A Guide to Common Types of Personal Injuries: Know When to Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer
We all make questionable choices in our lives that can sometimes lead to unfortunate circumstances. When those decisions lead to injuries, we consider it a lesson learned and promise ourselves we will never be that foolish again. Lost wages from time off work and expensive medical bills are all the reminder we need to use better judgment in the future. But when someone else’s carelessness, negligence, or irrational decision-making is the cause of our pain and suffering, it is time to call in a personal injury lawyer.
There are several types of personal injuries. It is imperative to understand the parameters for each and how a personal injury lawyer can help if you are the victim in one of these scenarios.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
The majority of personal injury cases filed in the U.S. Courts are for motor vehicle accidents and complaints charging damage caused by a motor vehicle. This involves drivers and passengers involved in motor vehicle crashes and pedestrians and bicyclists hit by motor vehicles. It some cases, it may also include accidents involving motor vehicles colliding with residential or commercial buildings and other personal property.
New Mexico has ranked in the top three of worst states for traffic accidents with drivers failing to follow motor vehicle code six times since 2011. From January through August 2020, the New Mexico Department of Transportation recorded 259 traffic accidents resulting in fatalities. Surviving family members of motor vehicle fatalities have the right to sue the liable party. But if you are a survivor living with serious injuries or permanent disabilities, you also have rights.
Here are the steps to follow if you are the victim of a motor vehicle accident to protect your rights:
- Insist on filing a police report. Usually, when a motor vehicle accident involves injuries or is blocking traffic, the local police department is called in to investigate and manage the scene. If you are the victim of another driver’s carelessness or reckless driving, it is important to request a copy of the police accident scene investigator’s report for your insurance adjuster. The report will include an assessment of which driver is at fault. There are two times when fault is automatically assigned in motor vehicle accidents: rear-end collisions and failure to yield during left turns. The driver who collides with another vehicle from behind is considered at-fault. Likewise, drivers who are making a left turn across traffic are considered at fault since it is their legal duty to yield to oncoming traffic.
- Contact your insurance company. Even when you are the victim, you will need to report the accident to your automobile insurance carrier. They will send an adjuster to investigate. Your insurance provider also can request a copy of the official police report.
- Seek medical attention immediately. Whether your injuries are mild or severe, you will want to request immediate medical attention at the scene. This is an important part of documenting your injuries in the event legal action is necessary.
- Call a personal injury attorney. Even if you are not sure whether you will need to file a lawsuit, you must consult with a personal injury lawyer before you discuss the accident or your injuries with the individuals at fault. Romero Law’s team is highly skilled in personal injury law and can guide you through the necessary steps to ensure your rights are protected.
Next to motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice is another common reason for victims to file personal injury lawsuits. Doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other medical providers and facilities are sometimes negligent in their care of their patients. If their carelessness causes you pain and suffering or causes temporary or permanent disability, you may have cause for filing a medical malpractice case.
Medical malpractice is complicated and involves different categories, including misdiagnosis, medication errors, injuries during labor and delivery, and even surgical mistakes. If you believe you are the victim of medical malpractice, follow these steps to ensure the best outcome in your case.
- Request all medical records from your medical provider
The first thing you will need to do is contact the medical provider whom you believe to be negligent in your care and request all medical records. It is important to do this before you file a claim or notify the healthcare practitioner or facility of your intent to file a lawsuit against them. Patients have a right to their medical records so they cannot refuse to provide them to you. You may have to pay for copies. Inquire at the time you make your request how the records will be provided and what your responsibility is for obtaining them.
- Know the filing deadlines
New Mexico has a statute of limitations of three years. The time clock starts on the day the injuries in question were received. There may be certain exceptions to this rule, so it is best to consult an attorney skilled in medical malpractice law for guidance.
- Call an expert attorney in medical malpractice
Medical malpractice cases are challenging to litigate. Consulting with an attorney skilled in this area of law is important for a successful outcome. Romero Law will provide an initial assessment of your case and be ready and willing to help should you decide to pursue compensation.
Getting hurt on the job is a scary experience, especially if the injury results in extended leave from work to recover or a permanent disability that may prevent your ability to return. Most injured workers are eligible for worker’s compensation benefits, which covers ongoing medical care and living expenses while you are off work. There are times when worker’s compensation is not adequate to meet needs and it is wholly appropriate to consider a personal injury lawsuit. Some examples of when it may be time to call a personal injury lawyer skilled in workplace accidents include:
- Injuries that result from acts of violence at the workplace
- Faulty equipment or failure to properly maintain company-owned tools and equipment
- Injuries caused by falling objects
- Slipping/tripping injuries due to improperly maintained workspaces
- Repetitive motion injuries
Employers must ensure the workplace is safe. When they fail in their responsibility, call in the professionals at Romero Law for a free consultation about your rights.
Animal Attacks/Dog Bites
Roughly 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, with 800,000 of those bites requiring medical attention. With a U.S. population of around 328.2 million, that means that one out of every 73 people will be bitten by a dog each year.
Dogs are great friends and furry protectors, but they also can be a source of pain and suffering. Sometimes people are bitten due to their own negligence, which can include approaching a strange dog to interact with them without the owner’s permission. But other times, dogs bite because their owners have failed to train or contain them, especially in public areas. You are entitled to safety from other people’s pets. If you are bitten by a dog or other domesticated pet and have suffered severe injuries, contact Romero Law to review your rights.
