September 26, 2015

New Mexico Driver and Passenger Killed in Wrong-Way Crash

Earlier this month, two people were killed at the scene of an accident on Interstate 25 in New Mexico. According to one local news report, the two people were killed as a result of a driver who was proceeding in the wrong direction.

way-wrong-1245111.jpgEvidently, the accident occurred in the early morning hours of September 21. An ambulance driver was also driving down Interstate 25 when he noticed the motorist driving at an extremely fast speed in the wrong direction. Shortly after he noticed the danger, the driver made several 911 calls.

When police and emergency personnel arrived on the scene, they were faced with a deadly accident. They found two cars that were barely recognizable and two individuals who were deceased. The 22-year-old driver who was speeding in the wrong direction was killed, and the 21-year-old woman who was the driver of the other car was also killed. Current reports indicate that an investigation is ongoing, and they are unsure whether alcohol or any other substance played a role in the tragic accident.

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September 22, 2015

Pickup Truck Driver Causes Accident and Fatality and Then Leaves Scene

Earlier this month, a tragic accident took the lives of a mother, her two daughters, and her sister. According to one local news report, the accident occurred at around 9:30 p.m. on September 7th.

harley-day-in-arnhem-1432744.jpgEvidently, the woman tried to make a turn from one road to another when the pickup truck driver, who was proceeding southbound, slammed into the driver's side door. The Mazda was pushed into a metal pole, the impact was so hard that the pole fell down, and debris and glass were thrown all over the road. Witnesses who lived near the scene of the accident stated that the noise was extremely loud, and when they went to render aid the pickup truck driver seemed callous and expressed sadness only over the loss of his truck.

The women in the car died as a result of the accident. However, the pickup truck driver and his three passengers walked away from the scene of the accident before being questioned by authorities. Eventually, with the help of witnesses, the police officers caught up to the men, and they were apprehended. An investigation is ongoing, but it was discovered that the truck was littered with empty beer bottles.

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September 21, 2015

Supreme Court of New Mexico Rules on Statute of Limitations Issue in Favor of Plaintiff in Product Liability Case

The Supreme Court recently released an opinion in a product liability case, Badilla v. Wal-Mart Stores East, Inc. The plaintiff in the case brought a product liability claim against Wal-Mart after he suffered an injury due to an allegedly faulty shoe he bought from their store. According to the opinion, the plaintiff purchased boots from Wal-Mart, and shortly after their purchase the soles of the shoe became disconnected from the shoe because it was not glued on strongly enough.

old-brown-shoe-1530847.jpgUnfortunately, when the sole became unglued, the plaintiff tripped and injured his back as a result. Approximately three years after the accident, the plaintiff brought a case against Wal-Mart. The man claimed that Wal-Mart was negligent under the theory of product liability. He enumerated his personal injuries and demanded damages for the injuries he suffered.

The corporation argued that the case should be dismissed because the claim was time-barred, and there was no issue of fact that needed to be determined. The Court of Appeals in New Mexico agreed with Wal-Mart and dismissed the case. Following this dismissal, the plaintiff filed a writ, asking the Supreme Court of New Mexico to determine which statute of limitations his claim fell under, the three-year limitation or the four-year limitation. The Court found that, since this was a breach of warranty claim, the state's UCC four-year statute should apply to this case.

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September 15, 2015

Drunk Driver Convicted of Second Fatal DUI Accident, Sentenced to Statutory Maximum of 17 Years in Jail

Earlier this month, a man who was involved in a fatal accident with a motorcycle was sentenced to the statutory maximum for a second offense in the State of New Mexico. According to one local news report, the fatal accident took place back in 2014, and it involved the defendant crashing his truck into the accident victim's motorcycle. At the time, the accident victim had his young daughter on the back of the bike. The driver of the motorcycle was killed, and the young girl was seriously injured as a result.

drunk-driving-1469251.jpgEvidently, this was not the first time the defendant had killed someone while driving drunk. Back in 2008, the same defendant was convicted of another accident involving drunk driving. Back then, he was also given the statutory maximum, which for a first offense is six years in jail. As it turns out, he was paroled after serving about half of the sentence.

