November 2008 Archives

November 30, 2008

Gallup Targeting Distracted Drivers

Gallup, New Mexico is targeting distracted drivers in hopes of curbing accidents. While it has become common for municipalities to ban cell phone use while driving. Gallup city officials are taking it one step further by targeting not only drivers on cell phones, but also those who apply makeup, eat, or anything else that distracts from driving.

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Aware that such a new law would take substantial resources to enforce, the approach that seems to make to have the most support is to enforce the law only of the behavior leads to a car accident. I think this law will do little to discourage distracted driving, and instead just add another ticket to distracted drivers. The idea is applaudable, but the execution seems to prove difficult.

November 28, 2008

New Mexico Traumatic Brain Injury Resource

I recently came across the dramatic brain injury training kit. It is a resource designed to assist people cope with victims of such injuries. The site does a good job explaining a dramatic brain injury victim's difficulty in handling daily activities. According to the resource, a traumatic brain injury victim will have a hard time with rational reasoning, money management, memory, fatigue, smell, taste, as well as a full laundry list of things we take for granted.

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The website also includes numerous statistics about traumatic brain injuries such as the major cause is from serious car accident. In addition, men are three times more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury than women and they most often occur in 15-25-year-olds. The severity of the traumatic brain injury is not always measured by the force of the impact, but rather the length of time that the victim suffers post-traumatic amnesia.

In addition, the treatment for dramatic brain injury generally includes three separate phases. Acute management, community reintegration, and finally social rehabilitation. The impact of a New Mexico traumatic brain injury both on the victim and family is great during each of these three steps and the stress placed on friends and family cannot be ignored after the rehabilitation process is complete.

November 27, 2008

New Mexico Thanksgiving Injuries

New Mexico injuries and thanksgiving ideally do not go together. However, while most people try to have a safe holiday, there are certain risks of injuries that are more likely to occur on Thanksgiving than other days of the year. The Olympia Medical Center released their top five Thanksgiving injuries that are likely to occur during celebrations.

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Not surprisingly, topping the list is heartburn. To avoid that casualty, doctors recommend not laying down to watch football after the festive meal and avoiding eating too much. As if that is possible. Nest on the list is weight gain. Not much of a surprise there.

Third is choking which they recommend can be avoided by not talking, drinking, or laughing. That really sounds like a great holiday gathering. Perhaps they should recommend no eye contact as well.

The list is rounded out with excessive drinking and finally cuts and burns. Essentially, from a New Mexico drunk driving lawyer's perspective, excessive drinking is the big one to look out for here.

Some of the posts on our injury lawyer blog are helpful or at the very least informative. This is neither of those. Regardless, happy thanksgiving.

November 26, 2008

More Attention to New Mexico Traumatic Brain Injuries

Each year many New Mexicans suffer serious brain injuries. As any experienced New Mexico brain injury lawyer could tell you, or a jury, the effects of such brain injuries are serious and far reaching. Even though they are sometimes difficult to diagnose, traumatic brain injuries, or TBI's are some of the most catastrophic injuries one could suffer.

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Recently, the causes and effects of traumatic brain injuries are being explored by national groups. One such group has begun focusing on traumatic brain injuries due to their increased frequency in our returning troops. According to one statistic, one in five returning soldiers has experienced a TBI. The study revealed that although the nature of a traumatic brain injury varies from victim to victim, generally, that occur after a period of unconsciousness and is capable of producing short or long term disability.

Although there is nothing to celebrate regarding the increase of traumatic brain injuries, many scientists and medical providers are optimistic that increased attention to TBI's will help develop new treatments and methods of diagnoses. Until then, New Mexico traumatic brain injury lawyers must remain up-to-date on the constantly developing science behind the devastating injury.

November 25, 2008

New Mexico Slip and Fall Cases Worth More Than Peanuts

In the middle of I-25 in Albuquerque are numerous chain restaurants. One such restaurant is the Texas Roadhouse. Anyone who has been to the restaurant is aware of the unique signature of the restaurant. Peanuts. Lots of peanuts. Considered a torture chamber to anyone with peanut allergies, the restaurant encourages patrons to not only eat the free peanuts, but to scatter the shells throughout the restaurant all over the floor.

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Recently, a premises liability or slip-and-fall claim arose out of Texas from an injury that occurred at one of the restaurants. After eating, a woman slipped and fell on some of the shards and sustained a serious injury. The case went to trial and the jury recently awarded over $96,000 for the injury. Aside from housing one the same restaurants, the case brings to light New Mexico premises liability law.

Generally in New Mexico, the owner of a property is responsible if a visitor is insured due to a dangerous condition of defect that the owner created, or should have known about yet did nothing. As with the Texas verdict, juries often focus on comparative fault and essentially ask why the victim didn't look where they were going. However, this is not enough to avoid responsibility. Even with comparative fault, a New Mexico slip and fall attorney may be able to recover damages for their client in such cases.

Pardon the pun, but client's the recovery is New Mexico slip and fall cases is often more than just peanuts.

