November 2010 Archives

November 28, 2010

Albuquerque Employee Sexual Assault - When is the Employer Responsible

Recently an Albuquerque city employee was charged with sexual assault against a neighbor. According to the story, the city worker, while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, attempted to rape his neighbor. While this garbage employee is making headlines, this is certainly not the first time an employee has caused a New Mexico personal injury or New Mexico accident.

From a New Mexico personal injury lawyer's perspective, this sexual assault story raises the issue or respondeat superior or vicarious liability. This is when somebody, such as an employer, can be held accountable for the conduct of someone else, such as an employee. Often times for such New Mexico injury and accident cases, the question comes does to whether the employee was working under the scope and corse of his or her employment, or whether it was forceable such a person such a incident could occur. For example, the new story on this incident suggests that the driver had to submit to regular drug tests. In the event he failed any such tests and nothing was done, then the City of Albuquerque could be responsible for allowing such an individual to remain on the streets.

In addition to helping hold employers responsible for sloppy employee management, hiring, training, and retention, New Mexico personal injury claims against an employer often allow the injury victim to recover substantially more than claims limited to the employee.

November 27, 2010

Lawsuit Paranoia Works

Earlier today I went to a local gym. While walking past a main hallway I saw two employees carrying a cooler full of water. Moments later I saw them wiping up water they had surely spilled. While it was nice to see their concern for their customers, I overheard one say to the other, "Now we won't have to pay a $50,000 settlement."

The comment made me think. As an Albuquerque personal injury law firm, we have handled hundreds of slip and fall cases. I have also heard countless lawyer jokes and slurs about the legal system. But in this situation, it became clear that the motivation to protect customers from personal injury stemmed not from concern for their safety, but rather concern for a lawsuit. Sadly, this seems to suggest that the legal system, specifically the New Mexico personal injury system, despite its shortcomings, truly does help protect people. And until the concern for safety takes second stage to lawsuit paranoia, the system does in fact make the world safer, or at least my gym.

November 22, 2010

Rio Rancho Motorcycle Rally Goes Wrong

Rio Rancho hosted a motorcycle rally recently to help raise money for a Toy Drive. Sadly, Rio Rancho also hosted a Rio Rancho motorcycle accident. While it is difficult to determine exactly how many motorcycles were involved in the accidents, initial reports seem to suggest numerous people were injured.

The remarkable fact about the Rio Rancho motorcycle accident story is that within the past few years Rio Rancho has also seen other New Mexico motorcycle accidents occur during motorcycle rallies. In some of those prior cases it has been alleged that Rio Rancho did not properly permit the event and allow for sufficient police escorts. While it is unclear what caused the numerous motorcycle accidents at this recent Rio Rancho rally, one has to begin wondering just how good the city and organizers protect riders that participate for the most respected of reasons.

November 19, 2010

Clovis Police Officer Causes Fatal Accident

A recent Clovis, New Mexico car accident, in addition to being a tragic story, highlights New Mexico government liability law, specifically, New Mexico's Tort Claims Notice requirements.

The fatal New Mexico accident occurred when a Clovis police officer ran a stop sign near Grand and Sycamore and struck another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle was taken to University of New Mexico hospital and is listed in critical condition. Sadly the passenger died as a result of the injuries.

Under New Mexico law, each accident victim is entitled to pursue a New Mexico wrongful death claim. However, under the letter of the law, there is immediate action taken. Depending on the severity of her injuries, the accident survivor may have only three or six months to place the government on notice that there may be a potential claim. With respect to the deceased accident victim, her family and loved ones may only have six months.

These limits arise from the New Mexico Tort Claims Act that requires near immediate notice to the correct branches of the government. Although some New Mexico wrongful death lawyers have been successful in challenging these requirements, there nonetheless remains various legal requirement that must be followed while New Mexico accident victims must also cope with their injuries.

November 19, 2010

Airborn Hospital Infections - Change is in the Air

New Mexico hospitals are where you want to be when injured or sick, however, they are also capable not of helping heal you, but rather causing an infection. Many infections, are called a risk-of-the-procedure, meaning there may be no legal basis to pursue a case. However, some hospital infections are different an entirely preventable.

Considering such hospital infections are a top 10 cause of death in America, preventing future infections is a true development in medicine. By the same token, it means that infections should no longer be the risks they used to be and that hospital infections should no longer benefit for legal loopholes as they have in the past.

The New Mexico Health Department has recently joined a movement to track infections with a goal of minimizing patient risks. Simultaneously, a recent advisory committee is recommending New Mexico Hospitals be required to report infection rates. Local hospitals that have expressed a level of participation in the movement include: University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, as well as Lovelace in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.

November 17, 2010

Autism Child Abuse

Prior beginning a career in New Mexico personal injury law, I spent some time handling criminal cases. While there is certainly an assortment of sad stories and gruesome crimes, perhaps none were as difficult to stomach as child abuse. When it comes to New Mexico child abuse cases, a recent story is perhaps more disturbing than most any other.

