Author: bkwritingsupport

How to Prove a Diminished Value Claim

If you’re unfortunate enough to be the victim of careless driving, the status of your vehicle may be the least of your immediate concerns. Getting treatment for your injuries and filing a police report are top priorities. However, if your automobile was damaged, you might qualify for a diminished value claim.

Not many New Mexico lawyers specialize in diminished value claims. Victims may not even be aware they need this kind of assistance until it’s too late.

What is a diminished value claim?

A diminished value claim can be filed any time your personal vehicle is damaged because of another driver’s negligence. Diminished value is the difference in your vehicle’s market value before and after an accident.

Most insurance companies in New Mexico use a calculation called the 17c Diminished Value Formula to calculate the diminished value of your vehicle. There are four steps in the process:

  • Determine the value of your car using Kelley Blue Book or NADA Guides.
  • Apply a 10 percent cap to that value.
  • Apply a damage multiplier to adjust the value.
  • Apply a mileage multiplier using your car’s current mileage.

Once you have completed all four steps, you’ll have the after-crash value of your vehicle. Insurance companies can do this for you, but you might want to check their figures or have your property damage attorney do so to ensure accuracy.

How does diminished value hurt my personal vehicle?

Not all automobile accidents result in your vehicle being totaled by the insurance company. Sometimes, the damage can be repaired. While it might seem like this is a good thing, it has little known repercussions for accident victims.

It doesn’t matter if the accident was someone else’s fault. Your personal vehicle sustained damage and no longer is in its original factory condition. That means when you go to sell it or trade it in for a newer vehicle, you’ll receive less money for it. This is called repair-related diminished value.

Victims of automobile accidents get a raw deal all the way around. They likely sustained injuries that can impact their future earnings and health. To add insult to injury, they also might be stuck with a vehicle that’s decreased in value.

diminished value claim Carfax
Carfax reports include any repairs made to your car that required filing an accident claim through the insurance company.

What role does Carfax play in proving my claim?

When a vehicle accident is reported to your insurance company, they automatically notify Carfax. If you’re not familiar with Carfax, it’s a commercial web-based service that supplies vehicle history reports to businesses and individuals on used cars and light trucks in the U.S. and Canada.

If you’ve ever bought a used vehicle from a dealership, you’ve probably seen one of the comprehensive reports this service produces. All you need is a vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or license plate number and state to request a Carfax report.

The reports aren’t free, so be prepared to cough up some cash if you want to check the impact of a crash on your vehicle’s market value.

To avoid a report being made to Carfax, the vehicle must be repaired out-of-pocket. If you’re concerned about diminished value, your property damage attorney can make this request of the at-fault party. Other negotiations also can occur to offset the loss in value.

What’s the statute of limitations on diminished value claims?

New Mexico is a diminished value state per statute 66-5-301. You have up to four years from the date of your accident to file a diminished value claim.

Additionally, New Mexico has uninsured motorist coverage for diminished value. That means all insurance companies must offer this coverage to accommodate for accidents with uninsured or underinsured vehicles.

How do property damage attorneys prove my case?

Property damage attorneys follow a basic principle when proving your property damage claim. They look for evidence that supports your assertion that another person’s negligence cost you money.

One of the first things your property damage attorney does is request a police report for the accident. Most accident investigators indicate the at-fault party in their reports. Similar documentation also should be available from the insurance claims adjuster.  

Diminished property value can be tricky to prove, so most property damage attorney rely on opinions and testimony from experts in the field to bolster your case.

Should you hire a property damage attorney?

If you’re serious about proving your diminished value case, working with an experienced property damage attorney is essential to your success. While you aren’t required to hire a lawyer, working with one can maximize your chances of getting adequate financial compensation.

Bill Russell possesses extensive knowledge of property damage laws in New Mexico. He’s not afraid to go the extra mile to ensure you receive fair compensation for your accident, including covering the diminished value of your vehicle.

Contact Bill today to schedule your free case evaluation.

5 Tips for Getting a Rental Car

When you’re involved in an automobile accident, getting treatment for your injuries can be your top priority. You may not be thinking about the damage to your personal vehicle (and whether it’s even drivable after the accident).

Even after you get medical attention, your focus may shift to pursuing a personal injury claim if your accident was caused by another driver’s carelessness.

It may take days or even weeks before you realize that you’ve been left without reliable transportation to important appointments. You may qualify for a rental vehicle while the insurance companies sort what to do with your personal automobile. Before you congratulate yourself on a problem solved, keep in mind that finding a rental can be an exercise in frustration because of an ongoing rental car shortage.

What’s causing the rental car shortage?

Getting a rental car can be challenging these days for a variety of reasons. The most prominent cause of the shortage is that during the covid shutdowns, many rental car companies sold off their inventories. They did this for one of two reasons:

  1. No one was traveling and they were taking a loss on maintaining rental cars no one needed.
  2. They sold some of their vehicles to consumers desperate for used automobiles when car dealerships were running low on their own inventories.

