How to Avoid a Thanksgiving Lawsuit

Turkey? Check! Stuffing? Check! Pumpkin pie? Check! Lawsuit? Say what, now? That is not on the menu.

No one ever thinks about getting sued when they are busy preparing a tasty turkey feast for their friends and family. Yet, the risk is very real for hosts when they invite other people into their homes. From drunken driving accidents to choking on turkey bones, there is a host of things that can go wrong at holiday celebrations. Not to rain on your Thanksgiving-day parade, but hosts must consider the following steps to protect themselves against personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits during the holiday.

Preparing food for others

Whether you prepare the food yourself or order your holiday feast from a restaurant or caterer, there always is a risk for food poisoning claims from guests. Make sure all food you plan to serve is neither contaminated nor spoiled. Turkey should be heated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before it is safe to consume. If you prepare your turkey the day before, make sure you refrigerate it as soon as it cools to prevent spoiling. Follow proper food handling and storage protocol for all prepared foods. When in doubt about the safety of something, it is better to toss it out than risk making your guests ill.

Spoiled food is not the only mishap that can occur on Turkey Day. Choking always is a risk any time your guests consume foods, especially those like turkey that have bones. Be sure you or someone else in your home know how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver just in case.

Avoiding cuts, scrapes, and burns

Speaking of the kitchen, Thanksgiving gatherings center around preparing and enjoying food together. Keeping your guests out of the kitchen is the best way to avoid the kinds of cuts, scrapes, and burns that come with preparing food. If it is not possible to do so, then here are a few things you can do to protect them from injury and you from the liability:

  • Avoid wearing long-sleeved or loose-fitting clothing while cooking to avoid getting caught on appliances and other meal-preparation tools.
  • Limit the number of people allowed in the kitchen at the same time.
  • Keep flammable items away from hot surfaces.
  • Never fry a turkey indoors. Only use a turkey fryer outside to avoid fires and burns.
  • Turn pot and pan handles inward on the stovetop when in use.

Make sure you have a first aid kit on hand and well stocked in case any of your guests get injured. Band aids, gauze, medical tape, and tourniquets are some of the items to include in the kit.

Alcohol-related accidents and incidents

Some holiday hosts avoid serving alcohol in their homes because they do not want to assume the responsibility that comes with making sure their guests do not drink and drive. According to one report, New Mexico has the third-highest number of alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Driving while under the influence is not the only risk when serving alcohol at your Thanksgiving dinner. Guests who become drunk and belligerent may cause injury to others in your home. It is best to either limit the amount of alcohol served or forgo it entirely.

Slip-and-fall injuries

Slip-and-fall injuries are a concern for property owners any time of the year, but especially during the holidays, when more people may be visiting. Before your guests arrive, make sure to repair any uneven flooring or sidewalk surfaces and ensure there is adequate lighting for all spaces where guests might move about. Keep floors, sidewalks, and stairways dry and clear of debris to reduce slips and falls. Uncluttering is another excellent way to avoid someone getting injured while on your property. Make sure there is ample room to move in any spaces where guests will gather.

Know what to do if you suffer injuries

Thanksgiving hosts, it pays to know what you can be held liable for before you agree to bring guests into your home this holiday season. If you are a guest in someone’s home during the Thanksgiving holiday and you suffer a serious injury because of the host or another guest’s careless behavior, you have rights. Contact an attorney skilled in personal injury law to schedule a free consultation to review your case.

Stay safe, everyone, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Can I Sue for ADA Compliance?

One in every four adults in the United States lives with a disability. Individuals with physical disabilities can sometimes encounter challenges maneuvering safely in public spaces. The Americans with Disability Act mandates that public spaces provide accommodations to disabled guests. However, loopholes exist that can allow some businesses and other public spaces to sidestep the law. ADA violations may not be enough to prove negligence on their own.

What recourse do disabled persons have when they suffer injuries because businesses and other public spaces do not meet ADA compliance? A premises liability lawsuit may be the answer in most cases.

What is premises liability?

Premises liability laws protect individuals from unsafe or defective conditions on someone else’s property. For instance, if a person trips and falls on a cracked sidewalk in front of a business and breaks their leg, the business owners can be liable for their injuries. Property owners have a legal obligation to fix or provide notice of dangers or hazards that can lead to injury. Failure to do so opens them up to personal injury lawsuits from injured parties.

Premises liability cases require the injured party to prove the property owner was negligent in their duty of care to maintain their property. The only time premise liability laws do not apply in New Mexico is when someone is trespassing on another person’s property.

ADA lawsuit vs. premises liability lawsuit

ADA lawsuits and premises liability lawsuits provide different outcomes. Disabled persons who do not suffer injuries but wish to force a business to become ADA compliant should file an ADA lawsuit. Most ADA lawsuits do not include settlements or rulings that provide the complainant with financial compensation. The usual outcome involves the business or public space ordered to become ADA compliant.

