Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury lawsuit discussing an essential aspect of New Mexico premises liability cases. The case required the court to determine whether the plaintiff established that the defendant grocery store owed him a duty of care. Finding that the store did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care in this particular situation, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was seriously injured as he attempted to obtain a shopping cart from a corral of carts near the entrance of the defendant grocery store. The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the store, claiming that the store’s greeter was negligent in that he failed to provide a staged shopping cart for the plaintiff’s use.

In support of his claim, the plaintiff cited the store’s standard operating procedures, which stated that when a store greeter had the opportunity, he should stage three or four shopping carts at the end of a line by separating them from each other and loosely nesting them. The store responded that the staging of shopping carts was a secondary duty of a store greeter, whose primary purpose was to greet all customers and assist them as needed.

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A state appellate court recently issued an opinion in a case discussing an important and underutilized doctrine that can help New Mexico personal injury victims prove their case against an allegedly negligent defendant. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff properly presented a claim under the res ipsa loquitor doctrine after an elevator door inexplicably closed on her as she was exiting the elevator.

The Case Facts

Per the court’s opinion, the individual filing as plaintiff sustained an injury while exiting an elevator at the defendant condominium association. Evidently, the plaintiff was walking off the elevator when the doors repeatedly and unexpectedly closed on her. A few days after the accident, the elevator was inspected and one of the elevator’s electric eyes – a standard safety feature – needed repair. The elevator’s electric eye was later repaired.

The woman in question filed a personal injury lawsuit against the condo association. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor she was entitled to proceed with her case because elevator doors do not randomly close in the absence of negligence.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an interesting opinion in a personal injury case involving a slip-and-fall accident that occurred in a vacation rental home. The case required the court to determine whether the duty owed by the owner of a vacation rental home was equivalent to that of a landlord, or whether the owner owed the higher duty that is imposed on innkeepers. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s rights and responsibilities under the vacation rental contract were more similar to that of a rented property; thus, the court determined that the owner owed the same duty as a landlord owes her tenants.

The case is important those who have been injured in a New Mexico slip-and-fall accident because it illustrates the varying legal standards that may apply depending on the relationship between the parties, as well as the reason why the plaintiff is visiting the defendant’s property.

Case Facts

The plaintiff and her family rented a home from the defendants for a week-long vacation. The home was located in a popular beach destination, and was rented fully furnished. The owners rented out the home for about half the year, and used the home for personal uses the remaining portion of the year. The home was managed by a property management company, who maintained the home in between rentals, handled the security deposit, and provided renters with the keys upon check-in.

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Recently, a state appellate court released a written opinion in an auto accident personal injury case discussing the issue of government liability as it pertained to a car accident that was allegedly caused by a police officer while he was responding to an emergency call. The case is important to New Mexico personal injury plaintiffs because it illustrates how courts view claims against government entities. That being said, the New Mexico Tort Claims Act provides a more favorable legal landscape for accident victims.

The Case Facts

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was seriously injured when she was struck by a police car that was responding to the scene an emergency call. The accident occurred when the police officer entered an intersection against a red traffic signal in an attempt to make a left turn. However, as the officer’s vehicle entered the intersection, it struck the plaintiff’s car. It was later determined that the plaintiff was not speeding and could not have seen the officer approaching the intersection given the road’s surroundings.

The plaintiff filed an injury lawsuit against the police officer along with the city where he was employed. The defendants claimed that they were entitled to government immunity because the officer had been responding to an emergency situation at the time, and his decision to enter the intersection against the red signal was a discretionary one, which was entitled to immunity under state law.

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New Mexico sees over 100 drunk driving deaths per year. When a motorist is injured in a New Mexico drunk driving accident, they can pursue a claim against the drunk driver through a New Mexico car accident lawsuit. However, under the state’s Dram Shop law, there may be other potentially liable parties that can also be named in the case.

The New Mexico Dram Shop law allows for an accident victim to hold an establishment responsible if the establishment overserved alcohol to the customer past the point of intoxication and the customer then went on to cause the accident victim’s injuries. The classic example is a bar that overserves a patron who is involved in a drunk driving accident after leaving the bar.

