It appears that a driver's poor decision has resulted in two deaths from a collision with a Rail Runner passenger train near Albuquerque last week. According to articles from krqe.com and koat.com, New Mexico State Police have determined that the driver of the car that was hit drove around another car that was stopped at the railroad crossing and then around the arms that were down and into the path of the oncoming train. Both the driver, a 35-year-old man, and the passenger, a 34-year-old woman, were killed in the crash.
Recently in Auto Accidents Category
A tragic single-vehicle accident in Albuquerque earlier this summer resulted in the death of two passengers, a 30-year-old woman and a 1½-year-old baby, and severely injured the driver's 10-year-old child. The driver of the car, a 41-year-old, was treated at the hospital for minor injuries and booked into an Albuquerque jail in the early morning of July 27 on charges of vehicular homicide. CBS partner KRQE reported that police believe that both alcohol and speed were factors in the saddening crash, and the driver of the car could face serious jail time if convicted of the charges against him.
Drunk Driving Endangers More than Only the Drunk Driver
This accident demonstrates the unfortunate reality that New Mexico drunk drivers are not only putting themselves at risk when they get behind the wheel, but also other people on the road as well as any passengers in their vehicles. Perhaps the most tragic part of this accident is that one of the children of the suspected drunk driver is now dead and another seriously injured as a result of his alleged conduct. These children were too young to decide for themselves whether it was safe to be on the road with their father driving, and it appears that he was not in a position to make the right decision that night either.
Drunk and Impaired Driving Laws in New Mexico
The New Mexico state legislature has passed laws against drunk driving in an attempt to reduce the number of New Mexico drunk driving injuries and deaths on the roads. If a driver is in control of a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, he or she is considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol.
A tragic head-on collision earlier this month killed a Texas couple and their two children near Bloomfield, New Mexico. A 24-year-old man apparently became drowsy at the wheel and crossed over the center line on US 550, crashing his truck into a van being driven by the family. According to a CBS article, all four occupants in the van were killed immediately on impact, and the driver of the truck was hospitalized with minor injuries. Authorities say the investigation is ongoing, but it is not yet known how many, if any, of the family members were wearing safety belts at the time of the accident.
The Dangers of Drowsy Driving
Across the nation, countless accidents are caused by drowsy driving annually. Most of these accidents occur at high speeds on highways and interstates. Because of the speed that is often involved, accidents related to drowsy driving can be more dangerous than other crashes, and proving that a driver's fatigue caused a New Mexico car crash is not always as easy as it should be.
Many drowsy driving accidents are caused by commercial drivers, who are supposed to keep a log of the hours they spend driving and sleeping every day. These logs can be used in a New Mexico personal injury lawsuit as evidence that the driver was dangerously tired at the time of the accident. Most accidents are caused by private drivers however, and it can be difficult to demonstrate that a private driver was not adequately rested leading up to an accident.
Residents of Bernalillo County may have noticed an increase in the amount and frequency of illegal drag racing that has been occurring in northeast Albuquerque during the summer of 2014, and the Bernalillo County Sherriff's Office is starting to take action. According to a report by Albuquerque CBS partner KRQE, the Sheriff's office has began to stake out the popular drag racing spots during the peak times for racing, and arrested 10 people for drag racing last weekend alone.
The Dangers of Illegal Racing on Public Roads
Car racing is an inherently dangerous activity, and people who choose to race usually make a conscious choice to put themselves at risk when they decide to participate in a race. Unfortunately, there are often passengers or bystanders that have no choice but to suffer the tragic consequences of a driver's choice to race; a resident interviewed for the article knew a person who was recently killed as a result of speeding on Montgomery road, one of the most popular drag racing spots. In last week's stakeout, sheriff's officers arrested one racer who had children in the car with him, and he was charged with child abuse. It is clear that the drag-racing trend endangers more than just the drivers who choose to race.
