January 20, 2015

Hospital Attempts to Get Case Dismissed Because of Statute of Limitations

In a recent case, the Supreme Court of Mississippi affirmed a lower court's decision not to dismiss a case against a hospital because of a statute of limitations issue. A woman died at a hospital in June 2007, and in October of that year her beneficiaries provided a notice of claim against the hospital with the county chancery and county attorney. The beneficiary did not provide any notice to the hospital's CEO at this point. The following year, the beneficiary sued the hospital and at that point provided the hospital's CEO with the complaint.

fractured-time-1435044-m.jpgThe hospital's attorney moved to dismiss the complaint. They argued that the plaintiff did not follow legal protocol and provide the hospital with notice of the suit, and therefore the suit was now barred by the statute of limitations. The Supreme Court found that when a plaintiff files a complaint, the statute of limitations is tolled, and the presuit notice was sufficient because the suit was filed within a year of the second complaint.

Importance of Statute of Limitations in New Mexico

Every state has certain enumerated rules and regulations regarding when specific civil lawsuits can be brought. These time limits are referred to as the statute of limitations, and they must be strictly adhered to. In New Mexico, the time period on the statute of limitations begins to run when the claim arises. Sometimes this is when the accident occurred or when an injury is discovered.

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January 12, 2015

Midland County Accident Takes Life of One Man During Sleet Storm

Late last month, a Midland County, New Mexico man was killed after being involved in an accident in the County. Local New Mexican news reports indicate that the incident occurred about 20 miles south of the county line on New Year's Eve.

tress-with-ice-crystals-in-sunlight-1409549-m.jpgThe State Troopers indicated that a Ford F-350 was driving northbound on FM 1788. At some point, the driver of the Ford attempted to pass a semi-trailer. Unfortunately, in doing so, the man lost control of his vehicle. After losing control, the car began to roll and ended up in a ditch on its side. The 38-year-old driver of the truck was killed in the accident. He was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the incident. State officials explained that the road was quite icy, and it was sleeting at the time of the accident.

Driving in Hazardous Conditions in New Mexico

Driving always encompasses a certain amount of risk, but most often motorists are injured not by a stroke of bad luck but due to the negligence of another. In the above case, it is not indicated whether the semi-truck driver was injured or involved in the accident. However, in many cases when two vehicles are involved in the crash, one party has a higher level of culpability in the crash.

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January 6, 2015

Victim of Christmas Eve Crash in Santa Fe Was Not in Crosswalk at Time of Crash

On Christmas Eve in Santa Fe, an individual was hit by a car and killed as a result of the accident. A local Santa Fe news report indicated that the victim has finally been identified after his family was notified. The 33-year-old man was walking near Cerrillos Road and Siler Road. He was crossing the street when the accident occurred. Unfortunately, he passed away after being hit by the car. A preliminary investigation has revealed that the man was not in a proper crosswalk when he was hit by the car. Since the man was not in the crosswalk when he was crossing the road, the driver of the car that hit him is not currently being charged with any crime.

winter-road-1130317-m.jpgCivil Liability Without Criminal Liability in New Mexico

If an individual was injured by the negligence of another party, he or she may be able to bring a negligence claim against that party if he or she can establish the elements of negligence. To bring a claim of negligence in New Mexico, the plaintiff must be able to prove that he or she was injured by another individual who owed him or her a duty of care, that individual breached that duty, and as a result the plaintiff suffered injuries and damages. Many people believe that if no criminal charges were pressed against the wrongdoer, a civil claim will not be successful. However, that is not the case because the legal standards for criminal negligence and civil negligence differ. Although it is easier to prove negligence if criminal charges were pressed, the absence of them is not a bar to recovery.

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December 26, 2014

Two Fatalities in New Mexico Crash on U.S. 550

Late last week, a crash occurred on U.S. 550 that resulted in the deaths of two individuals. A local New Mexican station reported that the crash occurred around 6:45 p.m. on December 19. Apparently, Sandoval County police noticed a car driving north on U.S. 550 without its light on. The police officers attempted to stop the car, but the driver continued to keep driving.

crashed-car-1148745-m.jpgInstead of stopping, the car started swerving and veering across the northbound lanes. The car was weaving dangerously in and out of traffic. Eventually, a deputy began pursuing the driver, but even then the car continued on. The police stopped pursuing the car while the deputy was following the driver. Shortly after that pursuit, that car and another driver ended up in a head-on collision. The driver and her passenger were killed. The driver in the car was air-lifted and remains in critical condition as of the most recent reports.

Head-On Collisions in New Mexico

All car accidents have the potential to result in serious injuries, but head-on collisions can often be catastrophic. The above situation is a prime example of how head-on collisions often occur. Generally, one car will swerve across lanes and hit the front of another car.

