August 2009 Archives

August 31, 2009

New Mexico Drunk Driving's New Poster Boy

New Mexico drunk driving accidents are problems. Heck, New Mexico DWI itself is a problem. When somebody is charged and convicted with DWI, we get bothered and hope that it wont happen again. When somebody gets a second DWI there is more anger that it happened again. When a New Mexico drunk driver picks up his or her third, fourth, or fifth DWI it becomes clear that he or she is basically beyond rehabilitation and the frustration focuses on the system that allows the ongoing problems.

Well, its hard to describe what to think when a New Mexico driver picks up his 22 DWI arrests. That is exactly what happened to Delano Vigil. During his last escapade he was arrested and subsequently blew .39 blood alcohol level. Thats right, .39. It seems that Delano is trying to set two New Mexico records: the most drunk driving arrests, and the highest blood alcohol level.

Prior to his last arrest Delano had been charged 5 times in New Mexico and another 16 elsewhere. However, it appears that he wont be going anywhere for a while. Delano must now answer to warrants in San Miguel County, Bernalillo County, and Sandoval County. All warrants seem to stem from drunk driving related offenses.

As of right now, Delano is a poster buy for change in New Mexico drunk driving laws. Honestly though, as a lawyer who sues New Mexico drunk drivers, I’m not convinced that any law will keep prevent a 23rd, 24th, or 25th arrest so long has he has any access to a car. Hopefully I’m wrong.

August 29, 2009

Albuquerque Bike Accident Memorials

Albuquerque bicyclists occasionally make news for unfortunate reasons. However, Albuquerque news is reporting on some mysterious bikes that have been appearing in the city. They are called "Ghost Bikes" and are generally painted white and placed in areas around the city where bicyclists have been hit and killed in New Mexico bicycle accidents.

Similarly to roadside memorials that commemorate motorists killed in fatal accidents, Ghost Bikes serve as memorials for bicyclists. In addition to honoring bicyclists who lost their lives, it is hoped that these memorials also serve as somber reminders to drivers and encourages them to take extra care to prevent future Albuquerque bike accidents resulting in wrongful death.

August 28, 2009

New Mexico Legal Research on a Dime

New Mexico personal injury lawyers, as well as all types of lawyers, are sometimes hired for their evaluation of legal issues, to prepare for a trial, or even just to answer simple legal questions. While I cannot say that a lawyer is not necessary for these tasks, sometimes people that call just want to know the answer to simple questions that they could easily determine with a little work and some knowledge of where to look.

New%20Mexico%20Legal%20Research%20Resources.jpgTo help with these people, the personal injury and accident lawyers have put together a comprehensive list of New Mexico legal research resources that address many personal injury topic. If information on other areas of law is sought, we typically recommend our clients refer to the Cornell Legal Information Institute, Nolo Law, and Justia.

Hopefully these resources can answer many typical New Mexico injury law questions. However, in the event there are any questions that remain, sometimes there is no alternative to an experienced New Mexico injury lawyer. Yet.

August 25, 2009

Espanola Drunk Driving May Mean Trouble for Liquor Store

A New Mexico drunk driver has been arrested in connection with the wrongful death accident of an Espanola man. According to reports, the drunk driver was traveling 60 mph down a residential street with a posted speed limit of 25 mph. Also in the car with the New Mexico drunk driver were two female passengers.

After the Espanola accident the drunk driver admitted to drinking vodka and more specifically, to buying it from a liquor store. If this is not enough, the drunk driver was only 18 years old, well under the required 21 years old to purchase alcohol in New Mexico.

In situations such as this, the estate of the deceased Espanola man may be able to pursue a claim not just against the drunk driver’s insurance, but also a dram shop case against the liquor store that sold alcohol to an underage customer. While authorities are still investigating the accident, they have not yet released the name of the liquor store.

New Mexico cases against liquor establishments, also called New Mexico dram shop cases, are intended to keep those who sell alcohol responsible. It is important for these New Mexico establishments not to place their goal of making money about keeping the community safe. When these liquor stores act responsibly, they run the risk of becoming liable for damages caused as a result of their own negligence.

August 22, 2009

New Mexico Drunk Driving Statistics - Reason to celebrate?