November 24, 2008

Bad Weather Brings Semi Truck Accidents

A recent study found that roughly 13% of semi truck accidents occur during bad weather. Fortunately, bad weather in New Mexico does not occur very often, but when it does many drivers are not prepared. The same holds true for semi truck drivers who do not always exercise the caution necessary to avoid endangering the New Mexico public.

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I experienced this first hand last winter when I was traveling to Gallup for a hearing and was on I-40 during a blizzard. Many cars pulled to the shoulder and simply stopped driving. However, numerous semi trucks were passing vehicles on all sides traveling at high speeds. Not only were the drivers not exercising proper caution, but they seem to have a complete disregard for the smaller vehicles scattered throughout the road.

New Mexico semi truck accidents are some of the most serious given the sheer weight and size of the vehicle involved. The injuries can be serious and sometimes fatal. The New Mexico semi truck accident lawyers at the Fine Law Firm believe it is important to review the federal semi truck regulations in every semi truck accident case to determine if any rules were broken that contributed to the accident.

It is important to know that semi trucks traveling through New Mexico's highways are obligated to abide by a strict set of regulations regarding the operation of their trucks. One such regulations specifically addresses driving in hazardous conditions and requires "extreme caution."

When evaluating New Mexico semi truck accidents it is important to keep in mind these regulations to evaluate if the violation of any such rules contributed to the accident. Many times even the violation of a seemingly obscure regulation can result in substantial recovery for New Mexico semi truck accident victims

November 23, 2008

Large Out-Of-State Cerebral Palsy Verdict

As cerebral palsy lawyer's, we often monitor verdicts throughout the country to stay informed of any jury trends. Such focus brought our attention to Pennsylvania when a child and his family was recently awarded $20.5 million in a cerebral palsy lawsuit. Although the trial lasted for over two weeks, the jury deliberated for just four hours before reading the verdict.

The cerebral palsy case arose from the nature in which the child's birth was handled in 2001. Essentially, the claim involved the mother who arrived at the hospital and the fetal monitor showed clear signs of distress. Although the hospital called the doctor, it took the doctor roughly 2 hours to arrive. In cerebral palsy lawsuits, this delay is crucial as it results in deprivation of oxygen and loss of brain function. By the time the doctor did arrive the child's brain had been damaged and at birth he was born with cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and blindness.

As result of the inadequate care during childbirth, the child is now require constant medical care and will never be able to walk. The verdict itself is without a doubt a large one, however, it is important to note that in cerebral palsy cases large portions of the verdicts are used for basic and essential needs which are incredibly expensive.

November 22, 2008

Can Civil Law Stop Hate Crimes?

A Kentucky jury recently awarded $2.5 million to the victim of a hate crime beating. The victim, mistakenly believe to be an immigrant was beaten by the Ku Klux Klan. The attack left the boy, now 19, with constant nightmares and nerve damage. Although the attackers also went through the criminal system, the civil trial created a unique opportunity that was the focus of the plaintiff lawyer's goal. To obtain a high enough verdict to bankrupt the organization.

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It is amazing that an organization so wrapped in violence and hatred can be brought down by the civil legal system. It is similar to Al Capone being apprehended not in the course of a heinous robbery or crime, but rather for not paying taxes on time.

The ability to connect the organizations and assets to the conduct of its numbers is similar to recognize liability principles that will hold an employer responsible for the negligent conduct of an employee. By personal injury lawyers, this is known as "respondeat superior."

Applying this unique employer/employee theory of liability against organized crime opens the door to other applications. In the right circumstances there may be possible cases against gang violence or other hate crimes.

November 21, 2008

Product Packaging Injuries

Anyone with children or an interest toward electronic devices is well aware of what the retail industry calls the "clamshell." It is the infuriating clear plastic packaging that takes substantial time, brute force, and sometimes spilled blood to open. Although I generally keep these packages as a nuisance, I was surprised to hear that they are the legitimate cause of injuries throughout the country.

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According to the New York Times, 6000 Americans end up in the emergency room as a result of trying to open these packages. That is 6000 Americans who had to show up at school or work the next day and tell an embarrassing story of how they got their bandages. You may be asking why on earth is this posted in the New Mexico injury lawyer blog. Please understand that I have never heard of anyone pursuing legal action for such a case, and I believe that any such cases would face many difficulties.

However, what is comforting is that the retailers including Amazon.com and other toy manufacturers have heard their customers complaints and are attempting to return to the simple cardboard box to package their merchandise. From a New Mexico product liability lawyer's perspective, this story is a unique example of businesses taking it upon themselves to fix dangerous or unsafe products, or in this situation packaging.

By the same token, what is amazing about this story, is that manufacturers will bend their policies to prevent their customers from suffering aggravation and minor injuries. However, when it comes to serious harm that many products pose, manufactures and retailers are less likely to intervene. Many New Mexico product liability cases occur because a dangerous defect or condition is known, but not seen as important enough to resolve or fix. Either way, I'm just glad that there is hope that I won't spend future holidays and birthdays swearing over my workbench trying to pry open a toy horse.

