According to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, 40 percent of all fatal traffic crashes in New Mexico involve alcohol. This statistic is staggering. The New Mexico government has made serious efforts to reduce the number of intoxicated drivers on the roadway and though they have made progress, it continues to be an issue.
What some people don’t understand is that if you are unfortunately involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver, there will be both a criminal and civil pursuit against the driver. These pursuits are completely separate from each other and have very different results. Ideally, the criminal pursuit results in justice for the victim by adequately punishing the offender, and the civil pursuit results in monetary recovery for the victim’s injuries.
Criminal Prosecution Can Result in Still Penalties for the Offender
In New Mexico there are harsh penalties for drinking and driving. The result of a drinking and driving can lead to life altering injuries for the victim, it can also lead to consequences for the offender. Drinking and driving can result in jail time, fines, mandatory DWI educational programs, ignition interlock devices, and more. However, first offenses are often treated differently than second or third offenses. If a drunk driving accident results in bodily injury, the charge is automatically elevated to an aggravated DWI and mandatory jail time. Learn more about DWI punishment in New Mexico here.
A Personal Injury Claim Is Needed to Recover Compensation for Your Injuries
The district attorney who handles the criminal prosecution is not seeking compensation for the injuries to you or your family. Instead, they are seeking to enforce New Mexico’s DWI laws. Therefore, in order for a victim to recover for their bodily injury claim, a civil pursuit is necessary.
In New Mexico, you are entitled to recover for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The value of your personal injury claim will be determined based on the severity of your injury and medical documentation. Remember that early investigation is key and it is never too soon to contact a personal injury attorney.
Punitive Damages in New Mexico
New Mexico law allows for punitive damages. Punitive damages mean monetary recovery exceeding compensatory damages with the purpose of punishing or reforming the defendant. In order to pursue punitive damages in New Mexico, the defendant’s actions must be highly reckless or intentional. There are circumstances where drunk driving meets the threshold for pursuing punitive damages in New Mexico.
Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney to Handle Your Claim
If you want to ensure that you receive a fair recovery for your injury, it is important that you hire an attorney who has experience. The attorneys at Keller & Keller, LLP have years of experience representing victims of DWI accidents and have had success pursuing punitive damages awards. Our zero fee guarantee means that anyone can afford to hire Keller & Keller.