June 2008 Archives

June 19, 2008

Is Work Comp the Only Answer?: New Mexico Work Injury Law & The “Delgado Opinion”

New Mexico workers are hurt on the job every day. Many times they immediately contact a New Mexico work comp lawyer to evaluate their case. Although this is not a bad strategy, it may result in not thoroughly exploring all recovery options available under New Mexico law.

new%20mexico%20work%20injury%20lawyer.jpgAfter the Work Comp Act was passed, employees injured on the job were largely unable to recover damages beyond those limited by the Workers' Compensation Act. The benefit of moving outside the limits of the act is that generally the amount that can be recovered is closer to fully compensating the injured victim.

Many New Mexico workers who are injured while at work are unaware that if the injury occurred, even in part, because of the conduct of someone other than an employer or co-emplyee, there may be multiple rights they have under New Mexico law. Common examples include when a New Mexico worker is hurt: because of a defective product, in a New Mexico car or truck accident caused by another driver, by a contractor at a job site, or by a third party's negligence.

However, New Mexico employees hurt while working may also have another chance, albeit slim, of recovering damages against their employer outside the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Act.

The New Mexico case that opened the door to moving beyond the act, Delgado v Phelps Dodge, established a three prong test that must be applied to all such cases:

(1)the worker or employer engages in an intentional act or omission, without just cause or excuse, that is reasonably expected to result in the injury suffered by the worker;
(2)the worker or employer expects the intentional act or omission to result in the injury, or has utterly disregarded the consequences; and
(3)the intentional act or omission proximately causes the injury.

While many personal injury and New Mexico work related injury lawyers have attempted to use the Delgado opinion to move beyond New Mexico work comp law, the requirements are extensive and the cases that qualify are limited. Nonetheless, in serious New Mexico injury cases, it is often essential for New Mexico accident and injury lawyers to evaluate this option.

June 15, 2008

Albuquerque Drive-By Shootings - What New Mexico Injury Victims Need To Know

Drivers hurt in Albuquerque car, truck, and motorcycle accidents usually find they are the victims of another's negligence. However, sometimes New Mexico injury victims suffer injuries not because of negligence, but rather someone else's intentional act, such as drive by shootings.

driveby%20shooting.jpgAn Albuquerque story recently emerged in which an innocent Albuquerque woman was smoking a cigarette outside when she was caught in crossfire from two vehicles shooting at each other. Bernalillo County deputies and other New Mexico officers believe the bullets came from a drive-by shooting.

Although the woman was not seriously injured, others are often not so lucky. Many times injuries from New Mexico drive by shootings are serious if not fatal. When victims or their families call our office to see if anything can be done, the conversation typically focuses on the availability of New Mexico uninsured motorists coverage. The reason is that the shooters rarely have substantial assets and if they do have liability insurance, it almost always excludes intentional acts, such as drive-by shootings. Fortunately, New Mexico uninsured motorist coverage, will typically provide coverage in such situations.

The rules regarding New Mexico uninsured motorist coverage are complex and it is wide to discuss the situation with a New Mexico drive-by shooting and injury lawyer early on to determine how to best proceed. Although drive-by shootings are sudden attacks capable of leaving lasting injury, there may be some form of compensation available for victims and their families.

June 11, 2008

New Hospital Malpractice Case Changes New Mexico Medical Malpractice Law

The New Mexico court of appeals just made its mark on New Mexico medical malpractice cases. The recent decision will likely affect medical malpractice cases in Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Gallup and the rest of New Mexico.

medical%20malpractice.jpgThe case involved a 21 year old New Mexico man who was riding on a medical rescue helicopter as part of a hospital training exercise. A fatal accident reportedly occurred as a result of the pilot's negligence and hot dogging. The 21 year old died as a result of the accident and his family brought a New Mexico wrongful death claim against the hospital, Eastern New Mexico Medical Center.

A complicated record resulted in two jury verdicts and a recent Court of Appeals decision regarding the duty for a hospital to inquire as to the safety of its helicopter pilots. The defense contended that it was sufficient to rely solely on the helicopter pilot's FAA approval without doing an adequate safety investigation. The New Mexico court found otherwise and held that the hospital was required to perform a safety investigation of the operator.

The case is interesting in that it may be available for future New Mexico medical malpractice and negligence cases, and may pave the way for broader New Mexico negligent hiring cases. The decision may go further to holding New Mexico hospitals accountable for the negligent conduct of their employees, whether they be contracted pilots, nurses, surgeons, or therapists. It is the New Mexico public that will benefit the most if hospitals are required to look a little closer and whoever they choose to conduct business with.

June 10, 2008

New Mexico DWI Law and Drunk Driving Accident Injuries

New Mexicans often read about a new drunk driving car accident in Albuquerque, Farmington, Las Cruces, or most any other New Mexico city every week. But, believe it or not, New Mexico was recently cited as a success story in the fight against drunk driving accidents. An out-of-state article focusing on drunk driving laws and ignition interlock devices cited a study that suggests New Mexico my be on the right track in fighting drunk driving car accidents.
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The article, written by Vicki Ekstrom mentions that in 2005 New Mexico was the first state to require and ignition interlock devise for first DWI convictions. At the time, New Mexico ranked eighth in the nation for drunk driving fatalities. The following year, after the new legislation had been in place, New Mexico ranked 14th for the same statistic. Another national study found that ignition interlock devices reduce drunk driving by 45 to 90 percent.


