In a recent case, the Maine Supreme Court recently affirmed a jury’s decision not to award damages to a man injured while helping his neighbor cut down a tree. At the trial, the man alleged that his injuries were the direct result of his neighbor’s negligence.

dead-tree-1402668According to the court’s opinion, the defendant asked his neighbor to help him cut down a dying tree on his property. The tree was more than two feet in diameter and had at least one large limb growing from the trunk. The plaintiff used a chainsaw to cut a wedge just below the limb, while the property owner used the bucket of his compact front loader to guide the limb away from his house. As the men continued to cut down the tree, the limb fell and pinned the plaintiff to the ground. He was also knocked unconscious and suffered several other injures.

As a result of his injuries, the man sued the property owner, alleging that he failed to warn him that the limb could break unexpectedly due to the tree’s rotted condition. He also alleged that the property owner was negligent in his operation of the compact loader.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Alaska heard a case brought by a patient against his doctor, alleging that the doctor’s failure to provide an acceptable level of medical care resulted in a permanent injury. In the case, Brandner v. Pease, the plaintiff was a patient who underwent open heart surgery that was performed by the defendants. Ultimately, the court determined that the plaintiff’s lack of expert testimony supporting his allegations was fatal to the claim’s viability, and the case was dismissed.


The Facts at Trial

At trial, the court heard that the plaintiff went to the defendants for open heart surgery. While the plaintiff seemed to be recovering well immediately after the surgery, eventually he developed a series of long-term injuries that resulted in the plaintiff not being able to return to work. The plaintiff sued the doctors and anesthesiologist involved in his procedure.

As is required by statute in Alaska, the plaintiff submitted an affidavit from a medical expert, explaining that in the expert’s opinion, the medication used to anesthetize the plaintiff likely contributed to the complications. Additionally, the expert claimed that the plaintiff’s condition was likely worsened by the doctor’s difficulty in securing the plaintiff’s airway and the doctor’s failure to use a TEE probe in the procedure.

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Earlier this month, a woman was fatally injured while attempting to cross a New Mexico roadway. According to a New Mexico news report, the crash occurred near Kathryn Avenue and Louisiana Boulevard at around 10:15 p.m. The details of the accident are still being fully investigated. However, at the time of the initial report, emergency officials determined that one woman was killed at the scene of the accident when she was struck by a vehicle.


Evidently, the woman was crossing the intersection when she was hit by a car. According to witnesses and local authorities, the driver of the car that hit the woman stayed at the scene of the accident and waited for emergency responders. An initial investigation does not indicate that the driver of the vehicle was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Additionally, at this time, reports do not show that the driver was speeding. Police have not provided the public with any of the involved individuals’ names.

Plaintiff Fault and Liability Issues in New Mexico

Traffic accidents, such as the one above, are tragic for all of the parties involved. As is the case with most accidents, there are steps that both drivers and pedestrians need to take to ensure that these types of accidents do not occur. In the above case, reports indicate that a woman was killed after being hit by the driver. The fact that the woman was hit does not necessarily make her case ripe for a personal injury suit. It is important that in these cases the family of a victim understand that a defendant also has certain defenses that can change the amount a victim or their family can recover. In some cases, a defendant’s defense may allow them to evade liability altogether.

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Two women, a mother and a daughter, were involved in a roadside verbal altercation that escalated to violence and ended in death in Santa Fe, New Mexico. According to a news report, the mother and daughter were traveling in their car with a third party when the mother and daughter got into a fight.

speed-1505441The third party indicated to police that the daughter was driving dangerously, and this upset the mother. The witness stated that the women had been drinking when the altercation occurred. The mother demanded that her daughter get out of the car. When the parties were outside the car, they began to argue with each other, and that verbal altercation resulted in a physical fight. During this fight, the two women ended up rolling onto the highway, where they were sadly hit by a car. Police indicated that an initial investigation has not revealed that the driver was at fault. However, an investigation is still ongoing. Both of the women were killed upon impact.

Apportioning Liability under New Mexico Law in Car Accidents

The above accident may open the door to several different types of lawsuits by various parties. There may be a suit by the family of the mother and daughter, if the investigation reveals that the driver was acting negligently, or a suit by the passenger, if she was hurt in the accident. Finally, and most likely, there may be a suit by the actual driver of the car, if he was hurt.

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According to a recent report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced new back-up camera technology designed to prevent accidents. The NHTSA is a safety branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation that was designed to implement safety programs. The NHTSA is charged with studying accident statistics and determining ways to reduce economic losses, deaths, and injuries related to motor vehicle accidents. The agency does this by examining the most common causes of accidents.

top-gear-1457113Recently, the NHTSA released information that indicated that over 200 deaths and 15,000 injuries are a result of “backing-up accidents.” Tragically, many of the fatalities in these cases occur to children under the age of five. In light of these startling statistics, the NHTSA will be implementing a new rule that will mandate that all new cars must have backing-up technology. The Administration explains that cars must have this technology even if the cameras are installed as an aftermarket addition.

