Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Aug 12, 2014 in Auto Accidents
If you plan on driving in Mexico, be aware that the Mexican laws and procedures regarding car accidents are much different than those in the States. Before you travel in Mexico, make sure you are prepared in case of a car accident.
The Mexican government requires that all persons driving a car have a Mexican auto insurance policy. Before you drive, check with your auto insurance policy to see if you are covered for accidents in Mexico.
Additionally, check to make sure your auto insurance policy will be accepted as insurance in Mexicochances are, you will need to purchase a separate policy which complies with Mexican law. These insurance policies can be obtained through the internet or from insurance sellers at either side of the border for $10 to $15 dollars a day.
Many people who drive in Mexico for business and cross the border frequently stay within the Border Zone, or Free Zone. This area extends 12-18 miles from the U.S./Mexico border, and allows U.S. citizens to freely come back and forth without extensive visa or stay requirements, as long as your trip is less than 72 hours.
Keep in mind that even if your trip is short, you will still need insurance while driving in Mexico. If you are in an accident in the Border Zone, Mexican law will still apply.
It is very common, and legal, for Mexican authorities to arrest and detain anyone involved in an auto accident which involves physical injury or major property damage. In fact, if someone is injured in an accident, be prepared to spend time in jail while the Mexican authorities investigate the accident.
If the accident was not your fault, you will be released. If the accident was your fault, your vehicle will be impounded and you will be released from jail once you can prove that you are financially able to pay for any damages. Usually, this can be accomplished by providing proof of Mexican auto insurance or a cash payment, usually around $5,000.
If you do not have Mexican auto insurance, or if you committed a crime while driving (such as, driving recklessly or while intoxicated), you may have to spend much longer in jail while you wait for your case to be sorted out. If you do have Mexican auto insurance, your insurance adjuster will normally provide proof of your insurance to the police, and will help you bond out of jail. He or she may also call the U.S. Consulate for assistance if you have been charged with a crime.
Normally, auto accidents in Mexico are settled at the scene of the accident or shortly thereafter. Many people involved in accidents arrange for cash payments at the scene that will cover any damages to vehicles. If the accident involved serious property damage or injury, the victim of the accident will negotiate a settlement to cover the damage. The person who caused the accident will likely remain in jail until the terms of the settlement can be sorted out.
It is not common to file a lawsuit in the United States over an accident which occurred in Mexico, but it does happen. It is usually more lucrative for the victim to file a lawsuit here, because Mexican law does not allow a victim to recover special damage, like those for pain and suffering or missed work.
You may be able to sue in the United States if the parties insurance companies allow for foreign lawsuits. Additionally, if you rented a vehicle in Mexico, you will need also need to check the terms of your rental car policy. The majority of these insurance policies do not allow for people to sue in the United States, but some do.
It may be difficult to sustain a lawsuit in the U.S., especially if the other party is a Mexican citizen. The legal intricacies of filing and serving paperwork in a foreign country, and potential issues with the other party receiving authorization to enter the country means that most lawsuits here are difficult. In addition, trying to collect a judgment in a foreign country can also be almost impossible. As a result, most car accident cases are settled while both parties are still in Mexico.
If you have been injured in a car accident in Mexico, the Phoenix-based attorneys at Phillips Law Group can help you recover for your injuries. Our experienced Phoenix personal injury attorneys understand the interplay between these two countries legal systems, and will help you get the compensation you deserve.
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