I admit that it is hard to point at one particular piece of New Mexico legislation and suggest that it will save our state's public, but by the same token, it is hard to ignore the fact that this may, in some way, be working. Victims of drunk driving accidents as well as New Mexico drunk driving lawyers are aware that while a huge amount of blame should fall on the drunk driver, it is also time for the state's lawmakers to try other options. Fortunately that seems to be happening, and in the years to come, which this, as well as new legislation, New Mexico may continue to drop further down these undesirable statistics.

June 8, 2008

New Mexico Tort Reform?

Ask most New Mexico personal injury lawyers and they'll tell you how politicians, pandering for popular votes, target injury lawyers and threaten changes that help large corporations at the expense of injured New Mexicans. For the most part, New Mexico has dodged this national tort reform trend and fought to protect those injured by medical malpractice, slip and fall, andNew Mexicans injured by car accidents truck accidents or motorcycle accidents.
I was surprised to hear that Obama, heralded as the champion of the left, has supported in the past and continues to support forms of tort reform.
Sebastian Mallaby with the Washington Post recently wrote an article, that although referenced a, "grotesque tort system" had some nonetheless valuable reflections on the two presidential candidates. The article mentions that Obama voted in favor of the Class Action Fairness Act. Although the bill did not implement obscene limits is such cases, it did increase the Federal Court's jurisdiction, giving executive appointed judges more control over case originally in state court. Critics claim the bill makes limits access to the legal system and makes it easier to monitor and control.
The question is whether Obama voted for this bill because he believes in even broader tort reform, or this was an attempt to garner some bipartisan support. If it is the former, New Mexico may be seeing its tort reform defenses begin to weaken.

June 6, 2008

Albuquerque Drunk Driving Laws

New Mexico drunk driving is known to be one of worst problems our state faces. All too often we read about horrendous New Mexico drunk driving accidents that destroy families and ruin lives. As a result, various New Mexico drunk driving laws are revisited each legislative session in hopes of tweaking legal formulas to alleviate this cause of many serious and fatal New Mexico accidents. Last year, Albuquerque itself attempted to implement laws to address this issue by banning the sale of alcoholic miniatures in certain parts of the city. The logic was that these “minis” are drank almost immediately after purchase and thereby contribute to New Mexico drunk driving.
To test this theory, simply ask yourself , when have you ever gone to a friends house, been offered a drink, and served a miniature bottle of whatever. As a matter of fact, aside from an airplane ride hear and there, I have never even seen a miniature bottle other than for sale throughout Albuquerque's street corners.
Albuquerque's experiment was short lived when a judge recently overturned the law on the grounds that it infringed on the state's domain. Regardless of the legal justification of the decision, hopefully the matter will be addressed next legislative session and a rational, logical, step toward bettering our state will not stall behind lobbyists and special interests.
Perhaps somewhere out there, there is a solitary person worried that they will no longer be able to stock their liquor cabinet with dozens of teeny bottles, but that is hardly a reason to allow New Mexico's drunk driving problem to go un-targeted by lawmakers.

June 6, 2008

New Mexico Injury Claims Statutes of Limitation Encourage Prompt Action

I recently got of the phone with a woman who was the victim of a serious Albuquerque car accident. Despite a solid injury case, I had to tell her she had no claim. It was unfortunately a common call to our personal injury law firm from accident victims asking about New Mexico Statutes of Limitations. Sadly, with many of these calls, people have the dates wrong. New Mexico medical malpractice, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, tort claims, and uninsured motorist claims may have different statutes of limitation. Factors such as a plaintiffs age and mental ability or the type of defendant may drastically affect the amount of time to file a New Mexico case.
All too often our New Mexico accident and injury lawyers have to tell seriously injured accident victims that they are out of time to pursue their case. It is never a pleasant call, and one we wish we could avoid.
Generally, New Mexico personal injury and accident claims are governed by a three year statute of limitations. However, various facts unique to each injury claim may result in a statute of only two years. Even worse, some cases require actions within days of the injury to preserve the claim. New Mexico personal injury attorneys and injury victims should be especially careful of cases involving medical malpractice or any government entity.
The moral, even if you don't plan on hiring a New Mexico injury lawyer immediately, it is worth consulting with one regarding the intricacies of you cases. Just as we don't enjoy telling people it is too late, it must be far worse to hear that on the other end of the phone.

June 6, 2008

New Mexico Semi Truck Accident Lawyers

Semi Truck Accident Injuries
While it only takes a single impact with a semi truck to cause a serious injury, many semi truck accidents involve multiple impacts. Cars are often dragged by the semi truck or pushed into other vehicles or roadside barriers. As a result victims of semi truck accident may be tossed around from impact to impact.
Semi truck accident injuries are some of the most serious. Often resulting in death, paralysis, or other serious injury, these cases must be handled with a delicate balance of care and aggressiveness. Often times semi truck accident injury cases require exploring additional aspects of injury damages. This include pain and suffering, lost wages, lost earning capacity, loss of consortium, permanent disability, impairment, disfigurement, property damage, emotional distress, and future medical expenses.

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