Las Cruces Legal Blog

What are the top causes of car accidents in New Mexico?

Sadly, we all know that every time a you get behind the wheel and take to New Mexico streets and highways, you are always facing some risk of a collision resulting in personal injury Even if you are an extremely safe driver, you cannot control or account for other drivers. Yet you can prevent a number of injuries and fatalities simply by being aware of factors leading to motor vehicle accidents, saving yourself and others a great deal of harm. So what are the largest factors impacting motor vehicle accidents in New Mexico?

According to the state's annual report, driver inattention is the number one factor contributing to the majority of accidents. Driver inattention can come from a number of things, from texting while driving to talking on the phone, talking to other passengers, being distracted by things on the roadside or even talking to other passengers in the vehicle. The second and third highest factors come from failing to yield the right of way, and from driving too close. All it takes is one quick brake by the driver in front of you to lead to a collision if you are tailgating too close and not maintaining a minimum safe distance.

What happens if you choose to settle your personal injury case?

When you pursue a personal injury case, the defendant may offer you a settlement outside of New Mexico courts. You may weigh the options and decide to accept the settlement to avoid lengthy, costly litigation. But what happens when you decide to settle out of court, and do you end up losing more in the long run?

Losses and gains are determined entirely by the individual case and the amount of settlement the defendant is willing or able to offer you. Settlement procedures, however, are fairly straightforward. As described on the website for the Judicial Branch of New Mexico, settlement - also known as ADR, or "Alternative Dispute Resolution" - primarily involves a conversation between the parties involved in the case, often with legal counsel present and mediated by a neutral party with the knowledge needed to guide the proceedings. A settlement facilitator may be present as well, offering support to both sides of a case in understanding their positions and coming to an agreement on fair settlement offers.

What if I get in an accident on an ATV with no insurance?

Even though ATVs and other off-road vehicles are often not legally permitted on roads and highways, many outdoor enthusiasts make the mistake of considering ATVs the same as cars. However, ATV law is extremely complicated, and ATVs are not registered the same way cars are. In fact, if you are an uninsured driver, you may face significant difficulties after an ATV accident. This is especially true if you collide with a car on a New Mexico street.

New Mexico sets out specific laws for the use and registration of off-highway motor vehicles, or OHVs. Technically ATVs and other OHVs should not be operated by an unlicensed, uninsured driver, or by underage drivers without specific motorcycle or driver's permits. However, many people ignore this and use OHVs as recreational vehicles or farm vehicles, often allowing unlicensed, uninsured or underage drivers to use them without supervision. If you should get into an accident under these conditions, you may have little recourse for recovery of personal inijury.

What is considered "excessive force?"

There are some situations in which police officers must use force to protect themselves or subdue a suspect. They are supposed to use only enough force to deescalate the incident and regain control of the situation. Generally, the amount of force should be proportionate to the threat that prompts it.

But in some cases, law enforcement officers use more than the minimum amount of force necessary. They may react to a relatively small threat with a disproportionately heavy use of force. This is referred to as excessive force, and it is a very controversial issue.

Can I legally kill an animal in self-defense?

New Mexico is ripe with many game species that attract hunters, and you may be someone who like to go shooting on weekends with a legal hunting license. However, not only does that license not give you free rein to kill animals as you please, but you are not the only hunter on the prowl. What if one of the predators in the wild turns on you? Are you legally allowed to kill or wound the animal to prevent personal injury or death?

In most cases, yes; some can even be hunted with a license, as shown in the New Mexico Hunter's Manual. Some predators, such as the Mexican gray wolf, can never be hunted, unless if they are posing an actual life threat to you or your livestock, then you are allowed to trap or kill them, despite that they are a protected species. Things get a little more complicated with predators such as cougars. Hunters and trappers may obtain a license to kill a cougar for its fur or other parts, but without a legal license you may be held accountable for killing a cougar if it is not truly and directly threatening you or your livestock.

Driving with the flu and the risk of a crash

There are many different behaviors and risk factors that can make a motor vehicle collision more likely. As we all know, when someone is intoxicated because of drug use or alcohol consumption, or they are extremely tired because they have not slept in a long time, their driving abilities may be severely impacted, and a crash may be far more likely. However, there are other reasons why people may cause a motor vehicle crash, some of which may seem surprising. For example, someone who has come down with the flu or is very sick due to another illness may not be able to drive safely.

During flu season, many people suffer after falling ill. Worse, when someone finds themselves in an accident, they may have even greater health problems to work through, in addition to financial issues and other hardships. Even someone who is in good health could become the victim of a motor vehicle collision when they are struck by someone else who is under the weather. There are a number of ways in which the flu can increase the chances of a crash, whether someone has difficulty focusing due to a persistent headache, high fever, cough, or other problem.

What is New Mexico's Senate Bill 19?

Have you ever heard of Senate Bill 19? As a New Mexico driver, it affects you and every other driver in the state. Every time you get behind the wheel of your car, you are impacted by NM SB 19. But what exactly is it, and why is it so important to you and your safety behind the wheel?

In plain terms, New Mexico Senate Bill 19 is New Mexico's distracted driving law focused specifically on texting and driving. The bill explicitly forbids texting while driving due to the massive safety hazard caused, which can lead to car crashes, personal injury and even death. Once you are behind the wheel, you are prohibited from viewing or sending text messages while operating your vehicle. The only exception is to summon or respond to emergency services. The only other exceptions involving handheld devices involve licensed radio operators using amateur radios.

What should facilities do to prevent elder abuse?

New Mexico elder care facilities must ensure that the senior citizens under their care are properly looked after without instances of abuse, neglect or other factors that may lead to injury or death. Policies must be in place to prevent much of this, but enforcing these policies may be difficult. How can facilities ensure that protections for elders under their care are adequately enforced, and ensure their elder care employees behave ethically?

One way is to screen caregivers before they are hired. The New Mexico Department of Health provides an Employee Abuse Registry that contains the documented criminal histories of any caregivers previously found guilty of abuse in a home or institutional care setting. Facilities can avoid hiring anyone who may be an offender by including a check of this registry in background checks of any new employees.

How to increase safety on the construction site

Construction sites are prime places for accidents to happen, as the activity at them is always changing. Several different projects can be going on at once, each with its specialized equipment and a team of laborers and craftsmen.

If safety is not the priority for the management, some safeguards may not be in place for workers to safely to do their jobs. The recent death of a local worker death highlights the dangers of construction work. Here are some tips to increase safety while doing construction work.

How common are fatal work accidents on farms?

As a farm worker or other agricultural employee working on a New Mexico farm or ranch, you likely are concerned about your safety. You are often working around extremely dangerous equipment, not to mention working with animals who can be volatile and unpredictable. Just how safe are you, when working on a farm? How frequent are fatal farm accidents?

The national Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks down occupational injuries and fatalities by state, including discussing them by both frequency of occurrences and by rate. The tables offer data from 2014 to 2016, as well as links to archived data. Wrongful death or work-related fatalities on farms would fall under the fatal occupational injuries category for farming, fishing, and foresting. In 2016, New Mexico farming, fishing, and foresting suffered 11 occupational deaths, with six related to transportation and three related to contact with objects and equipment. This is up from five total in 2015, but down from 12 in 2014.

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