Tag: personal injury claim

5 Tips for Safe Thanksgiving Travel

If you’re among the nearly 55 million Americans hitting the road this Thanksgiving holiday, you’re going to experience some crowded roadways. Taking a road trip of more than 50 miles always comes with challenges. Preserving your safety (and that of your passengers) is priority number one.

America’s roadways become more dangerous every year. Americans have a 1 in 63 chance of getting into a car accident.

There are things you can do to minimize the risk. Following these 5 tips for safe Thanksgiving travel can get you to your destination so you can enjoy the holiday with your family and friends.

Eating while behind the wheel can cause you to have a serious accident.

#1 – Avoid distracted driving

Distracted driving contributes to 9 percent of all fatal automobile accidents in the U.S. Another 15 percent of distracted driving crashes cause significant injuries. From eating while driving to talking or texting on your cell phone, turning your attention away from your driving for even a few seconds can have disastrous results.

The longer your travel time before arriving at your destination, the more tempted you can be to multitask behind the wheel. However, it’s not worth the risk to your safety and of others on the roadways.

If you must use your cell phone, pull off the road in a safe place. Never try to eat while driving, even if you think it can save you time on the roadway. Even if you order takeout, pull over and take the time to eat it before getting on your way again.

#2 – Don’t speed

Speeding is the number one factor in a third of all fatal accidents each year, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). It can be tempting to drive above the recommended speed limit, especially if you are worried about being late for a family gathering or other holiday event.

It’s better to arrive late than not at all, so resist the temptation to go faster than is safe for the road conditions. At a speed of 60 miles per hour, it takes roughly 140 feet to come to a full stop after hitting the brake. Be sure to follow the speed limit and practice following a safe distance from the vehicle in front of yours.

“Drinksgiving” is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, which is a popular time to drink in the U.S.

#3 – Never drive under the influence

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving has become known as “Blackout Wednesday” – or “Drinksgiving” – because of its popularity for alcohol consumption. Traveling during this period can increase the likelihood of sharing the roadways with drunk drivers.

If you plan to celebrate Wednesday evening, drink responsibly by not getting behind the wheel of your car. Also, never get into a car with someone who is planning to drive after drinking. Make alternative arrangements like hailing a cab or using a ride share service.

Avoid impaired drivers when possible if you encounter them on the roadways. Note the make and model of their vehicle (and license plate if possible) and call 911 to report them so the police can get them off the roadways.

#4 – Practice some patience

No one likes to get stuck in traffic, especially when traveling for the holidays. The likelihood of experiencing heavy traffic and delays on your journey is high during the Thanksgiving holiday. Practicing some patience can help avoid incidents of road rage.

If you encounter another driver experiencing road rage, call 911 immediately. Never try to engage with the person, especially if their anger seems directed toward you.

Take frequent breaks when driving long distances to prevent drowsiness.

#5 – Take frequent breaks

Traveling long distances can make you tired mentally and physically. Taking frequent breaks can help prevent drowsiness behind the wheel, which leads to 100,000 crashes, 71,00 injuries, and 1,500 fatalities each year on U.S. roadways.

If you’re traveling with a passenger of legal driving age, take turns behind the wheel. Never rely on caffeinated beverages to give you the stamina to keep going if you’re becoming tired. Caffeine provides a temporary energy boost but is not a long-term replacement for proper rest.

Protecting your rights in a traffic accident

If you’re the victim of a careless driver during the Thanksgiving holiday, you have rights. It’s important not to make a mistake after an accident that can limit your ability to sue for fair compensation.

Contacting a personal injury lawyer in Albuquerque is one of the first steps you should take to protect your rights after a traffic accident. Never talk to the insurance company for the at-fault driver or agree to any kind of settlement without first speaking to a personal injury attorney.

5 Hidden Injuries from Car Accidents

Hidden injuries from car accidents can cause debilitating symptoms for crash victims. It’s one of the many reasons why you should get checked by a medical practitioner following an auto collision. Self-checks – including medical evaluations by emergency medical technicians at the scene – can miss these hidden injuries.

You may be lulled into a false sense of security, thinking you’re fine when you have concealed trauma. Those injuries might not become physically obvious for hours, days, or even weeks after an accident.

Even after a minor fender-bender, consider visiting a local emergency room or your primary care doctor for a thorough examination. It may seem like an overreaction, but a medical professional familiar with hidden injuries from car accidents is more likely to spot any of these serious conditions.

