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.

Can You Sue More Than One Person?

Personal injury claims sometimes require victims to sue more than one person. Car crashes are a perfect example of when it might be necessary to pursue personal injury claims against more than one person. Workplace accidents are another instance when multiple parties may be responsible for your injuries.

When you’re hurt by someone else’s negligence, it’s important to ensure you get the full amount of compensation afforded to you by personal injury law in New Mexico. Filing multiple claims can maximize your damages.

Hiring an experienced Albuquerque personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether more than one person is responsible for your injuries.

How to determine personal injury liability

Whether you are dealing with one party or two, proving personal injury liability by New Mexico personal injury law standards is the same.

To establish liability, your personal injury attorney must prove the responsible parties:

  • Owed you a duty to act reasonably.
  • Failed in their duty by acting negligently.
  • Caused your injuries because of their carelessness.
  • Produced damages through their negligence.

Let’s take the case of a car crash, where a manufacturing defect in the vehicle caused the driver to lose control and collide with your vehicle, causing you serious injuries. The at-fault driver admits to police investigating the accident that his car had been acting weird for a few days, but he failed to call a mechanic or the dealership to have it checked. In this case, you could sue the driver plus the car manufacturer if a true defect caused the accident.

Benefits of suing more than one person

The biggest benefit of suing more than one person when you suffer a personal injury is maximizing on your damages. Let’s go back to the example of the car crash with a defective car. That kind of accident could leave you with debilitating spinal cord injuries that cause paralysis. You would be unable to work and may accumulate millions of dollars in medical bills.

Suing all responsible parties for an accident of this magnitude ensures you get enough compensation to cover all your medical bills, plus any ongoing expenses related to a permanent disability.

Joint and severable liability with multiple defendants

Something to keep in mind if you decide to sue more than one person is the joint and severable liability laws in New Mexico. Joint liability means all defendants named in your personal injury claim are equally responsible for your losses. Several liability means the defendants are only responsible for a part of your losses.

Let’s take the car crash example again. You could sue the driver of the vehicle for causing the crash, and the driver could turn around and sue the vehicle manufacturer. When this happens, it’s called joint and several liability by the legal system.

You might be able to sue the driver and the truck company in a personal injury lawsuit stemming from a truck crash.

When to sue more than one person

New Mexico law allows you to recover damages from more than one person if you can meet the burden of proof in establishing each party’s liability. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help with determining whether more than one party shares responsibility for your injuries.

Here are some examples of when you might want to sue more than one person to maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation.

  • Truck crashes. If you are the victim of an accident involving a truck driver, you might be able to sue the truck driver and the trucking company for which he works. An example of when this tactic might be successful would be a trucking company pressuring one of its drivers to cut their required breaks short to make more deliveries. The driver falls asleep at the wheel and crashes into your car.
  • Slips-and-falls. Let’s say you slip and fall on an uneven sidewalk while shopping at a local retail outlet. The tenant knew the sidewalk was in ill repair and did not post a warning to shoppers about the hazard. The landlord failed to make the necessary repairs when notified by the tenant of the issue. You might be able to sue both the tenant and the landlord for your injuries since each played a role.

Hiring a personal injury lawyer can help

Living with temporary or permanent disability can affect your current and future earnings, plus rack up expensive medical bills. You want to make sure all parties responsible for your injuries share in the damages. Hiring a personal injury lawyer can help you determine who is at fault and how best to pursue personal injury claims against them.

Contact Cameron & Russell for a free case evaluation. They go the extra mile in personal injury cases to ensure you get fair compensation.

minimum limits insurance

The Pitfalls of Minimum Limits Insurance Coverage

Driving in New Mexico can be a stressful experience. The state has many roadways deemed among the most dangerous in the nation, including the I-40 and I-25. That’s just the interstates on the list of roadways where the most accidents happen in New Mexico. There also are state and U.S. highways like State Route 550, affectionately known as “The Death Highway” by locals.

To compensate for dangers New Mexicans face every time they get behind the wheel, state law requires they carry at least $25,000 bodily injury liability limits per person and up to $50,000 per accident in their automobile insurance policies.

Drivers who fail to meet the minimum requirements face fines and other penalties. Even worse, they can open themselves up to personal injury lawsuits if they cause an automobile accident that seriously injures another driver or their passengers.

What is the minimum liability insurance in New Mexico?

New Mexico drivers must carry liability car insurance. Liability insurance covers damages and injuries they may cause to others during an automobile accident. There is a bonus to carrying this type of insurance coverage: it covers their legal defense if someone files a personal injury lawsuit against them.

Drivers must ensure the have the following required minimum limits for liability insurance while operating a motor vehicle in the state:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury to a single person.
  • $50,000 for bodily injury to multiple persons in the same accident.
  • $10,000 for damage to property from one accident.

Policies with this kind of coverage are written as 25/50/10. While there are minimum requirements, drivers should consider buying as much coverage as they can afford. The extra insurance provides a buffer if they cause an accident with damages that exceed the minimum limits.