Now that pandemic restrictions have eased and people are traveling more, the problem has worsened. Rental agencies haven’t managed to restock their inventories to pre-covid levels, even though demand for their products has soared.

You can increase your odds for rental car success by following the five tips below.

Increasing your odds for rental car success

Your automobile insurance company can provide coverage for a rental vehicle. They can even help you get reimbursement for the rental from the at-fault party. What they can’t do is find you an available rental if none are to be found.

So, what’s a person to do? Here are some tips you can follow to increase your odds for rental car success after an accident.

  1. Don’t wait to request a rental
    The longer you wait, the more likely you’ll have difficulty securing a rental vehicle. If you think your automobile is unsafe to drive after the accident, then start finding a replacement right away. You may need to have a friend or family member make the calls for you if you’re in the hospital recuperating from your injuries.
  2. Disclose the reason for your rental need
    Rental companies sometimes prioritize long-term rentals because they can be more lucrative. The first thing you should do when calling for a rental is to let the agent know your situation. Tell them you were involved in an automobile accident and need a long-term rental while the insurance company sorts what to do with your vehicle. It’s important to mention you were not the at-fault driver in the accident to ensure rental agencies aren’t leery about providing you with a car, truck, or SUV to drive.
  3. Be willing to take what’s available
    Some insurance companies pay for a rental vehicle that’s comparable to yours. However, that doesn’t mean the rental agencies have one available. You may have to agree to take what’s available if you need a rental right away. Otherwise, you could find yourself without reliable transportation. You can always ask the rental agency if it’s possible to upgrade (or downgrade) your rental if one more to your liking becomes available.
  4. Rent from a local
    There are alternatives to traditional vehicle rental agencies. Some car owners rent out their automobiles. Just like an Airbnb or Vrbo property rental, there is a version of this service for automobiles. One of the quickest ways to find people who lend out their vehicles is through a service called Turo. Just plug in the dates you need a car and your preferred model, and the platform generates a list of possibilities.
  5. Rent from a car dealership
    Here’s an option that many people don’t realize exists because it’s a well-kept industry secret. If you’re struggling to find a rental from one of the usual local agencies, you can consider this alternative. Some car dealerships rent out parts of their own fleets. Nissan and Toyota are among the automobile dealers that let you easily rent from them. There’s no guarantee they’ll have anything available, but it never hurts to ask.

Seeking help with car accident property damage New Mexico

Dealing with all the moving parts after an automobile accident can be stressful. Finding a rental car shouldn’t be one of the things added to your anxiety. Reach out to the car accident property damage lawyers in New Mexico who can help sort it all for you.

Contact Cameron & Russell at 505-218-7844 or request your free case evaluation online. We’ll make sure all your needs are covered.

Driverless Trucks Increase the Risk of Crashes

Driverless trucks are part of the push toward automation in the United States. With the truck driver shortage continuing, some companies have developed autonomous trucks that can handle the task without a human behind the wheel. While most people are familiar with other kinds of self-driving vehicles, many may be uncomfortable with the idea of an 80,000 pound fully loaded tractor trailer driving itself.

Yet, in the U.S., it’s estimated that 90 percent of all long-haul trucking may soon be done without drivers.  One company, TuSimple, already has an autonomous truck performing depot-to-depot runs in Arizona and Texas. The San Diego-based company said it plans to use driverless trucks to improve safety and efficiency in the trucking industry.

How safe are you on the roadways with self-driving trucks? Considering self-driving cars caused nearly 400 crashes in less than a year in the U.S., it’s understandable that you might be concerned about autonomous trucks.

Drivers who are injured because of autonomous trucking technology have rights. You can speak with a personal injury attorney in Albuquerque, who can help you receive fair compensation for your injuries and property damage.

Driverless trucks are on the nation’s highways, increasing the risk of truck crashes.

How safe are autonomous trucks?

The answer to this question is still relatively unknown, as most companies pursuing the technology are still testing their autonomous trucks. During the testing phase, a human driver is behind the wheel, ready to take over if there is an issue with the automated system.

Torq Robotics, an autonomous vehicle company in Albuquerque, said that its goal is to reduce trucking accidents by eliminating the human error component. The company has an advisory council that oversees working relationships with fleets and logistics suppliers.

At the moment, self-driving trucks and their testing are limited to the Sun Belt states because the technology doesn’t perform well in bad weather like snowstorms and fog.

What are the risks to other drivers?

Tech companies working to develop and market autonomous trucks claim they have many benefits. What are the risks to other drivers?  One of the biggest downfalls is software failure. Driverless trucks are controlled by complicated software programs designed to replace a human behind the wheel. If that software fails, the truck can malfunction, losing the ability to brake or steer.

Another potential risk is autonomous vehicles can be susceptible to hacking. Cyberattacks could focus on the truck’s software, which controls the navigation system. If an unauthorized person gained control of the program running the truck, they could disable it or cause disruptions that compromise the safety of everyone and everything in the truck’s path.

