Tag: personal injury lawsuit

Picnic fun without the lawsuits

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

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

Backyard parties and premises liability

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

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

Choose physical activities wisely

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

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

Establish a safety perimeter

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

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

Install extra lighting

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

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

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

Limit alcoholic beverages

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

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

Practice food safety guidelines

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

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

How to handle negligent party hosts

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

How to Prevent Auto Accident Injuries

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

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

Help prevent auto accident injuries by maintaining your vehicle.

Maintain your vehicle

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

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

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

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

Never drive impaired

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

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

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

Obey traffic laws

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

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

Pay attention to your surroundings

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

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

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

Stay off your cell phone

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

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

Wear your seat belt

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

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

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

When you can’t prevent auto accident injuries

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

Nursing Home Patient Rights: Know the Facts

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

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

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

The Right to Choose Your Own Physician

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

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

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

The Right to be Free from Discrimination

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

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

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

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

The Right to be Free from Restraints

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

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

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

The Right to be Treated with Respect

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

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

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

The Right to Privacy

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

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

The Right to be Free from Abuse and Neglect

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

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

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

The Right to File Complaints

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

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

How to Sue a Private Prison

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

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

What rights do prisoners have behind bars?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why would you sue a private prison?

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

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

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

What is private prison negligence?

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

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

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.

When Your Favorite Product Hurts You

Beds, clothing, and even your favorite flat-screen television can injure you when you least expect it. Most consumers do not think about the products they use every day causing them harm. Yet nearly 11 million people have received emergency room treatment because of injuries from consumer products. When your favorite product hurts you, there is recourse. Reaching out to a personal injury lawyer skilled in product liability can ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries.

What is product liability?

Product liability is the legal term used to describe the responsibility of distributors, manufacturers, and sellers of defective items. While accidents can and do happen with any consumer product, manufacturers must follow certain standards designed to help prevent injuries and even deaths from normal use of their products.

Any product can become the target of a personal injury lawsuit. It could be a piece of furniture with a design flaw prone to breaking during normal use, or clothing that does not meet the federal flammability standards. Sometimes it takes a personal injury lawsuit to prompt a product recall. Other times, the product already was recalled and ended up in the hands of the consumer anyway.

Buyers have legal protections when products are determined to be unreasonably dangerous. While no federal product liability laws exist, each state has its own rules. In New Mexico, distributors and manufacturers are liable for defective products that cause injuries to consumers when negligence can be proven.

Steps to take after a faulty product injury

Consumers who are harmed by faulty products must be proactive in seeking out assistance to improve their chances of receiving compensation for their injuries. Following these recommended steps can help strengthen your case against product distributors and manufacturers.

  1. Seek medical care for your injuries
    There are two reasons to seek immediate medical treatment for injuries caused by defective items. First, to ensure you receive appropriate treatment for the type of physical harm caused by the product. Second, to document those injuries for later use in a personal injury lawsuit. Medical records are essential components to any successful personal injury complaint, especially one that involves product liability.
  2. Check for a recall
    Some product recalls receive a lot of attention. You hear about them on the news, through social media, and even from signs posted in the retails locations where the products are sold. Others may not garner as much awareness. One of the best sources for checking on product recalls is the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The commission posts information on its website about all recalls, including those that have not managed to make the 6 o’clock news. Consumers can search by date, category, type of hazard, and manufacturing origin. If the product that caused your injuries is the subject of a recall, you can export the data from the commission and add it to your evidence for a potential personal injury claim against the distributor or manufacturer.
  3. Seek legal counsel
    Determining liability for faulty products is an important step when considering a personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury attorneys experienced with product liability can guide you through the process to ensure your rights are protected. One of the first things your personal injury lawyer will do is check to see if a class-action lawsuit for the item already has been filed. If one exists, you can consider joining it. There are pros and cons to joining a class-action lawsuit. Your attorney can discuss these with you before you decide whether to join one or file an individual claim.
  4. Identify all responsible parties
    As previously mentioned, this is where hiring a personal injury attorney skilled in product liability law comes in handy. Experienced product liability attorneys can follow the distribution chain to identify all responsible parties. From designers and manufacturers to retail distributors and wholesalers, each plays a unique role in getting a product to market. Some entities may have more responsibility for your injuries than others depending on why the product is defective. Your attorney can determine if some or all the parties involved should be included in the personal injury claim.
  5. Gather supporting documentation
    Another perk of hiring an experienced product liability law attorney is they will provide direction on which kinds of records can help prove your case. Receipts, product registration numbers, warranty information, and medical documentation of your injuries are just a few of the items that can point to liability.

Knowing when to settle

Most personal injury lawsuits never make it inside a courtroom, including those for product liability. Settling outside of court can be a beneficial experience for victims when they work with a reputable and skilled personal injury attorney. They can receive appropriate compensation for their injuries and other damages while being spared the stress of a lengthy court case. The product liability law experts at Cameron & Russell protects your rights while seeking the best route for recovering fair compensation. Schedule your free case evaluation today to get started.

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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