Advantages and disadvantages of choosing minimum coverage

Without question, the biggest advantage to purchasing only the minimum for automobile insurance liability coverage is lower monthly premiums. However, that savings quickly can diminish if drivers cause an accident with multiple serious injuries that exceed their coverage. They can be on the hook for making up the difference if any of the crash victims file a personal injury lawsuit.

The biggest disadvantage to choosing only minimum coverage is potential financial ruin. As previously mentioned, drivers that cause accidents with multiple serious injuries and extensive destruction to vehicles and other personal property can be on the hook for any damages awarded as part of a personal injury lawsuit.

Minimum bodily injury requirements in New Mexico can be exhausted quickly, even if there are only minor or moderate injuries. That $10,000 property damage limit won’t cover much if drivers must replace or repair multiple vehicles.

What happens without sufficient insurance coverage?

Let’s say a driver fails to yield properly when entering I-40 and causes a multi-vehicle crash with serious injuries. Several of the vehicles must be towed from the scene, and their occupants are transported to the hospital via ambulance. If the at-fault driver carries only minimum coverage, it will not be sufficient for covering the total damages.

Personal injury attorneys often deal with victims who received inadequate compensation from insurance companies. The funds were not sufficient for covering the costs of repairs or replacement to their vehicles, nor pay for any lost wages or medical expenses. Most of the time, personal injury lawyers recommend suing the at-fault party to recoup the losses.

Most insurance companies allow policyholders to increase the limit of liability insurance for an extra premium. Just ask your agent about your options.

How to buy additional coverage

Most insurance companies permit policyholders to increase the limit of liability insurance they have for an extra premium. Drivers who wish to take this route should consider going with liability limits of 50/100/50 to maximize the benefit. Individuals who have valuable assets may want to go even higher, including adding more coverage for their own vehicles to avoid out-of-pocket expenses for repairs.

If an insurance company refuses to allow policyholders to purchase more than the state limit of liability insurance, it may be time to explore coverage with another insurance provider.

Relief for automobile accident victims

Motorists injured in automobile accidents where the at-fault party has only minimum liability insurance coverage may want to consult with a personal injury attorney before agreeing to any kind of settlement from the insurance company. Many times, insurance companies try to pressure victims into settling for less compensation than they deserve if their clients are underinsured.

The personal injury experts at Cameron and Russell can evaluate a case for free to determine the best course of action to ensure victims receive fair compensation for their injuries and other damages. Schedule an appointment today by calling 505-218-7844 or contacting us online.

5 Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Filing a personal injury lawsuit is not something most people take lightly. Since personal injury lawsuits are not the sort of thing you do frequently, knowing how the process works can be confusing for the uninitiated. You may have questions about how to file a claim, how long it can take to get through the process, and if you’re more likely to settle than battle it out in court.

When you suffer serious injuries due to another person’s carelessness, consulting a personal injury attorney is the best way to protect your rights. You don’t have to live with debilitating injuries that can impact your ability to work and live a productive life.

Part of any successful personal injury lawsuit involves understanding the steps in the process. Here is what you can expect if you decide to pursue a personal injury claim.

Step 1: Consult a personal injury attorney

Don’t wait to file a claim. New Mexico’s statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is three years. Selecting a personal injury attorney to represent you is the single most important step you can take to prepare. An online search for personal injury attorneys in Albuquerque reveals you have plenty of options. Choose wisely. Not all personal injury lawyers are created equally. Some have more experience than others, with proven track records for getting their clients fair compensation for their injuries.

Make sure you pick a legal representative willing to take the best approach to solving your problem. Most skilled personal injury attorneys can get settlements for their clients without resorting to lengthy – and stressful – court cases.

Step 2: Provide details about your case

Experienced personal injury attorneys thoroughly investigate the incident that led to your injuries as part of taking your case. They do this for two reasons:

  1. To determine all liable parties; and
  2. To collect all relevant evidence for proving your case.

As part of their examination of your case, a personal injury attorney should gather police reports, medical treatment records, and eye-witness accounts to prove your claim. All these things together help build a solid case, making your chances of reaching an out-of-court settlement more likely.

Step 3: Issue a claim for compensation

Following your personal injury attorney’s thorough review of all the evidence in your case, he or she will file a demand for compensation with the responsible party’s insurance company. Sometimes the process requires a single claim, like in the case of an automobile accident. Other times, multiple claims may be required if more than one party is liable for your injuries. Multiple claims are most common with product or premises liability cases.

As part of the claim for compensation, your attorney may provide:

  • Details (including photos) about your injuries.
  • Evidence collected from the accident scene that identifies the liable party.
  • Information about lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses related to your injuries.

A comprehensive accounting of your case can help produce a speedier resolution and avoid costly legal battles in court.

Make sure you choose an attorney willing to negotiate a fair settlement.

