Your Vehicle Immediately: As per N.M. Stat. § 66-7-201, any driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death is legally required to stop their vehicle and remain at the accident scene.
- Duty to Give Information and Render Aid: N.M. Stat. § 66-7-203 mandates that drivers involved in accidents causing injury or death give their name, address, vehicle registration number, and driver’s license to the other party. Also, they have a legal obligation to give reasonable assistance to any injured people, which may include arranging for or providing transportation to a hospital if necessary or requested.
- Provide Immediate Notice of the Accident: Under N.M. Stat. § 66-7-206, anyone involved in a car accident that causes injury or death must notify the police as quickly as possible through the most immediate means of communication available.
- Submit a Written Report: If the police do not respond to the scene, N.M. Stat. § 66-7-207 requires the involved parties to submit a written report of the accident within five days. However, if police are present and file a police report, they must submit their report within 24 hours following the accident.
These laws are designed to ensure that all parties involved in an accident get the necessary help and that all relevant details get documented for legal and insurance purposes. Failing to follow these obligations, mainly fleeing the scene without fulfilling these duties, is a criminal offense and can result in serious legal consequences.
What Is My Hit-And-Run Claim in Hobbs Worth?
The value of a hit-and-run claim in Hobbs, New Mexico, or any other location can vary significantly based on several factors. While it’s a common misconception that the average settlement for a hit-and-run claim might be less than that of a typical car accident, this is not necessarily true. The worth of your hit-and-run claim could be comparable to a standard car accident claim in Hobbs, depending on the specific circumstances of your case.
Key Factors Affecting Claim Value
Having an experienced Hobbs hit-and-run accident lawyer on your side will help you get the best outcome and understand the factors determining your compensation amount. They include:
- Nature of Injuries and Damages: The extent and severity of injuries and property damage are crucial in determining the settlement value. More severe injuries and significant property damage generally result in higher compensation.
- Medical Expenses: All past and future medical bills related to the accident should be covered. This includes hospitalization, surgery, medication, rehabilitation, and long-term medical care.
- Lost Wages and Earning Capacity: If the accident has led to a loss of income or affects your future earning capacity, the settlement should account for these losses.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for pain and suffering includes the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the accident.
- Insurance Coverage: The coverage limits of your uninsured, underinsured, or comprehensive insurance can influence the amount you can recover.
- Possibility of Third-Party Claims: In some cases, you might file a claim against a third party, like the city, for a dangerous roadway or an auto manufacturer for a defective car part, which can also affect the settlement amount for you car accident lawsuit in Hobbs, NM.
Average Settlement Values
- The average car accident settlement ranges between $10,000 and $25,000, but it can vary widely.
- In more severe cases, settlements can range from $50,000 to $100,000 or even higher.
Liability Coverage vs. UIM Coverage in New Mexico
In New Mexico, understanding the distinction between liability coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage is crucial, particularly in hit-and-run accidents.
Liability coverage, which typically includes bodily injury liability and property damage liability, is generally required by state law. This type of insurance is primarily designed to protect you financially if you are at fault in an accident. It covers the damages you may cause to another person, paying for their medical expenses and property damage. However, in the case of an accident where you are not at fault, such as a hit-and-run, you would rely on the other person’s liability coverage for compensation. If the at-fault party is unknown or uninsured, your liability coverage will not cover your damages. This highlights a significant limitation of liability coverage in situations where the at-fault driver cannot be held responsible or identified.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
UM/UIM coverage is beneficial when the at-fault driver lacks sufficient insurance coverage or is entirely uninsured. This type of coverage is essential for protection in incidents like hit-and-runs, where the responsible party’s insurance information is unavailable. UM/UIM coverage can cover bodily harm and property damage up to a specified limit due to the accident. It protects your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage costs, and pain and suffering, especially when the at-fault driver’s liability insurance is insufficient or non-existent.
- Only Minimum Liability Coverage: If you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident on I-40 and only have the minimum liability coverage without UM/UIM coverage, you’ll be financially responsible for your medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage unless the at-fault driver is found and they have adequate liability coverage.
- Liability Coverage and UM/UIM Coverage: Having liability and UM/UIM coverage offers more protection. In the same hit-and-run scenario, your UM/UIM coverage would cover your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage costs, and pain and suffering up to your selected coverage limit. This can provide significant financial relief in such stressful situations.
Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Hobbs, New Mexico
In the complex and often challenging realm of car accident litigation in Hobbs, New Mexico, W. Shane Jennings stands out as an experienced and dedicated lawyer. His commitment to advocating for his clients’ rights and securing fair compensation is evident in his approach to each case, making him a reliable choice for those seeking legal representation after a car accident.
In addition to Hobbs, W. Shane Jennings serves Las Cruces, Llano, TX, and more.