Lastly, another danger of autonomous trucks is the artificial intelligence that runs them lacks the ability to predict human error on the roadways. So, while a human truck driver might anticipate the car in front of him not using a turn signal correctly, a driverless truck might misinterpret the signs, causing a rear-end collision.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is one of the most serious kinds of injuries autonomous trucks can cause if you’re involved in a crash with one.

What kinds of injuries can autonomous trucks cause?

Driverless trucks can cause the same kinds of injuries to other drivers as those experienced when a truck crash happens when a human is in the truck’s cab. Due to the size and weight of most tractor trailers, they can cause significant bodily harm and damage to your property.

The most serious physical injuries you can suffer include brain and head injuries which can leave you permanently disabled or, in a worst-case scenario, dead. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) physically damage the brain. You can suffer from headaches, memory and mood problems, and sleep disturbances after suffering a brain injury.

Some other devastating physical injuries from truck accidents include:

  • Back and neck trauma that can lead to whiplash, bulging discs, and other painful injuries.
  • Broken bones that can cause lifelong pain and suffering.
  • Burns that can be challenging to treat or require plastic surgery.
  • Lacerations and puncture wounds to the face or body that can cause disfigurement.
  • Spinal cord injuries that can leave you with paraplegia or quadriplegia.

It’s not uncommon for wrongful death lawsuits to happen after accidents with trucks. If you or someone you love dies because of a malfunctioning autonomous truck, there is legal recourse.

Can you sue a driverless trucking company?

As with any kind of personal injury because of someone else’s negligence or carelessness, you can sue a driverless trucking company if you’re involved in a serious crash with one of their trucks. The knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at Cameron & Russell understand the devastation that trucking accidents can cause. They’re here to help you receive fair compensation for your injuries.

You can request a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 505-218-7844 or requesting a free consultation online.

I Can’t Drive My Car. Now What?

Getting into an automobile accident can leave you with debilitating injuries. It’s easy to focus on receiving compensation for lost wages and your pain and suffering since they are immediate needs. Don’t forget about recouping the loss of your vehicle.

It may be weeks or even months before you can drive again, so the condition of your vehicle (and whether it’s a complete loss or can be repaired) may be the furthest thing from your mind. Waiting to act can leave you stranded without transportation.

Property damage liability for car accidents

Automobile insurance providers require property damage liability coverage. It pays for any damages to another person’s property when you’re involved in an accident. Other vehicles, homes, fences, and any personal property inside the vehicle at the time of the accident are included under property damage liability insurance.

Sometimes the insurance payout doesn’t adequately cover all damage costs. When that happens, you can sue for the balance.

rear-end car crash with two cars on the highway
When the at-fault party’s property damage liability coverage falls short of covering your damages, a property damage liability claim can help recoup the balance.

Property damage liability vs. collision coverage

There’s a difference between property damage liability and collision coverage for automobiles. Property damage liability pays for repairs when you destroy someone else’s property. Collison coverage pays to repair your vehicle (after the deductible) if you’re the at-fault party or the other driver doesn’t have insurance coverage.

Auto insurance requirements in New Mexico dictate that all drivers must carry insurance coverage while behind the wheel. New Mexico has minimum auto liability insurance amounts:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury to or death of one person. 
  • $50,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more persons. 
  • $10,000 for property damage in any one accident. 

Additional coverage for physical damage is available and advisable if you have a newer vehicle. Insurance agents can best advise on how much coverage is needed. Keep in mind that just because you’re well-insured doesn’t mean the at-fault driver in the crash carries the same coverage. That’s when it’s time to consult an attorney skilled in property damage liability cases.

Property damage claims vs. personal injury claims

Some accident victims mistakenly assume that a personal injury claim covers the loss of their vehicle. Not true. The only commonality between personal injury and property damage claims is that they often come from the same incident. However, they require very different courses of legal action to recoup your losses.

Personal injury claims address things like medical treatment for your injuries and any ongoing care required to fully recover. They also can seek reimbursement for lost wages and fair compensation for your pain and suffering.

Property damage claims strictly cover damage to your property, including your vehicle and any personal effects inside that were destroyed during the accident.

Not all attorneys handle property damage claims. At Cameron & Russell, our attorneys are skilled in both personal injury and property damage lawsuits. We can ensure you’re fully covered on both fronts if a lawsuit becomes necessary.

Finding a replacement vehicle can be a nightmare in today’s market. Used cars are going for 40% more than just two years ago.

Property damage claims: four factors

If you’ve decided to consult with an attorney about recouping the difference between the damage amount and what the insurance pays, there are four factors your attorney considers when preparing your car accident property damage claim.

Your vehicle’s diminished value

When you’re involved in an accident – even when someone else is at fault – your vehicle loses value. All accidents reported to insurance companies and police departments are added to your CARFAX history report. Your vehicle is worth less at resale or trade-in time thanks to someone else’s carelessness. You can recoup those costs as part of a property damage claim.  

