Las Cruces Legal Blog

Ways to prevent driver fatigue

People in New Mexico who drive while overtired greatly increase the chances of being in an accident. Fatigue is a big factor in crashes, and it is important to get adequate rest before going out on the road, whether you are a commercial truck driver or the driver of a personal car, motorcycle or other vehicle.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drivers should pay attention to the signs of drowsiness, which include blurred vision, eyes that feel heavy and recurrent yawning. Obviously, getting enough sleep is important before getting behind the wheel. Studies have shown that being short on sleep has similar effects to having a blood alcohol content of .08, which is considered to be intoxicated in most states. Drivers who are tired are encouraged to pull over to a safe location and take a short nap that lasts no more than 45 minutes.

Assessing wrongful death

Wrongful death lawsuits in New Mexico can arise out of different facts and circumstances. While any death feels wrong when not from natural causes, there are certain criteria that need to be met to classify such a death as wrongful in the legal sense. Here is a breakdown of assessing the legal status of a death due to negligence and some common causes.

The New Mexico Wrongful Death Act states that a wrongful death is one "caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another." This includes actions considered as felonies in New Mexico, which is not the case in all states. The person who can file suit in such a case is someone who is appointed as personal representative of the wrongful death estate. Wrongful death cases must be field within three years of the act giving rise to the lawsuit.

Protect your loved ones from elder abuse

Elder abuse is a tough subject, and no one in New Mexico wants to hear that something horrible has happened to a vulnerable loved one. However, it happens more often than people realize. There are ways to catch or even prevent this abuse, but when it is not caught, the results can be horrifying.

The American Spectator reports that nursing home neglect is so common that Medicare keeps a list of the worst offenders. This is not just for people who need permanent assisted living, but also elderly patients in need of rehab and other care. Unfortunately, the news does not always go out about these incidents in the name of patient privacy.

Cars could soon switch to self-driving mode to stop distracted driving

In a modern world, technological advances are needed to regulate technological advances. Phones, in particular, have become the subject of much regulatory discussion -- especially with regard to distracted driving.

The National Safety Council reports that, each year in the U.S., 1.6 million crashes are the result of texting while driving. That means 25 percent of all accidents are due to this dangerous behavior. If negligent drivers still insist on texting, what is the solution?

Technology and distraction may be factors in fatal collision

Distracted driving kills people on New Mexico roads every year, yet drivers continue to multitask behind the wheel. Eating, drinking and talking on a hands-free device are just three of the many ways people occupy their time on their way to work or elsewhere. While automobile manufacturers are working to develop technology to prevent accidents, using these systems should not replace driver attention.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will not be penalizing the company that created the semiautonomous car involved in a fatal crash, even though the vehicle's cameras failed to detect a tractor-trailer turning in front of the car. The manufacturer admitted that the system had not been able to distinguish between the bright sky and the white side of the trailer, but pointed out that driver inattention and visibility conditions can cause wrecks, with or without technology. They have corrected the camera issue since the crash.

Weighing the advantages of in-cab cameras in large trucks

When an accident happens between a tractor-trailer and a passenger vehicle in New Mexico, drivers, victims and witnesses may be able to piece together the factors that caused it. Not always, though. Sometimes, there are holes in the police report, and mysteries that go unanswered. When determining who was responsible for the crash, this can be a major downfall. Some safety experts are saying that this could be avoided with in-cab cameras.

According to FleetOwner.com, systems that include driver-facing cameras have some harsh critics: the drivers. The resistance from those behind the wheel is causing some companies to have second thoughts, as well. Owners are already having trouble staffing their full fleet because of a truck driver shortage that is expected to triple by 2024. Many may feel that using a forward-facing camera alone to capture the events caused by motorists is sufficient.

Hazards from Livestock on Highways

The primary way that livestock - cattle and horses in particular - present a hazard to New Mexicans is by their presence on highways and roads. Often cattle are not seen on the road until it is too late, particularly when an unsuspecting driver comes upon a cow on a dark road at night. Under most circumstances, ranchers and livestock owners have a legal responsibility to keep livestock off the road. The New Mexico Department of Transportation also has a duty to build and maintain fences so that livestock do not get on highways.

Almanzar & Youngers, PA has handled multiple lawsuits against livestock owners, ranchers and the Department of Transportation when death or serious injury has resulted from a vehicle hitting a cow or horse on the road. Currently the firm is handling a tragic wrongful death case that arose out of a collision resulting in the death of three people after the driver hit a black Angus cow on a remote highway. 

Adequate fencing and fence maintenance is critical to keeping our roads safe and preventing the tragic accidents that can result from striking livestock on the roads. 

    Sexual assault and inadequate security

    If a public or private property in New Mexico does not have proper security measures in place, and someone is sexually assaulted because of it, the owner can be held responsible. Property owners must be aware of potential dangers in the area and take appropriate measures to prevent injury or assault from occurring.

    Liability brought on by sexual assault can occur in a number of different types of properties. An apartment complex in the area near the University of Southern Florida was reportedly sued by a sexually assaulted victim. The argument made at that time was that the area around the college had a high crime rate and that the complex should have done more to thwart crime and assault. Similar arguments have been made in many other states, including New Mexico. 

    Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?

    Dealing with the unexpected loss of a loved one in New Mexico brings with it not only sadness and heartache, but also the expenses associated with his or her death. Those can include medical bills, funeral costs, as well as the prospect of trying to replace the financial support he or she provided. In the event that your family member or friend's death was due to the intentional or negligent actions of another, pursuing compensation through a wrongful death claim may help alleviate that financial burden. The question then becomes who is entitled to initiate such action?

    Section 41-2-3 of the New Mexico statutes states that only the personal representative of your loved one's estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Such a lawsuit is essentially a personal injury claim. Yet since your family member or friend is no longer here to represent him or herself, the one acting in his stead must. In the case of estate matters, that is the personal representative.

    Report: Uber knew cars could catch fire; rented them out anyway

    Who is responsible when a defective product causes harm? The answer to that question is not always obvious. For example, consider a vehicle recall that was ignored by ride-hailing giant Uber.

    The Wall Street Journal reports that Uber created a company that would rent out Uber-owned cars to drivers. The more than 1,000 cars that Uber bought were defective, though -- there was a risk they could catch fire -- and Uber knew about the defect before buying the cars. 

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