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New Mexico Legal Issues Blog

Are we ready for electric scooters?

The Albuquerque City Council has approved a measure to allow ride-sharing scooter companies to operate here. The details are still being worked out, but chances are that it will happen in the not too distant future.

While the City Council is undoubtedly aware of the dangers of riding these scooters, the realization may not sink in until a user starts to descend a hill with crossing traffic at the bottom. Moreover, the news from other cities is that the numbers of injuries has risen when the scooters enter the marketplace. Some people have been severely injured, and there have even been two deaths reported. While numbers are unofficial at this time, ER doctors and trauma surgeons are reporting scooter-related injuries as a daily occurrence in cities with ride-sharing scooters.

More than one third of teens regularly text while driving

It seems that evidence of distracted driving is all around us. Drivers sitting at a stop light need only look at the cars around them to see other drivers staring down into their laps or brazenly holding the phone or device in plain view. Law enforcement and safety officials are not ignorant of this fact and have raised the alarm about the increased number of motor vehicle fatalities and injuries due to distracted driving.

Unfortunately, the news gets even worse. According to a study by Journal for Adolescent Health that surveyed 101,000 teens of driving age, it found that 38 percent had sent texts or emails while driving within the last month. The study goes on to point out that the frequency increases with the age of the teen driver. It also adds that these young drivers who use their devices also engage in other risky behavior like not using a seat belt and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

Las Vegas uses AI to improve highway safety

Artificial intelligence is fueling advances in driverless vehicle technology. With thousands of cars already on the road in pilot programs here in the U.S., it would seem that the future is not now, but certainly very soon. However, while these technological advances are used to operate vehicles, they are also being used to help traffic officials and drivers predict and respond to motor vehicle accidents.

Recognizing accidents faster

Venture capital company no cure for elder care facilities

The HCR ManorCare chain of nursing homes struggled for five years before filing bankruptcy in 2017. Owned by the Carlyle Group, which is a top tier private equity firm, the second largest nursing home group in the country put an estimated 25,000 patients in harm’s way by not properly caring for patients and not providing a safe and clean environment to live in. 

The Washington Post reports that there were numerous health-code violations between 2011-2017, which is the time that Carlyle owned ManorCare:

  • Lack of staff and qualified staff on duty
  • Medication administration errors
  • Not providing special care for injections, colostomies and other treatment
  • Not providing needed assistance for eating and personal hygiene
  • Call buttons that did not work properly

Alleged drunk driver charged after fatal accident

One woman is dead and two other people are in the hospital after an alleged drunk driver hit their vehicle near Vado. The New Mexico State Police (NMSP) stated Ruben Rojas was driving east on Interstate 10 when he crashed into Michelle Cuaron’s truck.

Cuaron was killed and her two passengers were injured. The truck was parked on the side of the road, waiting for a tow truck.

SUVs leading cause for increase in pedestrian deaths

SUVs are a common part of the motor vehicle landscape here in Albuquerque and across the United States. Families love them because the vehicles can provide more room for hauling kids. People feel safer because of the larger size. The four-wheel drive option is helpful in the winter. Some people just find them easier to get in to and out of.

However, these vehicles have also been tied to the rise in pedestrian deaths, which have gone up 46 percent overall since 2009 to nearly 6,000 in 2016. According to a new study by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, more people are buying SUVs and more people are dying because of them - SUVs lead all categories of motor vehicles, contributing an 81 percent rise in fatalities since 2009.

New York Jet raises awareness of abdominal injuries

Taylor Haugens was a 15-year-old wide receiver going across the middle of the field in 2008 when he was sandwiched between two defenders. The hits, one from the front and one from behind, ruptured his liver. Despite being immediately rushed to the hospital where emergency surgery was conducted, Haugens died a few hours after the hits. According to Haugens' parents, the surgeons told them their son's internal organs looked like he had been in a car crash.

Professional football player Jordan Leggett played wide receiver for a nearby high school in the Florida Panhandle at the time and remembers as news spread about the injury and subsequent death of Haugens. While the future pro tight end did not know the boy, he teamed up with Haugens' parents to start Touchdowns for Taylor in conjunction with the Taylor Haugens Foundation. The goal is to raise awareness among parents, players and coaches on how to better prevent abdominal injuries.

MGM Resorts looks to settle with victims of Las Vegas Shooting

MGM Resorts has announced that it now is looking at possible negotiations to settle with the victims of the Harvest Festival shooting in 2017. This is a change in direction from a deeply unpopular approach where the company preemptively sued victims in order to minimize the amount of compensation paid to victims and their families. All told, there were 58 fatalities, an estimated 500 shot or injured in the melee and thousands more with broken bones, bumps and bruises. Regardless of the injury, many were traumatized by the experience.

There is now a recent filing in a Las Vegas federal court by the company and attorneys representing many of the victims. According to many news outlets, it asks that the judge put the litigation of the case on hold while the two sides attempt to mediate. The company will do the same in other courts across the country where plaintiffs have filed lawsuits. This is after the company recently lost an attempt to have all the cases consolidated into one federal case.

Duck boat companies cite obscure 1851 law in wrongful death suit

There have been a number injuries and deaths involving the land-water duck boats often used to cart tourists through theme parks and other attractions. One notable example is the tragic July 19 capsize and sinking on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri that left 17 dead and 7 others injured. Now owners Ripley Entertainment Inc. of Orlando, FL and Branson Duck Vehicles of Branson respond to multiple lawsuits by invoking 1851 federal law that they claim prevents them from owing any compensation because the boat carried no freight and was a total loss. 

Stalling or legal wrangling?

Men face charges after fatal hit-and-run accident

Two men are facing multiple charges, after a night of street racing ended with a hit-and-run accident that killed a motorcyclist. Ryan Palma and Armando Alvarado are accused of rear-ending Emmanuel Hernandez Gonzalez on his motorcycle on Interstate 25 near La Cienega.

The men met up with other drivers in Santa Fe and drove to Waldo Canyon to participate in street racing. Palma and Alvarado left around midnight and got on I-25 heading north. They saw Gonzalez on his motorcycle. It is unclear whether the victim was taking part in the street racing.