Articles Posted in Relevant Personal Injury Case Law

In a case that may be of interest to New Mexico premises liability plaintiffs, state’s supreme court recently granted summary judgment to a carnival company after a teenager was fatally injured crossing a road adjacent to the carnival grounds. According to the court’s opinion, the young girl and her friends were searching for somewhere to wash their hands after eating cotton candy. The carnival had portable toilets that had hand sanitizer gel, but there were no facilities that had running water.

CrosswalkThe group of girls decided to go across the street to a fast-food restaurant, which presumably had running water. The pedestrian-crossing signal at the intersection was not working, so the girls decided to cross without a walk signal. Sadly, as they were crossing, the young girl was fatally hit by a passing car.

The young girl’s estate brought a lawsuit against the carnival, alleging that they were responsible for her death due to their wanton and reckless behavior. The lower court dismissed the case in favor of the defendant, finding that they did not violate any duty of care owed to the young girl. The plaintiff then appealed, and the Supreme Court agreed with the lower court.

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New Mexico is widely known for its picturesque terrain and awe-inspiring views. With its unique landscape, it is no wonder that many people enjoy New Mexico’s scenery on horseback. Although many people have experience riding horses, there are, of course, many who do not possess the skill and expertise to properly maneuver these animals. As a result, New Mexico lawmakers with the help of the New Mexico Horse Council (NMHC) enacted the Equine Liability Act.

HorseThe Act explains that individuals who observe or participate in horse activities should expect that certain injuries may occur. They found that people should be aware that these injuries are considered inherent to participating in these sorts of activities. The legislature has reasoned that participation in equine activities has a significant amount of economic and social benefits, so they want to encourage people to continue to engage in these activities. However, individuals who do participate should understand the risks associated with the activities, as well as the fact that they may be precluded from recovery if they are injured.

Under the Act, horses, ponies, mules, donkeys, and hinnies are all considered equine. Furthermore, activities include but are not limited to shows, competitions, rodeos, teaching activities, rides, trips, and racing. Moreover, the legislature explains that individuals should understand that these animals may have the propensity to buck, stumble, trample, and be generally unpredictable. Because of this inherent propensity, there is a limitation on liability for those persons who are injured during these activities. This means that no corporation or person can be liable for the death or injury of a rider who was engaged in these activities unless the named defendant was negligent.

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Under New Mexico law, landowners have a duty to keep their property safe for the people whom they invite onto the property. In almost all situations, a landowner has at least some duty to protect visitors from harm. The level of the duty owed to the visitor depends largely on the reason why the visitor is on the landowner’s property. For example, trespassers are owed very little care, whereas business invitees are owed a much higher duty of care. A violation of this duty of care may lead to a New Mexico premises liability case.

Rope SwingAnother category of visitor is the “recreationalist,” who is on another party’s land to engage in some form of recreation, whether it be hunting, fishing, boating, swimming, or skiing. In these situations, the landowner may be protected under a recreational use statute. Recreational use statutes provide immunity to landowners who allow the public to use their property for recreational uses at no cost. When the statute applies, someone who is injured while on the landowner’s property may be prevented from holding the landowner responsible. A recent case illustrates how courts interpret recreational use statutes.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s son was playing on a lake with some friends. The children were taking turns swinging from a rope swing into the lake. As one child was swinging in the lake, the others would try to slap his feet before he hit the water. When the plaintiff’s son tried to swipe at his friend’s feet, the two children collided, and the plaintiff’s son suffered serious injuries as a result.

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Being involved in a New Mexico car accident is a stressful experience, both physically and emotionally. In the immediate wake of the accident, the focus is on physically recovering from the injuries of the accident. Once the physical wounds heal, there is often the emotional stress that accompanies missing time at work, constantly visiting a physical therapist, and getting back behind the wheel of a car. This can take time.

Front-End DamageOnce both body and mind have recovered, there is the issue of the financial toll that the accident took on the victim. In some cases, insurance will help cover these costs. However, insurance companies will not approve all claims, and they may deny an accident victim’s claim for any number of reasons. In these cases, a New Mexico car crash attorney can assist accident victims with the preparation of their case. A recent case illustrates one insurance company’s efforts to evade responsibility.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in the case was involved in an accident with another motorist. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver, that driver’s insurance company, and the plaintiff’s own insurance company. The insurance companies were named as defendants because they were contractually obligated to cover the costs associated with the accident, pursuant to the drivers’ insurance policies.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Connecticut issued a written opinion that will be of interest to victims of New Mexico slip-and-fall accidents because it illustrates the type of evidence necessary to establish liability in these types of cases. In this case, the plaintiff’s case was tried before a judge without a jury. After hearing the evidence on both sides, the judge entered a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor for approximately $108,000. The defendant appealed the lower court’s ruling to a higher court.

SidewalkThe Plaintiff Stubs Her Toe on a Hospital Sidewalk

The plaintiff was at the defendant hospital visiting a loved one when she stubbed her toe and fell while walking on the sidewalk immediately outside the hospital. In her deposition testimony, the plaintiff explained that she did not know what caused her to trip at the time, only that the front of her toe slammed into something on the ground and that she subsequently fell. As a result of her fall, the plaintiff sustained a broken toe and other injuries.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant hospital, claiming that the hospital was negligent in maintaining the walkway. The plaintiff presented two reports from witnesses, explaining that there was a small but visible divot in the pavement in the immediate area where she fell.