Legal Liability for Injuries Sustained in a Race-Related Accident
If someone is injured or killed in a car accident that is caused or worsened by drag racing, holding the responsible parties accountable can be difficult. There may be multiple parties at fault, and all of the insurance companies involved will be trying to divert liability from themselves and their clients. Because the racing (and the speeding that goes along with it) is illegal, making a case against a driver who is racing and causes an accident resulting in injury or death may not be difficult in every case. If the injury victim was involved or complicit in the decision to race, the case can be more complicated though the drivers may still be held accountable. Because of the various factors affecting potential liability for damages, when someone is injured or killed in an accident related to drag racing it is important for a complete and thorough investigation to be done at the scene of the accident and afterwards. It is best for anyone affected by a race-related accident to consult with legal counsel as soon as possible after any injury occurs.
A New Mexico man was charged with indecent exposure, leaving the scene of an accident, and failure to wear a seatbelt after an accident that occurred when he fell off a Ford pickup truck near Taos, New Mexico earlier this month. The man was completely naked and standing on top of the truck as it travelled on State Road 522 on June 6. The man apparently fell off the truck, and a motorcycle behind him stopped quickly to avoid running him over. A woman who was in a car behind the motorcyclist was unable to stop in time and rear-ended the motorcycle. Witnesses helped the man into the pickup truck he was riding on, and the driver sped off. Police pulled over the pickup truck a few minutes later and booked both the man who fell and the driver of the truck on various charges. The man was moderately injured and hospitalized, but he was released the following day.
The Laws against "Naked Truck-Surfing"
Not surprisingly, New Mexico does not have a specific criminal provision that forbids someone from riding naked on top of a truck on the highway. The police were still able to charge the man with indecent exposure and failure to wear a seat belt, but his behavior appears too strange to fit cleanly within the criminal code. Any injuries or damage suffered by the other drivers involved will most likely not be addressed by the criminal proceedings against the man, and if the other drivers want to be paid back for the damage that the man's behavior caused, they will most likely need to file a New Mexico auto accident lawsuit. If the injured victims can show that the man was acting negligently when he decided to ride naked on top of the truck, a civil court will have the ability to order the man to pay the victims to compensate them for their injury.
A heartbreaking accident occurred on I-25 neat Los Lunas, New Mexico last Wednesday when a 97 year old man was killed in a crash that caused his car to roll several times. According to a report and article by Albuquerque ABC affiliate KOAT, the man's car was clipped by another vehicle. After investigating, local authorities stated that the driver of the other vehicle could face criminal charges, as she may have been distracted at the time and at fault for the accident as well as the death. It appears the authorities suspect the woman may have been texting when she caused the crash, as police from Belen, New Mexico obtained a search warrant for the woman's phone records.
Today more than ever, many drivers have access to cell phones or smart phones while driving. Although phones in the car make it easier to get directions and communicate while away from home, it is dangerous for the driver of a car to use a phone while driving. It is difficult for a driver to keep his or her eyes on the road when using a cell phone, and texting while driving is even more dangerous than making a call. If someone causes an accident while texting, they are subject to criminal prosecution under New Mexico law, and can possibly be found guilty of manslaughter.
Civil Liability for Accidents Caused by Texting Drivers
When a driver is distracted by texting and causes an accident, they can be subject to civil liability as well. A victim can file a New Mexico personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for their injury. In New Mexico, it is necessary to prove that a driver negligently caused an accident that led to injury for a plaintiff to collect damages. Negligence can be difficult to prove, but if it can be shown that a driver was texting and distracted at the time of the accident, it is easier for a good New Mexico accident attorney to show that the driver was negligent. When a driver is issued a ticket or criminal charges are sought against them because of texting, the case for damages can become even stronger.
A recent decision by the New Mexico Court of Appeals reversed a prior judgment, allowing a woman's product liability and negligence lawsuit against the manufacturer of a crosswalk lighting system and the City of Las Cruces, New Mexico to proceed toward trial.
On October 9, 2008 the plaintiff was crossing at a marked crosswalk in Las Cruces, New Mexico, when she was struck by a car and seriously injured. The woman claimed that she pushed the button at the crosswalk, but the flashing lights did not function properly to alert the driver of the car that ultimately hit her. The woman filed suit against the manufacturer of the lighting system and the city of Las Cruces, alleging that the company supplied a defective product, which was negligently employed by the city and caused her to be injured.
The Lower Court's Ruling
The Defendants argued that the woman's claim was invalid based on her own testimony taken in a deposition. The woman said that she would have crossed the street regardless of whether the warning lights were flashing. Based on the fact that the woman suggested the defective lights were not a cause of the accident, the New Mexico district Court ruled that the plaintiff did not present sufficient evidence for a jury to decide that the city nor the manufacturers were liable for her injuries.
