Fatal Ejection on I-25 - New Mexico Dram Shop Law

May 25, 2011

On March 24, 2011, at 7:30 p.m., a car with five occupants was speeding down an Albuquerque on-ramp to southbound Interstate 25.  When the car reached the end of the ramp, the driver lost control.

The car veered across the southbound lanes.  A southbound van clipped the rear of the car.  The car went into a spin.  Two passengers were ejected, one landing in the northbound lanes.  Both died at the scene.  Two other passengers sustained minor injuries.  The three occupants in the van were not seriously injured. 

The police noted that excessive speed and influence of alcohol were factors in the accident.  The driver of the car had been convicted of DWI in 2008.  The driver was treated at the hospital for a possible head injury.  A test of her blood revealed a blood-alcohol concentration of .23. 

A New Mexico car accident lawyer could file claims for wrongful death damages against the driver of the car from which the decedents were ejected.  If the driver’s liability insurance is not adequate to cover the wrongful death compensation claims, the accident attorney would look to other sources of recovery.

If the decedents were “insureds” under their own auto policies, there could be a recovery under the “underinsured” provisions of the policies.  There is also the possibility that a decedent was an “insured” under an auto policy owned by a household member.

The results of the blood test indicate that the driver was highly intoxicated at the time of the accident.  A New Mexico car accident lawyer would investigate the possibility of New Mexico wrongful death claims under New Mexico’s dramshop law.  If the driver was served alcohol when she was impaired, dramshop liability could apply. 

If a bar or a retail store supplied the driver with alcohol when she was intoxicated, the alcohol provider could be liable for its proportionate share of wrongful death damages.  Under New Mexico law, liability can be imposed if the intoxication was a substantial cause of the fatal accident.