Most recently, the judge had no leniency on the man and again sentenced him to the statutory maximum for a second offense DUI-related death, which is 17 years in jail. At the sentencing, there were several witnesses who testified, including one woman who was permanently injured in the first DUI accident. The widow of the man who died in the most recent accident has since made it her goal to reform DUI laws in New Mexico, pushing for firmer penalties.

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September 15, 2015

Court Reverses Summary Judgment Order in Favor of City After Pedestrians Injured in Crosswalk

A California Superior Court reversed a lower court's decision in Castro vs. City of Thousand Oaks, in which the plaintiffs brought a suit against a city after they were hit in a crosswalk. According to the court's written opinion, a woman, her two children, and two other children in her care were waiting at a crosswalk. The woman pressed the button that was supposed to alert drivers that a pedestrian was walking. After pressing the button, the woman saw a car stop, so she proceeded to cross while pushing a baby stroller with the other children in tow. As she was crossing, she was hit by a van, one of the defendants in the lawsuit, but not the defendant at issue in this opinion.

crosswalk-1532024.jpgEvidently, the driver of the van did not see the pedestrian crossing warning or the pedestrians. All of the pedestrians were hit and flew into the air and suffered serious injuries. The family brought a lawsuit, claiming that the city designed the crosswalk in a manner that made the plaintiffs believe that pressing the pedestrian crossing would allow them to safely cross. After the suit was brought against the City, it argued for summary judgment and attempted to show that they were protected from the suit by the theory of design immunity under the concept of sovereign immunity.

The higher court found the theory of design immunity is designed to prevent a jury from considering the same factors that the government agency approving the design already considered in determining the viability and safety of the project. In this case, however, the court found that the city never presented the design for safety approval, and as a result a jury should be able to determine whether there was a risk to the pedestrians.

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September 8, 2015

Construction Site Accident in Rio Rancho Kills One and Injures Several Others

Earlier last month in Rio Rancho, a construction site accident claimed the life of one man and seriously injured several others when five-story scaffolding collapsed at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center. According to one local news report, the accident occurred as crews were working on constructing the east wing of the facility, which was slated to open in November. However, due to the accident, the site has temporarily closed down, and the opening will be delayed.

scaffold-1174725.jpgOne witness to the accident told reporters that he was inside a hospital room directly in front of the scaffolding. He recalls his wife telling him to "look, look," and as he turned around he saw the mass of metal careening towards the ground and then several construction workers running towards the pile of debris in the aftermath. In all, one man was killed and seven others injured.

Evidently, the scaffolding was set up by construction workers employed by the general contractor used to facilitate the project. However, the one man who was killed in the accident was not an employee of the general contractor, and he seems to have been employed by a different sub-contractor.

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August 22, 2015

Man Pleads Guilty to 2014 Fatal Crash in New Mexico

Almost exactly one year ago, a Utah man was involved in a tragic accident that took the life of his passenger when the car he was driving crashed on the side of the highway. According to a New Mexico news report, the accident occurred in San Juan County, New Mexico.

1-5-1391277.jpgAt the time of the accident, police reported that the driver's vehicle was stopped in the gravel on the side of the road. The car was clearly damaged, and there was a tree that was lying on the ground near the front of the vehicle. When emergency personnel arrived, the driver had his hand on the chest of the passenger. There were just two people in the vehicle.

Unfortunately, when paramedics arrived they determined that the passenger was dead. At the time, the driver told police that the passenger had attempted to kick him out of the car, but he was unable to explain why he was visibly injured with scratches and covered in dirt. The driver's blood alcohol concentration was determined to be .04, and he was subsequently arrested on DUI charges.

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August 18, 2015

Drunk-Driving Detection Technology Pushed By New Mexico Senator Udall; Gaining Nationwide Acceptance

Earlier this summer, New Mexico Senator Tom Udall introduced a bill coined "The Research of Alcohol Detection Systems for Stopping Alcohol-Related Fatalities Everywhere Act," and it has been receiving a significant amount of exposure and acceptance from Senators throughout the United States.

