Tag: wrongful death attorney

The Grinch Who Sued on Christmas

There is nothing quite like getting sued on Christmas to make your holidays cheery. Worse yet, ending up in a jail cell can really ruin your festive mood. From slips and falls and food poisoning to drunken driving vehicle accidents, the list of reasons you might get slapped with a personal injury lawsuit is longer than Santa’s naughty or nice list. The period between Christmas and New Year’s can be especially dangerous, with more vehicle accidents occurring because of the increased traffic on the roadways. Here are some of the most common reasons people get injured during the holidays and the steps you can take to reduce the risk.

Slips, trips, and falls

Broken bones, back and spinal cord injuries, and head trauma are among the nasty injuries that can happen when someone slips, trips, or falls on your property. Icy or snow-covered walkways on your premises is a disaster waiting to happen. They are among the most common reasons people get hurt in others’ property. Even when the weather outside is frightful, if you have guests coming to your home for the holidays, clearing the walk and exterior stairs and keeping them salted must be a priority. Walkways and exterior stairs are not the only areas in your home that can cause your guests to trip and fall. Loose carpeting, uneven flooring, and clutter in common areas can all wreak havoc on unsuspecting guests. Make repairs and declutter your home before inviting people over.

Food poisoning

Enjoying a holiday feast with family and friends is a top priority for many during the holidays. Whether you are cooking or having your meal catered, preventing food poisoning must be in the forefront of your mind. Following these tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can help prevent food poisoning and other foodborne illness.

  • Cook food thoroughly. Meat, seafood, and eggs carry germs that cause food poisoning when not cooked to a safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to check before serving these foods.
  • Keep foods separated. Meat, seafood, and eggs must be kept separate from all other foods. Raw meat juices never should leak onto other foods, so it is important to keep them in sealed containers. Store eggs in their original carton in the refrigerator to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Maintain proper temperature. Once food is prepared, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Avoid the danger zone – between 40- and 140-degrees Fahrenheit – when serving food. Refrigerate or freeze any perishable food items within two hours of preparation. Make sure your refrigerator temperature is set at or below 40 degrees F and the freezer is at 0 degrees F or below.
  • Wash your hands. When working with food – especially raw meat and eggs – you must wash your hands to avoid cross contaminating other food items or surfaces in your home.
Choosing to serve alcohol to your guests can backfire if they cause a DUI traffic crash that causes serious injuries or fatalities.

Serve alcohol responsibly

Winter driving brings many hazards with it. Jackknifed tractor trailers, poor visibility, and slippery roads can all lead to vehicle accidents. Fatal drunken driving crashes always are a persistent holiday threat. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Christmas is no exception. The NHTSA recorded 667 fatal holiday crashes on average each year in a report analyzing DUI crashes between 2010 and 2018. DUI-related accidents accounted for 8 percent of total fatalities during the holidays.

While holiday hosts do not bear responsibility for other people’s poor choices, they can be held liable for serving alcohol at a gathering to a guest who later causes a DUI fatality or crash resulting in serious injuries. If you choose to provide alcoholic beverages to your guests, be prepared to take car keys and call a taxi or Uber, or have the person stay over until they sober up.

Maintain control of your pets

We love our furry family members but must be mindful that not everyone we invite into our homes will share our opinion. Liability claims from dog bites and other dog-related injuries alone cost homeowners insurers $854 million in 2020. Even the most well-mannered pet can become anxious and aggressive under the right circumstances. Noise and confusion combined with strangers in their home can be enough to push some pets over the edge. Homeowners must take appropriate steps to ensure their guests do not end up injured by their pets. If negligent of this duty, you can find yourself on the receiving end of a personal injury lawsuit. Sometimes claimants sue for more than your homeowner’s insurance policy will agree to pay, which can leave you on the hook for the balance.

Have a quiet area set up for your pets so they can retreat from the noise and confusion that accompanies most holiday celebrations. Make sure they have food, water, and a comfortable bed in their calm space so they can relax. Tossing a few favorite toys in the area with them can entertain and soothe them. If your pet is especially anxious being separated from you, place an item of your clothing in the room with them. Check on your pet and reassure them from time to time as well.

Avoid getting sued on Christmas

Sometimes the holidays result in a fa-la-la-la-lawsuit. Getting sued on Christmas can happen when you do not take proper precautions before inviting guests onto your property. Even when you take every measure you can think of accidents still sometimes happen. If you have been injured during a holiday celebration due to someone else’s carelessness, you have a right to seek fair compensation for your injuries. The personal injury experts at Cameron & Russell can help. Give us a call at 505-218-7844 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation.

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!

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.

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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