How Punitive Damages Work in New Mexico

When you are injured in a car crash, ‘damages’ is the catch-all term that is used to categorize the factors that will make a victim whole again, or as they were financially before the car crash. Some of these factors include injuries, medical bills, lost time at work, and pain and suffering, among other things. These are known as compensatory damages

In New Mexico, in addition to compensatory damages, you may also be entitled to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to do exactly what the word sounds like: to punish the person who injured you.

To receive an award of punitive damages, the injured person must prove that the defendant was reckless, or intentionally intended to injure another. In New Mexico, the burden of proof for punitive damages is extremely high, making punitive conduct difficult to prove. 

When litigating our personal injury cases, the attorneys at Keller & Keller often assert a claim for punitive damages on behalf of our clients. However, a jury award of punitive damages is rare, due to the high burden of proof with regard to the defendant’s actions. Some examples of reckless or intentional conduct include driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a history of dangerous or unsafe driving, running a red light or stop sign, and speeding, among other things. 

How We've Helped Our New Mexico Clients With Punitive Damages two people exchanging information after new mexico crash

We recently won our clients a large monetary settlement in New Mexico where punitive damages came into play. In that case, a semi-truck crashed into our clients on the interstate, causing severe injuries and property loss to our clients. In building the case for trial, our attorneys discovered that the driver of the semi-truck had a record of prior crashes and dangerous driving behavior.

Our attorneys made a record of this with the Court by questioning the driver of the semi-truck under oath, getting him to admit that he was a dangerous driver and that his employer allowed him to remain behind the wheel. The driver’s insurance company understood the risk that a jury would be likely to award punitive damages in this case and factored that into settlement negotiations. The case was settled shortly thereafter. 

When you are injured in a car crash, our New Mexico injury attorney will work hard to find every possible type of damage under New Mexico law to maximize your recovery. While punitive damages are relatively rare, our attorneys at Keller & Keller help clients to ensure that if there is a claim for punitive damages, that claim is made, and pursued to the fullest extent of the law. 

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