New Mexico Drunk Driving is in the news again, but this time its not all bad. On the same hand, its not all good either. NPR recently reported on New Mexico’s affliction with drunk driving, and more specifically that it moved from leading the nation in drunk driving deaths in the 90’s, to its current ranking of 17th. The article noted that New Mexico’s fall from the 10 worst states for drunk driving deaths allowed for an extra $1.5 million dollars in federal money.

So far so good. New Mexico lowers its drunk driving rate, and gets a wad of cash in the process. However, the story on New Mexico drunk driving goes on to ask the burning question of “Why” the drop in drunk driving.

At first, the reduced drunk driving deaths in New Mexico is attributed to the ignition interlock system for which New Mexico was the first state to require the installation of after a DWI conviction. However, another Albuquerque DWI expert was interviewed as part of the study and recommends New Mexico not start patting itself on the back.

She claims that the decrease in New Mexico DWI rates is also, at least partially, attributed to a change in how the statistics are reported. It used to be that the DWI rate was based on DWI deaths per capita. This is how it was tabulated when New Mexico led the nation. The method later changed to calculated DWI deaths per miles per year traveled by each resident. Considering New Mexico is a spread out state, and many New Mexico drivers travel hundreds of miles a week, the statistics went down.

This would suggest that even though the national rating has changed, the problem is still as big as ever. Of course, as long as New Mexico moves lower and lower on the list, there is still reason to applaud. Although our New Mexico personal injury attorneys represent many drunk driving victims, this is one type of case that New Mexico has always seemed to have plenty of.

August 21, 2009

Freak New Mexico Truck/Train Accident

Within the thousands of car accidents, many of which are New Mexico truck accidents, that occur each year, occasionally there are some that are so unusual and bizarre that it is impossible not to take notice. Granted there is never a New Mexico truck accident that is planned or predictable, but most certainly it easier to envision any accident other than what occurred recently on the outskirts of Albuquerque.

Yep okayA freight train that was near Belen was passing through the New Mexico darkness as if it was any other night. Whatever part of a freight train can be considered calm and serene, was interrupted when a truck came flying down from the sky and landed on it. It is certainly enough that New Mexico railroad operators need to be aware of street crossings in high-traffic areas. However, there likely was no training that could prepare anyone for vehicles falling from the sky.

Although New Mexico authorities are still investigating the incident, it appears that a truck traveling on I-25 lost control while on an overpass and fell on top of a freight train. Early accounts suggest that nobody on the train was injured and that the driver of the truck survived the incident without serious injury.

From a New Mexico personal injury lawyer’s perspective, this accident has so many possible causes and theories that it resembles a bar exam question more than a real-life occurrence.

August 19, 2009

Solving New Mexico Insurance Policy Questions

New Mexico is far from the richest state in the nation. New Mexico residents rarely have substantial assets buried in their back yard that can compensate New Mexico accident victims for their injuries. As a result, the financial recovery available to New Mexico car accident victims is often limited to the insurance policies in effect at the time.

Unless the negligent driver has substantial assets to cover the injuries caused by the accident, many times the biggest question for serious car accidents or New Mexico wrongful death cases, is what is the available limits of insurance. Answering this question typically requires obtaining the other driver’s insurance policy. However, if the accident victim has any New Mexico uninsured or underinsured coverage, than a simple review of the policies can shed some light on what the minimum available limits may be.

If you have been injured in a New Mexico accident, you can check your own insurance to see if you see the letters “UM” or “UIM” next to various numbers. If you see these letter, it means that you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage that if necessary can be used to help in the recovery. Next to these letters you will see two numbers separated by a “/”, such as “25/50” or “100/200.” Whatever these numbers may be, they are your policy limits on that particular vehicle. The way to read these figures is to look at the first number which indicates the most that any single person is able to recover from injuries resulting from the accident, and the second number which is the most that can ever be paid by the insurance company for the accident.

Before looking at your New Mexico insurance policy and thinking you figured everything out, it is important to be familiar, or at least talk to somebody who is familiar, with New Mexico uninsured motorist law. Under New Mexico law, a car accident victim may be entitled to use other insurance policies beyond those in effect on the vehicle that was involved in the accident, to recover additional money. For this reason, it is highly recommended to speak with an experienced New Mexico car accident lawyer before contemplating, let alone accepting, any offer for a car accident case.

August 18, 2009

Large New Mexico Medical Malpractice Reversed

Albuquerque medical malpractice verdicts are hard to come by. Heck, New Mexico medical malpractice lawyers will tell anyone that these case are some of the most hardly fought for anywhere in New Mexico. It is because of this that a recent New Mexico Court of Appeals decision is rippling through the state.