A prominent news source reported that New York Senator Chuck Schumer decided to co-sponsor the bill to provide funding to the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). The Research of Alcohol Detection Systems Bill will provide DADSS with around $48 million in funding over several years. The DADSS is assisting in the development of a system that can determine the blood alcohol level in a driver by breath and touch sensors.

shooter-1569885.jpgWhen the system detects that the driver's blood alcohol is over .08, the car would be disabled. The developers explained that, unlike ignition interlock devices, this feature would be available in newer cars and not as an aftermarket feature. New York Senator Schumer hopes that eventually this technology will be mandatory for all individuals who have been convicted of driving while intoxicated or under the influence, although he acknowledges the limitations of that possibility, since the device would only be possible in newer cars.

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August 13, 2015

Drunken Driver With History of DWI Convictions Causes Death of Young Boy in New Mexico

Last month, a devastating accident resulted in several serious injuries, a lost limb, and the death of a young New Mexico boy and a woman. According to a prominent New Mexico news source, the accident occurred when a drunk driver slammed his car into a vehicle carrying several children. The accident resulted in a young boy losing his life, his mother losing an arm, the mother's best friend dying because of injuries she sustained, and six other children suffering injuries.

bottle-1326417.jpgThe most tragic part of this event was that the driver just bonded himself out of jail a few days before. The driver had a series of charges dating back several years that included driving while intoxicated and many violent crimes, such as child abuse, kidnapping, sexual assault, and battery. The driver attempted to bond out several months before. A pre-trial services worker believed that the driver was a "danger to himself or others," but his bond was eventually granted. As of the most recent reports, charges are pending.

Collecting Damages after Being a Victim in a Negligence Suit in New Mexico

After an individual or their loved one suffers an injury because of the negligence of another, they may try to recover damages for those injuries. There are two main types of damages in personal injury suits: compensatory and punitive.

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August 6, 2015

State Supreme Court Addresses Defendant's Motion To Compel Arbitration in Personal Injury Suit

Late last month, the Supreme Court of Utah released their opinion regarding a personal injury suit that involved a car accident. A woman was driving in Logan, Utah when she crashed into another vehicle. The man and his wife brought a suit against the woman, alleging loss of consortium in addition to a traditional negligence claim.

Thumbnail image for white-semi-truck-1465662.jpgWhen they filed their lawsuit, the couple requested arbitration under a specific judicial code. This choice had a rewards cap and barred certain types of recovery, such as punitive damages. However, they likely opted into this because of the efficiency of arbitration. It should be completed within 150 days of its election. In order to opt out of arbitration, a rescission should be made within 90 days of the election and no less than 30 days from the hearing. The couple did not file this notice, yet they moved to change their election and avoid arbitration because they became privy to certain important information and wanted to add a defendant.

The defendant opposed this motion and instead wanted to compel arbitration. The lower court denied the defendant's motion. The court went on to explain that, although the motion would circumvent the election terms, it was appropriate because of pertinent information that was discovered after the fact. In the released opinion, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court's finding in part and affirmed in part. The Court found that the couple needed to comply with the arbitration deadlines, but it allowed them to add the additional party without mandatory arbitration.

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July 27, 2015

DWI Suspect Involved in Fatal New Mexico Crash Free on Bond Awaiting Trial

A prominent New Mexico businessman was tragically killed while riding his bicycle in late July, and the man who is allegedly responsible is free on bail. According to a New Mexico news report, the 59-year-old businessman was riding his bike less than a mile away from his home.

drunk-driving-1469251.jpgEvidently, while the man was making his way home, a 25-year-old driver slammed into the businessman with his truck. The man was dragged over 100 feet. After officers arrived on the scene of the accident, they noticed that the truck driver was exhibiting signs of impairment. The police officers reported that the driver had watery, blood-shot eyes and smelled of alcohol. The driver admitted to officers that he had about three beers before striking the businessman.

The driver was given a field sobriety test but would not take a chemical test. He allegedly performed poorly on the sobriety test. The district attorney obtained a warrant to get a blood-draw from the driver. An investigation is still underway, but it seems that the driver was driving on the sidewalk when the accident occurred. Police are still determining where exactly the businessman was when the accident occurred. Unfortunately, the 59-year-old accident victim died at the hospital later that day.