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After a judge or jury enters a verdict in a New Mexico personal injury case, that verdict is final unless one of the parties files an appeal to a higher court. If an appeal is filed, the appellate court may only consider alleged legal errors. This means that an appellate court will not revisit factual findings of the judge or jury below, but it may consider issues related to the admission of evidence or other legal rulings made during the course of the trial.

Diving BoardAppellate courts will also only consider arguments that were made during the trial. For example, if a party fails to object to a ruling with which they disagree, that party will be prevented from raising the issue on appeal in most cases. In a recent case, the plaintiff’s premises liability claim was dismissed on appeal because the arguments he made on appeal were not raised below.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was an investor looking to purchase a rental home. He contacted the defendant real estate agent and arranged to see one of the agent’s listings. The agent met the plaintiff at the home and showed the plaintiff around. The home had a pool in the back yard that had been emptied prior to the property being put up for sale.

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New Mexico drunk driving accidents are too common, claiming upwards of 100 lives per year. To combat the threat drunk driving poses, lawmakers have enacted strict drunk driving laws that prevent drivers from getting behind the wheel when they have had too much to drink. Additionally, in some cases, New Mexico imposes liability on bars and restaurants that over-serve customers who go on to cause serious accidents through the state’s Dram Shop statute.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Florida issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving an allegedly drunk driver who caused an accident after drinking several alcoholic drinks during a round of golf. The question the court had to answer was whether the golf course could be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, based on the state’s Dram Shop statute. While the New Mexico Dram Shop statute differs from Florida’s in several ways, the basic concepts are similar.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s wife was killed when she was struck by an allegedly drunk driver. The driver was on his way home after a round of golf at the defendant golf course. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the golf course, claiming that it should be held responsible for his wife’s death because employees of the golf course over-served the driver to the point of intoxication.

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Whenever a doctor performs a surgery or procedure, the doctor is supposed to explain all of the risks associated with the procedure to the patient. This entails explaining to the patient what exactly will be done during the procedure, what the expected outcome of the procedure is, and what the likelihood of encountering a complication is.

Operating RoomIf a doctor fails to properly inform a client about the risks of a procedure, and the patient is injured during the surgery, the patient may be able to file a New Mexico medical malpractice case seeking compensation for their injuries. This may be the case even if the doctor was not negligent in performing the surgery. A recent opinion issued by an Oklahoma appellate court held that in order to obtain truly informed consent, a doctor should also advise the patient of any non-doctor assistants who will be helping with the procedure.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a patient of the defendant doctor. At some point in the course of treating the plaintiff, the defendant doctor suggested the plaintiff undergo a specific surgery. The plaintiff agreed, and the defendant doctor had the plaintiff sign a general release waiver giving permission for the defendant and “whomever he/she (they) may designate as his/her assistants, to perform” the procedure. However, the space provided for the doctor to provide the names and credentials of any assistants who would be involved in the procedure was left blank.

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As if being involved in a car accident is not bad enough, sometimes New Mexico car accident victims encounter significant trouble when they try to seek compensation for their injuries. In many cases, these troubles are due to the involvement of insurance companies. While insurance companies are ultimately the source for most car accident victims’ compensation, these companies are operated on a for-profit motive and are financially incentivized to settle claims for as little as possible.

Car AccidentInsurance companies know that the post-accident recovery period is a difficult time for accident victims. In some cases, insurance companies take advantage of this vulnerability by offering to settle a claim for far less than the costs that the accident victim actually incurred. In other cases, insurance companies will deny claims altogether, requiring the victim to file a personal injury lawsuit. This is what happened in a recent case involving a car accident caused by an underinsured motorist.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the passenger in a car being driven by a friend. The two were heading to the grocery store. When they pulled into the parking lot, the plaintiff and her friend began talking in the car. Before they finished their conversation, they heard a loud bang. As the plaintiff looked over, she saw that two vehicles had gotten into an accident. She exited the vehicle and approached to provide assistance.

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New Mexico is a beautiful state with huge amounts of open land that can be used for recreational purposes, whether it be hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, or hunting. To encourage landowners, including local governments, to open up their land to the public, New Mexico lawmakers have passed a recreational-use statute that provides immunity from liability for some accidents that occur on a party’s land.

FireworksNot all landowners are immune from liability, however. After an accident occurs, the burden is on the landowner to prove that they are entitled to recreational-use immunity. In order to qualify, the landowner must establish that they did not receive any compensation from the person who was injured on their land. Even then, there are several exceptions that apply. A recent case illustrates how another state court handled a slip-and-fall plaintiff’s claim against a city for an injury that occurred in a public park.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff planned on watching the 4th of July firework display at a park that was owned and operated by the defendant city. The plaintiff arrived at the park in the morning, and upon exiting her car, she made her way past a set of vertical poles used to establish the bounds of the parking area. The plaintiff later explained that she didn’t pay much attention to the poles as she walked by them, and even if she had looked at them, they would not have caught her attention.

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