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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February 25, 2015

Skateboarder Hit and Killed in Fatal DUI Accident in New Mexico

A 19-year-old skateboarder was hit and killed by a 47-year-old man who was suspected to be high at the time of the accident. According to local news reports, the driver was proceeding down Unser Boulevard when the accident occurred. A witness called police, and recordings reveal the witness exclaiming that the teenager was bleeding and that his head was split open.

skateboard-closeup-1-991204-m.jpgWhen police arrived at the scene of the accident, the driver admitted to being under the influence of several pharmaceutical drugs. When the officers attempted to test the man regarding his level of impairment, he was stumbling and unable to stand up straight. Currently, the man is facing charges ranging from leaving the scene of an accident to homicide by a vehicle.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in New Mexico

In New Mexico, it is against the law and a crime to drive if one is incapacitated by a drug. It does not matter whether the drug is illicit or legal. The law specifies that a person can be held culpable of driving while drugged if the influence of that drug makes the person incapable of operating their motor vehicle safely.

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February 16, 2015

New Mexican Man Accused in Hit-and-Run Accident Apologizes To Family

Late last week, a New Mexican man fled the scene of an accident that injured a 10-year-old boy. According to a local news report, the man claimed that he was driving home when the young boy ran out in front of his car. Instead of stopping, the man continued about a block away to his home. He explained that when he got home, he felt an immense amount of guilt and decided that he had to go back to the scene of the incident.

pedestrian-crossing-1382266-m.jpgDuring the period the man was at his home contemplating what to do, someone else notified emergency personnel. The young child was rushed to a local hospital. At the current time, the extent of the young child's injuries are not known.

Hit-and-Run Laws in New Mexico

In the United States, over 30,000 people are either seriously injured or killed in car accidents every year. Many times, this is because the individual who hit the victim may not remain at the scene of the crime, which can result in the victim not receiving prompt medical treatment.

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February 10, 2015

Nine-Year-Old New Mexico Wrestling Champ Dies in Playground Accident

A young New Mexican boy died tragically in a playground accident late last month. According to local New Mexico news reports, the child's family has asked that details regarding the type of accident not be revealed at this point. The only information that has been dispersed is that the accident occurred on equipment in the family's backyard.

playground-in-blue-and-orange-1443644-m.jpgEvidently, the young boy was a national wrestling champion, and he had aspirations of competing in the Olympics. The third grader spent several hours a day practicing and assisting his peers. The young boy's family stated that many people have been reaching out to provide their support to the family. The child's funeral services were held last week.

Product Liability Cases in New Mexico

Although details in the above case are currently sparse, playground injuries can oftentimes result from issues relating to defective equipment, thus falling under product liability law. In New Mexico, and many other states, consumers or users of a product may be able to bring a product liability claim if they or a loved one has been injured or killed because of a product they used.

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February 3, 2015

Two University of New Mexico Students Die in Crash, One Driver Faces Criminal Charges

A November car crash resulted in the death of two University of New Mexico students and the hospitalization of two others. After several months of investigation, a 21-year-old man has been indicted for the accidents and charged with stealing a motor vehicle, tampering with evidence, larceny, child abuse, vehicular homicide because of DWI, and three counts of vehicular homicide because of reckless driving.

railings-908862-m.jpgAccording to a local news report, the driver and his passenger left the scene after causing the accident. They were eventually arrested shortly after the crash. The driver was tested, and it was determined that he had methamphetamines in his system. Police have indicated that the car the defendant was driving was stolen.

Unfortunately, two of the students died at the scene of the accident, and two other students were taken to a nearby hospital. One of the students who was taken to the hospital has been undergoing extensive physical therapy and is just now learning how to walk on his own again. The other student taken to the hospital has been recovering from a fractured sternum, a lacerated liver, and a serious head injury.

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January 26, 2015

Man Cited for 16th DUI in New Mexico

A Farmington, New Mexico man has been cited for his 16th DUI, and this time there were children in the car. According to a local news report, police indicated that the 30-year-old man was arrested for DUI after he hit a parked car. Apparently, police were called to the scene for a possible domestic violence situation, but when they arrived the man was no longer present. The officers were told that the man had left with his two children and that he was intoxicated.

colorful-cocktails-1411310-m.jpgWhile police officers attempted to find his vehicle, someone reported that they saw the car driving west on Main Street. Fortunately, police located the vehicle while it was stopped at a gas station near Bisiti Highway and Murray Drive. The officers were told that the man was repeatedly kicking and hitting the children in the car while he was driving intoxicated.

The officers did a DUI investigation and arrested the man, charging him with possession of drug paraphernalia, driving with a revoked license, failure to maintain traffic lanes, open container, two counts of child abuse, and DUI. While the man was having his blood drawn to determine his blood alcohol level, he attempted to escape police custody and was then charged with attempt to escape from custody. The man is currently being held on $200,000 bail.