A man from Odessa, New Mexico was killed while travelling in a vehicle that was struck by Ford pickup truck in Lea County earlier this month. According to a report, it was around 11:45 PM on Sunday, April 6 when a 2012 Ford pickup truck veered into oncoming traffic on State Road 128 and crashed head on into another truck, killing a passenger in the second truck and seriously injuring the driver. The driver of the 2012 Ford, who had reportedly fallen asleep while driving, suffered only minor cuts and bruises.
The Dangers of Drowsy Driving
Police reported that they did not believe alcohol was a factor in the crash, and the driver of the truck had simply fallen asleep behind the wheel. On roads and highways away from cities, especially at night, it can be more difficult to see and worse yet, easier to fall asleep. Some drivers try to listen to loud music or drink caffeinated beverages to stay awake, but once a driver thinks to get a coffee they are usually already too drowsy to safely be driving on the road. Unlike drunk or impaired driving, there is no test for drowsiness, and when someone falls asleep and causes an accident, the authorities will not know they were sleeping unless the driver volunteers that information. Because of this, drowsy driving probably causes even more accidents and injuries than are reported each year.
New Mexico Driver Collides With Another Vehicle and Crashes into a Light Pole, Killing One and Injuring Three
In a tragic accident last month, one woman was killed and three others were injured when their car clipped another vehicle and smashed head-on into a light pole. According to a report by a Fox affiliate KFOX15, the driver was speeding and drove through a red light at an intersection in Anthony, New Mexico, when he struck a car that was stopped at the traffic light and veered into a light pole. None of the occupants had their seat belts on, and the front seat passenger was ejected from the car and died on the scene. The other occupants were severely injured and airlifted to a hospital in El Paso, Texas.
According to the report, the car was speeding by at least 15 miles an hour when it entered the intersection, and there was no evidence that the driver applied the brakes before crashing. Police believe that the driver was drunk at the time, and that his intoxication played a role in the accident.
In New Mexico, drivers face various penalties for driving recklessly and causing injury, death or property damage. The driver from last month's accident can face criminal penalties for drunk or reckless driving, battery, and manslaughter. Additionally, the driver may be financially liable to the injured passengers and the family of the deceased woman. If the driver of the car had auto insurance, his insurance company could also be liable for damages. Accidents caused by drunk or reckless driving result in significant costs, and unfortunately the victims of these accidents can rarely afford the expense.
Earlier this month, in a tragic accident out of Sate Fe County, two people lost their lives in a head on collision. According to a report by the Santa Fe New Mexican, the collision occurred around 11 a.m. on Old Las Vegas Highway, near the intersection with Old Pecos Trail.
Apparently, the driver of a GMC Yukon was heading west on Old Las Vegas Highway when the driver of the Yukon lost control of the vehicle when she over-corrected. The Yukon ended up leaving the lane in which it was traveling, crossing the center median, and entering the eastbound lane of traffic. As the Yukon entered the eastbound lane, it collided head on with a Ford Taurus.
The driver of the Ford Taurus was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Yukon was taken to the hospital where he later died as well. Police are not sure what caused the accident and are awaiting the results from the autopsies. However, police do not believe that drugs or alcohol were involved. Both drivers were wearing their seat belts.
Earlier this week, in a feat that could only be described as heroic and tragic at the same time, a New Mexico mother ended up in the hospital with a broken leg, pelvis, tailbone, several broken ribs, and two broken arms after she jumped in front of a drunk driver who was just about to hit her son and another young person. According to a story by the New York Daily News, the woman explained her decision as her "momma bear instincts" kicking in.
Apparently, her son had been involved in a minor car accident and she came to his assistance. While they were on the side of the road, a driver swerved up onto the sidewalk, heading for the group of disabled motorists. The woman jumped in front of the vehicle and took the impact.
After the driver came to a stop and saw what he had done, he got back into his car and drove away. The woman's son, however, was able to get the man's license plate number and police had no problem finding him shortly thereafter. He has since been arrested for Driving While Intoxicated and Causing Great Bodily Harm By Vehicle.