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December 18, 2014

Update: Family Bringing Wrongful Death Suit against New Mexico School District

There have been updates on the death of a New Mexico student that a previous blog entry addressed. Earlier this year, a New Mexico student was fatally injured in her high school's parking lot. According to a new report, apparently there were some dangerous conditions in the school's parking lot that led to the student falling out of a moving vehicle. The student hit her head as she fell and was flown to University Medical Center in Lubbock. Unfortunately, she passed away at the hospital.

parking-lot-1092981-m.jpgThe student's family is bringing a suit based on premises liability. The family is alleging that the school knew about the dangerous conditions in the parking lot but failed to remedy them. Additionally, other reports stated that the school did not have any sort of security in its parking lot. The family is currently asking for damages in the amount of $2.5 million or more.

Premises Liability in New Mexico

In New Mexico, there are two major types of premises liability claims. Choosing the appropriate kind is dependent upon whether the accident occurred on private or commercial property. In New Mexico, if the owner of the property was a business owner, it should ensure that the property is safe for those that will be on its property. Laws concerning private owners vary depending on the jurisdiction.

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December 10, 2014

New Mexico Family Involved in Fatal Accident on U.S. 385

Late last week, a family was traveling on U.S. 385 when they were involved in a fatal accident. According to local news reports, a man was driving his Ford north on U.S. 385 in Texas when he crossed over the highway's center. The family was driving a Chevrolet in the southbound direction as the driver of the Ford was moving into their lane.

desert-road-1435468-m.jpgThe driver attempted to avoid the crash and began to brake, but he was unable to navigate the car to avoid the collision. The Ford hit the family's van on the left side, and that hit caused both cars to burst into flames. The family in the Chevrolet included a mother, father, two daughters, and a young son. Unfortunately, all but the young son were killed in the accident. According to the most recent reports, the teenager is in critical condition at a medical center in Texas. Additionally, the driver of the Ford was also pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

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December 4, 2014

University of New Mexico Students Hit and Killed in Accident

broken-glass-1006530-m.jpgTwo University of New Mexico students were killed late last month when their car was T-boned by an individual fleeing in a stolen car. According to a local news report, the man driving the stolen car was on Rio Grande Boulevard. Two students were hit and killed, and two others were seriously injured. Apparently, right after the accident the driver of the car and a passenger immediately left the scene. The driver was eventually arrested.

Two of the young students were killed, and the other two are currently recovering in the hospital. The University has organized a vigil for the students who passed. Court documents indicate that the driver admitted to smoking marijuana just a few hours before the incident occurred, and an investigation revealed marijuana on his person. The investigation is still on-going, but one of the accused individuals did appear in court.

Incidents such as these are devastating and no matter who the wrongful death lawyer is, or what the result of the case may be, it is never enough, and is certainly never justice. At times our civil legal system excels at "making things right" and "compensating a victim" however, when faced with an accident like the one the shook Albuquerque, no legal system can ever be prepared or capable of coming close to addressing the loss that family and loved ones are left with after such an event.

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November 23, 2014

Wrongful Death Suit Against New Mexico School District

A 17-year-old Lovington student was killed after the student fell out of a moving vehicle on school grounds. A local news report explained that the lawyer for the family filed a suit in federal court. They are alleging that the Lovington School District was negligent because they did not supervise a parking lot that they knew was dangerous.

cn-tower-1008466-m.jpgThe family's attorney explained that the school knew that the parking lot was dangerous, and even after they were told about the problem they did not fix the condition. Furthermore, the complaint alleged that the school did not have any security officers in the parking lot. The principal of the school reportedly explained that staff attempted to direct traffic in the parking lot, but they were told that the district was immune from any liability if they hurt themselves while conducting the traffic. Apparently, the family is suing the district for more than $2.5 million in legal fees and damages.

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November 16, 2014

Settlement Reached in Ebola Victim Case

Early last month, an individual died as a result of Ebola. This was the first recorded death from the disease in United States history. The Associated Press reported that the patient arrived at a Texas emergency room and was discharged with only antibiotics. He came back to the hospital two days later and was diagnosed with Ebola and passed away.

sterilisation-1385734-m.jpgThe patient's family wanted to initiate a lawsuit claiming that the hospital was negligent in its failure to admit the victim to the hospital when he first arrived. The hospital agreed that it was a mistake to release the individual, and it has provided all pertinent documentation.

The hospital and victim's family entered into settlement negotiations and came to an agreement early last week that included a foundation in honor of the victim.

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November 9, 2014

Sleeping Driver Responsible for Fatal Lea County Accident

It appears from the preliminary investigation into a tragic two-vehicle crash that occurred last month that the effects of drowsy driving have taken the lives of two more New Mexicans. The drivers of the two vehicles, which collided head-on, were both killed. Passengers in each vehicle were airlifted to a Texas hospital with serious injuries. According to a local news source, the crash occurred at around 6:40 AM near milepost 60 on State Road 18 in Lea County, between Lovington and Hobbs.

road-and-windmills-1434948-m.jpgThe article indicates that the driver of the southbound vehicle, a 24-year-old man from Lovington, fell asleep while driving and drifted into the northbound lane of traffic, crashing head on into the other vehicle, which was being driven by a 30-year-old man from Los Lunas, New Mexico.

