Important: We updated this article in August 2023; all the information below is current and correct. If you were hurt or got sick on the job in the Land of Enchantment, here’s the information you need to get the New Mexico workers’ compensation benefits you’re entitled to.
Who Gets New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
Pro Tip: Businesses operating on Native American reservations, pueblos, or tribal lands fall under the sovereign tribe’s legal purview.
State law requires New Mexico workers’ compensation coverage for all employers with at least three employees. This applies even if your company only employs one New Mexico worker but has 3+ total employees. Coverage starts on your first day at work, even if you’re a temporary, part-time or seasonal worker.
However, these workers are exempt from automatic coverage:
Am I Covered if I Get COVID?
In March 2021, the New Mexico House of Representatives passed House Bill 268. However, it must still pass the Senate before Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham can sign it into law. Until then, no one diagnosed with COVID-19 can presume they qualify for New Mexico workers’ compensation benefits.
Should I Hire a New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Hiring an experienced attorney can help you get the care and benefits you deserve. A lawyer can be especially helpful if you:
- Have any pre-existing health conditions.
- Test positive for drugs or alcohol after your workplace injury or accident. (Your employer has a legal right to test you.) Though they can’t fire you for testing positive, they can reduce your benefits by 90%.
How Does the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Claims Process Work?
Pro Tip: See a nurse or doctor immediately if you need emergency or urgent care. Tell them your case is work-related, provide your employer’s name, and keep all receipts and bills.
1. Report your workplace injury or illness in writing to your employer.
You must report a workplace injury or work-related disease or illness within 15 days or risk losing your right to New Mexico workers’ comp. Describe the accident or cause, including the time, date, place, other details, and any witnesses who saw it happen. (Only skip this step if your supervisor witnessed the accident that injured you.)
Pro Tip: If your injury is especially severe, the Workers’ Compensation Administration may grant you an extension to notify within 60 days.
2. Choose the first doctor to treat you and get care.
If you select your doctor for initial treatment, your employer can send you to see theirs after 60 days or require to you pay for ongoing medical care yourself. If they choose the initial provider and you’re not happy with the care you get, you can switch to your own after 60 days.
3. Make sure your employer notifies the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration.
They must do this in 72 hours to ensure your relevant medical bills are paid by the insurance company. Your employer’s insurer must approve or deny your claim within 10 business days.
4. Confirm time off to recover.
You must miss seven workdays to qualify for lost-wage benefits. Your first week off work remains unpaid until after a physician orders you to miss 28 days total. In 2023, you can get up to $987.16 in workers’ comp lost-wage payments.
Pro Tip: Less than half of the state’s claimants qualify for lost-wage payments (about 44%, on average).
5. Take action if you’re denied.
Contact your employer’s insurer or file a complaint with the WCA within 30 days. You have one year from your incident date to resolve a disputed claim through mediation or request a formal hearing.
Pro Tip: You may want to work with a New Mexico workers’ comp lawyer to help you get the benefits you deserve.
To learn more, read the Injured Workers Guidebook on the WCA website.
What Else Should I Know About New Mexico Workers’ Compensation?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzes workers’ comp data on most U.S. states and territories. The total number of recordable cases in the Land of Enchantment dropped from 20,100 in 2018 to a low of 16,800 in 2020 before ticking up to 17,800 in 2021. The number of claims reported in the service sector rose by 300 cases from 2018 to 2019. Since then, it has remained below pre-COVID levels. Service-industry employees file, on average, 3 of every 5 New Mexico workers’ compensation claims.
Most of these conditions aren’t serious enough to need time off work to recover. The total number of employees missing work, transferring jobs, or receiving restrictions dropped by 1,200 between 2018 and 2019, rebounded to 9,300 in 2020, and then slipped back to 9,000 in 2021.
Can I Get Free Legal Help with My New Mexico Workers’ Comp Claim?
When dealing with a work-related illness or injury, navigating the New Mexico workers’ compensation system can make your discomfort and frustration even worse.
A skilled lawyer can help you get maximum benefits paid faster. They’ll do a free, confidential claim evaluation. If they take your case, they can negotiate with insurers, gather medical evidence to support your claim and represent you at hearings.
If you don’t win a cash settlement, then you pay your attorney $0. But if your case is successful, you pay only a reasonable, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you qualify? Click the button below to sign up for a free phone call during regular weekday business hours:
Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a B2B & B2C content marketing agency that provides services for Fortune 100 brands, healthtech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. Twitter/X: @word_factory LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/margotlester.