Your loss of use costs

Losing the use of your vehicle might be the furthest thing from your mind after an accident, especially if you have serious injuries. You’re unlikely to think about it until you need reliable transportation and don’t have it. Some families only have one vehicle, so loss of use can be devastating.

A competent property damage attorney can include loss of use costs into a claim against the at-fault driver. The sooner action is taken, the better the outcome.

Your total repair costs

If the insurance company doesn’t deem your vehicle a total loss, it may offer a settlement amount for making repairs. Oftentimes, the sum they suggest doesn’t cover the cost of all repairs. The last thing you need is to pay the balance when someone else was at fault for the damages.

Never pay out of pocket when this happens. Experienced property damage liability attorneys know how to go after the responsible party for the difference.

Your total loss value

One of the worst things that can happen is to have a vehicle end up a total loss after an accident. Then, you’re stuck trying to find a replacement. Insurance companies may not pay for the full value of your car. Even if they do, it still may not be enough to find a suitable replacement in today’s marketplace,  where the value of used cars has jumped more than 40 percent.

Filing a car accident property damage claim is your best recourse. Your attorney can negotiate a higher settlement to ensure you don’t have to pay out of pocket to replace your damaged property.

Rely on the personal injury experts

Not many personal injury law attorneys bother with advising their clients about the importance of addressing the damage to their vehicles during case consultations. Some don’t see it as worth their effort because it’s not a money-making service.

Bill Russell cares about his clients and wants to ensure they have all the help they need following a car accident.

Picnic fun without the lawsuits

June 11 is national corn on the cob day. It’s not the only food-themed national holiday this month. There are days for German chocolate cake, peanut butter cookies, and even strawberry shortcake. All of these are perfect picnic foods.

Picnics are part of summertime fun for many people. Avoiding the personal injury and premises liability lawsuits that can come with them isn’t difficult when you practice some basic safety guidelines.

Backyard parties and premises liability

Premises liability is the legal term for a property owner’s responsibility to take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of guests and other visitors. If you ignore an issue, hazard, or danger that leads to the serious injury or death of someone on your property, you’ll be accountable under premises liability laws in New Mexico.

While it may make you feel like a Debbie Downer, it’s important to establish rules and make sure you guests follow them to ensure everyone’s safety. Here are some other things you can do to reduce your liability risk.

Choose physical activities wisely

Outdoor picnics lend themselves to games and other physical activities. Some are more dangerous than others and should be avoided if you want to avoid the possibility of accidents and injuries. Watersports and other swimming pool games can be fun, but they also increase the risk of someone getting hurt. It’s best to avoid these types of activities, especially if alcohol is involved.

Establish a safety perimeter around grills, bonfires, and other outdoor fires when having a backyard party or picnic to protect your guests from accidental burn injuries.

Establish a safety perimeter

Most outdoor parties involve grilling food or having some kind of bonfire for roasting hotdogs and marshmallows. Establishing a safety perimeter around your grill can keep your guests safe and you free from lawsuits. Outdoor grilling accidents send thousands of Americans to the emergency room each summer. The numbers increase when those in charge of grilling indulge in alcoholic beverages until they’re drunk.

Whether your party guests are adults, children, or a mix of both, make sure you keep people away from the grill – or a bonfire – when it’s in operation. Make the grill or bonfire a “no-kid zone” and don’t make any exceptions. Lastly, keep people from horsing around near the grill or bonfire.

Install extra lighting

If your party extends into the evening hours, installing extra lighting can help prevent slip-and-fall accidents that lead to serious injuries. This precaution is especially important if you have a swimming pool on your property that guests can use during the festivities.

Lighting along areas that can be tripping hazards – patio pavers, sidewalks, stairways – should be a priority.

Limit guests to no more than 2 alcoholic beverages an hour and cut off anyone who appears visibly drunk.

Limit alcoholic beverages

Any time you introduce alcohol at a party, you open yourself up to liability issues. Guests who don’t know when to stop drinking can become belligerent and injure themselves or others. If you own a swimming pool, drinking at picnics and other gatherings can increase the risks of one of your guests drowning, or slipping and falling poolside.

Limiting or completely excluding alcoholic beverages from your party can reduce your liability risks. If you just can’t go without alcohol, be willing to cut off your guests if they run the risk of becoming so drunk it affects their judgment and everyone’s safety.

Practice food safety guidelines

Swimming pools and other outdoor hazards aren’t the only things you must monitor closely when hosting a summer picnic or outdoor party. If you plan to serve food, you’ll want to make sure you follow food safety guidelines to avoid giving any of your guests food poisoning. As a rule, you should:

  • Avoid cross-contamination when preparing foods, especially foods on the grill. Never use the same utensils for cutting or priming meats and other food products.
  • Keep cold foods cold by placing them in a cooler with ice. Store it at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to prevent bacteria growth. Make sure cooler lids stay closed to maintain ideal temperatures.
  • Keep hot foods hot by wrapping them well and placing them in an insulated container. Hot food must be kept at around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Never let it sit out for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is 90 degrees or higher) without refrigerating.
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure you’re cooking meats and other raw foods to a safe temperature for consumption.

