Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion that discusses an important concept in New Mexico car accident cases. The case presented the court with the task of determining whether a waving gesture made by the defendant to encourage the plaintiff to complete a left-hand turn through traffic was the cause of an accident that occurred when the plaintiff was struck by another vehicle. Ultimately, the court concluded that it is a driver’s own responsibility to safely complete a left turn through traffic and that the defendant’s gesture was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was an on-duty police officer who was heading back to the barracks. As the plaintiff approached the barracks heading westbound, he needed to make a left hand turn across two eastbound lanes of traffic in order to enter the barracks. At the time, there was a line of cars in the closest eastbound lane of traffic waiting at a red light. The defendant was one of the cars waiting at the traffic light.
The plaintiff inched his car forward and angled his car as though he wanted to make a left turn. He made eye contact with the defendant, who checked his own mirrors before waving the plaintiff on. The plaintiff slowly proceeded in front of the defendant’s vehicle, but as he entered the far eastbound lane of traffic, another motorist collided with his police cruiser.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that the defendant should be held liable for his injuries because he was negligent in waving him on to complete the turn when it was not safe to do so.
The Court’s Decision
The court determined that the plaintiff’s case failed as a matter of law because he could not establish that the defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of his injuries. The court pointed to the plaintiff’s own testimony, which stated that he knew it was his responsibility to safely complete the turn. The court also took into account the fact that the plaintiff slowly crept around the defendant’s vehicle, attempting to check for himself whether the path was clear. Given these facts, the court found that the accident was not caused by the defendant waving the plaintiff on to complete the turn.
Causation in New Mexico Personal Injury Cases
A critical element of any New Mexico personal injury case is establishing that the defendant’s conduct was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. While this may seem straightforward, causation is a complex legal concept and is heavily litigated in many New Mexico personal injury cases.
Have You Been Injured in a New Mexico Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a New Mexico car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated New Mexico personal injury lawyers at the Fine Law Firm have represented injured clients across the state for over three decades, and they know what it takes to succeed on their clients’ behalf. Call 505-889-FINE to schedule a free consultation with an attorney from the Fine Law Firm today.
More Blog Posts:
New Mexico’s Dram Shop Liability Statute Can Help Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents Fully Recover for Their Injuries, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, August 9, 2017.
State Appellate Court Recognizes Wrongful Birth Lawsuit, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 5, 2017.