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July 21, 2015

New Mexico Police Implement New Technology to Cut Back on Distracted Driving

The police department in Farmington, New Mexico will be the first department in the State of New Mexico to implement a new technology that will prevent officers from using their on-board laptop while behind the wheel. According to one local New Mexico news source, the department is considering a plan where the on-board computer will be disabled at 20 miles per hour and shuts down completely at 25 miles per hour.

police-car-1515955.jpgAccording to the article, vehicle crashes account for roughly 40% of all police officer fatalities, and they have been the single largest cause of death for police officers since the mid-1990s. A spokeswoman for the police department told reporters that the department is taking a "proactive approach," and "instead of waiting for something to happen, a tragic accident, we would rather implement it now."

This technology has been in use in the private sector for a number of years, but this is the first police department in New Mexico to use it to regulate police officers' driving habits.

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July 14, 2015

Reports Indicate that Accidents Resulting in Fatalities Increase During Summer Months

Many states release reports in regards to accident statistics in the hopes that the information will educate drivers and reduce accidents. A report by the Texas Department of Public Safety revealed that the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is considered the "100 Most Deadly Days" for teen drivers. This is likely because the teenagers are out of school and are spending more time driving.

pie-chart-1165990.jpgUnfortunately, almost two-thirds of accidents where a person is injured or killed involve a teen driver. In addition to general driver inexperience, AAA also attributes the rise in crashes to the increase in traffic congestion, construction, and the prevalence of distracted and fatigued drivers.

New Mexico Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Division Statistics on Accidents

The New Mexico Geospatial and Population Students, Traffic Research Unit, and Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Division compile detailed New Mexico traffic accident statistics every few years. Their research revealed some startling statistics, such as the fact that the fatality rate in New Mexico is higher than the national average. Furthermore, in New Mexico, alcohol-related accidents account for about 50% of all accident-related fatalities. The three leading causes of New Mexico car accidents were driver distraction, failing to yield, and following too closely. Although they did not release a seasonal statistic, the day of the week that most accidents occur is Saturday, with the least amount of accidents occurring on Tuesdays. The report also detailed accidents and fatalities according to demographics such as age, driver experience, seat position, seatbelt use, and other pertinent factors.

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July 6, 2015

New Mexico Woman Arrested after Arriving at Husband's DUI Stop Drunk

In an ironic twist earlier last month, a New Mexico news source reported on a woman who was charged with DUI after arriving to her husband's DUI police stop. Law enforcement pulled over the woman's husband after he was spotted speeding near a local bar. After he was pulled over, the officer detected a strong smell of alcohol, and he began a DUI investigation.

colorful-cocktails-1411310-m.jpgA patron at the sports bar where the individual was pulled over called the driver's wife. The woman drove over to the location with her 11-year-old son in the car. When the woman arrived, the officers noted a smell of alcohol and questioned the woman about whether she had been drinking. The woman claimed she only had two glasses of wine. However, a breathalyzer test indicated that she had a blood alcohol content of .15.

The officers arrested both of the individuals on charges of driving while intoxicated. Fortunately, a family member was able to take custody of the young boy while his parents were taken away and booked. The woman was released pending a hearing a short time later. However, her husband was held in custody because this was his sixth DUI arrest and he was driving with a suspended license and expired registration.

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June 25, 2015

Grand Jury Indicts Man after Hit-and-Run Crash in New Mexico

A Farmington man has been indicted by a grand jury as a result of his alleged actions in an accident back in February of this year. According to local news reports, the man was involved in a road rage situation in which he hit another individual and then left the scene of the accident.

harley-day-in-arnhem-792931-m.jpgThe victim was driving on Interstate 25 when a truck driver began to tailgate him and a few other drivers on the road. The victim pulled into a parking lot near Highway 550 and got out of the vehicle. Video footage shows the truck driver following the driver into the parking lot and then slamming right into the victim and speeding away. Unfortunately, the victim suffered serious injuries, including a fractured pelvis, internal bleeding, broken ribs, and punctured lungs. The man is still in serious condition.

Video footage from the parking lot led to several leads, and luckily the truck driver was eventually apprehended. The truck driver was charged with criminal damage to property, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, leaving the scene of an accident, and aggravated assault. The truck driver was arraigned and ordered by the judge not to leave the state.

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