November 20, 2008

When Insurance is Not Enough

KOAT recently reported on the amazing ending of a horrible story. The article was about a 14-year-old Albuquerque boy who was released from the hospital four months after he was seriously injured in a New Mexico drunk driving accident. Doctors gave the boy a 20% chance of surviving, however, with the help of his family and his own perseverance, he recently returned home. During his hospitalization he not only had to endure 5 surgeries, but also spent some of the time is a coma.

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As an Albuquerque accident lawyer, this story brings to light an important issue is many New Mexico injury cases, subrogation. Subrogation is the duty to reimburse health insurance or medical providers for care they provide to an accident victim who later recovers from an automobile insurance company. This "duty" is often times made binding in New Mexico health insurance contracts, or from the medical provider directly.

This is an important aspect of New Mexico car accident cases considering that a client's recovery is determined by two separate elements: how much the car insurance pays, and how much of that has to be paid back to the health insurance companies. This unique relationship means that even if liability is clear and a car insurance company pays the policy limits, it is just as important to work to reduce the subrogation claim to maximize a client's recovery.

This is certainly a complex issue, and one that cannot be fully explained in a New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog entry. However, if nothing else, it is important for victims of serious New Mexico injuries to contact an experienced lawyer who can not only get you the most money possible, but help you keep it.

November 19, 2008

Taos Hit-and-Run Accident: What Injury Law Can Help

For the second time this month a Taos accident has resulted in a fatality. Earlier this month, the New Mexico Injury Lawyer Blog featured the tragic story of a Taos motorcycle accident. Sadly, another fatal Taos car accident recently occurred that has taken the life of a two year old toddler. Words cannot express the depth of loss that such an accident causes and certainly no legal outcome, whether civil or criminal will ever be just.

The accident occurred when a Taos hit-and-run driver struck the child and fled the scene. Following the car accident, the child was taken to Holy Cross Hospital where revival efforts were unsuccessful. The vehicle involved was a dark colored, beat up, late 1990's model pickup. Anyone with information can contact the Taos Police Department.

The accident again brings to the forefront the New Mexico personal injury law governing both hit and run and pedestrian accidents. A little known area of New Mexico uninsured motorist coverage would allow for recovery if any of the victim's family members who live in the same household have uninsured motorist coverage. This is true even the the vehicle that is insured has nothing to do with the accident. Again, while no recovery could come anywhere near adequate, this situation highlights the importance of contacted an experienced New Mexico injury and accident lawyer to explore all possible options.

November 19, 2008

Escaping the New Mexico Work Injury Trap

Typically New Mexico work-related injuries can only be pursued under New Mexico workers compensation laws, rather than general civil liability. Essentially, the New Mexico work comp statute traps the claim under work comp law. The distinction is somewhat confusing however, the difference is of great importance.New%20Mexico%20Work%20Injury%20Lawyer.jpg

New Mexico work comp law:

Under the provisions above New Mexico's work comp law, the general requirement for an injured worker to recover money for his or her injury is to simply show that he or she was injured while working. However, rarely can the injured New Mexico worker recover full value for the injuries. Instead, they are only entitled to recover a lesser amount and in some situations are not able to recover for many aspects of their injuries.

New Mexico civil law:

If the injured New Mexico worker can move beyond work comp law, then he or she may be able to recover substantially more money. However, in exchange, the claims are typically more difficult to prove.

So, this begs the question of when can a worker who was hurt in New Mexico move outside of work comp to recover the full value of his or her injury. The answer was clarified in the Delgado opinion in which various requirements were outlined that allowed the injured worker to sue under general civil law. Many of the elements require a showing that the employer knew or should have known that an injury was very likely to occur and did not adequately seeks to protect the employee.

"Delgado claims" as they are now popularly require an intricate and involved the valuation. Fortunately, one of the New Mexico work place injury attorneys at the fine law firm contributed greatly to the writing and research behind the Delgado opinion while he was employed at the New Mexico State Supreme Court.

the ability to escape the "New Mexico work comp trap" may allow the injured worker to recover substantially more than he or she would otherwise.

If you have been hurt on the job while working in New Mexico, contact our New Mexico work injury attorneys to determine whether you have a "Delgado Claim".

November 18, 2008

New Mexico Cerebral Palsy and Premature Deliveries

A new study by the March of Dimes rated all 50 states for frequency of premature deliveries. This study brings to light the the fact that premature births can be a cause of Cerebral Palsy, and highlights that there may be certain things that can be done to prevent it. The study gave New Mexico a "D" grade with respect to premature births. However, that was the average grade across the nation.

There are numerous causes of New Mexico Cerebral Palsy and I truly do not intend to suggest that all New Mexico Cerebral Palsy births are preventable. However, studies have in fact shown that many are. Instead, a major contributing factor to the high incidents of New Mexico Cerebral Palsy is complications that arise during prenatal care, as well as delivery. Many of these complications may be preventable. Damages recovered in Cerebral Palsy claims in New Mexico can often times be used to assist the child with special needs costs long into their lives.

