June 18, 2015

New Mexico Senator Attempting to Introduce Bill To Prevent Drunken Driving

Earlier this month, New Mexico State Senator Udall attempted to reintroduce a bill that was originally designed to prevent drunk driving. Back in 2008, several vehicle manufacturers and the federal government implemented the Driver Alcohol Detention System. This program was intended to enable researchers to develop a system that could prevent drunken individuals from starting their automobiles. After several years of research, it has been determined that there is a strong possibility that this idea will become a reality.

moralization---1-125242-m.jpgAccording to news reports, the project developers released a press release that they have begun producing prototypes of this device. They are currently in the stage of ensuring that the devices abide by all government regulations. The Senator, along with other representatives from various agencies, recently met to see the new technology. The Senator is in the process of reintroducing the bill to ensure that it has the appropriate amount of funding, approximately 12 million dollars over five years, to produce these devices.

Evidently, the device will be able to detect alcohol content on an individual's breath. Unlike other devices, which usually require the driver to breathe into tubes, this device will detect the breath in the car. It should be able to differentiate between the breath of a driver and that of a passenger. Alternatively, the device may be able to detect driver alcohol content by infrared light underneath the driver's fingertips.

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June 11, 2015

New Mexico Man Dead Following a Serious Motorcycle Accident

Late last month, a New Mexico man was killed after a motorcycle accident near Ector County. According to news reports, the driver of a Chevrolet was driving south on Loop 338, near Odessa. Evidently, the Chevrolet driver crossed the lanes into oncoming traffic. While crossing into the opposite lane, he slammed into a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

single-bike-697620-m.jpgWhen medical personnel arrived, they immediately declared that the motorcyclist had passed away as a result of his severe injuries. The driver of the Chevrolet was transported to Medical Center Hospital, and as of the most recent report he is he still hospitalized and in serious condition. State Police are still investigating the accident to determine whether any charges should be filed.

Are Criminal Charges in New Mexico Necessary To Succeed on a Civil Suit in New Mexico?

In many situations, a car accident, especially one that results in a fatality, will lead to criminal charges against the culpable party. In some circumstances, the criminal charges are because the culpable party was driving under the influence or acting in a particularly egregious or unlawful manner. However, there are certain situations when no criminal charges are filed or when the alleged wrongdoer was found not guilty of criminal charges by a judge or jury. Although, a criminal charge and conviction makes a civil suit more likely to be successful, it is not a prerequisite.

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June 4, 2015

Mixed Martial Arts Fighter Arrested After New Mexico Hit-and-Run Accident

Earlier this week, a police video surfaced from an April accident that involved mixed martial arts (MMA) competitor Jon Jones. According to one news report, the allegations are that Jones ran a red light, causing a three-vehicle accident, and then fled the scene.

crash-car-748825-m.jpgEvidently, the accident occurred in the afternoon hours of April 27, when Jones allegedly ran a red light and crashed into two other vehicles. Chilling 911 tapes and video footage have recently been released that document the destruction. There is no video showing Jones fleeing the scene, but witness accounts suggest that he left immediately after the accident and then quickly returned to remove an amount of cash from the car. He then left the scene again.

If he is convicted of leaving the scene of the accident, Jones may face up to three years in New Mexico state prison. In addition to any criminal penalties Jones may face, he also had his Light Heavyweight Championship title stripped and has been indefinitely suspended from the league.

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May 27, 2015

Record Number of Airbag Recalls After Deadly Explosions

Takata, a world-wide airbag manufacturer, has announced that it has started recalling a record number of airbags. Evidently, the recall was in response to several deaths that occurred as a result of the faulty airbags.

interior-car-details-4-223790-m.jpgThe airbags pose a serious risk of exploding and emitting debris and dangerous shrapnel toward passengers in the car. According to national news reports, the recall may take up to five years to actually complete because the airbags are not brand-centric and have been placed in many different cars. In fact, many owners may not even be aware of who the manufacturer of their airbags is. An expert who is working with the company to facilitate the recall explained that approximately 25%-30% of airbags may not be replaced because many of the cars are several years old and have gone through many owners. As of the most recent reports, the company has manufactured about four million replacements, and they are hoping to double their manufacturing capacity by the fall.