Premises liability lawsuits work best for individuals injured by a business’s lack of ADA compliance who seek fair compensation for their injuries. ADA compliance issues like damaged flooring, lack of handrails in the bathroom, and entrances without ramps all can lead to serious injuries of disabled patrons. However, victims who file premises liability claims should not consider their cases a slam dunk. Business owners must be aware of the hazard the ADA violation posed to be liable for injuries. Hiring an attorney skilled in premises liability law can help improve your chances of success.

Photo courtesy ADA Accessibility Standards Guidelines.

Ramps and curbs: the source of most ADA violations

Failing to install and maintain ADA compliant sidewalks and curbs gets a lot of businesses in legal hot water. Broken sidewalks, crumbling stairs, and steep curbs can cause injuries to mobile persons. They also can spell disaster for disabled individuals trying to access a business or other public accommodation.

ADA Accessibility Standards spell out where ramps and curbs must be installed to meet ADA compliance. The standards include measurements for each component of the curb or ramp.

Ramps and Curb Ramps

Ramps and curb ramps are required along accessible routes with changes in level greater than half an inch. The ADA permits platform lifts and elevators to be used alternatively. Accessible routes with slopes steeper than 5 percent must follow the same guidelines for ramps.

Slope and Cross Slope

Providing the least possible slope offers the best usability for both disabled and non-disabled users, according to the U.S. Access Board. Slope is the proportion of vertical rise to horizontal length. The recommended ratio is 1:12, or 8.33 percent.

Clear Width

There must be a clear width of 36 inches minimum between the handrails on a ramp. Width requirements accommodate the average size of a wheelchair, which is between 30 and 32 inches. Individual health and safety codes may dictate clear width that extends beyond the minimum.

Rise

Run height is limited to 30 inches maximum, but ramps may have as many runs as needed. Longer ramps with numerous runs can be difficult for people using manual wheelchairs and should be avoided if possible.

Landings

Every run must have level landings at the bottom and top. The ADA does not permit changes in level greater than 1:48 for landings. They also must be designed in such a way that water does not accumulate there, which can pose significant hazards to people using wheelchairs.

Other Specifications

The standards also cover required specifications for:

  • Doorways at landings.
  • Handrails.
  • Edge protection.
  • Wet conditions.

Property owners should review and ensure compliance to avoid becoming liable for serious injuries by disabled visitors.

Using premises liability to pursue ADA violations

When property owners fail to meet required obligations for equal access, disabled persons can and do end up with serious injuries. Cameron & Russell recently recovered $600,000 as part of a premises liability lawsuit. Our client in the case suffered horrific injuries when he fell out of his wheelchair because a walkway was blocked by a tractor-trailer. This is just one example of how we can help recover damages for disabled persons injured because of a property owner’s negligence. Call 505-218-7844 or request an appointment online to schedule your free case consultation.

When Your Doctor Makes an Honest Mistake

Unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.8 million people – roughly 869 deaths per 100,000 people – occur each year due to accidents. Medical errors made by physicians and other healthcare practitioners are included in those statistics. It can be unnerving to think that medical professionals who are supposed to help you could instead cause significant injury or even death.

Victims of medical errors or their surviving family members may wish to pursue medical malpractice claims against the healthcare providers responsible for their pain and suffering. Before seeking out the advice of a personal injury attorney that specializes in medical malpractice, learning the difference between medical negligence and medical malpractice can help determine if victims have a legitimate case.

Medical negligence vs. medical malpractice

Medical negligence is the legal term used to describe an “honest mistake” by a medical practitioner or healthcare team. Even the best and brightest medical professionals can make errors. While their medical misstep can cause injury or pain to the patient, it was not done with intent, so the legal system in New Mexico views it differently. Doctors and other healthcare professionals still can be held accountable for medical negligence.  

Medical malpractice is the term applied to the outcome of medical negligence. Sometimes doctors and other healthcare providers can make mistakes, but those errors do not cause pain or suffering to their patients. When a healthcare practitioner’s actions or inactions fail to meet the medical standard of care, and it causes significant injury or illness to their patient, it rises to the level of medical malpractice. Whether intentional or not, the physician or other medical provider is then liable for their actions. New Mexico law requires claims to meet the following criteria to be filed as medical malpractice:

  • The standard of care was violated. Patients have a right to expect medical care to be administered according to consistent medical standards.
  • The patient was injured due to medical negligence. Violating the standard of care is not enough to prove medical malpractice. Patients must also show they were injured or otherwise harmed by the negligent actions.
  • The patient must demonstrate significant damages. Medical malpractice litigation is expensive. Viable cases must show that a patient endured significant damages from injuries suffered from acts of medical negligence.

Examples of medical malpractice

When medical negligence rises to the level of malpractice, it usually involves one of the following situations.

  • A failure to diagnose properly. Misdiagnosing is a popular reason for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. When healthcare providers misread or overlook symptoms and fail to diagnose a serious illness or injury, their patients can hold them responsible for any additional suffering they endure because of their failure to provide a correct diagnosis.
  • A mistake with anesthesia. Patients undergoing certain medical procedures must be placed in an induced state of consciousness to prevent feeling pain. Anesthesiologists can sometimes fail to administer the correct dosage, leaving patients to feel every incision made and procedure performed, but unable to alert doctors and nurses to their pain.
  • An error with prescription medication. Sometimes doctors prescribe the wrong dosage of a medication, or the wrong medication entirely. Prescription mistakes are another leading cause of medical malpractice lawsuits.

