Tag: wrongful death case

How to Sue a Private Prison

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

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

What rights do prisoners have behind bars?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why would you sue a private prison?

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

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

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

What is private prison negligence?

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

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

How to 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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