Personal Injury

Personal Injury

Suspected Drunk Driver Causes Fatal Crash in Southern New Mexico

- Samuel Kane

On November 15, a suspected drunk driver crashed into a parked truck, leaving one woman dead and two other people injured. The accident occurred on Interstate 10 near Vado, NM. The victims were waiting for a tow truck to arrive, and the allegedly intoxicated driver was heading east on the highway when he, “for unknown reasons,” veered off the road and hit the truck. Police say he admitted to drinking some beers before the crash and performed poorly on sobriety tests. Records also show this is his second aggravated DWI and open container arrest in New Mexico.

Revisiting the Effects of Alcohol on Driving

While the article cited above says the suspected drunk driver left the road “for unknown reasons,” it’s well-established that alcohol impairs one’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. There are potentially several reasons the driver left the road, all related to the effects of alcohol and impairment. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a review of 109 research studies and highlighted the effects of even low doses of alcohol on driving-related skills.

For one, dividing attention between tasks is very sensitive to alcohol consumption, which means if something unexpectedly occurs in the driving environment that also requires attention, it will be more difficult to adequately shift attention to avoid an accident. Alcohol also makes drivers less vigilant and less able to recognize potential traffic hazards.

Tracking refers to a driver’s ability to control and maintain position on the road relative to the driving environment. Many studies have shown tracking errors can be contributors to run-off-the-road car accidents and head-on crashes. And the NHTSA’s review found tracking impairment at BACs as low as 0.0018 and consistently at 0.005 BAC. Thus, tracking impairment, along with problems dividing attention, vigilance, and recognizing traffic hazards, likely all caused the fatal accident described above, making our “unknown reasons” known.

Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney after a Drunk Driving Accident

A wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased woman and personal injury claims from the injury victims may arise out of this accident, as drunk driving accidents may be litigated in civil court as well as criminal court. While it may feel good to know a drunk driver is behind bars, the state isn’t looking to obtain compensation for accident victims. But Las Cruces personal injury attorneys are. In southern New Mexico, contact the Law Offices of Samuel I. Kane P.A. if you have been injured or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident. We can get you money for your injuries to help pay for you medical bills and make up for lost income, pain and suffering, and more. You deserve it, and we’ll fight for it.

Distracted Driving On the Rise, and New Mexico Drivers Are No Exception

- Samuel Kane

Researchers are increasingly reporting that distracted driving, and in particular cell phone usage, is a growing threat to the safety of American drivers. A recent report analyzed driving patterns in 2017 and found that drivers use their phones more than 33% of the time, despite the constant reports of the risks associated with cell phone use while driving. Read on for more about the results of the study, and contact a skilled Las Cruces personal injury attorney if you’ve been hurt in a distracted driving crash in or around Las Cruces.

Study finds high rate of cell phone use while driving

EverQuote, an insurance marketplace, recently released a study based on their app, EverDrive, that tracked the cell phone usage of drivers across the country. The report utilized 781 million miles of driving data from 2017 to evaluate the habits of American drivers, including the frequency of speeding, phone use, unsafe acceleration, hard braking, and hard turning.

The report found that drivers use their phones on more than a third of their trips. Among drives with phone use, the average commute was 29 minutes, and drivers used their phones for an average of three minutes. The authors emphasized that taking your eyes off the road for even 5 seconds to send a text is like driving the length of a football field blindfolded. If someone causes an accident while using a cell phone, they are likely at fault and could face significant liability for any damages or injuries caused.

Distracted driving laws have a positive effect

The study found that, for the most part, the strength of distracted driving laws was correlated with the frequency of cell phone use while driving. The safest driving states had the strictest cell phone use laws, and the most lax states had the highest cell phone usage. New Mexico law bans texting while driving, even while stopped at a stop sign or traffic light, but does not prohibit the use of hand-held phones for calls.

New Mexico drivers among the worst in terms of cell phone use, about average for other bad habits

The report found that Midwesterners were among the safest drivers, while those in the northeast had the worst habits. New Mexico drivers varied depending on the specific habit, but ranked among the worst for cell phone use: New Mexico drivers used cell phones during 40 percent of recorded trips, compared to around 33 percent for other states like Wyoming and California. On the other hand, New Mexico drivers only engaged in hard braking 21 percent of the time, compared to upwards of 30 percent in northeastern states. New Mexico drivers were in the middle when it came to speeding: 35 percent of trips, compared to as little as 20 percent in some midwestern states and over 50 percent in the northeast.