1 – Internal injuries

Airbags and seatbelts save lives during car accidents. However, they can cause some hidden injuries in the process. These safety devices accomplish the greater task of preserving your life by holding you in your seat. Depending on the force of impact during the collision, the restraint can cause extensive trauma to your internal organs.

The pressure from your seatbelt can cause internal bleeding, which is life-threatening. You may not have any immediate symptoms, so it can be easy to think you’re fine when you’re not.

Some of the warning signs of internal bleeding include:

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Chest pain.
  • Dizziness.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Numbness in the extremities.
  • Severe headache.
  • Weakness on one side of your body.
  • Vision problems.

Get to an emergency room immediately if you have any of these symptoms in the hours or days after a car crash. You could be dealing with a hidden injury.

hidden injuries car accidents neck injury
Whiplash can be a common hidden injury in car accidents. It can take days to surface sometimes.

2 – Neck injuries

Whiplash can be common among car crash victims. During a collision, the force of impact creates a whipping action between your head and neck. Whiplash causes soft tissue damage that might not be immediately detected.

If in the days following a car crash you begin to experience these signs or symptoms, it’s a good idea to get checked by a medical practitioner:

  • Dizziness.
  • Headaches.
  • Neck pain and stiffness.
  • Tenderness in your arms, shoulders, or upper back.
  • Loss of range of motion in your neck.

Treatment can include physical therapy and pain management techniques to resolve whiplash sooner.

3 – Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

While not a physical injury, posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can happen after a car accident. It’s a hidden psychological injury that can sometimes get overlooked.

Depending on the severity of the crash, victims can be left traumatized by what they’ve witnessed. PTSD can be more common in automobile accidents with fatalities.

It can take days or weeks for PTSD to surface. If you begin to experience any of these symptoms after a car crash, it’s time to see a mental health expert:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Phobias

4 – Soft tissue damage

You may not be thinking about your ankles, back, feet, or knees after a car accident, but they can be the location of soft tissue damage that cause pain or mobility issues later. Other places that can experience soft tissue injuries are your elbows, shoulders, and wrists.

It might take a few days for soft tissue damage from a car accident to surface, but when it does, you can experience any of the following symptoms:

  • You can’t bear weight on the injured area.
  • You experience joint instability.
  • You have knots or lumps at the injury site.
  • You have limited range of motion.
  • You have muscle cramps or spasms.
  • You have swelling at the injury site.

Call your doctor right away if any of these signs surface after a car accident. They may prescribe pain management strategies that include medications and physical therapy.

TBI hidden injuries car accidents
TBIs are among hidden injuries from car accidents. TBI can only be detected with a CT scan or MRI.

5 – Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Brain injuries can be scary. They also can be common after a serious car crash. Whiplash, which we mentioned earlier, can cause concussions and TBIs that go unnoticed at first. If you lose consciousness during a crash, you should automatically be evaluated for brain injuries.

However, it’s possible to get a concussion or a TBI without losing consciousness. Symptoms of concussion and TBI that signal it’s time to get a medical evaluation include:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a concussion and TBI because they share some common symptoms. TBI has lasting cognitive effects that impact daily living. If you start to have any of these symptoms, it could be a warning that you’re suffering from a hidden TBI:

  • A decreased awareness of yourself and others.
  • A failure to follow multiple-step directions.
  • An inability to understand abstract concepts.
  • A shortened attention span.

CT scans and MRIs are the only way to determine if you have hidden brain injuries from a car accident.

How to handle hidden injuries from car accidents

Seeking medical attention right after a car accident can help identify hidden injuries. It also can provide valuable documentation needed if you decide to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party.

Car crash victims should consult with a personal injury attorney experienced in handling hidden injuries from car accidents to ensure their rights are protected.

Avoid These 5 Mistakes After an Accident

No one starts their day off expecting to get into an automobile accident. Most people go to great lengths to avoid it by practicing safe driving techniques behind the wheel. Despite your best laid plans, all it takes is one careless driver to turn an otherwise pleasant outing into a serious crash.

Albuquerque has a lot of busy roadways, including the infamous “Big I” intersection of I-25 and I-40. It’s one of the most dangerous intersections in the country because of the amount of traffic that travels through there each day.

If you’re unfortunate enough to be in an accident anywhere in New Mexico, it’s important not to make these 5 common mistakes as a car crash victim. If you do, it can affect the outcome of a future personal injury lawsuit should you suffer long-term effects from the accident.

mistakes after accident call police
Calling the police ensures you get an accident report that lists the at-fault party.

