What To Do if You’re in a Car Accident Without Insurance but Not At Fault in New Mexico

If you’re involved in an accident in New Mexico while uninsured, the consequences can be pretty severe—even if you’re not at fault.
Written by Amber Reed
Reviewed by Brittni Brinn
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If you’re involved in an accident and you don’t have
car insurance in New Mexico
, you’ll face some serious penalties. If you’re not at fault, you’ll be able to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company—but you won’t be off the hook for driving uninsured. 
New Mexico may be the Land of Enchantment, but you know what’s not super charming in any locale? Car accidents. And if you don’t have any car insurance, it’s going to be even less pleasant. 

What to do if you’re in a car accident without insurance in New Mexico and not at fault

It’s against the law to drive without car insurance—you must comply with the New Mexico car insurance requirements to legally hit the road. If you’re not only caught uninsured but also in an accident, it’s going to make a bad situation even worse. But if it does happen, here’s what you need to remember.
First and foremost, stay at the scene. Even though you’re facing some penalties by not having any insurance, you’ll be dealing with much worse if you add
hit-and-run
charges to the situation.
Even if you’re completely faultless, it’s still a serious crime to leave the scene of an accident in New Mexico. 
Depending on the results of the accident, a hit and run can either be a misdemeanor or a felony in New Mexico. Additionally, there are additional penalties if you knowingly failed to stop. Here’s how the potential punishment breaks down: 
  • Vehicle damage only: Misdemeanor, $1,000 fine, up to one year in jail
  • Serious injury or death: 4th-degree felony, $5,000 fine, 18 months in jail
  • Serious injury and knowingly failed to stop: 3rd-degree felony, $5,000 fine, three years in jail
  • Death and knowingly failed to stop: 3rd-degree felony, $5,000 fine, six years in jail
So no matter what, stay where you are. If you can, move your car to a safe area and make sure that you, your passengers, and anyone else involved are uninjured. If needed, call 911 and give first aid
Take the time to thoroughly document the accident while things are still fresh in your mind. Make some notes, take pictures, and talk to witnesses. Good documentation is a key component of proving that you weren’t at fault. 
If you were not at fault and the other driver is insured, then you can file a claim with their insurance company for your vehicular damages and medical bills, even if you’re uninsured. 

Who decides fault in a car accident in New Mexico?

It seems a little odd when you think about it, but the insurance companies decide who is at fault in a car accident. If law enforcement arrives at the scene, they’ll issue any tickets and report their findings—but they don’t ultimately decide who’s to blame. 
This is why it’s critical to get thorough documentation of the accident as it can be used to help prove that you weren’t at fault. So again—make notes, take pictures, and gather as much evidence as you can as quickly as possible. 

Do you need to report a car accident in New Mexico? 

Not always. If no one was hurt or injured and there was less than $500 of damage done, then you don’t have to report the accident—but you do still have to stay on the scene. 
If the accident resulted in death, injury, or property damages of more than $500, then you are required to call the appropriate law enforcement agency immediately. Additionally, you’re also required to file a report of the accident with the New Mexico Department of Transportation within five days. 

What if you’re at fault?

If you’re uninsured and at fault, the consequences are pretty dire—both legally and financially.
Because New Mexico is a
pure comparative negligence state
, you’ll be financially responsible for your portion of the other driver’s damages, and that driver can file a lawsuit against you to recover these damages if you are without insurance.  

What if you’re hit by an uninsured driver in New Mexico?

So, what happens if you do have insurance, but the other driver doesn’t? If they’re at fault and uninsured, then your only recourse is to sue them for your damages—and that’s a process that can be both expensive and extremely frustrating. 
It’s not that far out of the realm of possibility, too. A recent study showed that New Mexico is one of the worst states in the nation for uninsured drivers, with 21.6% of people on the road with no coverage. That’s more than one in five!
That’s why it’s a good idea to have
uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in New Mexico
. With this policy, your medical bills will still be paid for even if the at-fault driver doesn’t have any (or enough) car insurance. 
Need to know: This is required coverage in some states, but not New Mexico—though they are required to offer it. New Mexico car insurers must also offer uninsured motorist property damage. These aren’t mandatory, but you do have to decline them in writing. 

Penalties for driving without insurance in New Mexico

While not having any car insurance doesn’t mean you can’t file for damages, it does mean that you’ll have some serious consequences for driving uninsured.
  • If you’re caught driving uninsured and you’ve been involved in an accident, then law enforcement officers can immediately confiscate your license plates—even if you’re not at fault
  • If it’s your first time getting caught driving uninsured, then you’re looking at a $300 fine and/or 90 days in jail
  • If you’re caught a second time, the fine jumps to $1,000 and you’re looking at six months in jail plus license and registration suspension.
New Mexico also requires you to have an
SR-22 certificate
if you’re caught driving uninsured. Essentially, it’s proof of financial responsibility that you’ll have to carry on top of the required insurance. These are expensive to get—and depending on the circumstances, you might have to have one for several years. 
If you have car insurance but just don’t have the proof on you, then you can potentially avoid these consequences. You'll need to provide proof of insurance to the MVD within 15 days. New Mexico is transitioning to an online system called the Insurance Identification Database (IIDB) and you are legally required to keep an active insurance record on file with it. 
Pro Tip As an extra measure of protection, keep your
proof of insurance in your phone
—it’s easy and handy with the
Jerry
app! 

Minimum required car insurance in New Mexico

By now, it should be abundantly clear that you can’t afford to not have car insurance in New Mexico. But how much insurance do you need? Here’s what
New Mexico insurance requirements
include: 
Expert take: Considering the high cost of medical expenses in the US, it's a good idea to increase your coverage to $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident for bodily injury liability, and $100,000 for property damage liability.
It’s important to note that New Mexico’s insurance requirements only protect other drivers in the event of an accident where you’re at fault. It’s a savvy move to purchase a full-coverage insurance policy. This includes
collision coverage
, which protects your car in any kind of collision, and
comprehensive coverage
, which covers losses from things like theft, vandalism, and damage caused by severe weather or natural disasters. 

Driving without insurance can increase premiums

Last but not least, getting
caught driving with no car insurance
ensures that your insurance rates will be much higher from that point on. Any kind of violation has the potential to raise your insurance rate until it drops off your driving record, which usually takes several years. 
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Jerry
saved me over $2000 on car insurance. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.” —Osvaldo B. 
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