Can you sue for medical negligence?

In most cases, victims of medical malpractice can sue and recover damages either through a settlement or court action. They can receive fair compensation for:

  • Loss of wages, including future earning capacity, if medical negligence caused a temporary or permanent disability.
  • Medical expenses, including doctor visits, therapy, prescription medications, and any anticipated future medical interventions.
  • Pain and suffering, including for both emotional and physical pain.

In New Mexico, claimants must file before the statute of limitations expires. New Mexico law states victims have three years from the date the medical negligence occurred to file for damages against doctors and other healthcare providers.

Next steps for victims of medical negligence

Victims may be reluctant to file a medical malpractice claim, especially if they feel their doctor or other healthcare practitioner made an honest mistake and did not mean to cause them harm. Discussing the circumstances of medical negligence can help victims decide whether to pursue legal action. Choosing an experienced personal injury lawyer experienced in medical malpractice can offer the best outcome. Bill Russell has represented injured people and their families successfully for years. Schedule a hassle-free consultation to discuss your case by calling 505-218-7844 or contact Bill online.

Slip and Fall? Follow These 5 Steps.

We would all like to think we are graceful and skilled enough to stay on our feet regardless of the conditions. The sad fact is, slips, trips, and falls account for the majority of injuries in the workplace and other public spaces.  Sometimes these unfortunate accidents are due to own carelessness. Other times, they happen thanks to the neglect of others who failed to keep publicly accessible areas well-maintained. From crumbling sidewalks to wet floors without posted warning signs, if someone else’s negligence contributed to your slip-and-fall accident, contacting a personal injury attorney is one of the first steps you must take to protect your rights.

How premises liability plays into slip-and-fall accidents

Premises liability dictates that buildings, homes, parking lots, walkways, and any other areas accessible to the public must be maintained to ensure safe travel. This means salting icing walkways and repairing uneven sidewalks or crumbling concrete stairs before someone falls on them. Property owners who fail to abide by premises liability laws in Albuquerque open themselves up to a personal injury lawsuit if someone slips, trips, or falls and suffers serious injuries. Victims of slip-and-fall accidents can seek compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It pays to make sure your property meets all safety standards to avoid this costly mistake.

If you are the victim of a slip-and-fall accident, you must take the following five steps to ensure the best possible outcome if you decide to file a personal injury claim against the property owner.

Slip-and-fall accidents can cause TBIs and other serious injuries.
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Step 1: Seek Medical Treatment

Depending on the conditions that caused you to fall, you may have a simple wound like a sprained ankle or something more serious like a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Your priority is to receive medical care for your injuries before all else. In addition to receiving the proper medical treatment for your physical trauma, your medical provider also can document your injuries, which includes details about how they occurred. Your medical records play a vital part in a successful personal injury claim. Validating when – and how – the damage occurred is part of the evidence your personal injury attorney will need to file your claim.

Step 2: Call a Personal Injury Attorney

Once you are examined by a medical professional and your injuries are documented and treated, your next call should be to a personal injury attorney. Even if you are unsure yet whether you plan to sue, consulting a personal injury lawyer immediately as soon as possible is the best course of action. Personal injury attorneys experienced in premise liability can handle the complexities that come with proving your case. Bringing a skilled attorney on board early guarantees you the guidance needed to gather all documentation and information you will need to win damages in an out-of-court settlement or through a jury award if your case goes to court.

Step 3: Report Your Accident

It may seem like this should be the first step, but when you suffer injuries in a slip-and-fall accident, the most important thing is to receive prompt medical attention. Whether the incident happened while shopping at the grocery store or walking down a public sidewalk, you must alert the property owner about the incident. If the place where your slip-and-fall accident occurred is a public facility, ask the management for acknowledgment in writing that you reported your injuries to them and detailed how they happened.

Step 4: Gather Documentation

This is something your personal injury attorney can help you do. As a rule, you will want to gather the names, addresses, and contact information of all potential witnesses to your slip-and-fall accident. Another critical piece of evidence is photos of the scene of the accident. If you fell on a poorly maintained surface like an uneven sidewalk or crumbling staircase, taking photos of the area can help prove your case. Make sure you set aside the clothing and shoes you were wearing when you fell in case the property owner tries to claim that how you were dressed contributed to your accident. Write down as many details about what you were doing before you fell, including the date and time of your accident.

Step 5: Right to Remain Silent

The right to remain silent does not just apply to criminals. Victims of slip-and-fall accidents must decline to give any statements to the property owners or their representatives. Beyond notifying the property owner of your accident, victims are not obligated to speak to them further or provide any additional information. Unscrupulous property owners trying to cover their part in your slip-and-fall accident might try to trick you into taking on some of the blame. It is best to leave all official communication with the property owner to your personal injury attorney.