Mistake #1: Not calling the police

When an accident is serious enough to cause injuries and disrupt the normal flow of traffic, the police must be called to conduct an official report and direct traffic if necessary. Even if you aren’t seriously injured (or don’t think you are at the time), it’s important to still contact the police to come and provide a written report of the accident.

The police can conduct an official investigation and create an accident report that details who was at fault in the accident. Official police reports can be valuable supporting evidence if you later file a personal injury lawsuit in Albuquerque or anywhere else in New Mexico.

accident mistakes witness information
Failing to get witnesses’ contact information can hurt your personal injury claim.

Mistake #2: Not getting witness information

Getting the contact information for any witnesses to an accident is another reason to call the police to the scene. Police officers can talk to witnesses and make note of how to find them in the future should they need further information.

Your personal injury attorney can use crash witnesses to pursue a personal injury claim in Albuquerque. Witness statements and testimony can be particularly useful if there is a question about who was at fault. Without witnesses to back up your claims, the at-fault party’s insurance company can create a narrative that puts you fully or partially at fault for the accident.

Mistake #3: Failing to get a crash report

Remember when we said it was a good idea to call the police to the scene of an accident, even if you don’t think you’re seriously hurt?  It doesn’t do you much good to have the police investigate and file a report if you forget to get a copy of that report.

Most police departments provide both parties with a summary of the accident report on the scene. At the very least, they’ll give you their card so you can contact them or their department later.

If you’ve forgotten to get a police report for your accident, let your personal injury attorney know right away. They can reach out to the police to review the report and ensure all information contained in it is correct.

Mistake #4: Failing to seek immediate medical attention

Even if you think you’re OK after an accident, it’s important to be checked out by a medical professional. You could have a hidden injury that takes a few days to surface. Among the most common include:

  • Concussions.
  • Herniated disks.
  • Internal bleeding or damage to internal organs.
  • Soft tissue injuries to ankles, elbows, feet, knees, and shoulders.
  • Whiplash.

If you have a serious hidden injury like a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or internal bleeding, those conditions can become life-threatening if misdiagnosed or ignored.

Getting a medical evaluation right after the accident also can help in a personal injury claim. It provides supporting evidence of your physical trauma that can be used by a personal injury attorney to seek fair compensation for your injuries.

car accident victim personal injury attorney call
Calling a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident can help crash victims protect their rights.

Mistake #5: Failing to call a personal injury attorney immediately

Accident victims can sometimes make the mistake of trusting the insurance companies – theirs and the at-fault party’s – of doing the right thing after an accident. Insurance companies sometimes lowball accident victims with settlement offers that require you to sign away your rights to pursue additional compensation later.

Never talk to an insurance company or agree to a settlement without first talking to an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney serves as your official negotiator and can determine if it’s in your best interest to accept a settlement or push for additional compensation.

How a personal injury attorney can help

Consulting with a personal injury attorney in Albuquerque can help crash victims avoid these five common mistakes. Bill Russell has represented injured people and their families for years throughout the state of New Mexico. He goes the extra mile to stand up for automobile accident victims, ensuring they receive fair compensation for their injuries.

Book a free case evaluation with Bill and the team at Cameron & Russell Law today to get started.

Driverless Trucks Increase the Risk of Crashes

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

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

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

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

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

How safe are autonomous trucks?

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

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

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

What are the risks to other drivers?

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

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

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

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

What kinds of injuries can autonomous trucks cause?

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

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

Some other devastating physical injuries from truck accidents include:

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

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

Can you sue a driverless trucking company?

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

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

I Can’t Drive My Car. Now What?

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

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

Property damage liability for car accidents

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

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

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

Property damage liability vs. collision coverage

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

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

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

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

Property damage claims vs. personal injury claims

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

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

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

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

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

Property damage claims: four factors

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

Your vehicle’s diminished value

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

Your loss of use costs

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

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

Your total repair costs

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

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

Your total loss value

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

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

Rely on the personal injury experts

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

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

Picnic fun without the lawsuits

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

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

Backyard parties and premises liability

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

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

Choose physical activities wisely

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

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

Establish a safety perimeter

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

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

Install extra lighting

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

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

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

Limit alcoholic beverages

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

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

Practice food safety guidelines

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

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

How to handle negligent party hosts

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

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.

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.

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!

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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