Where to File a Claim in a Product Liability Suit in New Mexico

As described above, several people have been killed because of the faulty airbags, and it is likely that others who were unaware at the time of the accident may commence a personal injury suit as well. The issue that arises in these types of situations is the question of jurisdiction. This basically is the determination of where the suit can be filed because the manufacturer is often not where the individual actually resides or where the injury took place. Generally, personal injury claims in New Mexico can brought in the county where the defendant is living or where the accident actually happened. In New Mexico, district courts have what is termed "general jurisdiction" over any injury for which the plaintiff claims the damages are over $10,000.

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May 20, 2015

Ford Recalls Over 500K Vehicles over Various Safety Concerns

After a series of recalls in March, Ford has announced an additional set of vehicles that will be subject to various recalls. According to a Consumer Reports article, Ford has issued over 600,000 vehicle recalls related to faulty steering, pumps, lights, and safety latches. Back in March of this year, the vehicle manufacturer recalled over 200,000 2011-2013 Ford Explorers. The recall was focused on malfunctioning door latches that presented the dangerous possibility of the latches springing open during an accident.

cars-1100643-m.jpgAfter the recalls, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted an investigation into the safety of Ford vehicles. As a result of the investigation, Ford subsequently recalled 2012-2014 Ford Fiestas, 2013-2014 Fusions, 2013-2014 Lincoln MKZs, and Ford Edges. The automaker concedes that it is possible that these models are built with certain attachments that may break because of corrosion that would result in a loss of power. This dangerous lack of power can make the vehicle difficult to control, which could result in a crash. Additionally, some other concerns surround issues with the fuel pump, which could cause a vehicle to stall or not start while it is in use. Lastly, some of the vehicles were built without heat shields on the parking lights, which can result in a fire or explosion.

Ford has stated that these recalls are extremely serious, and owners can take their cars in to certified dealerships for repairs at no cost.

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May 12, 2015

State Supreme Court Remands Truck Accident Case For New Trial Due to Evidentiary Issue

A decision has been issued by the Supreme Court of Texas in regard to a personal injury case brought by a woman who was injured in two car accidents just a few months apart. According to the decision, the woman was driving in Zapata County, Texas when a truck rear-ended her vehicle. The woman claims that her aunt took her to the hospital. However, the record does not show any medical records from that visit to the emergency room. Shortly after the accident, the woman went to see a surgeon after she began experiencing neck and back pain. She began physical therapy for approximately two months.

i-haul-299523-m.jpgShortly after her physical therapy ended, the woman was involved in yet another car accident. This time, she was transported to the hospital in an immobilization board. She told the doctors that she was having pains in her head, neck, and chest. She then went back to the doctor at the end of the month, when it was discovered she had two herniated discs.

The woman then sued the employer of the truck driver from the first accident, claiming that his negligence caused her injures. Both she and the defendants called different doctors as expert witnesses. The defendants claimed that the woman was not suffering from a trauma-related injury and the second accident could have been the cause of her pain. The lower courts dismissed the plaintiff's pretrial motion to exclude all evidence of the second accident. However, the Supreme Court of Texas found that evidence from that accident was relevant and remanded the case for a new trial.

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May 6, 2015

State Supreme Court Dismisses Parents' Claim for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress After Son's Suicide

At the end of last month, the opinion and decision in a negligent infliction of emotional distress in relation to medical malpractice claim was released by the Supreme Court in Connecticut. Like New Mexico, Connecticut allows claims of negligent infliction of emotional distress to be brought in certain very limited circumstances.

hospital-1385736-m.jpgThis case revolves around a tragic incident when a family called the police department because their son was expressing suicidal ideations. Their son was detained by police and taken to the emergency room for a psychiatric evaluation. The medical staff at the hospital evaluated the son and left a message with his parents to notify them that the son would be released because he was not a danger to himself. The son left the hospital and proceeded to find an electrical cord and hang himself outside his parent's home. Unfortunately, the attempts to resuscitate him were futile, and he subsequently suffered a brain injury and was taken off life support.

The family brought a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress and a medical malpractice claim. The court held that in certain very limited situations a bystander claim may be brought in a medical malpractice action. However, they also held that the family did not suffer severe and debilitating emotional distress, which is the requirement in negligent infliction of emotional distress claims. The Supreme Court subsequently affirmed the lower court's finding.

