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.