How to handle negligent party hosts

If you attend a backyard party or picnic and the hosts fail in their duty to provide a reasonably secure environment, you can discuss your legal options with one of our experienced premises liability lawyers. Give us a call at 505-218-7844 or request your free case evaluation online.

How to Share the Road with Motorcyclists

Knowing how to share the road with motorcyclists can mean the difference between a devastating accident and arriving safely at your destination. Late spring and summer months bring more favorable weather for motorcycle rides in New Mexico. Drivers must be diligent in keeping an eye out for motorcycles and exercise some caution when they encounter them.

Everyone has an equal right to the roadways. Being cautious and courteous of other drivers – including those operating motorcycles – is the best way to prevent accidents.

Motorcycle riders use hand signals to alert other drivers and other bikers to their intentions and any roadway hazards.

Brush up on your hand signals

While motorcycles have brake lights and turn signals, some cyclists use hand signals to alert other drivers to their intentions. Some of the most common hand signals include those for left and right turns, slowing down, or stopping. The hand signals are easy to learn and remember and can mean the difference between you colliding with a motorcyclist and avoiding an accident.

  • A left-turn hand signal is made by extending the left arm straight out to the side with your hand open and your thumb pointing upward. The same signal indicates a motorcyclist plans to change lanes to the left.
  • A right-turn hand signal is made by extending the right arm straight out to the side with your hand open and your thumb pointing upward. The same signal indicates changing lanes to the right.
  • A slow down hand signal is made by putting the palm of the hand parallel to the ground. Moving it up and down in this position indicates to other drivers you plan to gradually decrease your speed.
  • A stopping hand signal is made by putting the hand straight down, with your fingers pointing toward the ground and the palm of the hand facing the driver behind you.

Sometimes motorcyclists will use their pointer fingers to alert other riders to road hazards and other dangers so they can avoid them.

Check your blind spots frequently and proceed with caution to avoid colliding with motorcyclists.

Check your blind spots

Checking your blind spots is good defensive driving advice. The main blind spots on most vehicles are in the front, at the rear, and on both sides behind the windshield pillars. Some newer vehicles have safety systems designed to help drivers monitor these areas. Never rely solely on automatic alert systems to notify you about the proximity of motorcyclists because they can fail to work properly.

Being aware of the space around your vehicle is important when sharing the road with motorcyclists. Motorcycles are smaller and more difficult to see than full-size vehicles. Bikers can change lanes quickly, so it’s important to know their location. Check your mirrors frequently and ensure you have them adjusted for the best views.

Using your cell phone while driving is one way you can become distracted behind the wheel, increasing your chances of colliding with a motorcycle.

Eliminate driving distractions

One of the best tips for avoiding accidents with motorcyclists is to eliminate distractions when behind the wheel. Talking and texting on a mobile phone causes the bulk of distracted driving accidents in New Mexico, according to the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

Cell phones aren’t the only things distracting drivers. Eating or drinking while driving, adjusting the stereo, and other passengers all create the opportunity to take your eyes off the road. You can’t be aware of your surroundings if your focus is elsewhere.

Leave plenty of room

Motorcyclists wear safety gear when riding, but it’s no match for the impact they’ll experience if a 4,000-plus pound car crashes into them at 70 mph. When you approach a motorcycle on the roadway, leave extra space to help the bike operator feel safer.  Following the 3-second rule gives adequate space to stop quickly without colliding with a motorcyclist.

Bikers are exposed to a lot of road noise while riding. They may not hear your vehicle approach.  Slow down to give them time to notice your approach. Rear-ending a motorcycle can be fatal for the biker. You can lessen the risk of that happening by leaving plenty of room between your vehicle and their bike.

Pass with caution

Part of leaving plenty of room for motorcyclists on the roadways is passing with caution. Sometimes you may want to pass a motorbike. Slowing down when you pass may seem counterproductive, but it can help the driver feel more secure while you do so.

Always wait for confirmation the biker sees you before passing. Some riders may wave their hands at you to indicate they’re aware of your presence. If you’re not sure they know you’re there before you pass, slow down and keep your eyes on them until you safely get around them on the roadway.

Share the road to keep motorcyclists safe

Motorcyclists who are injured because of careless drivers can seek fair compensation for their injuries. Schedule your free case evaluation with the experienced personal injury attorneys at Cameron & Russell. We’ll review your case and make recommendations for the best path forward.  

How to Prevent Auto Accident Injuries

Auto accident injuries can be life altering. They cause death, serious injuries, and trauma to more than 2 million Americans each year. Defensive driving can help protect you from ever getting into an automobile accident. Sometimes, however, it’s not enough to avoid a collision with another vehicle or pedestrian.

