When individuals are injured or killed in an accident that was the fault of another party or parties, there are many hurdles that they or their families must overcome before they can be compensated for the injuries they endured. When there is only one culpable party involved, the case may be more straightforward, but often there are multiple parties that may be held liable. This may be because they were directly or proximately responsible.
New Mexico law follows the theory of contribution in these joint and several liability actions. These at-fault parties have the right to contribution, which allows them to only be responsible to the victim for the part that they actually played in the accident. In these cases, the victim will only be entitled to damages relative to the amount of fault for which the specific tortfeasor was responsible. They will need to collect separately from each responsible party. Under New Mexico law, if the plaintiff is found to have partly caused their own injuries, they will not be barred from recovery, but instead their recovery will be lessened relative to their percentage of fault.
As is the norm across jurisdictions, there are some very specific exceptions to the rule discussed above. First, this does not apply to intentional tortfeasors, vicariously liable defendants, some product liability cases, and even some cases involving inherently dangerous activities. It is important that individuals involved in these types of cases contact an experienced and dedicated attorney to help them understand their rights.