Working with an experienced slip-and-fall attorney

Working with a knowledgeable slip-and-fall lawyer offers the best outcome in your case. Bill Russell leverages his previous experience as an insurance agent specializing in property and casualty insurance to help victims of premises liability cases. Bill and his dedicated team can handle all the confusing paperwork, ensure filing deadlines are met and give victims the respect they deserve while handling their personal injury cases. Call 505-218-7844 or contact Bill online to schedule your free case revie

My Boss Fired Me After Getting Hurt

Getting hurt on the job is no laughing matter. One slip and fall or improperly functioning machine can leave you with debilitating injuries that affect your ability to work. Most states make it illegal to fire a worker who suffered a workplace injury and filed a workers’ compensation claim. New Mexico is one of those states. Just because employers are not supposed to fire injured employees does not mean they cannot look for excuses to terminate. Workers who suspect they were fired because of pending litigation or workers’ compensation claims against their employer should contact an attorney skilled in workers’ compensation law immediately to ensure the protection of their rights.

What is employer retaliation?

Employers in New Mexico cannot retaliate against injured employees who seek benefits. Retaliation is defined by New Mexico rules and statutes as discharging, threatening to discharge, or engaging in other threatening or punitive behavior. Retaliation goes beyond termination in New Mexico. Other acts that fall into the realm of illegal discrimination when motivated by a worker engaging in their rights include:

  • Demoting employees to a less senior position within the company.
  • Issuing poor performance reviews.
  • Passing the employee over for promotions.
  • Reducing wages.
  • Undesirable reassignments, reclassifications, or transfers.
  • Unnecessary disciplinary action.
  • Unreasonable decrease or increase in assigned job duties.

Any acts of intimidation fall under the legal definition of employer retaliation. If you suspect you have become a target because of a pending workers’ compensation claim or personal injury lawsuit, reach out to your attorney immediately.

Why do employers retaliate?

Employers may be tempted to retaliate when employees file workers’ compensation claims because it impacts their bottom line. The more worker’s compensation claims filed the higher the employer’s insurance premiums rise. How do you know when an employer is striking back?

If an employee’s supervisors are angry over a workers’ compensation filing, they may take actions that seem punitive. That is one sign of retaliation. Another surefire indicator of retaliation is if an employer begins treating an employee differently after they file their claim. Lastly, the timing of changes in behavior toward an employee is the most telling hint of an employer hitting back.

How do you prove employer retaliation?

Some employers engage in retaliatory behavior because they know it can be difficult to prove. Very few employers who willfully violate the law readily admit to it because they know there are steep penalties when caught. When a company goes so far as to terminate an employee, a skilled workers’ compensation attorney must prove the following three things:

  1. The employee engaged in a protected activity (filing a workers’ compensation claim).
  2. The employee was fired after or during the same time the activity occurred.
  3. A causal link between the protected activity and the loss of the employee’s job.

Most courts rule in favor of employees when workers’ compensation claims and firings occur within the same time or with close temporal proximity.

Reporting workers’ compensation retaliation

When you report suspected retaliation for workers’ compensation claims to your attorney, he or she may suggest reporting the violation to the State of New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration. Your attorney may additionally suggest filing a lawsuit against your employer for violation of employment law, in addition to any personal injury claims resulting from the workplace incident. When employees can prove retaliatory behavior from employers, it increases the likelihood of punitive damages from the courts.

What to do next

If you suspect you were fired illegally, talk to the experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Cameron and Russell. Attorney Bill Russell works hard to protect workers’ rights and has the experience and skills to successfully navigate a suspected retaliatory firing. To schedule your free consultation, call 505-218-7844 or contact us online.

How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works

No one likes to think about what they would do if a loved one was taken from them because of another person’s reckless or negligent behavior. Wrongful death lawsuits exist to help families of victims recover fair compensation for damages. Survivors have the right to recover damages for:

  • Emotional suffering.
  • Funeral expenses.
  • Loss of companionship.
  • Lost wages and financial support.
  • Medical bills.

A wrongful death lawsuit cannot bring back your loved one, but it can ensure survivors are not left financially distressed because of someone else’s carelessness.

There are several steps involved in filing a wrongful death lawsuit in New Mexico. When followed, these steps help secure the deceased person’s estate and provide fair compensation to surviving family members. An experienced wrongful death attorney can lead you through each of these steps, settling out of court when possible, or fighting for your rights in a court of law if necessary.

Step 1: Determine whether negligence occurred

The first step any seasoned wrongful death lawsuit attorney will take is to determine whether negligence occurred. Your lawyer will review all aspects of the case, including collecting evidence from the scene of the accident and talking with witnesses. For accidents that included a police investigation, your attorney may request copies of all documents and reports related to the incident. Sometimes police investigators posit blame, especially if the death happened during a motor vehicle accident. If your attorney has enough evidence to determine negligence, he or she will then proceed to step 2, which is to gather evidence to support your case.