It’s difficult to prevent auto accident injuries. There are some steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim. Here are some proactive steps you can take to protect yourself every time you get behind the wheel.

Help prevent auto accident injuries by maintaining your vehicle.

Maintain your vehicle

Automobiles are complex machines. Newer vehicles can be even trickier because they contain more electronic components that their predecessors. Keeping your vehicle in proper working order can prevent accidents that cause serious injuries to you and others.

Every vehicle comes with a recommended maintenance schedule from the manufacturer. If you bought a used vehicle that didn’t come with one, you can find a copy online. Some things require the assistance of a car mechanic. Others you can do on your own, including:

  • Check oil levels, adding more if you’re low.
  • Evaluate the air pressure in your tires.
  • Test your windshield wipers and top off your wiper fluid.

If you notice something amiss with your automobile, trust your instincts and schedule a check-up with your mechanic.

Never drive impaired

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances doesn’t end well for most people. A recent DUI report for New Mexico indicates law enforcement made 289 arrests for every 100,000 drivers in the state. The numbers earn the state a DUI severity score of 7 out of 10.

Drinking alcohol or taking controlled substances – including legally-prescribed medications that can affect your judgment and reflexes – should be avoided when you know you have to drive.

Obeying traffic laws designed to protect you, other drivers, and pedestrians can help prevent auto accident injuries.

Obey traffic laws

It can be tempting to coast through a stop sign or drive over the speed limit if you think it’s safe to do so. Breaking the rules of the roadway increases your risk of being in an automobile accident, especially if you get in the habit of doing so.

Traffic laws exist for a reason. They protect you, your passengers, other motorists, and pedestrians. If you have an accident and the police discover you violated driving laws, you might get fined or lose your license. A police report noting your fault also can be used against you in a personal injury lawsuit.

Pay attention to your surroundings

Paying attention to your surroundings can help prevent auto accident injuries by reducing the likelihood you’ll be in an accident in the first place. If you’re on a busy roadway, frequently check your mirrors to note the positioning of other vehicles. While no accident is 100 percent preventable, defensive driving techniques offer protection.

Some common tactics you can use when behind the wheel include:

  • Follow the 2-second rule when behind other vehicles.
  • Plan an escape route if you observe driving dangers.
  • See and be seen by other drivers.
Cell phones are the number one reason for distracted driving. Prevent auto accident injuries by staying off your phone while behind the wheel.

Stay off your cell phone

Distracted driving is the most common reason for auto accidents. Talking and texting on cell phones is by far the most cited reason for becoming unfocused behind the wheel. According to the National Safety Council, 26 percent of all vehicle crashes involve cell phones.

Cell phones should be for emergency use only while behind the wheel if you hope to prevent auto accident injuries. Calls and texts can wait. If you must check your messages or answer a call, safely pull off the roadway first.

Wear your seat belt

Always wear your seat belt to help prevent auto accident injuries. New Mexico requires all drivers and their passengers to buckle up while the vehicle is in motion. All children up to age 7 must ride in a child safety seat suited to their age and weight.

According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 47 percent of people killed in automobile accidents were not wearing their seat belts. Some people mistakenly think if they have air bags that they don’t need to buckle up. The force from an air bag deploying can cause serious injury or death without a seatbelt to keep you in place in your seat.

The only thing worse than not wearing a seatbelt is wearing one improperly. Check out this step-by-step tutorial on how to secure your seatbelt as the manufacturer intended.

When you can’t prevent auto accident injuries

You can be the best driver in the world and still find yourself in an accident. If you are injured because of someone else’s carelessness behind the wheel, you have recourse. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney can get you fair compensation for your injuries. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.

Nursing Home Patient Rights: Know the Facts

Nursing home patients have rights in New Mexico. Depending on someone else for your care doesn’t eliminate those entitlements. Whether you (or a loved one) lives in a personal care home or a skilled nursing facility, you deserve access to quality medical and personal care services.

Accidents can and do happen in New Mexico aged care facilities. Deliberate negligence also has been uncovered in the state over the years. The best way to ensure you or a loved one doesn’t fall victim to abuse or neglect is to know your nursing home patient rights.

You have the right to choose your own physician when you live in a nursing home.

The Right to Choose Your Own Physician

You’re not required to use a physician to whom you aren’t comfortable entrusting your care. Some nursing homes and other aged care facilities provide residents with on-site medical personnel as part of their services. Just because they offer it doesn’t mean you have to use it.

Beyond the freedom to choose your own doctor, you also have the following rights regarding your medical care and well-being, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

  • Complete information about your health status in clear language that makes sense to you.
  • Full disclosure about your medical condition, prescriptions, and over-the counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements prescribed or recommended by a physician or other healthcare provider.
  • Total access to your medical records and reports, and to make important decisions about the development of care plans and other medical treatment decisions.

The Right to be Free from Discrimination

You don’t abandon your Constitutionally protected rights when you decide to live in an aged care home. One of those protections is to be free from discrimination based on age, color, disability, national origin, race, or religion.