November 17, 2008

New Mexico Traumatic Brain Injuries in Children

New Mexico traumatic brain injuries have some of the most far-reaching, life-changing, and packets on accident and injury victims. Often times they are difficult to diagnose medically, although they are obvious to the victim and their friends and family members. These New Mexico traumatic brain injuries become more troubling when the victims our children rather than adults. Not only does this make it more difficult to diagnose, but also allows the possibility of more prolonged impact throughout the injury victim's life.

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Scientists have recently been exploring the connection between ADHD and traumatic brain injuries. Although they found that children who sustained traumatic brain injuries are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD later in life, the question regarding why was not answered.

Recently, scientists in England have concluded that traumatic brain injuries in children are just as likely to increase susceptibility of ADHD as our burns. In the study, they took over 62,000 children and divided them into those who had been seriously burned, and those with dramatic head injuries. They found that the uninjured and unburned children had a 1.5% risk of being diagnosed with ADHD. The children who had sustained a brain or head injury had an 11.3% chance of the same diagnosis.

In many ways, this study highlighted the connection between a child's traumatic brain injury and the subsequent development of ADHD. However, the reason has not yet been fully explained.

From a New Mexico traumatic brain injury lawyer's perspective, this study highlights the need to ensure that injured children are fully evaluated and all aspects of their case are taken into consideration. Failure to account for risk of subsequent illness or disability may leave the injured child shortchanged.

November 16, 2008

New Mexico's Career Drunk Drivers

KOB news reporter, Joe Vigil, recently covered a remarkable New Mexico drunk driving story about an Albuquerque man who has been arrested 24 times for DWI. At one point, the seasoned drunk driver would encourage his friends to go drive drunk around Albuquerque just to see if they could beat the charges. Despite his lengthy arrest record, 18 of his 24 cases were thrown out of court, and of the remaining six he would generally have to serve just 10 days in jail.

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At the close of the story, the man says that he has changed his life and is now clean and sober going on 11 years. He also states that he hopes his story will encourage others to stop drinking and driving.

Yeah, I'm going to have to say that this may not be the best story to tell New Mexico's drunk driving population. I truly don't mean to offend the drunk driver, but I'm going on record as saying this is a bad story share with those thinking of drinking and driving in Albuquerque. I believe it would likely have the opposite effect, suggesting to many that New Mexico drunk driving accidents are not taken seriously, and drunk driving violations are beatable. Worst-case scenario, if you are hit with a drunk driving charge this story would suggest that it is a mere slap on the wrist.

How about instead we focus on the "scared straight" stories, to help with the New Mexico drunk driving epidemic. Lets instead tell stories involving serious punishments for first-time offense, or life-changing mistakes involving New Mexico alcohol-related accidents.

It is certainly wonderful that a hard-core alcoholic can turn his life around, and that is a story worth applauding and being told to many people, however, I suggest leaving out all those details about how easy it is to overcome DWI charges in New Mexico.

November 15, 2008

New Mexico Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Are You Covered?

The New Mexico Court of Appeals recently wrote an opinion regarding New Mexico uninsured motorist coverage waivers. Prior to the recent opinion, it was understood that unless an insurance company could produce a written waiver by their customer specifically asking to exclude uninsured motorist coverage, they were required to provide it.

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Many of our New Mexico car accident clients have benefited from this law when they were involved in accidents in which the negligent driver did not have insurance. Although the client's insurance company would initially attempt to exclude uninsured motorist coverage, when they were unable to produce the necessary documents, they had no choice but to provide such coverage and pay our client's claim.

The recent decision involves a driver who was injured while working for a large company and who sought to stack his employer's uninsured motorist coverage. The insurance company denied the stacking despite not having a signed waiver. The court did an about-face and concluded that the signed waiver is no longer a requirement and instead the waiver must only be made part of the policy.

Although the court expressly limited its opinion to the specific case, it is hard to imagine that the door has not been cracked open for insurance companies to argue a sweeping change.

November 14, 2008

Life after New Mexico Cerebral or Erbs Palsy

A recent story about a young man diagnosed with cerebral palsy since birth is helping many families maintain hope and cope with New Mexico cerebral palsy & Erb's palsy diagnoses. The story details the journey taken after the cerebral palsy diagnoses. Written off by his doctors and told he would never walk, Gregory, did not give up and taught himself to not only walk, but golf.

New%20Mexico%20palsy%20lawyer.jpgAlthough professional golf dreams were out of reach, he said a far more meaningful one of being able to walk every hole of the PGA Tour. He is set to walk his final hole in the near future which translates to roughly 1000 miles. While Gregory's situation is exceptional, it is the product of both his perseverance as well as medical assistance. As a child he underwent numerous surgeries to minimize the effects of cerebral palsy.