Inattentive and drowsy driving remain among the most concerning dangers for drivers today, and the dangerous decision by a driver not to pull over to rest all too often results in a deadly New Mexico auto accident, as happened last month. Drowsy driving accidents are the most common on rural highways with little to no nighttime lighting and high speed limits, and they often involve vehicles colliding with each other head-on. These factors unfortunately help to explain why accidents involving sleeping drivers have a comparatively high chance of resulting in serious injury or death. Because of this danger, drivers must know to always stop and rest if they are feeling drowsy behind the wheel. Rest stops and expanded shoulders are available for drivers to pull over, and it is always better to be late than to be responsible for a tragedy and potentially encounter significant civil and criminal liability.

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November 4, 2014

Drunk Driver Kills Motorcyclist in Her Second DUI in One Year

Earlier last month in a tragic accident in Albuquerque, a man was killed when a drunk driver ran a red light and struck him while he was riding his motorcycle. According to a report by one local news source, the woman had just started to go through court-ordered programs for an aggravated DUI charge she received last year.

vodka-russia-310547-m.jpgEvidently, on the night in question, she blew through a stop sign and crashed into the motorcyclist at near full speed. When police arrived and administered a breath test, she blew a .17, which is more than twice the legal limit for driving under the influence in New Mexico.

Aside from this current offense and her prior DUI, it seems as though these were the woman's only arrests. Her family told reporters that she had been doing well after her first DUI, and she had just started a new job when she was out celebrating. Apparently, a man punched her in the face while she was out, and she decided to leave as a result. It was on her way home that she hit and killed the motorcyclist.

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October 27, 2014

New Mexico Supreme Court Reverses the Court of Appeals and Allows Plaintiff's Vicarious-Liability Claim to Proceed to Trial

In a decision released in September, the New Mexico Supreme Court reversed a state Court of Appeals decision affirming the dismissal of a plaintiff's medical malpractice claim against a hospital resulting from the death of a patient. The plaintiff's lawsuit, filed on behalf of the deceased patient, claims that a radiologist employed by the defendant hospital failed to communicate the results of a radiology report to the patient's doctor, preventing the patient from being diagnosed with the colon cancer that later took his life.

woman-in-hospital-1051476-m.jpgThis appeal focuses on the plaintiff's claim against the hospital where he was treated. The radiologist who allegedly failed to send the report to the man's doctor was a contract employee of the defendant hospital, but he wasn't directly employed by them. The district court made the decision, which was affirmed by the court of appeals, that the plaintiff failed to properly allege that the hospital was vicariously liable for the negligence of the radiologist.

The court ruled that the plaintiff's complaint failed to put the hospital on notice that it was being sued for the mistakes made by the radiologist, and it was therefore dismissed.

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October 20, 2014

Collision with Rail Runner Train Kills Driver and Passenger after Driving Around Rail Crossing Gate

It appears that a driver's poor decision has resulted in two deaths from a collision with a Rail Runner passenger train near Albuquerque last week. According to articles from krqe.com and koat.com, New Mexico State Police have determined that the driver of the car that was hit drove around another car that was stopped at the railroad crossing and then around the arms that were down and into the path of the oncoming train. Both the driver, a 35-year-old man, and the passenger, a 34-year-old woman, were killed in the crash.

train-1433332-1-m.jpgAccording to the article, the victims were a couple who had two children whom they had dropped off shortly before the crash and fortunately were not in the car during the collision.

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October 13, 2014

Federal Officials Confirm Breach in Safety Protocol Resulted in First Transmission of Ebola Virus within United States

A worker at a hospital in Texas has tested positive for the Ebola virus after having treated an African man for the virus earlier this month. According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, the original patient from Liberia who was in the United States to visit family was being treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas for the virus last week.

virus-1295739-m.jpgThe man contracted the virus in Africa but began to show symptoms in the United States and died from the illness late last week. According to federal officials, the healthcare worker who has contracted the virus from him was exposed because of a failure to follow the proper safety protocol for treating a patient infected with Ebola, and an investigation continues.

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October 5, 2014

New Mexico Supreme Court Allows Unsafe Road Lawsuit against State to Proceed to Trial

Last year, the New Mexico Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of a case filed against the State of New Mexico by the families of two people killed in a December 9, 2004 head-on collision on New Mexico State Road 502 near Los Alamos.

road-to-krzywonoga-1-767715-m.jpgThe lawsuit alleges that the State was negligent in maintaining the road by failing to install a concrete barrier between the eastbound and westbound lanes of traffic on the two-mile stretch of SR 502 where the accident occurred. The plaintiffs claim that the State Department of Transportation knew of the unreasonable danger presented by the road, and they request that the State be ordered to pay damages to the families of the victims.

When the case was first heard in district court, the judge ruled that the State of New Mexico was immune from the lawsuit, and the case was dismissed. The plaintiffs appealed the ruling to the New Mexico Court of Appeals, but that Court agreed with the lower court's dismissal of the case, and the plaintiffs were forced to appeal to the New Mexico Supreme Court. The 2013 decision in Martinez vs. New Mexico Department of Transportation, 296 P.3d 468, demonstrated the Court's application of an exception to the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which protects the government and public employees from liability for negligence under certain circumstances.

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