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April 27, 2015

New Mexico Police Initially Believe Body in Wrecked Vehicle Was Previously Deceased; Later Found To Be a Victim of DUI Accident

Early last week, an individual was found dead after being involved in an accident. According to Albuquerque news reports, the individual was a passenger in a car that was fleeing the police.

by-a-beer-1174747-m.jpgEvidently, the driver of a Mazda was pulled over at a traffic stop when he fled the police. The driver sped away and only made it approximately one mile before he rammed into an SUV. When police apprehended the driver, they made a gruesome discovery. A deceased individual was in the car. Police initially believed that the individual was deceased before the accident. However, an autopsy revealed that was not the case. The driver was taken into custody, and the police identified the body as his mother's. The autopsy indicated that the woman was killed as a result of the injuries she sustained in the accident.

New Mexico State Police reported that the driver admitted to driving under the influence for most of the day. They have charged him with driving while a license is revoked, fleeing from an officer, fourth-offense DWI, and homicide by vehicle. The man has previously been arrested for driving while intoxicated and fleeing from the authorities.

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April 21, 2015

New Mexico Man Killed in South Texas Rollover Accident

A 42-year-old man from Mcintosh, New Mexico was killed in an accident near Presidio, Texas earlier this month when he lost control of his SUV and was ejected after the vehicle rolled. According to a local news report, the man was driving northbound on Highway 67 about 10 miles from the US-Mexico border in Presidio County, Texas on April 8 when at about 8:00 a.m. a tire blew out on the Honda SUV that he was driving, causing the vehicle to swerve off the roadway. When he tried to regain control and return the car to the roadway, he overcorrected, causing the car to roll over onto its side. The car rolled several times, and the man, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown out of the vehicle and died at the scene.

car-accident-1-774604-m.jpgThe Danger of Ejection in Rollover Accidents

One of the greatest threats to a driver's or passenger's safety in the event of a rollover accident is the risk that the person will be ejected from the vehicle once it starts rolling. An accident victim's chances of survival are significantly lower when he or she is ejected from the vehicle. The largest deciding factor to determine whether a car occupant will be ejected is whether the person is wearing their seatbelt.

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April 11, 2015

New Mexico Appeals Court Reverses Large Punitive Damages Award Against Insurance Company

In a recent case, the New Mexico Court of Appeals reversed a jury verdict that found an automobile insurance company liable for acting in bad faith. The case involved Progressive Casualty Insurance Company (Progressive), which alleged that a family's insurance had expired when one of the family members was involved in an accident.

gavel-3-1409593-m.jpgIn 2002, the family contacted Progressive to add a car to its existing policy. Progressive then provided conflicting information about the date in which the policy premium was due to be paid. A notice from the company indicated one date, but in a follow-up call the company's automated phone system provided another date. The family then paid the premium, but only after one of the family members was involved in an auto accident. One person was killed and another severely injured in the accident.

Progressive sued the family, alleging that its policy had lapsed by the date of the accident. The family countersued, believing that the company was acting in bad faith by refusing to provide coverage. A jury sided with the defendants, finding that the family was covered when the accident occurred and that Progressive had acted in bad faith. The jury then awarded the family $37,000 in compensatory damage, $11.7 million in punitive damages, and $1.4 million in attorney fees.

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April 1, 2015

Family of Man Killed by New Mexico Police Office Files Suit

An Albuquerque man was shot and killed by police back in 2013, and his family is bringing a wrongful death suit against the city. According to a New Mexico news report, the suit is alleging that the officers violated the man's civil rights by using excessive force. Apparently, the incident stemmed from a police search of individuals who were involved in a theft at a music store. The police officers were searching for the alleged offender for many hours when they finally located him. The police officer named in the suit claims that he only shot at the man after he pointed a gun at the officer and the other officers who were there to arrest the man.

law-and-order-7-977051-m.jpgThe family of the man contends that the officer's account of the situation was not accurate, and they have camera footage to substantiate their claim. The family alleges that the man never pointed a gun, and he was actually running away from the officials.

No criminal charges have been brought by the County District Attorney's Office, but the family is still going forward with the civil suit. The amount of damages they are seeking has not been disclosed, but in the past few years the City has spent over $11 million in judgments, legal fees, and settlements because of these types of incidents.