As a New Mexico cerebral palsy and Erbs palsy attorney, this story highlighted the positive aspects that could come from unfortunate situations. As noted in the article, the medical care Gregory received was detailed and costly. Although no New Mexico cerebral palsy or Erb's palsy litigation can reverse the diagnosis, the proceeds can nonetheless be used for needed treatment, and the pursuit of meaningful dreams.

November 14, 2008

The Stinky Truth About New Mexico Emotional Distress

Occasionally New Mexico personal injury law and humor cross paths. A recent case in which the plaintiff sued the City of Las Vegas highlights such an intersection. The lawsuit arose when the plaintiffs toilet backed up causing sewer water to gather on the bathroom floor. There was undisputed property damage that occurred in the City of Las Vegas accepted liability. New%20Mexico%20Emotional%20Distress.jpg
However, in addition to claiming damage to their house, one plaintiff claimed emotional distress. Although the plaintiff made clear that the emotional distress stemmed entirely from the damage to his floor and walls, I would assume that smelling sewer water on one's bathroom floor would invoke a great deal of emotional distress. Heck, a clogged toilet at the wrong time can cause fear and anxiety. Sewer water on a bathroom floor goes a step further.

Although a jury awarded the plaintiffs $10,000 for his emotional distress claim, the New Mexico Court of Appeals clarified long-standing law that requires physical injury, defamation, or intentional misconduct prior to allowing emotional distress as a damage.

In New Mexico, negligent infliction of emotional distress is generally limited to the emotional shock that occurs when witnessing a sudden traumatic event. Typically, such triggers include shootings, car accidents, or other serious physical injuries.

On the bright side, this case finally clarifies whether smelling sewer water on one's bathroom floor is a recoverable damage in and of itself.

November 13, 2008

How Far Does Employer Responsibility Go?

In August of 2003 an employee of BNSF railroad was driving near grants New Mexico when his vehicle veered into oncoming traffic killing the driver of another vehicle. Not surprisingly, the drunk driver did not have car insurance nor any substantial assets.

The New Mexico car accident attorneys that pursued the case attempted to argue that the railroad company should be responsible for their employee's conduct. The two methods of connecting an employer to an employee's negligent conduct our vicarious liability or negligent retention/hiring.

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With respect to vicarious liability, the court found that because the employee was not on the clock, and instead was on his own time, his employer was not responsible for his actions. Regarding the negligent hiring, the plaintiffs argued that because the employee had a substantial drinking problem and previous DWIs, the employer should have known that such an accident was likely to occur. Again, the court concluded that because it was not the negligent hiring or retention that was the cause of the accident, the employer could not be held responsible.

As evidenced by this New Mexico car accident case, connecting an employer to its employee's negligent conduct can oftentimes be a difficult task. Sadly, in this New Mexico drunk driving accident case, there are no winners or happy endings.

November 13, 2008

Thoughts on the Recent Clovis New Mexico Wrongful Death Accident:

For the second time in one week, Clovis is again in the New Mexico personal injury lawyer blog as a result of a two-car accident on New Mexico 209. the accident occurred on Wednesday when a northbound vehicle crossed into the southbound lane resulting in a head-on collision.

Sadly, three individuals were killed in the collision while another was airlifted to Texas. It is possible that this single collision could result in three separate New Mexico wrongful death claims. Such scenarios are not uncommon for New Mexico wrongful death lawyers to encounter, and often times result in drastically insufficient coverage to come anywhere near what would otherwise be recoverable. Such a New Mexico wrongful death accident highlights the importance of searching for any and all available coverage.

Although in New Mexico wrongful death cases, there can never be "enough" insurance coverage, but we have seen numerous wrongful death settlements and verdicts be used to provide an education for the families involved, or resolve some of the financial worries that may develop as a result of such situations.

November 12, 2008

New Mexico Police Shotings and the Wild West

Some Texas law enforcement officers may have some explaining to do after a police shooting that occurred in Clovis, New Mexico. The officers were chasing a suspect and began doing so in Texas. At some point the chase crossed into New Mexico and ended when the officers shot and seriously injured the subject.

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Now, the mother of the shooting victim, a Portales resident, is speaking out that her son was unarmed at the time he was shot. If true, this could pose a serious problem for the officers involved in the shooting. The New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog has previously posted articles about the standards that govern New Mexico police chases. Not surprisingly, there is a similar test that applies to the use of force by New Mexico police officers.

To summarize the test, New Mexico police must use force comparable with the harm they are facing. Essentially, if the officer is threatened with deadly force, must New Mexico standard operating procedures allow the use of deadly force. When an officer uses inappropriate force, there may be a basis for a New Mexico police misconduct case.

Many times the central issue for New Mexico police misconduct cases hinge not on the force that the officers used, but rather, whether they were justified in doing so.

November 11, 2008

A Challenge to New Mexico Accident Memorials

Most any driver on New Mexico roads has at some point seen the small crosses along the shoulders that designate scenes of serious or fatal New Mexico car accidents. These memorials, or descansos, have been reported to have various effects on people ranging from offensive religious symbols to comforting objects helping people grieve.