If you think nursing home staff are engaging in acts of discrimination, you have the option of filing a civil rights complaint. Contacting an ombudsman can get the process started. You also can reach out directly to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights to lodge your formal grievance.

Contacting a civil rights attorney or one skilled in aged care abuse cases is another option for filing a discrimination complaint. Your attorney can review the circumstances and help determine the best course of action to resolve the issue.

You have the right to refuse any kind of restraints, including medication designed to make you drowsy.

The Right to be Free from Restraints

Personal care homes and nursing homes can’t use physical restraints on you for discipline purposes or to make life easier for the staff. Side rails on beds and medications that encourage drowsiness both fall into this category.

The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 prohibits physical restraints for nursing home residents without their consent. Emergencies are the only exception to the rule. A total of 10 items appear in the act under the Residents’ Bill of Rights.  

Aged care facilities that do not follow the guidelines in the act can face civil and criminal penalties and possibly lose their licenses to operate.

The Right to be Treated with Respect

Choosing to live in a personal care home or other aged care facility doesn’t mean you surrender your right to be treated with dignity and respect. You have control over when you go to bed at night and get up in the morning, what you eat during mealtime, and what activities you participate in throughout the day.

Nursing homes must provide you with the rules for their facility before you agree to live there. They also must give 30 days written notice any time they change an existing rule or add a new one.

You have a right to privacy for making personal phone calls or visiting with guests without the oversight of a staff member.

The Right to Privacy

You don’t surrender your right to privacy because you choose to live in an aged care facility. It’s not a trade-off. What does privacy look like in a nursing home? Here is what you can expect.

  • The access to private phone calls and visits without oversight from a staff member.
  • The ability to send and receive postal mail and electronic communication (email) without oversight.
  • The advance notice about roommate changes and other living arrangement alterations before they are made.
  • The right to keep and use your personal belongings if it’s not interfering with the health or safety of others.

The Right to be Free from Abuse and Neglect

Nursing home abuse and neglect is a serious problem in the U.S. A 2020 study from the World Health Organization discovered that more than 64 percent of nursing home staff members admitted to committing some form of abuse or neglect. That’s a frightening statistic.

Abuse and neglect take many forms. There is physical and sexual abuse, but also psychological abuse. For instance, if a nursing home punishes you by isolating you from other residents, that’s a form of emotional abuse.

If you’re needs aren’t being met, or you are the victim of deliberate abuse or neglect, you can file a complaint with your long-term care ombudsman. Depending on the type of abuse, criminal charges may be warranted in addition to civil recourse.

The Right to File Complaints

You have a right to file a formal complaint to the staff of the nursing home, or any other authorized person, without fear of retaliation. From the quality of care you receive to a failure of staff to respect your privacy, there are many reasons you may want to lodge a grievance.

If you report your concerns to the proper authorities and do not get the response desired, it may be time to consult with an attorney skilled in handling nursing home complaints.

How to Sue a Private Prison

Prison isn’t a fun place to be, but that doesn’t mean prisoners should be subjected to abuse and neglect in the name of punishment. Yet, prison abuse allegations are on the rise in the United States in both state-owned and privately held prisons. Reports of abuse and inhumane treatment continue to surface about prisons in New Mexico, with some inmates filing a civil lawsuit.

There are nine prisons in New Mexico. Six are owned by the state and another three are owned by private entities. When prisoners feel their civil rights are violated, they have recourse. Contacting a law firm skilled in prison abuse violations is a crucial part of the process.

What rights do prisoners have behind bars?

Just because you are imprisoned as punishment for a crime doesn’t mean you lose all your rights while behind bars. You still have the right to a minimum standard of living and to be treated fairly without discrimination based on your race, sex, national origin, or religion. You also retain free speech and religion rights if they do not interfere with the status of other inmates.

The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution also protects prisoners from cruel and unusual punishment. Access to the parole process and due process for administrative appeals are included in these safeguards.

Map of all private prisons located in teh United States. Source: The Sentencing Project.

How is a private prison different from a state-owned prison?

Unfortunately, New Mexico’s use of private prisons exceeds that of other states. More than half of all prisoners incarcerated in the state are serving their sentences in private prisons, according to data from The Sentencing Project, which monitors private prisons in the U.S. In comparison, only 8 percent of prisoners nationally are housed in private prisons.

Public prisons are owned and operated by the state or federal government. Taxpayers foot the bill to operate them. Because they are taxpayer-funded, public prisons have strict reporting requirements and oversight by the government.

Private prisons receive funding from government contracts and other third-party investors. They are not required to release information about inmate populations or how the money they receive is being used to run the prison. Private prisons can pick and choose which prisoners they accept, with a tendency toward less violent inmates.

Despite favoring less violent inmates, a 2017 Justice Department report concluded that private prisons were more dangerous and less effective at reforming prisoners.

Why would you sue a private prison?

