N.M. Supreme Court Ruling Reopens Closed Auto Claims

N.M. Drivers are Owed Millions in Denied Claims

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Tens of thousands of New Mexico drivers who settled auto-injury claims involving uninsured or under-insured motorists since 2004 are entitled to reopen those claims and may receive more money, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled.

“The court’s ruling means that New Mexico drivers are owed millions of dollars by their auto-insurance companies,” said Jeffrey S. Trespel, an attorney with Will Ferguson & Associates, an Albuquerque personal-injury law firm.  Trespel was part of a team of elite plaintiff’s lawyers that worked to obtain the precedent-setting ruling.

“It is highly likely that many folks who settled an injury claim for the UM “policy limits” in the last few years are owed more money than they received,” Trespel said.  “We stand ready to assist anyone in need of legal counsel to re-open those cases and collect money they are owed.”

Amounts owed to individual auto-insurance customers can range from $25,000 to $250,000 and upwards, depending on the seriousness of the injury and the amount of coverage, Trespel said.

Following the court’s ruling, main-line insurance companies, including State Farm, New Mexico’s leading insurer, began sending notices to their customers alerting them that they may be owed more money.

Some smaller non-standard companies that advertise to New Mexico’s low-income drivers and generally compete on price, however, are resisting compliance with the court’s ruling.

In the case that opened the door to retroactive payments, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that insurance companies that sold uninsured and under-insured (UM) motorist coverage did not fully explain to their customers the effect of selecting UM coverage limits lower than their basic liability coverage.

The sales practices led UM coverage to become essentially worthless in many circumstances. “It was the insurance equivalent of a car dealer selling worthless underbody rust protection,” Trespel said.

“They misled insureds during the sale and collected premiums on the coverage.  Then, when the customer was involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist or under-insured motorist, the companies calculated the coverage amount to the customer’s detriment,” Trespel said.

The Court’s ruling means that New Mexico UM claims settled for “policy limits” since roughly May 2004 may be revisited.  The chance of recovery may be greater if an aggrieved insured obtains legal counsel, Trespel said.

New Mexico motorists who think they may be owed money and who are not currently represented by counsel should call Will Ferguson & Associates/

The Will Ferguson & Associates Law Firm represents people seriously injured by the negligence of others and the families of persons who die because of the negligence of others. For more information, contact Will Ferguson & Associates, (505) 243-5566 or 1 (800) 251-5566. Will Ferguson & Associates maintains two offices in Albuquerque and an office in Amarillo, Texas, to serve families and people injured in Texas. That office is at 2901 I-40 West, Amarillo, Texas 79109. The Amarillo phone number is 806-374-4024.