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Personally, these symbols do not strike me as religious as much as they do somber reminders of serious car accidents that changed people's lives. I oftentimes can't help but slowdown, become a little more cautious, and try to drive safer. It would not matter to me if the symbol was a cross, a Jewish star, a circle or a rectangle. Rather, the effectiveness is the consistent symbol that reminds people of importance of driving safely.

These symbols are being challenged in a Utah court which has caught the attention of New Mexico's Attorney General. The lawsuit was brought by an atheist group concerned with the state's funding of the crosses to designate the deaths of state troopers. New Mexico has filed a brief in the pending appeal to challenge the case.

I can understand the frustration with the state funding religious symbols, however, I sincerely hope that these highway memorials do not disappear as a result of the case. Hopefully the sides will reconcile their differences and allow the symbols of New Mexico accidents to remain standing.

I truly believe, as do many New Mexico car accident lawyers, that cautious driving would greatly reduce New Mexico wrongful death and accident claims. If these reminders scattered throughout New Mexico's highways help in that process, it would be a shame to lose them.

November 10, 2008

Stopping New Mexico Accidents by Better Testing?

A local Albuquerque television station recently did a report on the requirements necessary to obtain a New Mexico driver's license. Specifically, the report focused on the 25 question driving test in which it is necessary to correctly answer 18 questions to pass. From an Albuquerque personal injury lawyer's perspective, I watched the report wondering if more stringent testing requirements would decrease the number of accidents on Albuquerque streets. Honestly, I don't think it would make much of a difference.

In my experience meeting with victims of Albuquerque car accidents, very rarely can I say that an accident occurred because somebody did not properly tap their breaks or pull over for an approaching emergency vehicle. Instead, accidents occur most often from a lapse in attention, or a conscious decision to drive dangerously and erratically.

Currently, at least according to the news report, drivers must answer 18 of 25 questions correctly. This is essentially asking for a 72%, or C-, grade to pass a driver's test. Even if the necessary score were increased, I do not believe that it is going to prevent some people from speeding, running red lights, or not properly yielding to oncoming vehicles. Simply put, I believe that many Albuquerque car accidents occur because people choose to be risky and dangerous drivers, not that they simply do not understand driving rules.

Nonetheless, it is an interesting report by Shelton Dodson. If you want test yourself, you can try a sample New Mexico drivers license test.

November 8, 2008

Who is Entitled to New Mexico Wrongful Death Recoveries

In New Mexico wrongful death cases, there are typically two focuses to any case. First, what can be recovered in a New Mexico wrongful death claim. And second, how is a New Mexico wrongful death lawyer required to distribute any proceeds that may be recovered.

The answer to both of these New Mexico wrongful death questions are complex, and I will reserve the first topic, of what damages are recoverable in a New Mexico wrongful death case for another post. Regarding the second topic, it is an unfortunate reality of wrongful death cases that sometimes family members emerge and come out of the wood work saying how close they were to the deceased and asking if they can recover anything. Fortunately, the New Mexico legislature has spoken on this issue and written into the New Mexico Wrongful Death Act the following language:

[New Mexico wrongful death proceeds shall be] distributed as follows:
A. if there is a surviving spouse and no child, then to the spouse;
B. if there is a surviving spouse and a child or grandchild, then one-half to the surviving spouse and the remaining one-half to the children and grandchildren, the grandchildren taking by right of representation;
C. if there is no husband or wife, but a child or grandchild, then to such child and grandchild by right of representation;
D. if the deceased is a minor, childless and unmarried, then to the father and mother who shall have an equal interest in the judgment, or if either of them is dead, then to the survivor;
E. if there is no father, mother, husband, wife, child or grandchild, then to a surviving brother or sister if there are any; and
F. if there is no kindred as named in Subsections A through E of this section, then the proceeds of the judgment shall be disposed of in the manner authorized by law for the disposition of the personal property of deceased persons.

This language generally resolves most any New Mexico wrongful death claim, but, not surprisingly, there are some exceptions. Given the relatively "complex" family histories that a common these days it is wise to consult with an experience New Mexico or Albuquerque wrongful death lawyer to explore the details of any possible claim.

November 7, 2008

Albuquerque Police Pursuit Accidents: Stop or Go?

There was a recent Albuquerque car accident on I-25 and Paseo Del Norte. Although this in and of itself is not terribly noteworthy, let alone “blog worthy” for an Albuquerque injury lawyer, the way the accident happened is worth focusing on.

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In the early evening an officer observed a motorcycle traveling at a high speed, high being up to 140mph, on the freeway. Not surprisingly the officer began pursuing the moron on the motorcycle. However, when the Albuquerque Police Department officer followed the motorcycle off the interstate, he collided with a pickup truck. Apparently the motorcycle sped away.

Accidents that occur during police chases, or “pursuit cases” as they are referred to by Albuquerque car accident attorneys, require looking at whether the pursuit was following the police departments standard operating procedure.