Step 2: Gather evidence

Gathering evidence to support a wrongful death lawsuit is critical to the success of the case. Experienced attorneys look for documents that can prove what happened, who was liable, and damages suffered by the victims. Here are some of the types of evidence your attorney will seek:

  • Death certificate. A certified record of the victim’s cause of death, this document can support claims about how your loved one died. The New Mexico Department of Health’s Vital Records office issues death certificates on request.
  • Medical records. A victim’s official health records can indicate their cause of death and treatment received for any injuries sustained because of someone else’s negligence. In cases of medical malpractice, a victim’s medical records are a step-by-step guide to their prior health, plus any treatments medical professionals used that may have contributed to their death. Medical records include, but are not limited to, consultation records, evaluations, healthcare team notes, prescription medication, and medical treatments.
  • Pay stubs and tax returns. Financial accounting is important for determining damages for surviving spouses and children. If the victim was the primary wage earner for the household, this documentation is evidence of the amount of compensation owed to survivors.
  • Physical evidence. Anything from the accident scene that supports a claim of negligence is considered physical evidence in a wrongful death lawsuit.
  • Police and autopsy reports. When police are called to an accident scene, they must produce an official report detailing their investigation. Their findings can support wrongful death claims by establishing negligence and providing a clear narrative of the events. Police reports also list witnesses. Your attorney can use that information to find potential witnesses for a lawsuit. An autopsy, like a death certificate, lists the victim’s official cause of death.
  • Witness statements. Witnesses help present a clear picture of the events leading up to the victim’s death. They also may be valuable in providing witness testimony in court should your case go to trial.

Step 3: File a summons ad service of process

Once your attorney has gathered all the evidence needed to support a wrongful death lawsuit claim, the next step is to file a summons. The purpose of a summons is to notify the defendant of your intent to sue for wrongful death. A summons also provides details about where and when the legal proceedings will be held.

After the summons is issued, a service of process happens next. This step essentially puts the defendant and their legal counsel on notice that you are preceding with a lawsuit against them.  

Step 4: Negotiate a settlement

When possible, wrongful death attorneys prefer to negotiate a settlement for their clients. Trials can be long and emotionally taxing for survivors of the victim. If your attorney has compiled a strong enough case against the defendant, it increases the chances of settling before court proceedings begin. It is in the best interest of the defendant to avoid a lengthy, public trial. In cases where the defendant is a company or other business entity, settlements appeal to their legal counsel to avoid dragging their clients’ names through the mud during a public hearing.

Even if you do not settle by your court date, it is not too late to reach an agreement. Sometimes defending parties wait until a trial starts to weigh their chances. If their legal counsel does not feel like the case is going in their favor, they may suggest a settlement before a jury or judge can rule on the case.

Choosing a wrongful death attorney

Bill Russell goes to bat for families of victims killed because of someone else’s negligence. He has represented injured people and their families for years throughout Mexico. He has the experience and the compassion necessary to help bring a successful outcome to any wrongful death lawsuit. Call 505-218-7844 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

Benefits of a Free Case Evaluation

Whether you are injured on the job, or you face criminal charges, you need an experienced and compassionate attorney to guide you through your case. Many law offices that specialize in personal injury law and criminal defense offer free case evaluations. What is included in one of these sessions? How should you prepare to get the most benefit from your meeting? Attorneys who provide comprehensive case evaluations cover your case from top to bottom so they – and you – know what to expect moving forward.

What is a free case evaluation?

A free case evaluation provides you with the opportunity to discuss your case with a legal representative. It also is a way for you and the attorney to get to know one another. When an attorney says thet offer a free case evaluation or client consultation, you can expect them to sit down with you, listen to your problem, and provide some initial thoughts about the case. This is performed at no charge to you and with no obligation to move forward with the attorney if you decide for any reason that he or she is not a good fit.

Why do attorneys provide free consultations?

It is beneficial for the attorney and the client to have a free consultation. Most attorneys offer free consultations because they genuinely care about helping people. They have a passion for pursuing tough cases to ensure your rights are protected. When conducted thoroughly, a free case evaluation gathers just enough information to determine whether you have enough evidence to prove your claims or defend against criminal charges.

For prospective clients, it gives them a chance to decide if the attorney is competent. Civil and criminal attorneys must be effective communicators to win settlements and court cases. Listening is an integral part of communicating. You can determine whether an attorney is a good listener by how many questions they ask about your case and how they respond to your questions about their services.

What to bring to your free case evaluation

The kind of information you must supply depends on whether you are pursuing litigation or are defending against charges.

For personal injury cases, clients should bring:

  • Police reports (if they exist) about the accident where the injury was sustained.
  • Details about who else was involved in the accident.
  • A list of witnesses to the accident.
  • Photos of the accident scene (if available).
  • Medical reports of any treatment for your injuries or ongoing therapy for recovery.
  • Information about which insurance companies are involved in the case.
  • A list of all expenses associated with the injury (medical, lost wages), plus supporting receipts or other documentation.
  • Explanation of how you think the accident occurred.