If you’ve been injured in a New Mexico crash with a distracted driver, get seasoned and effective legal help with recovering the money you’re owed by contacting the skilled and passionate Las Cruces personal injury lawyer Samuel N. Kane for a free consultation at 575-526-5263.

Experts Say There’s More that Trucking Companies Can Do to Make Fleets Safer

- Samuel Kane

There are few vehicles that can do as much damage when involved in a crash as a loaded tractor-trailer. These massive vehicles can weigh many times what a passenger vehicle weighs—well over 80,000 pounds when fully loaded—and require substantial skill and attention to drive safely. Despite this fact, most late-model passenger vehicles have far more advanced safety systems than does the average semi-truck or big rig. Learn more below about the ways that updating the safety systems of large trucks could save lives, and contact a seasoned Las Cruces truck accident lawyer if you’ve been hurt in a New Mexico truck accident.

Fatalities rising on US roads, including among large trucks

Each year since 2014, the total number of traffic fatalities on US roads has climbed among every major category of accident, including crashes involving tractor-trailers. In 2016, over 4,000 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Since semi-trucks are so massive, these fatalities in crashes involving trucks and passenger vehicles are nearly always among the passenger vehicle occupants; official estimates state that in about 80% of fatal accidents involving large trucks and cars, it’s the passenger vehicle occupants who are killed.

Collision-avoidance systems in commercial trucks could save lives

Despite the risks that large trucks can pose, even when driven safely, some safety experts wonder whether shipping and carrier companies are doing all they can to make their fleets as safe as possible. Collision-warning and crash-avoidance systems have come a long way in recent years, offering drivers assistance in braking in the event of an emergency, as well as help with remaining in their lane of traffic, or a warning when merging lanes while a vehicle is in their blind spot. Yet, one safety group has found that only 15% of all large commercial trucks have these features installed, despite relatively-inexpensive retrofitting options.

These safety features are often far more needed on large trucks than on passenger vehicles. For example, tractor-trailers sometimes need up to 400 feet to come to a complete stop when traveling at highway speeds. If a hazard arises in the road ahead, but the driver fails to notice it from 400 feet out, they simply may not have enough time to come to a stop. Automatic emergency braking could provide the assistance that a truck driver would need to avoid a crash. Likewise, semi-trucks and big rigs have massive blind spots, known as no-zones, that wrap all the way around the passenger side to the rear of the truck. Blind-spot warning could help truck drivers avoid running other vehicles off the road or ramming them while attempting to merge lanes. In the coming years, installation of these features may shift from being recommended to being required in order to prevent additional roadway fatalities.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a New Mexico large truck accident, find out whether you’re entitled to money damages for your injuries by contacting the experienced and dedicated Las Cruces truck crash lawyer Samuel N. Kane for a no-cost consultation at 575-526-5263.

Jury Awards Victim $1.2 Million After Crash With Stolen Car

- Samuel Kane

A New Mexico woman was just awarded over $1.2 million in damages in a lawsuit against the Santa Fe Police Department due to injuries she suffered in a car crash involving a high-speed police chase with a stolen car. Learn more about the case below, and contact an experienced New Mexico personal injury lawyer if you have been injured in an accident involving the police or other emergency vehicles.

Car theft leads to high-speed chase

According to the Santa Fe Police Department, in April 2016, a 30-year-old man stole a Toyota from a local car dealership. During the course of their investigation of the theft, the police found the thief at his apartment in Santa Fe, and when he fled in the stolen Toyota, they began a high-speed chase to apprehend him. The thief had a history of property crimes, including burglary and auto theft. During the ensuing chase, the Toyota collided with an 80-year old New Mexico woman, severely injuring her.

Accident victim files suit against Santa Fe police

After the accident, the woman filed a lawsuit in a New Mexico district court against the Santa Fe Police Department, the city of Santa Fe, and the Toyota dealership from which the man stole the car. The woman claimed that the police were negligent in how they chased the stolen car and their negligence led to her accident and resulting injuries. Specifically, the woman alleged that the police chased the thief at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour and that where the Toyota hit her the speed limit was 25 mph. According to her complaint, the crash fractured her pelvis, fractured eight ribs, and caused bleeding in her lungs, among other injuries.

Jury awards $1.2 million in damages

After two years of litigation, the case went through trial and to a jury decision. The jury took four days to deliberate and ultimately found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding her $1,262,849 in damages for her injuries. The jury split up responsibility for the accident, and thus for paying portions of the damages, between the defendants, finding that the car thief was 50% responsible, the police department 40% responsible, and the Toyota dealership 10%.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident involving police or other emergency vehicles in New Mexico, get a professional assessment of your claims by contacting an experienced and passionate Las Cruces personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Samuel I. Kane for a free consultation at 575-526-5263.