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January 20, 2015

Hospital Attempts to Get Case Dismissed Because of Statute of Limitations

In a recent case, the Supreme Court of Mississippi affirmed a lower court's decision not to dismiss a case against a hospital because of a statute of limitations issue. A woman died at a hospital in June 2007, and in October of that year her beneficiaries provided a notice of claim against the hospital with the county chancery and county attorney. The beneficiary did not provide any notice to the hospital's CEO at this point. The following year, the beneficiary sued the hospital and at that point provided the hospital's CEO with the complaint.

fractured-time-1435044-m.jpgThe hospital's attorney moved to dismiss the complaint. They argued that the plaintiff did not follow legal protocol and provide the hospital with notice of the suit, and therefore the suit was now barred by the statute of limitations. The Supreme Court found that when a plaintiff files a complaint, the statute of limitations is tolled, and the presuit notice was sufficient because the suit was filed within a year of the second complaint.

Importance of Statute of Limitations in New Mexico

Every state has certain enumerated rules and regulations regarding when specific civil lawsuits can be brought. These time limits are referred to as the statute of limitations, and they must be strictly adhered to. In New Mexico, the time period on the statute of limitations begins to run when the claim arises. Sometimes this is when the accident occurred or when an injury is discovered.

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January 12, 2015

Midland County Accident Takes Life of One Man During Sleet Storm

Late last month, a Midland County, New Mexico man was killed after being involved in an accident in the County. Local New Mexican news reports indicate that the incident occurred about 20 miles south of the county line on New Year's Eve.

tress-with-ice-crystals-in-sunlight-1409549-m.jpgThe State Troopers indicated that a Ford F-350 was driving northbound on FM 1788. At some point, the driver of the Ford attempted to pass a semi-trailer. Unfortunately, in doing so, the man lost control of his vehicle. After losing control, the car began to roll and ended up in a ditch on its side. The 38-year-old driver of the truck was killed in the accident. He was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the incident. State officials explained that the road was quite icy, and it was sleeting at the time of the accident.

Driving in Hazardous Conditions in New Mexico

Driving always encompasses a certain amount of risk, but most often motorists are injured not by a stroke of bad luck but due to the negligence of another. In the above case, it is not indicated whether the semi-truck driver was injured or involved in the accident. However, in many cases when two vehicles are involved in the crash, one party has a higher level of culpability in the crash.

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January 6, 2015

Victim of Christmas Eve Crash in Santa Fe Was Not in Crosswalk at Time of Crash

On Christmas Eve in Santa Fe, an individual was hit by a car and killed as a result of the accident. A local Santa Fe news report indicated that the victim has finally been identified after his family was notified. The 33-year-old man was walking near Cerrillos Road and Siler Road. He was crossing the street when the accident occurred. Unfortunately, he passed away after being hit by the car. A preliminary investigation has revealed that the man was not in a proper crosswalk when he was hit by the car. Since the man was not in the crosswalk when he was crossing the road, the driver of the car that hit him is not currently being charged with any crime.

winter-road-1130317-m.jpgCivil Liability Without Criminal Liability in New Mexico

If an individual was injured by the negligence of another party, he or she may be able to bring a negligence claim against that party if he or she can establish the elements of negligence. To bring a claim of negligence in New Mexico, the plaintiff must be able to prove that he or she was injured by another individual who owed him or her a duty of care, that individual breached that duty, and as a result the plaintiff suffered injuries and damages. Many people believe that if no criminal charges were pressed against the wrongdoer, a civil claim will not be successful. However, that is not the case because the legal standards for criminal negligence and civil negligence differ. Although it is easier to prove negligence if criminal charges were pressed, the absence of them is not a bar to recovery.

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December 26, 2014

Two Fatalities in New Mexico Crash on U.S. 550

Late last week, a crash occurred on U.S. 550 that resulted in the deaths of two individuals. A local New Mexican station reported that the crash occurred around 6:45 p.m. on December 19. Apparently, Sandoval County police noticed a car driving north on U.S. 550 without its light on. The police officers attempted to stop the car, but the driver continued to keep driving.

crashed-car-1148745-m.jpgInstead of stopping, the car started swerving and veering across the northbound lanes. The car was weaving dangerously in and out of traffic. Eventually, a deputy began pursuing the driver, but even then the car continued on. The police stopped pursuing the car while the deputy was following the driver. Shortly after that pursuit, that car and another driver ended up in a head-on collision. The driver and her passenger were killed. The driver in the car was air-lifted and remains in critical condition as of the most recent reports.

Head-On Collisions in New Mexico

All car accidents have the potential to result in serious injuries, but head-on collisions can often be catastrophic. The above situation is a prime example of how head-on collisions often occur. Generally, one car will swerve across lanes and hit the front of another car.

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