New Mexico Statutes section 41-11-1 contains the state’s dram shop law and provides that a person or establishment can be held liable if:

  • The establishment sold or served alcohol to a person who was intoxicated;
  • It was reasonably apparent that the person was intoxicated; and
  • They knew or should have known from the surrounding circumstances that the person was intoxicated.

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In many New Mexico car accident cases, courts are tasked with interpreting the written language of an insurance policy. This is because insurance policies are essentially written contracts, and are governed by contract law. However, due to the complex nature of the insurance business and the fact that all motorists must obtain car insurance, most motorists just quickly obtain a policy without really reading the fine print.

Insurance companies are businesses that operate for a profit. Thus, over time, insurance companies began including terms in their policies that limited the insured’s rights in certain circumstances. One very important issue that has come up time and again in New Mexico car accident cases is that of insurance stacking.

What Is Insurance Stacking and How Is It Beneficial to New Mexico Accident Victims?

Insurance stacking allows the insured to combine the insurance maximums of multiple covered vehicles in the event the damages sustained in an accident exceed the limit for one vehicle. Under New Mexico case law, there is a judicially-created stacking doctrine which requires an insurance company obtain a written waiver of coverage before writing a policy that does not allow stacking.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an interesting opinion in a personal injury case discussing an issue that frequently arises in New Mexico personal injury cases that are filed against government agencies or others who allow for the free use of their land. The case presented the court with the issue of whether the defendant city was entitled to immunity in a case filed by a plaintiff who was injured when he struck a pothole while riding his bicycle in a public park.

Ultimately, the court held that the plaintiff failed to establish that the city had knowledge of the pothole, and thus was unable to establish that the city acted “willfully or maliciously.” Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was riding a bicycle in a park that was maintained by the defendant city. As the plaintiff was riding along a paved path in the park, he struck a pothole and fell of his bike. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the fall, and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the city.

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In a recent opinion, a state appellate court discussed whether a casino could be held liable for injuries sustained by an independent contractor when while crossing a small gap between the casino’s main building and a stationary gaming boat. The case presents an interesting issue that frequently arises in New Mexico personal injury cases involving the negligence of a party that was acting as an independent contractor.

The General Rule Involving Independent Contractors

In general, companies that retain the services of an independent contractor are not liable for the contractor’s actions. However, there are exceptions when a company can be liable either to a contractor or for a contractor’s negligent actions.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was employed as a maintenance worker for a company that was contracted to clean the ducts for the defendant casino. The ducts were accessible from the roof of the casino. However, the casino consisted of a main building as well as a floating casino vessel where patrons could gamble. These two structures were not connected in any way, and they were separated by a gap of two or three feet.

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Historically, the state and federal governments were presumed to be immune from liability involving the negligence of government employees. Over time, however, this broad grant of immunity left many injury victims without any way to recover for their injuries, and the injustice of the rule became evident. Thus, the federal and state governments passed a series of laws called “tort claims acts,” under which government entities could be held liable in some situations.

The New Mexico Tort Claims Act allows for those who have been injured due to the negligence of a government employee to recover for their injuries through a New Mexico personal injury lawsuit in many situations. However, a plaintiff must be able to establish that their case fits within an exception to the general grant of immunity.

A recent case discusses the difficulties one plaintiff had when pursuing a case against a police officer she claimed was responsible for causing a car accident.

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When someone is injured while using a product for its intend purpose, they may be entitled to compensation for their injuries through a New Mexico product liability lawsuit. As is the case with other claims, there are several different types of product liability claims, and a plaintiff should know which claim they are bringing in order to best present the necessary elements.

In short, there are three types of New Mexico product liability claims: design defect claims, manufacturing defect claims, and failure-to-warn claims. These claims are, for the most part, self-explanatory. A design defect claim alleges that a product was designed in a way that rendered regular use of the product dangerous. A manufacturing defect claim alleges that a product is unreasonably dangerous based on a manufacturing error that may not be present in all of the company’s products. Finally, a failure-to-warn claim alleges that a company provided an insufficient warning for a product that was in some way dangerous.

A recent federal appellate opinion discusses the plaintiff’s failure-to-warn claim against a manufacturer of heavy construction equipment.

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