When you enter a store, hotel or restaurant, you are putting your trust in the property owner. You have faith that they have kept their property clean and safe and that you will be free from unreasonable danger.
But what if you slip, trip or fall and get injured on the property? Can you hold the owner responsible for your medical expenses and other costs associated with your injury? If so, how?
A property owner’s duty of care
Under the law, property owners owe a duty to keep their premises reasonably safe for certain invitees and other members of the public. This means that, if they knew or should have known about a danger or hazard – such as spilled liquids on the floor, unsafe stair railings, large construction holes or unsafe areas – but failed to do anything about it, they could be liable if an injury occurred. This is referred to as premises liability.
New Mexico negligence laws
Unlike many other states, New Mexico applies the same rules to premises liability cases that they do to personal injury claims. New Mexico law uses the “pure comparative negligence” rule (sometimes called the “pure comparative fault” rule). This means that the court will compare the property owners fault to your fault (if any) in the incident when apportioning damages.
For example, after considering the evidence, the court finds you 20 percent at fault for your injuries and the property owner 80 percent at fault. If you are awarded $100,000, you would be able to recover $80,000 for your injuries.
Timeframes to file suit
It’s also important to note that injured parties have a window of time that they can file suit against the property owner and recover compensation. This is known as the statute of limitations period. In New Mexico, you have three years to begin your lawsuit. If you fail to take action within that timeframe, you will likely be barred from recovering any damages.
The sooner you take action to pursue damages for your slip, trip or fall, the easier it will be for your attorney to gather evidence, interview witnesses and prepare your case.