For criminal defense cases, clients should bring:

  • All documentation from the police, jail, or any judge that has handled your case. This can include court summons, citations, jail release paperwork, search warrant affidavits, vehicle impound sheets, and toxicology reports.
  • A list of witnesses willing to testify on your behalf.
  • Information about your personal and professional background.
  • Any previous misdemeanor or felony complaints against you.
  • Details about any future court date already scheduled.

It is not necessary to bring witnesses for your case to the free consultation. Should your attorney decide to move forward with your case, they can contact the witnesses on your list and arrange to take their depositions.

What to expect at your case evaluation

When you schedule a free case evaluation with Cameron & Russell, you can expect a face-to-face meeting with criminal defense expert Marcus Cameron. He has an extensive criminal law background and has represented clients in all types of felonies and other criminal charges.  

Marcus will sit down with you to discuss the merits of your case. You can expect him to ask a lot of questions and review all supporting documentation that you bring along. After a review of the facts and listening to your side of the story, he will present information about how he can help with your case.

Your attorney should not be the only one asking questions during the free case evaluation. Prepare a list of your questions and have them ready to ask. It is critical you tell your attorney the truth about your circumstances. They cannot help you if they do not have all the facts.

What to expect after the consultation

Clients can think about whether they wish to hire an attorney following the free consultation. Never allow an attorney to pressure you on the spot about retaining them for your case. Hiring an attorney is a financial commitment. Reputable attorneys provide prospective clients with the time and space needed to consider their next moves. If you decide to move forward with the attorney, you must sign an agreement that outlines the services provided and the fees associated with those services. Many attorneys work on retainer, requiring an up-front fee to get started on your case. Attorneys who use retainers will deduct their fees from the retainer balance, only invoicing you for more once the retainer is spent. Be sure you understand all the terms and conditions, plus legal obligations, before signing an agreement to work with an attorney.

Get the help you need

Free consultations ensure that every person has equal access to representation for their legal needs. Whether you are pursuing fair compensation for a personal injury, or require defending against a DUI charge, we can help. Contact us today to schedule your obligation-free case evaluation.

Swimming Pool Accidents: Who is Liable?

Summertime is filled with fun activities outdoors with family and friends. Among the most popular ways to enjoy a sunny, warm day is by barbecuing and hanging out poolside. We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but swimming pool owners must be diligent when choosing to invite others to stop by for a swim. The risk of potential liability for swimming pool accidents that cause injury or death is high. That does not mean pool owners automatically assume responsibility when a guest is injured in or around their pools. It pays to know the dangers before opening your backyard oasis to others.

Do swimming pool accidents fall under premises liability?

Swimming pools are considered a part of the property on which they are located. New Mexico premises liability laws apply to any accident or injury involving a swimming pool for this reason. Premises liability is the legal terminology that refers to a property owner’s responsibility to maintain reasonable safety of their property and everything on it for visitors.

Are swimming pools an “attractive nuisance?”

Many states, including New Mexico, have what is known as an “attractive nuisance doctrine.” It applies to children who trespass on your property because they are enticed by something they see and want to explore. Swimming pools and Jacuzzis are two of the most common attractive nuisances to children, who can suffer serious injury and even death while using them without adult supervision.

Unfortunately, it does not matter whether the child who is injured in your swimming pool is a guest or is using your pool without authorization. Premises liability depends on proving negligence. For instance, if you do not have your pool gated, and a child decides to take a dip while you are not home and is injured, you could be liable for failing to secure your pool even though you did not invite the child to use your pool.

swimming pool accidents diving boards
Diving boards are a major source of swimming pool accidents and injuries.

What are some common swimming pool accident injuries?

Swimming pools can be a lot of fun. They also can cause serious injury if people are careless around them. For instance, if the area around your pool is wet, it can become a slipping hazard for guests. Diving boards and flotation devices are other sources of accidents in pools. Even the pool wall can injure swimmers who are unaware they are too close to it when swimming and collide with it.

Here are some of the most common injuries that happen in swimming pools:

  • Abrasions and cuts
  • Broken bones
  • Drowning
  • Electrocution
  • Infections
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury

Pool owners can only do so much to prevent swimming pool accidents and the resulting injuries. Properly securing your pool when not in use, updating and repairing it when needed, and supervising guests are the best ways to avoid negligence and premise liability lawsuits.

How do you know if you are liable for a swimming pool accident?

New Mexico law requires those injured while using someone else’s swimming pool to prove several critical facts before they can file a premises liability personal injury lawsuit. They must show that:

  • The owner failed to fulfill their duty of care at their pool.
  • The owner breached their duty of care through careless action or inaction (such as failing to secure the pool from uninvited guests).
  • The injury suffered was directly related to the pool owner’s breach of duty of care.
  • The injured party suffered damages.

Making sure you are present any time someone is using your pool is important for preventing accidents and avoiding liability for injuries. It is your responsibility to ensure all guests use the pool safely and appropriately and to ask anyone who cannot follow the rules to exit the pool immediately.

Does homeowners’ insurance cover swimming pool accidents?

Homeowners’ insurance coverage for pools generally covers damage to the pool and liability issues. While it is nice to have coverage for repairs, all swimming pool owners must secure liability insurance coverage. Most homeowners’ insurance policies include liability coverage for pool-related accidents. However, we advise increasing your liability limit up to $500,000 if possible.