Last week, a tragic head on collision left two dead and one injured just outside Carlsbad, New Mexico. According to a report by the Carlsbad Current-Argus, the accident occurred on Eddy County Road 605 shortly after 6 a.m. Apparently, a Toyota Tundra was heading southbound on the highway and a Ford Focus was heading northbound. The accident occurred in the northbound lane, when the driver of the Tundra veered over the center line.
According to the driver of the Tundra, he was getting over to pass a water truck when the accident occurred. However, police could not find a water truck at the scene and the driver's story could not otherwise be verified. Police determined that inattentive driving was a contributing factor to the accident and cited the driver for careless driving and for driving without a seatbelt. Police also determined that alcohol was not a factor in the fatal accident.
Earlier this week in Iowa, two men were killed in a rollover accident on Highway 30. According to a report by Omaha.com, one of the men was from Corrales, New Mexico and the other from Plant City, Florida. Apparently, shortly after 7 a.m. the driver of the vehicle lost control of the vehicle and it ended up in a ditch. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of the accident is still under investigation; however, police believe that icy winter roads played a part.
Snow-covered, icy roads are not what most people think of when they think about New Mexico. However, the truth is that parts of our beautiful state do see some significant winter weather for several months out of the year. During these times, it is critical that drivers reassess their driving strategies to account for the condition of the roads and their decreased ability to control their vehicles and come to a complete stop.
When roads are wet, slippery, icy, or snow-covered, the responsible driver will slow down to account for differences in the car's handling. This may mean to drive at a speed that is less than the posted speed limit. In fact, in New Mexico a driver can be cited for traveling the speed limit, if the conditions do not warrant such a speed.
The Court of Appeals of New Mexico has held that a family's lawsuit seeking uninsured motorist benefits was barred by claim preclusion. In Pielhau v. State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co., Jared Pielhau was unfortunately killed in a single-vehicle traffic wreck in 2004. At the time of the deadly crash, the vehicle Jared was riding as a passenger in was uninsured and Jared's parents owned five vehicles that were insured by State Farm through four separate policies. Following the accident, the Pielhaus sought to collect financial compensation as part of the uninsured motorist coverage on two of their vehicles. After State Farm refused to allow the Pielhaus family to stack coverage, the couple filed a lawsuit against their insurer and their insurance agent. That case was later settled and dismissed with prejudice.
In 2011, the Pielhaus sought to recover uninsured motorist coverage from the individual insurance policies that were in effect on each of the family's remaining three vehicles in 2004. Prior to Jared's fatal accident, however, the Pielhaus rejected uninsured motorist coverage on each of the three policies. After State Farm failed to respond to the Pielhaus' request for uninsured motorist compensation, the couple filed a lawsuit for damages in district court. According to the Pielhaus, their rejection of uninsured motorist coverage was invalid pursuant to subsequent New Mexico caselaw.
After filing the second case, the family asked the court to grant a motion for partial summary judgment against State Farm. The trial court granted the motion and the Pielhaus voluntarily dismissed their remaining claims. State Farm then appealed the case to the Court of Appeals of New Mexico.
Two Eastern New Mexico University college students were unfortunately killed in a recent Quay County one-vehicle rollover accident. According to a representative for the New Mexico State Police, Sergeant Emmanuel Guttierez, a 19-year-old Clovis woman was driving a 2003 Chevrolet sport utility vehicle south on N.M. 469 when she unexpectedly lost control of the vehicle and left the roadway. The SUV apparently rolled at least twice before coming to a stop. Regrettably, a 19-year-old Clayton woman and a 20-year-old Texas woman were ejected from the vehicle. Both died at the scene of the single-vehicle wreck. Additionally, the driver of the SUV was reportedly taken by ambulance to a local hospital with injuries that were not deemed to be life-threatening.
The exact cause of the fatal accident is currently under investigation by New Mexico State Police. Guttierez stated police do not believe alcohol played a role in the tragic wreck. He added that the two college students who died were not utilizing a safety belt at the time of the crash. The driver, however, was apparently wearing a seat-belt.
Sadly, deadly one-vehicle accidents like this one occur on the many interstates and other roadways across New Mexico every year. For example, about 350 motorists and passengers were killed in a New Mexico car accident in 2011. Nearly 70 percent of those deaths resulted from a single-car wreck.