Generally the SOPs require that the police officer balance the risk posed to the public by continuing the chase, with the harm of letting the subject remain at large. Essentially, if the risk the public is not worth catching the guy, the office should let up.

Each case needs to looked at closely by an experienced New Mexico car accident attorney, and while I would not begin to speculate as to whether the pursuit was justified in this situation, in nonetheless brings to light an important issue.

Of note, victims of New Mexico police pursuit accidents should be aware that to preserve all their rights to pursue their case, action must be taken within 90 days of the incident otherwise their ability to recover may be affected.

November 7, 2008

Rail Runner: New Mexico Train Accident Lawyers File Suit

The second New Mexico wrongful death lawsuit has recently been filed against the Rail Runner and its governing entities. Both New Mexico wrongful death incidents occurred within a month of each other in 2007, and both miles south of Albuquerque.

New%20Mexico%20Train%20Accident%20Lawyer.JPGWhile the entrance of the Rail Runner train and its scheduled extension into Santa Fe are welcomed additions for the Rio Grande corridor, the arrival of the commuter train with tracks through populated areas create a new danger for Albuquerque and New Mexico residents. Albuquerque and the surrounding area do not have much recent experience with frequent train crossings and the development of two wrongful death lawsuits shortly after the train began operation highlight this lack of experience.

Hopefully as the Rail Runner continues to offer its service it will better address needed safety issues such as train crossings. It is the hope of many of Albuquerque's personal injury attorneys, that the wrongful death lawsuits filed will serve to highlight the glaring need for a safety evaluation. Typically Rail Runner commuter train operators are required to ensure that railroad crossings are appropriately marked, that tracks and mechanical systems are properly maintained, that operators are adequately trained, and that the train is properly loaded and traveling at a regulated speed.

Unless the Rail Runner resolves its safety issues, we may be in store for additional lawsuits arising from Santa Fe and the greater Albuquerque area.

November 7, 2008

Farmington Police Motorcycle Accident: Above the Law?

Typically when you hear about a New Mexico motorcycle accident when the driver admits to drinking at a bar beforehand and tests positive for alcohol, you can expect DWI charges to follow. However, apparently the rules change when the suspected New Mexico drunk driver is a police officer.

Farmington%20Motorcycle%20Accident%20Lawyer.jpg
Steve Lynn of the The Daily Times out of Farmington, San Juan County, reported that following the accident in which the police officer injured his motorcycle passenger, there were no criminal charges other than a misdemeanor careless driving citation. While New Mexico drunk driving lawyers know that the law allows for DWI charges even if the blood test is not the requisite .08, apparently nobody felt compelled to file such charges against the police officer.

Instead, the officer received an "unbecoming conduct" violation for which it is unclear how he will be disciplined. As Albuquerque motorcycle accident lawyers, we handle numerous cases throughout New Mexico and into the Farmington, San Juan County, area. We also encounter numerous cases in which the government, or police officers contribute to causing the accident. You always hoped that the officer will be treated just as if he was any other motorist, however, that is not always the case.

Although I admittedly have not reviewed the police report nor have any inside information into whether or not the Farmington police officer was in fact driving his motorcycle drunk, this case smells.

November 6, 2008

Vehicular Homicide Charged After Taos Motorcycle Accident

A recent fatal accident in Taos Canyon leaves a woman coping with her serious injuries while simultaneously mourning the loss of her husband. The accident occurred on November 2nd when a a vehicle crossed the center line and struck the motorcycle head on. The driver was cited for vehicular homicide after his reckless driving was found to have caused the accident.

Taos%20Motorcycle%20Accident%20Lawyer.jpgFrom a New Mexico motorcycle accident lawyer's perspective, this is an all too common story. The reckless driving charge will likely allow for the pursuit of punitive damages which typically can only be recovered with substantial assets or the victim's own underinsured motorist coverage.

The recent Taos Canyon motorcycle accident highlights that motorcycle accident are often the most gruesome of accident on New Mexico's highways. I do not hesitate when I say that paying for New Mexico underinsured motorist coverage is one of the most important decisions a motorcycle rider can make.

November 6, 2008

White House Dog Bite

Earlier the White House dog, Barney, bit a reporter who was reaching to pet it. Aside from its comic implications, it brings up a common New Mexico dog bite scenario. The "first dog's" attack would produce some amazing pretrial discovery issues.

Does Barney have a tendency toward violence?
Did Barney live in an abusive household?
Was Barney bred for his watchdog tendencies to protect the White House?
Has Barney previously attacked any world leaders or diplomats?

Unfortunately, as New Mexico dog bite attorneys, many of the injuries we see are far more serious than Barney's encounter. To make matters worse, a high percentage of the victims tend to be children with lasting injuries and scars.

Typically, the availability of homeowners insurance is one of the more important factors in evaluating the value and likelihood of success in Albuquerque dog bite cases. In addition, attention to detail must be focused on evaluating the foreseeability of the dog attacked and any comparative fault on behalf of the dog bite victim.