Pool owners also can purchase a separate umbrella policy if their insurance provider offers that option. Sometimes referred to as “excess liability policies,” umbrella coverage includes liability limits of $1 million, $2 million, or more and is inexpensive compared with footing the bill for injuries sustained in swimming pool accidents out of your pocket.

What to do if you are injured in a swimming pool accident

What happens if you are the person injured in a swimming pool accident through no fault of your own? Consulting with a personal injury lawyer experienced in premises liability law in New Mexico is your best bet for protecting your rights and securing fair compensation for your injuries. Bill Russell is deeply dedicated to representing victims and their families. Contact our offices today to schedule a hassle-free consultation to review your case.

6 Safety Tips to Keep 4-Wheeling Fun

All-terrain vehicles, sometimes called 4-wheelers, are off-road vehicles that can be used for both fun and work. ATVs are popular with New Mexico farmers who use them for checking on livestock in the fields, to inspecting their crops, or even add fertilizer or chemical protectants to their fields. When used for recreational purposes, 4-wheelers can explore rugged trails and make the perfect off-road vehicle for hunters.

No matter how you choose to use your ATV, following these six safety guidelines can help prevent the kinds of accidents and injuries that can cause serious injury or even death.

Safety tip #1: Get safety certified

ATVs are not toys. While you can have a great deal of fun on them, you also can end up with some debilitating injuries if you do not treat them with the respect they deserve. Learning how to ride your ATV safely in a controlled setting is one of the smartest and most responsible things you can do. You must be able to make quick adjustments – increasing or decreasing speed, shifting your weight to make turns – while riding to ensure your safety and that of any passengers. New Mexico law requires ATV operators to be at least 13 years old and possess a valid motorcycle license or 15 years old with a valid driver’s license.

Safety tip #2: Choose the right size ATV

When it comes to ATVs, one size does not fit all. You must choose one that is sized correctly for your age, weight, and height if you want to ride safely. Full-sized 4-wheelers can weigh more than 600 pounds. They are difficult to maneuver, even when you have one that is an appropriate fit. All manufacturer’s warning labels indicate recommended age groups. You also can ask an ATV sales representative to ensure you pick a 4-wheeler that is best suited to you.

safety tips ATV helmets and eye protection

Safety tip #3: Wear a helmet and eye protection

Wearing a helmet and eye protection does not make you a dork. It makes you a responsible ATV rider (or passenger). New Mexico requires all ATV riders under 18 to wear a helmet and approved eye protection. While those over 18 are not mandated to do the same, the New Mexico Game and Fish Commission strongly encourages it. Head and spine trauma are two of the most common injuries from ATV accidents. Wearing a helmet can help protect against traumatic brain injuries that can leave you permanently disabled. Eye protection is as important as a helmet, especially if riding your ATV on a trail or other off-road terrain that has rocks, branches, and other debris that easily can get caught by your wheels and fly up into your face. Your best bet for protecting your noggin and your eyes is a helmet with a full-face shield.

Safety tip #4: Dress for ATV success

Long pants, long-sleeved shirts, gloves, and ankle-high boots offer the best protection when riding. While no one intends to fall off their 4-wheeler, it can happen. ATVs have a high center of gravity, no seatbelts, and no roll bars. If they tip, nothing is keeping you on your seat. If you get thrown from your ATV, the right clothing can keep you from getting painful skin abrasions.

Safety tip #5: Ignore the need for speed

ATVs are powerful vehicles. While you might feel wild and free on one, it is important to remember that 4-wheeler tires are not designed for pavement or high speeds. While most can go between 65 and 80 mph (and some even faster than that), if you go too fast on yours, it can become unstable and tip. It also is more difficult to turn an ATV when it is going too fast. Just because you can go fast does not mean you should. Always ride your ATV on approved trails or other riding surfaces and keep it at a controlled speed.

Safety tip #6: Learn basic first aid

No one plans to be in an accident. That does not mean you should not be prepared for one. Learning some basic first aid for treating minor injuries and stabilizing more serious ones (like broken bones) until help arrives is a wise move if you regularly ride an ATV. The Red Cross in Albuquerque offers both CPR and first aid classes.

Safety Tips ATV broken bones
Broken bones are a common injury for ATV riders.

What kind of injuries can you get on an ATV?

Why do you need to follow these safety tips? It is simple: you can get seriously injured if you refuse. Four common injuries can happen when you have an ATV accident.

  • Concussions are a kind of traumatic brain injury that happens when there is an impact on your head. If you fall off your ATV, your head could hit the ground hard, or bang off a rock or other debris. If you are thrown from your ATV, you could end up going head-first into a tree. Concussions can cause serious problems down the road, including headaches and seizures.
  • Broken bones are one of the most common injuries from 4-wheelers. Any time you are thrown or fall off your ATV, you risk breaking a bone. Riding at a controlled speed and wearing protective gear can help.
  • Spinal cord injuries can lead to permanent paralysis and even death. Getting thrown from your ATV or having it roll onto you are two ways you can suffer a spinal cord injury. Stay at a safe speed to help prevent these kinds of accidents.
  • Cuts and bruises are another risk when you ride a heavy metal machine like an ATV. The arms and legs are where most cuts and bruises happen. Wearing protective clothing and staying at a safe speed can help prevent these kinds of injuries.