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March 26, 2015

New Mexico Fatal Crash Caused by Fleeing Drunk Driver

Earlier this week a New Mexico resident was attempting to flee from the police when he was involved in an accident. According to Albuquerque news reports, the man was driving drunk late on March 23rd. Police officials noticed the drunk driver's car speeding on Interstate 40 and they attempted to pull the driver over. However, as the police got closer to the car the driver sped away. A witness explained that they saw the driver crash into a SUV around Quail Road and Coors Boulevard. The SUV was carrying a family, one member of the family died as a result of the crash.

553912-m.jpgThe witness recounted that they tried to stay with the family, and tried to calm down one of the young girls whose body was hanging outside of the car. When the police arrived the driver of the vehicle was declared dead at the scene of the accident. The three other individuals in the car sustained serious injuries and were taken to the emergency room.

The police reported that following the accident the drunk driver ripped off his clothes and attempted to run away. Fortunately, the police were able to apprehend him immediately. Currently, the driver is facing four charges of greatly injuring or killing someone with a vehicle in addition to his DWI charge. The driver stated to police that he did not care about going to jail, because he had been to jail previously.

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March 17, 2015

Adam Sandler's "Ridiculous Six" Driver Involved in Traffic Accident in New Mexico

Late last month, a truck driver on Adam Sandler's "Ridiculous Six" show was almost killed in a single vehicle accident. The woman was thrown from her truck when it overturned near the Santa Fe Municipal Airport. A national online newspaper reported that the accident occurred when the woman approached a sharp turn that she was unable to navigate.

silver-pickup-296181-m.jpgThe Santa Fe police representative explained that a preliminary investigation has revealed that the woman was not wearing a seatbelt when the accident occurred, and it is likely that speed played a role in the accident. The road conditions were noted to be normal at the time of the accident and alcohol was not considered to be a factor in the accident.

The woman's injuries were so severe that she had to be immediately airlifted to a hospital that was about an hour away from the accident location. She was not breathing for several minutes and was brought back to life by emergency workers. Further, she has just now begun to be able to move all of her limbs--prior to that, paralysis was a concern.

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March 10, 2015

March of Sorrow for DWI Accident Victims Held in New Mexico

Every year in Santa Fe, New Mexico, new DWI bills are introduced, but not many of them actually make it to law. A recent news report in New Mexico discussed the influence that the group Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) has on legislators and the bills that make it into law. As the article notes, one way that MADD brings attention to DWI deaths is through the annual March of Sorrow. The DWI March of Sorrow remembers DWI accident victims and happens once every year. It is in its sixth consecutive year.

red-and-white-wine-bottles-279133-m.jpgOne local news report recounts an incident where a woman who was riding on a motorcycle was hit by a drunk driver. After some time, the woman discovered that the individual who ran a stop sign and hit her and her boyfriend was only 15 years old. Fortunately, the woman and her boyfriend were not killed in the accident. However, this is an anomaly, especially in cases where motorcycles are involved.

This particular woman called for stricter penalties and laws against repeat offenders. MADD agrees and has expressed its support in penalties that include a focus on treatment in addition to closing the loopholes that can lead to dismissal based on a technicality.

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March 3, 2015

New Mexico Motorcyclist Killed in Truck Crash

Earlier last month, a New Mexico motorcyclist was killed after a UPS truck pulled onto the road in front of him. According to Santa Fe news reports, the motorcyclist was driving south on Rio Arriba County Road when the accident occurred. Apparently, the UPS driver pulled into the road, and the motorcyclist attempted to avoid hitting the truck.

broken-link-in-the-chain-1424413-m.jpgIn attempting to avoid an accident, the motorcyclist rode his motorcycle onto a shoulder and over an embankment. However, in doing that, the motorcycle overturned. The motorcyclist was thrown from the motorcycle, and his passenger was also ejected. The passenger was taken to a local hospital, and she remains in stable condition. Unfortunately, the motorcycle driver was declared dead at the scene of the accident. Both parties were wearing helmets when the accident occurred. New Mexico State Police are currently still investigating the crash, but no charges have yet been filed.

Motorcycle Safety in New Mexico

Motorcycle accidents and truck accidents often result in the highest number of fatalities, and when those two vehicles are combined it is highly likely that someone will end up seriously injured or killed. It is important when operating a motorcycle that both the driver and passenger are aware of the rules of the road and specifically safety rules directly related to their motorcycles.

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