Researchers Discover High Rate of Crashes Caused by Drowsy Drivers

- Samuel Kane

Drunken driving is not the only sort of impairment that makes drivers a danger on US roadways. While seemingly less morally wrong than driving drunk, driving while drowsy can have just as dangerous or deadly results. A recent study from a team at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows just how big a threat that under-rested drivers can pose when out on the road. Read on to learn more about the threats of drowsy driving, and contact a knowledgeable New Mexico personal injury attorney if you’ve been hurt in a drowsy driving crash.

Video footage of drivers provides opportunity to measure drowsiness prior to a crash

Drowsy driving isn’t always easy to uncover as the cause of a crash. Drowsiness can disappear in a moment, and drivers can’t be chemically tested by law enforcement for sleepiness. Official federal statistics place the annual rate of crashes caused by drowsiness at between 1% and 2%. In order to discover whether these statistics are accurate, AAA Foundation researchers used video footage taken of drivers to study how often drivers appeared to be drowsy when they were involved in a crash. The research team used video footage taken during a study of over-3,000 participating drivers who had agreed to be filmed while they were behind the wheel. Specifically, the researchers looked at the six seconds of video footage taken before a participating driver was involved in a crash. They slowed this footage down and measured how much time the driver spent with his or her eyes closed (an established scientific method for measuring drowsiness).

Drowsy drivers cause troubling share of crashes

According to the AAA Foundation’s findings, between 9% and 9.6% of all crashes involved a driver who showed symptoms of drowsiness in the moments before the crash. Moreover, about 10% of all accidents that involved personal injuries or major property damage involved a drowsy driver. These findings support other recent research that found drivers who had gotten less than seven hours’ sleep to be much less safe behind the wheel. Drivers who choose to get on the road while drowsy and are responsible for causing injury accidents may be held liable in court for their role in a crash.

If you’ve been injured in a New Mexico crash with a drowsy driver, get skilled and dedicated legal help with recovering the money you’re owed by contacting the knowledgeable and effective Las Cruces personal injury lawyer Samuel N. Kane for a free consultation at 575-526-5263.

$165 Million Verdict for Wrongful Death Victims Upheld by New Mexico Court

- Samuel Kane

A jury award in favor of the victims of a tragic accident involving a semi-truck has recently been upheld by a New Mexico Appeals Court. The ruling affirms the $165-million award of personal injury and wrongful death damages made by a jury after a 2015 trial, which made headlines as the largest-ever jury award in New Mexico’s history.

Accident on Interstate 10 between passenger truck and big rig

The events resulting in the jury award occurred in the early morning hours of June 22, 2011. 22-year-old Marialy Venegas Morga, of El Paso, was driving a GMC passenger truck along Interstate 10, roughly 20 miles outside of Las Cruces at 1:30 am. With her were her two children, Ylairam, who was 4 years old, and her son, Yahir, who was a year old. Marialy was either stopped or driving slowly with her hazard lights on at the time of the crash, with her truck only partially in a lane of traffic and partially riding on the shoulder. The passenger truck was struck from the rear by a Fed-Ex-contracted tractor-trailer being driven by Elizabeth Quintana, also of El Paso. Marialy and her daughter Ylairam, as well as the driver of the Fed Ex truck, were killed in the accident. Yahir was injured but survived the crash.

Surviving spouse and father and surviving parents seek personal injury damages through lawsuit

Marialy’s surviving spouse and the father of her children, Alfredo Morga, filed a lawsuit against Fed Ex for damages relating to the wrongful death of his wife and child and the personal injuries suffered by his son. Marialy’s parents also participated in the lawsuit, seeking damages for the wrongful death of their daughter. At trial, the plaintiffs presented evidence that the driver of the Fed Ex truck had a history of emotional issues and was taking drugs for sleep disorders, both of which made her too great a safety risk to be allowed to drive for the shipping company. The plaintiffs also argued that FedEx should have provided training to its drivers on safely driving during the dangerous early-morning hours, but had not, making the company liable for the truck driver’s negligence. The jury found FedEx to be 95% responsible for the accident and awarded the husband, parents, and young son $165.5 million. FedEx appealed this award, which was recently affirmed by the New Mexico Court of Appeals.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a New Mexico truck accident, find out if you’re entitled to money damages for your injuries by contacting the dedicated, compassionate, and effective Las Cruces personal injury lawyer Samuel I. Kane for a consultation on your case, at 575-526-5263.