No one expects to be seriously injured by a product they purchased in good faith. But it can and does happen. If you are the victim of a defective product, you have rights. There are three types of product liability claims under New Mexico law:
- Design defects are exactly as they sound. It is a flaw in the product design that results in injury to the consumer under normal use. For example, if you purchase an exercise bike and the support frame cracks while you are using it, causing you to fall and break an arm or leg, that is considered a design defect.
- Manufacturing defects assume a product is dangerous for normal use by a consumer due to a manufacturing error that may be isolated to a few of the products from the same line.
- Failure-to-warn defects are the most serious kind of product liability. They presume a company was aware of a defect and failed to provide sufficient warning to consumers of the danger.
Property owners are legally required to keep their property reasonably safe for visitors. Businesses must maintain a safe environment for customers and employees, while residential property owners are expected to ensure safety for their guests and other visitors. One of the most common types of premise liability lawsuits is of the “slip and fall” variety.
In New Mexico, the onus falls on property owners to either maintain their property to ensure safety to visitors or provide ample notification of unsafe conditions. Failure to do either is grounds for a lawsuit if someone is injured on your property. Two kinds of injuries fall under premise liability laws:
- Inadequate security is implied for areas where criminal activity is likely to occur and there is a lack of safety measures in place to protect visitors. There are contributing factors involved in proving a case under this classification.
- Unsafe physical conditions include the improper care and maintenance of buildings and grounds for residential and commercial properties. These types of cases are more clear-cut than those claimed under inadequate security.
The most important thing to understand about premises liability is that claimants must prove the property owner ignore unsafe conditions, and that negligence contributed to their injuries. Sometimes, a court will determine a premises liability case is the fault of both the plaintiff and the defendant. This is because New Mexico is a comparative negligence state. When this happens, the court will determine the percentage of fault assigned to each party, and the cost of damages will be split based on that calculation. For instance, if the court determines the defendant is 40 percent at fault for the accident that caused his injuries, he will be responsible for paying 40 percent of whatever damages the court assigns.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
We entrust the care of our elderly loved ones to nursing homes every day. Sadly, not all facilities provide a safe and caring environment for their residents. If you or a loved one is seriously injured due to the negligence of nursing home staff or an improperly-maintained facility, give the team at Romero Law a call. We can review your case, help gather supporting evidence, and file a lawsuit or seek a settlement out of court for damages.
What to Expect When Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you are the victim of a personal injury resulting from any of the above-described situations, reaching out to a personal injury lawyer is a wise decision. The knowledgeable team of personal injury litigators at Romero Law can walk you through the process to ensure the best possible outcome. Here is what you can expect if you contact our firm to represent you in a personal injury lawsuit.
- Caring and compassionate team members
At Romero Law, you are more than just a client to us. We care about your situation and will treat you with the same respect and compassion our own family members would receive from us. This means we will never rush you through a phone call or in-person consultation, and we will do our best to explain your case in a way that makes sense to you. We value your opinion and will never take action without your prior knowledge and consent.
- Comprehensive evaluation of the evidence
One of the first recommendations we make to our clients is to receive a medical evaluation to support the claim of injury. Our team members also may recommend other supporting documentation, such as witness statements, that may prove vital in your case. This is just one of the pieces of the puzzle we help assemble if clients decide to pursue legal action.
- Demand for settlement process
Once all the evidence is gathered, our team will compile what is known as demand for settlement. It outlines the complaint and all liability and damages. It is sent to the opposing party for consideration. Sometimes a letter of demand results in an out-of-court settlement. This is the ideal outcome and one that our team will seek when possible. It saves our clients the hassle of sitting through a civil lawsuit that can drag on for weeks or months. We advise our clients that it can take several weeks or several months to receive a response from the opposing party’s legal team about whether the demands will be met.
- Filing of a civil lawsuit
As a last resort, if the demand for settlement process falls through, we will walk our clients through the process of filing a civil lawsuit. Our team is diligent in explaining the details involved in filing a civil lawsuit and ensure clients have a full understanding of what they can expect from court proceedings.
Tips for Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer
Not all personal injury lawyers are the same. It is important to evaluate your personal injury law team and ask some important questions before agreeing to hire them to pursue your case.
- Do you specialize in personal injury law? This may seem like a no-brainer, but it still is important to ask. Most law firms specialize in specific areas of law. At Romero Law, we have extensive experience in representing clients pursuing personal injury settlements and civil lawsuits.
- How frequently do you settle out of court? Not every personal injury lawsuit goes to trial, and that is a good thing. Civil litigation is expensive and time-consuming and we try our best to reach a settlement so our clients can be spared the hassle of a trial. Settling out of court depends on the strength of the evidence in the case and the skill of the litigator.
- Have you been censored or disciplined by the bar? Sadly, not all lawyers adhere to the code of ethics as provided by the New Mexico Bar Association. It is important to choose a lawyer who is on the up-and-up and has a proven track record of winning cases for clients the right way. Past disciplinary troubles are a red flag. You can check whether your legal counsel of choice has any disciplinary action on record.
- Can you provide references? Any legitimate attorney will provide references to prospective clients, so do not be afraid to ask. If they refuse, consider it a red flag and continue your search for better representation.
Consult the Personal Injury Specialists
We get it. Personal injury settlements and civil lawsuits are intimidating. That does not mean you should not pursue damages if someone else’s negligence or carelessness has caused you injuries or permanent disability.
At Romero Law, we will give 110 percent effort to achieve the desired outcome. We know what it takes to build a solid personal injury claim and will use our expertise to help leverage your demands. Our team will not rest until we have exhausted all available avenues for damages.
Contact us online or by calling 505-595-2100 to schedule your free consultation with a caring member of our legal team.