November 5, 2008

Everyone Gets a Day in New Mexico Court: And Then Some

In one of the greatest wastes of time for New Mexico courts, the New Mexico Court of Appeals recently had to entertain the request of "Variable" in his attempt to change his name to "F- Censorship." Those familiar with unusual cases will recall that in 2004 "Variable" had his name changed from "Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon" after the New Mexico Court of Appeals granted leave to do so.

New%20Mexico%20Censorship.jpgApparently unhappy with his current name, "Variable" was after something a bit more confrontational. I tend to associate "Variable's" desire to change his name with gay marriage. His ability to do so one way or another will have little to no effect on my life. They are both also things that have a hard time justifying extensive state resources to debate the issue. If people want to do it, who the heck am I to stand in their way?

While the First Amendment is nothing to belittle, it is hard to reconcile the difficulties that many Albuquerque personal injury attorneys have in obtaining trial settings while some guy is arguing about his right to change his name to an explicative. I truly wish "Variable" happiness however I hope that his main change ambitions stop eating up New Mexico's judicial resources.

November 5, 2008

Obama and a New Republican Party

Obama will soon be president of the United States. He inherits a nation that is divided and wounded. But also one the he promises to make a better. Across the nation, we saw red fade into blue. New Mexico is now a blue state from border to border. The election results, which increased the democratic pull across America, also sound an alarm for the republican party that they need to regroup and refocus their principles.

Albuquerque%20Accident%20Lawyer%20Tort%20Reform.jpgRepublican strategists have already begun recommending a new direction for their party, a return to fiscal conservatism. As a Albuquerque personal injury lawyer, I immediately wondered how any such refocusing will affect the popular talking point of "tort reform". If in fact the Republican Party is to separate itself from the religious right and reorganize itself under economic issues, it seems likely that they will attempt to piggyback tort reform as a needed change.

Although in exit polls, tort form is not popular enough of a topic that drives elections, it is a part of the common popular issues; access to health care and the economy. Under the Republican plan, both health care and the economy will be cured by implementing tort reform. Should the Republican Party abandon the divisive issues of gay marriage, abortion, and gun rights, this would seemingly allow more resources for an attack on tort reform.

Although the issues relating to tort reform have been well researched and statistical data shows that personal injury lawyers and accident attorneys are in no way ruining the economy or health care system, it is a topic that has persisted from election year to election-year. And even if tort reform is never accomplished, the brainwashing of jury pools has a far more beneficial effect for the insurance companies in the passage of any bill or measure.

If there is to be an increased attack on the legal system by the Republicans, Democrats, injury victims, and trial attorneys must prepare for what is to come. I would hope that New Mexico personal injury attorneys continue to discuss how their clients' cases are affected by politics, and that those in office waste no time in preparing for he newly engineered attack on injury and accident victims.

November 4, 2008

Changes in New Mexico Work Injury Law

New Mexico bought recently changed when the state Supreme Court gave its decision in Tafoya v. Rael. The case arose when the defendant contractor hired an inexperienced subcontractor to perform dangerous work. When the subcontractor died as a result of his own negligence, he attempted to pursue a case against the general contractor for asking him to do work for which it was not licensed or qualified.

Albuquerque%20Work%20Injury%20Lawyer.jpgGenerally speaking, a general contractor is not responsible for the negligent acts of an independent contractor. The exception to this is negligent hiring in which the general contractor may be liable for injuries caused to a third party. This new case out of New Mexico changed the law to a certain extent in that it allows for a negligent hiring claim against a general contractor when it is the subcontractor that is injured.

Hopefully the decision will encourage employers to exercise greater discretion and involvement in their hiring processes rather than hide behind their independent contractors.

A recognizable problem in cases such as the Tafoya is the need to overcome a substantial amount of comparative fault on behalf of the plaintiff. It would seem that utilizing the recent New Mexico decision on work-related injuries is best reserved for claims involving substantial damages.

November 3, 2008

Albuquerque Bars & Drunk Driving

Three New Mexico bars, Graham Central Station, Sauce, and The Library, are in danger of losing their licenses as a result of their inability to abide by basic laws and regulations regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages. The violations, according to the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department, arose from the sale of alcoholic beverages to a minor or intoxicated person.

Albuquerque%20Drunk%20Driving%20Lawyer.jpgThe violations are troubling considering New Mexico's extensive battle with drunk drivers. Although clamping down on such bars will not solve our problem overnight, it does seem that the idea of recognizing the responsibilities associated with alcohol needs to be highlighted. Considering that it is the third strike for each of the bars, they risk the possibility of having their liquor license suspended or revoked.

Personally, I believe that if the bar stands to profit from the sale of alcoholic beverages, it is their job to ensure that they do so responsibly. Just as attorneys are not permitted to practice law with reckless abandon, so too should a bar recognize that they possess a unique responsibility by virtue of selling alcohol. Not to mention, being allowed three strikes is far more lenient than many other businesses are permitted.