A while ago there was a large multi-million dollar jury verdict that was awarded in a New Mexico nursing home abuse case. The decision set various records and sent a strong message to New Mexico nursing homes on how that had to treat their patients. The case was reversed on what some may consider a legal technicality, while other may recognize as a material issue. As a result of the appellate court's ruling, the massive verdict has disappeared like a David Copperfield assistant.

The claim was based on part on the trial court's ruling that the nursing facility, under a legal theory of agency, was responsible for the conduct of the nursing home staff. Rather than present this particular issue to a jury, the trial judge decided that it was essentially an issue of law rather than fact. Unfortunately, the New Mexico Court of Appeals thinks differently and has ruled that the jury should have been allowed to decide if the New Mexico nursing home was responsible for the conduct of every staff member. As a result of the decision, the multi-million dollar verdict is gone, and the case is back to where it was years ago.

August 11, 2009

Police Pursuit - What to do when your chasing a moron

New Mexico police pursuit accidents are not the most common type of accidents, but when they occur, often result in serious or even fatal injuries. Typically, the basis of these injury cases involve claims that local authorities did not properly handle a police pursuit and instead, jeopardized the safety of New Mexico public.

News arising out of Iowa seems to reflect good judgment by pursuing officers during a motorcycle chase. A motorcyclist first drew the attention of police by speeding at 90 mph through a construction zone. When officers attempted to pull the motorcyclist over, he increased his speed to a whopping 188 mph. The moron motorcyclist exhibited a sliver of intelligence when he slowed to 158 mph to pass other vehicles.

When the chase entered more populated areas, the police balanced apprehending the suspect and charging him with driving offenses, with the overall safety of the public. This balancing test resulted in the police falling back in following the suspect by air surveillance. When the motorcyclist pulled into a parking garage, the police surrounded the area and arrested him.

While no one can condone the motorcyclist’s driving, the police must be applauded for calling off the chase and preventing what would likely have been a horrific motorcycle accident. In the event that all police officers acted with such judgment and discretion, there would likely not be nearly as many New Mexico police pursuit accidents.

August 10, 2009

New Mexico Motorcycle Accidents & Drunk Drivers

Albuquerque motorcycle accidents are too common. They often require just the slightest lapse in attention from a negligent driver and can result in some of the most serious injuries. A New Mexico motorcycle accident lawyer is aware that many times these cases involve more complex areas of damages and require special attention and care.

Unfortunately, a recent New Mexico motorcycle accident serves as a reminder to just how serious these accidents can be. Police responded to a motorcycle accident on Sunday night involving an SUV that rear-ended an unsuspecting motorcycle rider. The motorcyclist was stopped at Coors and Quail for a traffic light when he was rear-ended by a woman in an SUV. Making matters worse, the injured motorcyclist was pinned under the vehicle and required the assistance of various onlookers to be removed.

Recent reports also suggest that the woman failed a subsequent sobriety test and was arrested. This appears to be a New Mexico injury case in which no amount of money is going to be sufficient to compensate the accident victim. Separate from her criminal charges, the driver of the SUV will likely also be responsible for punitive damages in the event that sufficient insurance coverage exists.

August 7, 2009

New Mexico Law and Baseball

The New Mexico Court of Appeals is receiving national attention for its recent decision regarding the “baseball rule.” The baseball rule is known to exempt professional teams from liability when bats or balls go flying into the stands. This limit on liability exists so long as the stadium has the area and immediately behind home plate fenced off.

The case arose when a New Mexico child was struck in the head by a homerun ball at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque. The parents contended that the baseball team was partially responsible for the child's serious injury and the Court of Appeals was recently tasked with deciding the matter.

I have to admit, I am somewhat mixed on the decision. As a New Mexico plaintiff’s attorney, I am all for helping New Mexico injury victims. However, as a baseball fan, I enjoy the ability to have an unobstructed view of the action and the possibility of catching a ball here or there. I can’t help but wonder if part of the New Mexico Court’s decision has to do with the fact that the injury occurred at a picnic area adjacent to the outfield wall.

Arguably, it would be more prudent to place seats that are not positioned toward the field of play in areas that are not prone to have balls falling from the air. Of note, the case is going to be appealed to the New Mexico Supreme Court where it will be determined if the “baseball rule” will be good law in New Mexico.