Injuries and abuse are the top reasons inmates sue private prisons. Other reasons may include becoming ill or injured due to negligence on the part of prison administration or staff. How you handle these kinds of incidents in a private prison is severely limited by the Prison Litigation Reform Act.

One of the starkest differences between public and private prisons is how inmates seek legal recourse for abuse and other mistreatment. Prisoners in public prisons can sue under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act if they are injured or abused.

Detainees in private prisons do not have the same ability since the prisons aren’t government-run. They must instead file standard tort lawsuits based on negligence or intentional torts like those used for battery.

What is private prison negligence?

Private prisons exist for one reason only: to make a profit. Putting profit above prisoner safety and security can be a common theme among private prisons. It’s not rare to see them accused of engaging in careless, dangerous, and negligent acts to save money. Failing to maintain adequate staffing levels is one way that private prisons put profit over prisoner well-being.

An attorney skilled in personal injury and civil rights laws can help prisoners and their families navigate abuses and other forms of neglect within the private prison system. The team at Cameron and Russell have the knowledge and experience to help you resolve private prison issues. Give us a call at 505-218-7844 or contact us online to schedule your case evaluation.

How to Sue for Lawn Mower Injuries

Lawn mower injuries can be a surefire sign of spring. As soon as the flowers start blooming and the birds start singing, your grass starts growing, too. That leads to the annual firing up of the lawn mower for the first grass cutting of the season.

More than 35,000 Americans get hurt while mowing their laws each year. Most of these injuries happen when a mower’s feet contact a powered mower’s blades. Mowing while wearing flipflops or other open-toed shoes can increase the likelihood of this happening.

Many law mower injuries happen because of operator error. Others may happen because of a defective product or another person’s negligence. When the later occurs, you may be able to sue for your lawn mower injuries.

Defective product or operator error?

When a lawn mower causes a serious injury, the first question might be whether the mower was defective. Consumers who end up with lemons can file a product liability claim if their injuries were caused by a defective mower. There are two questions to ask when determining if the mower was functioning as intended.

  1. Did the mower malfunction?
    Lawn mower manufacturers design their products with safety in mind. Most mowers come with explicit instructions on how to operate them to safeguard your well-being. Consumers who follow the safety instructions and still become injured through no fault of their own should explore whether the mower malfunctioned. If so, they may be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
  2. Was the mower poorly designed?
    Sometimes a lawn mower’s design can contribute to injuries. Let’s say your mower comes with a foot guard that’s supposed to protect your feet from the mower’s blades during operation. The guard doesn’t work as intended, and you end up with significant injuries to your feet. In this case, the product designer may be at fault.
  3. Did operator error cause your injuries?
    Sometimes people are injured by lawn mowers they aren’t operating. How can this be possible? Well, let’s say you’re out for a leisurely walk through your neighborhood, when you get hit by a flying rock from your neighbor’s mower. If your neighbor had his mower’s deck turned toward the sidewalk, he can be at fault for your injuries.
Mowing in your bare feet is a recipe for disaster and can lead to some serious foot injuries.

What are some common lawn mower injuries?

Powered lawn mowers make yard work much easier. They may be useful, but they also can cause some serious injuries. Here are a few of the most common lawn mower injuries that happen each mowing season across the U.S.

  • Broken or fractured bones can happen if you try to mow while the grass is wet, and you slip and fall.
  • Burns are another way you can get injured. Powered lawn mowers get hot during operation. Accidentally touching the hood or other areas can cause serious burns.
  • Crushing body injuries can happen any time you operate a lawn mower. You could become trapped under the mower if it tips over, causing the crushing injuries.
  • Cuts and dismemberment can happen if you get your hands or your feet too close to the lawn mower’s blades while in operation. You can even cut yourself on the blades when the mower is turned off if you’re not careful.
  • Eye injuries can happen when the mower’s blades pick up debris (such as rocks) and throw them back at you. Wearing goggles while mowing can prevent eye injuries.

What steps do you take when injured?

Whether it’s a small cut or a broken bone, law mower injuries require immediate medical attention. Even small scrapes and abrasions can become infected without proper treatment. Going to your family doctor or the emergency room, if necessary, ensures you get the care you need. It also is the most effective way to document your injuries if you decide to move forward with a product liability or personal injury lawsuit.

After you receive treatment for your injuries, the next step is to consult with an experienced product liability or personal injury attorney. Bill Russell has the experience and knowledge to assist with your case. Call 505-218-7844 or contact Bill online to request a consultation.

Call Cameron & Russell for a Free Case Evaluation

Bill Russell and Marcus Cameron are the faces behind Cameron & Russell. We go the extra mile for our clients to pursue personal injury claims and provide criminal defense. We approach every case with a fresh eye to detail and the determination to represent our clients to the fullest extent the law allows. We passionately defend clients facing criminal charges, and relentlessly seek out fair compensation for personal injury claims. No matter your situation, we promise to tirelessly represent your legal needs. 

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