One owner of a backup-camera manufacturer explained that this feature is not only a safety feature but one of convenience. It can serve as a peace of mind for drivers who otherwise will not have a clear picture of what is behind them. The NHTSA will require this technology in all new cars by spring 2018.

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Earlier last month, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. settled a lawsuit that was brought against it by a man who was paralyzed after he was involved in an accident that he alleged was caused by one of Cooper’s tires exploding. According to a news source covering the case, the settlement was reached during the second day of the trial, after several pre-trial motions had been argued and decided by the judge. The exact terms of the settlement agreement have not been disclosed.

car-tire-1522998The Facts of the Case

Evidently, the man was riding as a passenger in a minivan in New Jersey when the accident occurred. The minivan was traveling on the highway when the rear left tire exploded, causing the vehicle to get into a serious crash. At some point in the immediate aftermath of the collision, the plaintiff was ejected from the vehicle. He was not wearing a seatbelt. As a result of the injuries he sustained, he was permanently paralyzed in both his legs.

The injured man filed suit against Cooper Tire & Rubber, alleging that they negligently manufactured the tires, and this is what caused his injuries. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the manufacturer failed to use “belt-edge gum strips,” which have been shown to reduce the instances of tread separation.

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Earlier in 2015, a family brought a wrongful death suit against a police department after their family member was killed while in police custody. According to local New Mexico news reports, the case remained at the state level until recently, when a federal lawsuit was brought by the family.

the-bar-scene-1477173The family alleges that in January 2013, their family member got into a fight at a local bar. Police claim that the family member was drunk, and the bartender on duty would not serve him any additional alcohol. After that denial, the two parties got into a physical altercation. Other individuals at the bar pinned the man on the ground and called police. After police arrived, they immediately handcuffed the man.

Witnesses who were interviewed stated that even before the police arrived, the man was claiming he could not breathe. However, the family believes that one of the police officers was negligent by not having the man sit up after he was handcuffed but instead leaving him face down. The lawsuit claims that the man died from positional asphyxiation because of the position the officer left him in. The family brought a suit not only against the police officer but also against the police department and city for their negligent training. Additionally, they alleged a violation of the New Mexico Constitution.

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Earlier this month, New Mexico police apprehended a man after he was involved in an accident and found to be driving under the influence of alcohol. According to one local news report, the man was driving southbound on Coors Street when he rammed into the rear of another car. Unfortunately, the impact was so severe that the rear-ended car ended up rolling about 10 times before coming to a rest.

cup-of-beer-1329193When police arrived at the scene, they determined that the man causing the accident had a warrant out for his arrest for failing to appear at a traffic court hearing. The two victims of the crash, surprisingly, were not seriously injured, although they were taken to the hospital to be evaluated. Police later revealed that the man was not speeding, but he also did not have insurance, was not wearing a seat belt, and did not have a license. The driver’s record also indicated that he was previously mandated to attend alcohol education classes. The man was arrested but released on bail. Further charges are still pending while the investigation continues.

Pursuing a Personal Injury Case in a Drunk Driving Accident in New Mexico

In the above case, the current reports do not indicate that the two victims were seriously injured. However, this will not always be the case in drunk driving accidents, and it also does not mean that those who suffer non-fatal injuries do not have a claim for the pain and suffering they did endure. In cases where serious injuries take place, often an insurance company will get involved in an attempt to lessen the payout.

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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of South Carolina decided a case in favor of a plaintiff who lost her husband in a tragic equipment-related accident. In the case, Riley v. Ford Motor Company, the court determined that the trial judge properly adjusted the damages award in favor of the plaintiff after the jury returned a shockingly inadequate amount.

car-door-handle-1309254.jpgAccording to the court’s written opinion, the fatal accident occurred when the plaintiff’s husband was driving on the highway in a Ford truck. As the man was driving on the highway, a student on his way to school pulled out in front of the truck. In an attempt to avoid a collision with the young man’s car, the driver of the Ford truck swerved. However, as he did so he lost control of the vehicle, and it ended up colliding with the teen’s car nonetheless.

The impact from the collision sent the man’s truck off the side of the road, where it struck a tree. Upon the impact with the tree, the truck’s door latch released, allowing the door to open and sending the driver out of the vehicle with significant force. The man was killed in the accident, and the man’s wife then filed suit against the teen driver as well as against the Ford Motor Company. The plaintiff settled with the teenage driver prior to trial, and the case against Ford proceeded to trial, where Ford was ultimately found liable.
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Recently, the Supreme Court of Texas released a per curiam opinion in the case of Lawson v. City of Diboll. The case surrounds an incident where an individual suffered injuries after tripping and falling while she was leaving a baseball field in a city park. The family of the woman filed a premises liability case against the City of Diboll.

baseball-game-4-1458704.jpgThe plaintiffs claimed that the woman fell because of the unsafe pedestrian walkways in the park. They further alleged that the City had the duty to provide safe walkways to those that visit the park.

At trial, the City attempted to thwart the claim by evoking the recreational use statute. By using the standard of care in the recreational use statute, the state’s tort claims immunity waiver was also triggered. This waiver allows the city to avoid liability for those injuries that occur to individuals on land that is opened to the public for “recreational” purposes.
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