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New Mexico Legal Issues Blog

Lien on dead firefighter settlements still up in the air

The tragic 2013 fire that engulfed the Southwest Inn in Houston led to the deaths of five firefighters and the severe injury of another. It has stood as the greatest loss of life by the Houston Fire Department.

In the aftermath, the administration of former Mayor Annise Parker subsequently hired a lawyer to monitor the lawsuits and in 2015 put liens upon any settlements paid to the dead firefighters' families as well as one firefighter who was severely injured and subsequently forced to retire. The city was quietly trying to recoup money to pay for the medical expenses and worker's compensation it paid.

Speeding: A major cause of death on New Mexico's roads

Drivers create major dangers out on the roads when they speed. A recent report points to speeding being a particularly big, and deadly, problem here in New Mexico.

This ValuePenguin report estimated the rate of speeding-related deaths, per 100,000 residents, for each of the states. These rates were based off of 2016 traffic fatality statistics.

Federal jury rules against dialysis giant DaVita

A federal jury in Denver ruled against dialysis provider DaVita and awarded $383.5 million settlement in three wrongful death lawsuits. The victims suffered cardiac arrest and died after treatment with GranuFlo, which DaVita knew could cause toxic levels of pH imbalances and alkalosis. This remarkable number includes $125 million to each family in punitive damages with addition compensatory damage ranging between $1.5 and $5 million.

Issue goes back to 2012

Bosses - You can be charged in a wrongful death lawsuit

The death of an employee may result in an investigation of a workplace. Especially on manufacturing or machinery sites, extreme hazards surround the daily work of an employee.

An improperly trained factory worker may cause serious harm to your company, and the worker may increase the possibility of death to himself or employees nearby. It proves incredibly important for companies to properly train workers on the use and dangers of hazardous machines.

Are battery-powered cars REALLY more safe?

There have been recent high profile examples of Tesla's battery-powered cars catching fire. The most notable example recently being the car of actor Mary McCormack's husband. The video shot by her husband of the car on fire went viral recently, spurring another round of questions about the manufacturer's claims that its battery-powered cars are safer than their gas-powered counterparts.

The Associated Press recently claims made by Tesla and its founder Elan Musk to separate facts from fiction.Here's what it found:

Slow driving in the left lane is illegal

Spend a modest amount of time on the road and there always seems to be an individual who camps out in the left lane while driving at the same pace as a truck or slow car next to it in the right lane. It's enough to drive others crazy as a long line of cars builds up behind the moving roadblock. Worse, it can lead to reckless driving as drivers take risks to pass the slow moving vehicles.

A recent article reminds us that it is actually illegal for anyone to sit in the left lane if they are not passing cars. Unfortunately, it's rare to see law enforcement to do anything about it. Some experts believe that driving too slow is just as dangerous as driving too fast. Moreover, advocates are quick to point out that Germany's Autobahn famously has no speed limit, yet it has fewer accidents per capita than U.S. highways because drivers use the left lane only for passing.

Marijuana and opioids found in high percentage of traffic deaths

The impact of drinking and driving has on traffic safety is well documented, but a new report points to an increase in positive drug tests in cases of traffic fatalities. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) who commissioned the report, over 50 percent of drivers tested in traffic fatalities tested positive for marijuana, opioids or a combination of the two.

By the numbers

Woman found dead after missing from elder care facility

A breach in security allowed a 75-year-old resident of the senior center on the San Francisco General Hospital's campus to disappear. She was found in the stairwell of a nearby power plant 10 days after being reported missing. The woman signed herself out at 9 a.m. on May 19 - she was technically a resident of the residential care center for the elderly at the Behavioral Health Center instead of a patient. This, officials explain, meant she could sign herself in and out.

According to the Bay City News Service and San Francisco Chronicle, the woman was found by a member of the power plant's staff. The doors to the power plant were unlocked from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day to allow staff and materials to easily move through the building.

Top questions after a boating accident

Most people recognize the Memorial Day holiday as the start of summer, many in New Mexico see it as a great opportunity to enjoy the waterways that make our region great. As the second largest lake in the state, Navajo Lake is a popular destination throughout the summer. Fishermen, kayakers, water skiers and other boating enthusiasts come to enjoy the lake’s natural beauty.

Unfortunately, not everyone takes time to use reasonable care while on the water. In 2016, there were more than 4,400 accidents resulting in 700 people being killed on American lakes and rivers. The cost of these accidents resulted in $49 million in damages. Alcohol use was the primary factor in fatal boating accidents, with drowning being a primary cause of death. Of those who drowned, 83 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

Are electric cars more likely to catch fire?

Electric cars have become commonplace on the roads. But like the ubiquitous smart phone and the difficulty that Samsung Galaxy Note 7 ran into in late 2016, a fiery crash involving a Tesla is still going to make news. The heart of the matter with cars and phones (as well as laptops) is that they use lithium ion batteries.

Two recent car crashes with fires have stirred the discussion once again. One happened May 10 when a Tesla driven by German man hit a guardrail in Switzerland and burst into flames. The other was May 9 in Florida where two teenagers trapped inside the fire-engulfed car were killed. Reports of both instances said that car was traveling at high speeds.