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Liability Exposure in Mexico
In most Mexican States, liability exposure in Mexico is much less significant than in the U.S. and Canada. In general, your liability for damages and injuries done to other parties is much more limited in Mexico, than it is in Canada.
Types of Damage
In the event of an automobile accident, liability is broken down into two components: First, actual damages are based on the actual value of the other party's automobile, property, medical expenses, and/or loss of wages. Second, "moral damages" are roughly equivalent to the US concept of pain and suffering and which in most Mexican states is limited to a fraction (often a third) of the actual damages. Recently, some states have adopted a new precedent which allows a judge to set damages at his/her discretion, based on the surrounding facts of the case, and therefore for all practical purposes removes set limits on moral damages.
Difference Between Civil and Criminal Liability
Liability cases in Mexico may be tried under civil or criminal law. Criminal liability differs from civil liability in that damages in a criminal case may not be subject to the limits that exist in civil liability cases. Also, in a criminal case, an accident victim does not have to hire a lawyer to seek damages, the lawyer is appointed by the public prosecutor. For both of these reasons, it is preferable to seek damages as a criminal case rather than a civil case.
How Much May You Be Liable For in A Civil Case?
While in some Mexican states (such as the D.F. and Chihuahua) liability law is growing closer in severity to that of the US, most states, are still very lenient in terms of liability exposure. In an accident that occurs in which you are at fault and there is a fatality involved, the damages you may be liable for are:
Damage to the other party's vehicle, most likely limited to actual cash value of the vehicle at the time of the accident.
- Damage to any other property, such as other vehicles.
- Medical Expenses (including hospitalization, medication, ambulance etc.), these are most likely much less expensive than in the USA.
- Funeral Expenses
- Economic Damages for wrongful death, these are basically based on the Canadian notion of loss of wage, and are based on the minimum daily wage ($3.50) over 2 years (730 days) times some multiplier (2 - 4). In Baja, this would be: $3.50 X 730 X 2= $5,110.
- Moral Damages which are no greater than 1/3 of the total physical, medical, and economic damages.
While the limits of liability are much less in Mexico than in Canada, this is changing. The trend is towards more discretionary limits imposed on a case-by-case basis. In terms of insurance coverage, even though the costs for potential liability may be less in Mexico than what we are accustomed to in the US, it is still very important to have adequate coverage. In general, $100,000 liability Combined Single Limit (CSL) should be adequate, but there is always the potential that damages could be greater, and that you would be responsible for what the insurance doesn't cover.
Disclaimer - The following information is provided as a general and informative background to Mexico, and should not be considered legal advice or your sole source of infromation. Mexbound.com assumes no liability for any reliance on information provided. Laws and policies change, wherever possible you are encouraged to seek Legal counsel for up to date information. No attorney or client relationship is intended or created by this information.