Pedestrian Accident Takes Life of Young Woman

- Samuel Kane

An accident in Las Cruces involving two separate vehicles has resulted in the death of a young woman. Members of the city government are calling for changes to be made to the intersection to prevent future such accidents.

Fatal pedestrian accident on Del Rey Boulevard

The recent local accident occurred on the 4200 block of Del Rey Boulevard, a busy stretch of the road that many locals have described as dangerous to pedestrians. A 19-year-old woman and student at New Mexico State University was crossing the street at about an hour after sunset when she was struck by a Las Cruces city bus traveling north on Del Rey Boulevard. The woman collided with the bottom left corner of the bus, which forced the victim into the opposing lane of traffic. A Buick Century headed south on Del Rey then struck the young woman. She was transported to MountainView Regional Medical Center, where she ultimately succumbed to her injuries. The accident remains under investigation. The bus driver has been placed on administrative leave as authorities investigate the accident and determine whether the driver was negligent or reckless in causing the accident.

Municipalities must plan streets with pedestrian safety in mind

As law enforcement investigates the incident, some city officials are asking whether the layout of Del Rey Boulevard in the area of the accident is partly to blame. The section of street lacks street lights or sidewalks, despite being home to a large call center which many employees must enter and exit on foot. Additionally, many of the call center’s employees must walk to a bus stop that is across the street from the call center, but no signal or protected crosswalk exists to prevent them from getting hurt while doing so. With no signal, crosswalk, or street lighting, these pedestrians can be difficult for drivers to see. When unsafe streets or poor intersection design result in injuries to drivers or pedestrians, developers and city governments may bear financial liability to accident victims for failing to provide adequate safety protections for roadway users.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a New Mexico pedestrian accident, find out if you’re entitled to money damages for your injuries by contacting the knowledgeable and seasoned Las Cruces personal injury attorney Samuel L. Kane for a free consultation on your case, at 575-526-5263.

Police Settle Wrongful Death Suit Based on Las Cruces High-Speed Crash for $850k

- Samuel Kane

The surviving spouse of a man killed in a high-speed police car crash will receive $850,000 as a settlement of her claim that a reckless police officer caused her husband’s death. Learn more about the case below, and contact a knowledgeable New Mexico personal injury lawyer if you’ve been injured in a collision with an emergency vehicle.

Man injured when traveling through intersection on a green light

The settlement stems from an accident that occurred in July of 2015. Wayne Myers, 73, was driving a 2003 Toyota across the intersection of West Picacho Avenue and North Motel Boulevard in Las Cruces at the time of the accident. His wife, Barbara, was in the passenger seat of the car. The couple had just left an appointment with an oncologist, where Wayne learned that his cancer was in remission. Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Richards was traveling in a marked law enforcement vehicle north on Motel Boulevard. He asserts that his sirens were on and emergency lights flashing as he responded to a call for backup at an incident where a fellow deputy was allegedly being held at gunpoint. Richards asserted that he stopped his vehicle before traveling through the intersection, and some witnesses agreed with this account. In any event, Richards collided with the rear of the Toyota carrying Wayne and Barbara. Wayne suffered a shoulder injury and was hospitalized. While at first the injury seemed to have been successfully treated, eventually complications developed which caused his death on August 14, 2015.

Lawsuit filed against county

Barbara Myers filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Doña Ana County, arguing that Deputy Richards had negligently caused the auto accident which resulted in her husband’s passing. The county argued that Richards had not been negligent on the day of the crash, pointing out that an investigating prosecutor had failed to file charges against the deputy. Nevertheless, the county agreed to settle the widow’s claims for $850,000. Her attorney stated, “We hope this case will be used by both DASO and LCPD to critically review their policies and procedures when crossing red lights against traffic and take this as an opportunity to provide further training to our law enforcement personnel to implement more training in this area and to better ensure the safety of not only the driving public, but also our police officers.”

Liability for reckless emergency vehicle drivers

Emergency vehicles using their flashing lights and sirens have the right-of-way on New Mexico roads, even when traveling against a red light or speeding. However, this does not mean that emergency vehicle drivers have no duty to ensure that it is safe to proceed. Under New Mexico law, emergency vehicles must still have “due regard for the safety of all persons” and can face liability for reckless disregard of others’ safety. Additionally, if these emergency vehicles are not using their flashing lights or sirens, New Mexico law does not permit them to travel at excessive speeds or through intersections against the signal. Drivers who fail to follow these laws can face consequences in the form of a personal injury lawsuit filed by accident victims.