The incident occurred at Camelot of New Mexico when a staff member began kneeing an autistic child in the head repeatedly. The facility was built to care for and protect such special needs children, and what occurred reflects a gross disregard for the safety of patients.

Unfortunately, the story does not end there. Supposedly the mother of the victim released a statement indicating she was “happy” with her son's medical care. When questioned on her statement the mother indicated that somebody hired by Camelot made it seem as though she had prepared statement.

When asked to comment on this claim the director of the facility claimed that although she hired a public relations firm, she could not comment on whether the mother's claim was true.

Although the abuse of the autistic child is not necessarily the most violent, the fact that it occurred at a facility that is paid to protect children, and then perhaps tried to cover up wrongdoing is what makes this incident so troubling.

November 11, 2010

Kick in the Face Ends in Slap in the Face

Our New Mexico personal injury lawyers, have seen hundreds upon thousands of cases. Nonetheless, every once in a while a personal injury case arises that results not only in shock, but a bit of a smile.

One such case involves a resent Florida resident who settled a $650,000 claim for a traumatic injury to his face that caused double vision and broke numerous bones. Clearly this is not funny. However, the humor exists when the cause of the injury comes to light.

Apparently, the plaintiff sustained his serious injury while a patron at a strip club. The broken bones did not occur from an overzealous bouncer, but rather a stripper who incorporated a kick move into the routine. The problem is that the kick move landed her metal healed shoe into the man's face.

Just makes you think...

November 9, 2010

Wrongfully Prisoned Lawsuit

Currently the based-on-a-true-story movie Conviction is circulating in theaters. Elsewhere, it is becoming abundantly clear to many that the wrongfully-accused and wrongfully-convicted stories continue to emerge all over the place. ABC News' Steve Weinberg, recently ran a story about Joshua Kezer. Kezner's story begins in 1992 following a Missouri murder. After a delayed investigation, Kezner was charged, tried, and convicted of the crime and jailed nearly 16 years.

Without any physical evidence the conviction hinged on a handful of prison inmates claiming to have heard Kezer confess. Following a shift of political landscape and a new sheriff, the case was reopened and evidence discovered in the police file that cleared Kezer. After his release from prison, Kezer filed a civil suit against the law enforcement officers that put him behind bars. Prohibited from filing civil suit against the prosecutor, Kezer and his lawyers pursued a case against the law enforcement agents who withheld evidence in federal court under a well known government liability statute, 1983.

Qualified immunity cases, or 1983 lawsuits, enable the wrongfully charged and prosecuted to seek compensation when law enforcement exceed constitutional limitations or act in bad faith.

Although the final settlement of the case is confidential, it is likely in the millions.

November 7, 2010

New Mexico Class Action Law - Going Extinct?

Are New Mexico class action cases soon to be banned. That is the questions the Supreme Court will answer next week as they decide the future of not just New Mexico class action cases, but all class action matters across the entire nation.

The case going before the Court involves AT&T and the essential question they must decide is whether companies can prohibit class action lawsuits with language embedded in there contracts. If successful, large business will likely all add such language preventing any court from allowing a consumer to take on a massive corporation.

The decision, whichever way it goes, is going to be one of the more monumental cases to address the so called “tort reform” movement.

November 4, 2010

Fatal New Mexico Truck Accident

New Mexico’s most recent fatal truck accident occurred on US 54 and involved vehicles from Wisconsin and Minnesota. Initial reports suggest that the accident began near Nara Visa when two passenger vehicles collided and were subsequently hit by a semi truck. The New Mexico truck accident has left a man and a woman dead and two others in critical condition.

Multiple impact car crashes such as this can become very complex, very quickly. Under New Mexico accident law, each driver is responsible for his or her own actions and the damages that are caused. For example, even though the semi-truck did not start this particular New Mexico truck accident, the driver could still be accountable of any of his driving contributed to the second accident. Similarly, the vehicle that was struck by both the first car and the semi truck may be allowed to pursue claims against both insurance carriers.

As is true in any New Mexico wrongful death case, the prospect of financial recovery offers no consolation for the families of those involved, but nonetheless, we have seen recovery used to improve the quality of life for the victims loved ones.

November 3, 2010

Recovering from a Single Vehicle Accident

News of a recent Albuquerque car accident on Golf Course Rd raises the question of whether New Mexico law allows for a recovery in single vehicle accidents.

Just as the name sounds, single vehicle accidents are those in which only one vehicle is damaged. Under New Mexico law, passengers involved in single vehicle accidents will almost always have a case to pursue. In some situations the driver may also have a claim. This arrises in situations where the accident was caused, or contributed to by: an unknown vehicle, a dangerous condition of road, or a defective vehicle.

Very often these claims go un-pursued when the injury victims mistakenly believe there is nothing that can be done. To the contrary, single vehicle accidents, just like all Albuquerque car accidents, may allow for the injured victims to recover.

For example, in the recent Albuquerque car accident on Golf Course Rd, initial media reports suggest that the vehicle made contact with a guardrail. Regardless of what caused the vehicle to lose control, if it is found that the guard rail was maintained defectively, there may be a viable claim for those injured to pursue.