Who is responsible if you get injured by a 4-wheeler?

That depends. If you are riding carelessly on an ATV and have an accident that leaves you with debilitating injuries, you are the only responsible party. If you are a passenger on a 4-wheeler and someone else’s poor decisions lead to your injury, they can be held liable for their actions. Likewise, if the machine you are driving is defective, or if your helmet or other safety gear is faulty, you may be able to go after the manufacturer. Talking with a personal injury lawyer can help determine if you have a case. Bill Russell is an experienced personal injury lawyer in Albuquerque, New Mexico. You can schedule a hassle-free consultation with him by calling 505-218-7844 or inquiring online.

Know Your Rights Against Dog Owners

As the adage goes, dogs are a man’s best friend. Dog owners certainly seem to embrace that notion. Victims of dog bites, not so much. Dogs can cause a great deal of pain and suffering when they choose to attack. Insurance companies paid out $853.7 million in claims for dog bite injuries in 2020 alone, reflecting a 7.1 percent increase in the number of dog bite claims filed. It pays to know your rights against dog owners in Albuquerque, NM in case you ever become the victim of a dog bite or attack.

Who is responsible for dog bites and dog attacks?

Many dog owners believe their pets are harmless and would never hurt – let alone attack – another person. Taking that risk can open your up to a personal injury lawsuit. While there are no specific statutes for dog bites in New Mexico, there are some basic grounds for liability. They include:

  • Scienter cause of action places the blame on the dog owner under certain conditions. If the victim can provide the dog owner knew or should have known their pet could attack someone, the dog owner is liable for the attack. This means dog owners are on the hook for medical costs and any pain and suffering of the victim.
  • Negligence happens when people fail to keep their pets under reasonable control. This means leashing your dog when in public and ensuring it cannot leave your property in pursuit of passersby.
  • Landlords are liable along with pet owners if a victim can prove the landlord allowed a dangerous dog to live on the premises.

Beware the New Mexico “One-Bite Rule”

In Albuquerque and all of New Mexico, there is something called the “one-bite” rule. Essentially, it is a first-offense guideline for dogs. If a dog bites or otherwise attacks a person, and it is the first time the dog has behaved in this manner, the owner cannot be held liable. The rule acts as a one-free-pass scenario for pet owners. If the victim can prove the dog has a pattern of hostile or threatening behavior, they can successfully pursue damages from the pet owner.

Just because the one-bite rule exists does not mean it is the sole determining factor in whether a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate. Negligence and prior knowledge of a dog’s aggressive nature can override the rule. Another consideration is the breed of the dog. Some breeds – Akitas, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Pitbulls – have a reputation for being aggressive. If one of these breeds bites or attacks you, it is possible to bypass the one-bite rule.

The experienced personal injury lawyers at Cameron & Russell can review your case to determine if it is likely to succeed.

Common injuries from dog attacks

Dog bites and attacks vary in severity. Smaller dogs may not do as much damage as larger breeds. Some dog bites cause permanent scarring and tissue damage. Common injuries from dog attacks include:

  • Broken bones
  • Nerve damage
  • Puncture wounds

Any time you are bitten by an unknown or unfamiliar dog, rabies is an issue. If you cannot verify the vaccination status of the dog, healthcare providers will recommend you undergo a series of rabies treatments as a preventative measure. It prevents the virus from entering your central nervous system if it is present in the dog’s saliva.

Victims also can suffer from emotional effects like posttraumatic stress disorder from dog attacks, which requires therapy to help them cope.

Preventing dog bites and attacks

While the onus is on the dog owner to ensure their pet is under control, there are some things you can do to reduce your chances of becoming a victim. The first and most important is to never approach an unfamiliar dog. The urge to pet and interact with unfamiliar animals can lead to serious and debilitating injuries. If you are approached by a strange dog that appears confrontational, never run. The animal will see that as an encouragement to pursue. Also, avoid making direct eye contact with a dog. They interpret this as a sign of aggression and may respond in kind.

If you are knocked down by an unfamiliar dog, the best thing you can do is roll into a ball to protect your head and limbs and “play dead.” Be as still as possible.

Statute of limitations on dog bite claims

As with other personal injury cases, there is a three-year time limit on filing a dog bite claim in Albuquerque, NM. If you are injured by a dog attack, it is critical you reach out to a personal injury lawyer familiar with dog bite cases. They can review the merits of your case and determine if you can successfully seek damages from the dog’s owner.

Our team of personal injury attorneys goes the extra mile to pursue your case. Schedule your free consultation to discuss your case with us. We promise to approach your case with a fresh eye and the attention to detail it deserves. Request an appointment online or call us at 505-218-7844 to get started.

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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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