Step 4: Engage in negotiations

Most experienced personal injury lawyers push for out-of-court settlements to make the process easier on their clients. Plaintiffs in personal injury claims also prefer this route, when possible, to reduce negative publicity about the case. This is especially important for businesses and products that don’t want to tarnish their reputations.

Make sure your attorney doesn’t jump at the first offer for settlement without reviewing to ensure the proposal is fair to you. Sometimes plaintiffs, at the behest of their insurance companies, send lowball offers to see if they can convince victims to settle for less than they deserve. A top-notch personal injury attorney can spot the signs of these kinds of offers and push back to get you more.

If you reach an agreement, all that’s left to do is sign any formal paperwork and the process is complete.

Step 5: Go to court (if necessary)

When negotiations made in good faith fail, victims have little recourse except to push forward with their claims in the courts. Your attorney can advise whether taking your case this far is necessary. As part of the review process, they can provide an outlook for success.

Most reputable personal injury attorneys do not take on cases they know are unwinnable. Still, it is important to discuss how a court case might go before you agree to pursue it. Court cases can drag on and be emotionally and physically draining on victims. Make sure it’s worth it before you agree to put yourself through that kind of stress.

Finding an experienced personal injury attorney

When you’re the victim of someone else’s negligence, you need a personal injury attorney you can count on to pursue fair compensation. Bill Russell has represented clients throughout the state of New Mexico, standing up for victims who have suffered at the hands of another. Contact Bill today to schedule your free case evaluation. Call 505-218-7844 or request an appointment online.

Tips for Suing Teen Drivers

Suing teen drivers for careless behavior on the roadways might become necessary if you suffer serious injuries because of their negligence. Teens just getting comfortable behind the wheel can make some dumb driving mistakes because of their inexperience. There is a difference between driving errors born out of ignorance and those made due to inattentiveness behind the wheel. Distracted driving is a common reason for traffic accidents involving teens motorists. Cell phones and passengers were among the biggest diversions, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

When serious injuries or deaths happen at the hands of an inexperienced driver, a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit may be necessary to recover damages.

Do teen drivers have more accidents?

Statistics don’t lie. The risk for motor vehicle crashes is greatest among teen drivers aged 16 to 19 than any other age group. For every mile driven, teens are more than three times as likely than drivers over age 20 to be involved in a fatal accident. According to the most recent data from the CDC, seven teens die each day from injuries suffered in motor vehicle accidents. The likelihood of having an accident behind the wheel increases for teens with other teen or adult passengers in the car because they can be distracting.

Inexperience at recognizing dangerous situations contributes to teen driving mistakes that cause injuries and death to passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers. Biological factors make teens naturally more distractible than adults. Knowing the science behind why teens become distracted is not an excuse for careless or negligent behavior behind the wheel. Driving too fast or goofing off with friends instead of paying attention causes serious injuries to teen drivers, their passengers, and others on the roadways.

Teen drivers who have friends in the car with them are more easily distracted.

What is the most common accident for teen drivers?

One of the most common mistakes teen drivers make behind the wheel involves crashing into fixed objects. Buildings, guardrails, parked cars, traffic signs, and utility poles are favorite targets. These kinds of accidents happen because teens misjudge distance and can become distracted while navigating around or near them.

If one of those fixed objects happens to belong to you, recovering damages might be necessary. Yes, automobile insurance carriers become involved if the accident involves vehicles. However, insurance companies are notorious for paying as little as possible. If you have serious injuries that lead to extended time off work or expensive rehabilitation, insurance payouts may not be sufficient. Contacting a personal injury attorney is your best bet for getting fair compensation.

Filing a claim against a minor

Teen drivers charged with criminal offenses while behind the wheel often are tried as juveniles, which means they receive more lenient sentencing than adults. However, those special protections do not apply to personal injury law. Victims can request their personal injury lawyers file claims against teen drivers who injure them or damage their property while behaving recklessly.

Personal injury lawyers collect documentation that supports your personal injury case, including evidence of liability, like whether the teen was distracted while behind the wheel. Requesting cell phone records, for instance, can prove if a teen driver was talking or texting while driving.

In some instances, you might be able to file a claim against the teen driver’s parents under the New Mexico Parental Responsibility Law. Under Statute 66-5-11, parents or legal guardians can be held responsible for damages and injuries cause by teen drivers. The same provision does not cap nor limit dollar amounts for damages, which increases the likelihood of being compensated for pain and suffering in addition to other damages.

Know when to consult an attorney

When teen drivers cause serious injuries or damage to you and your property, consulting an attorney skilled in personal injury law in New Mexico is a wise choice. Even if you are unsure you want to pursue a personal injury claim, a lawyer can review your case to ensure your rights are protected. Bill Russell is well-versed in personal injury law and can guide you through the process. Call 505-218-7844 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation today.  

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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    Albuquerque, NM 87102

  • P: 505-218-7844
    505-268-5304
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