If you need a skilled and experienced attorney to help you get the damages you’re owed after a serious crash in New Mexico, contact a Las Cruces personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Samuel I. Kane for a consultation, at 575-526-5263.

Wrong-Way Crash Kills Local Driver

- Samuel Kane

A recent crash on Interstate 10 has taken the life of a local man. The recent crash was a head-on collision, which is one of the deadliest types of collisions. Learn more about the recent crash and what often causes these types of collisions, below.

Wrong-way crash on I-10

The crash occurred just south of Las Cruces on Interstate 10. An 85-year-old man driving a 2000 Oldsmobile sedan was driving near mile post 150, close to the Mesquite exit, at approximately 10:30pm on Sunday, October 29, 2017. The car was traveling in the eastbound lanes, but was headed west, when it collided with a 2016 Chevrolet coupe. Law enforcement responded to find that the driver of the Oldsmobile had died at the scene of the crash. The driver of the Chevrolet was not injured in the collision.

Head-on collisions are deadly more often than other crash types

Head-on crashes are some of the most dangerous forms of motor vehicle accident. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found that head-on crashes are the form of traffic accident that is most likely to result in fatal injuries. While only about 2% of all accidents are considered head-on crashes, roughly 7% of all fatal crashes in urban areas and 13% of fatal crashes in rural areas are classified as head-on collisions. These crashes are typically deadlier than other types of accidents, due to the fact that the force of both colliding vehicles combines when the cars strike one another head-on, resulting in a greater impact than other types of crashes.

Head-on crashes often result from a wrong-way driver becoming confused when entering a highway or turning onto a street. These accidents are more likely to occur at night, when visibility is low for drivers. A common cause of head-on collision is driver impairment from drugs or alcohol. This intoxication by many drivers who are involved in a head-on crash also tends to make these collisions deadlier, since drunk drivers are less likely to brake or otherwise try to avoid a crash before it occurs. Additionally, elderly drivers with impaired vision or who are prone to confusion are more likely to be involved in head-on collisions. Victims of head-on crashes may be entitled to money damages through a personal injury suit for their medical expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering.

If you or someone you love has been hurt in a head-on collision in New Mexico, find out if you have a right to money damages for your injuries by contacting the knowledgeable and skilled Las Cruces personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Samuel I. Kane for a consultation, at 575-449-3644.

Causes of Auto Accidents in the Fall

- Samuel Kane

The sweltering days of summer are officially over and cooler days of fall have arrived. As welcome as this reprieve may be, this season also presents a number of unique issues which can increase the chances of being involved in a car wreck.

Common Causes of Car Accidents

Slippery Conditions

Our average rainfall may be at its highest during the summer, but we still see a fair amount of rain throughout the Fall months here in New Mexico. Rain creates slippery, dangerous surfaces for cars, motorcycles and trucks, and it can cause vehicles to skid or spin out of control when braking.

Ice and snow can also become a factor, particularly if you are traveling through some of the higher passages in our state. Beware of black ice and be properly prepared if you plan on driving through any areas which may have snow (have snow tires, snow chains, drive slowly, etc.).

Decreased Visibility

The days are becoming progressively shorter during the Fall which means a decrease in visibility. Statistics have shown that driving during the nighttime almost doubles your risk of being involved in a car crash because you cannot see what is ahead of you.

Fog is another issue which can increase your chances of being in an auto wreck. Foggy conditions can make it difficult for drivers to see more than one car length ahead of them. The best way to travel through the fog is to use your headlights (not your high beams) and to drive with caution.

Animal Crossings

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has reported that approximately 1.5 million car accidents each year in the United States involve deer or other large animals. October through to December is considered to be “deer season” which increases your risk of being involved in a deer-related car accident.

Whenever possible, try to avoid hitting the animal to prevent personal injury and damage to your vehicle. If possible, hit the animal at an angle while staying in your lane. This increases the likelihood of the animal spinning out of your car’s path so that you can avoid being impaled by a deer’s sharp antlers.

The Law Offices of Samuel I. Kane Can Help with Your Car Crash Claim

If the negligence of another while on the road has caused you injury, The Law Offices of Samuel I. Kane can help. Our team of legal experts are experienced in handling both insurance settlements and car crash personal injury claims, and we will work diligently to ensure that you are compensated for your pain and injuries.

We invite you to call to arrange a free consultation today at (575) 526-5263.