Understanding Personal Injuries in New Mexico: Pedestrian Hit by Car in Crosswalk
One of the most traumatic types of auto accidents is with a pedestrian. Even a low-speed or minor collision with a pedestrian could result in serious personal injuries. Whereas high speed or late-braking could result in catastrophic, disabling, and permanent injuries. Pedestrian knockdowns are a serious problem in New Mexico and the United States. According to the CDC, each year almost 6,000 pedestrians are killed in collisions and another 137,000 pedestrians are treated in emergency departments throughout the United States. While it is fortunate that these accidents are usually preventable, unfortunately far too means accidents involving a pedestrian hit by a car in crosswalk happen.
Our New Mexico personal injury lawyer knows how devastating that a pedestrian knockdown can be for a victim or family. Medical bills, lost wages, lost future earnings, and other financial repercussions and quickly overwhelm a family. This financial damages are usually magnified by the significant pain and suffering that a victim is enduring, usually preventing him or her from being able to help support the family. This is why our compassionate and experienced New Mexico personal injury lawyers at the Caruso Law Offices, P.C. accept cases on a contingency fee agreement and require no upfront costs. We only get paid if we recover compensation for a victim, which means victims and the families can keep more money in their pocket now and do not have any financial risk in hiring our law firm.
Liability When a Pedestrian Hit by a Car in Crosswalk is Injured
Under New Mexico law, liability for a pedestrian hit by a car in a cross is determined through the common law (judge-made law) or statutory law (legislatively-made law).
Common Law Negligence
The common law is premised on the cause of action (or claim) known as negligence. Under the common law, all motorists must exercise reasonable care under the circumstances in the use or operation of a motor vehicle. This includes taking additional precautions around intersections or crosswalks to avoid foreseeable harm to pedestrians attempting to cross. A motorist who fails to act reasonably may be found to be negligent.
Negligence Per Se
In addition to the common-law, a motorist also must follow the vehicle and traffic law in New Mexico. These statutes made by the Legislature are taught during driver’s education, tested by the DMV, and enforced by law enforcement. Many of the statutes have safety in mind by establishing an orderly flow of traffic for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians to follow. When a motorist fails to follow the law, it can both disrupt the orderly administration of traffic and cause serious injury.
One important law is yielding to the right of way to pedestrians in a crosswalk. This is governed by NM Stat. section 66-7-334 which provides “[w]hen traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk.”
This statute recognizes that pedestrians are vulnerable to injury in a motor vehicle accident given that pedestrians do not have seatbelts, helmets, or even the walls of a vehicle to protect them. The law gives pedestrians a place of supposed safety, the crosswalk, which all motorists are supposed to recognize and yield to the right-of-way of a pedestrians. This means if a motorist fails to yield and strikes, knockdown, or otherwise collides with a pedestrian, that motorist is likely violating New Mexico law.
When the violation of a statute harms a person who the statute is meant to protect from harm, the violator is automatically found liable for the accident due to the doctrine of negligence per se. This allows a New Mexico personal injury lawyer to quickly establish liability and focus on proving causation and damages. This little tactic also allows for the interest on an award or judgment to begin to run against a defendant, which can add leverage to a plaintiff for stronger negotiations. This is because the longer that a case takes to resolve, the more interest that will compound and be awarded to the plaintiff.
What if a Pedestrian Was Not in the Crosswalk?
A pedestrian hit by a car in crosswalk would have the strongest case. But this does not mean a pedestrian that was not in a crosswalk does not have a case. There are many other common law and statutory laws that could apply. In fact, a motorist could still be reckless, careless, and downright negligence if he or she hits a pedestrian that was not in a crosswalk if the motorist was unnecessarily and unreasonably increasing the risk of foreseeable harm to a pedestrian while driving a car.
Further, New Mexico statutory law also requires motorists to yield in certain situations. For instance, NM Stat. section 66-7-330 provides that “[t]he driver of a vehicle approaching a yield sign shall, in obedience to the sign, slow down to a speed reasonable for the existing conditions, and shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another highway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the driver is moving across or within the intersection. If the driver is involved in a collision with a vehicle in the intersection, after driving past a yield sign without stopping, the collision shall be deemed prima facie evidence of his failure to yield right-of-way.”
Thus, if a motorist hits a pedestrian crossing at an area not marked as a crosswalk but the motorist was supposed to yield, that motorist may still be found to be automatically liable under the doctrine of negligence per se.
New Mexico Pedestrian Hit by a Car in Crosswalk Should Call Us
Here at the Caruso Law Offices, P.C., our experienced New Mexico personal injury lawyers know how important it is for a victim of any type of personal injury case to protect their rights to compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, and high medical bills. This is why we take great pride in representing victims and their families when a negligent person, business, or government entity has harmed them. Learn how we can help you in a FREE consultation by dialing (505) 883-5000.
We handle causes throughout New Mexico, including Las Cruces, Santa Fe, Roswell, Cuervo, Rio Rancho, Clovis, Farmington, Hobbs, Albuquerque where our office is located, and anywhere else throughout New Mexico. Please call to schedule for FREE appointment by dialing (505) 883-5000 or contact us through our website’s easy to use and convenient contact box available here.