Attorney shakes hands with man using arm brace to walk

5 Surprising Myths About Personal Injury Cases

Many myths have grown up around personal injury cases and how they’re conducted and resolved. Sadly, these myths have caused accident victims to miss out on opportunities to pursue claims against parties that have injured them.

Here are five surprising myths about personal injury cases, along with information to help you evaluate whether you should pursue a claim.

Myth 1: You Don’t Need to File a Claim if You Have Insurance

The compensation you receive in a personal injury case can cover expenses that health insurance won’t, including:

  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity due to temporary or permanent disabilities
  • Health insurance copays and deductibles
  • Home modifications to accommodate your disabilities
  • Replacement services for tasks you can no longer perform, like childcare or cleaning
  • Transportation costs for medical appointments

The goal of health insurance is to pay for covered medical costs; the goal of a personal injury claim is to restore the financial position you had before your accident. Since they have different goals, they pay for different expenses.

Myth 2: You’ll End Up Going to Trial

Only 3% of personal injury cases reach a trial verdict, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The rest settle, are dropped by the plaintiff, or get dismissed by the court.

Accident victims have many reasons for wanting to avoid trial, such as:

  • Fear of embarrassing information being shared
  • Intimidation of courtroom proceedings
  • Concerns about the time and cost of a trial

Fortunately, insurance providers usually don’t want a trial any more than you do. Insurers don’t like paying litigators to try a case they could lose.

As a result, your injury lawyer will spend a lot of time and effort negotiating with the insurer to try to reach a fair settlement.

Myth 3: Your Claim Will Take Forever

About 50% of personal injury cases resolve within 14 months, according to the Justice Department.

This might seem like a long time, but a major reason for this timeline comes from the insurer. Claim adjusters know injury victims need money to pay for medical costs and living expenses, so they attempt to leverage their desperation and frustration to get them to agree to a low settlement offer.

Your claim won’t take forever, but it also won’t conclude overnight. You’ll need to discuss with your lawyer what a fair settlement should include, then let them negotiate until the insurer offers an adequate figure.

Myth 4: Pain and Suffering Damages Aren’t Real

Pain and suffering damages compensate you for real losses resulting from your injuries.

Economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost income, are easy to understand, but non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, are more difficult to grasp.

Non-economic damages compensate you for the reduction in your quality of life due to injury. For example, pain can cause:

  • Sleep loss
  • Inability to participate in activities you enjoy
  • Inconvenience, since you’ll likely need to change how you do things

You may not be able to place a dollar amount on these losses, but you’ve certainly lost something, even if you can’t quantify it.

When you seek non-economic damages, a claims adjuster or jury will value your losses based on the severity and duration of your injuries. Severe, permanent injuries will justify greater compensation than minor, temporary ones.

Myth 5: Personal Injury Lawyers Are Expensive

Personal injury lawyers structure their rates in such a way that you pay based on the compensation you receive. These sorts of fees are known as “contingency” fees.

Contingency fees are calculated based on the injury compensation you receive. If you get nothing, you pay nothing. If you win or settle, you pay a percentage of your compensation to the lawyer in return for their services.

Debunking Personal Injury Myths

Most injury lawyers offer free consultations. This provides a perfect opportunity for prospective clients to ask questions about their cases and how they’ll be resolved. They can then use this information to decide how to proceed instead of being put off by inaccurate myths.

To discuss your personal injury claim with a qualified attorney, contact Hunt Law, a Northern New Mexico personal injury law firm.

Man signing personal injury claim

What Are the Grounds for a Product Liability Claim?

Businesses that manufacture and sell products have a responsibility to make sure they sell safe products. Injured consumers have the right to compensation for their injuries and other losses under several legal theories.

Grounds for filing a product liability claim can include:

Strict Liability

Strict liability is imposed regardless of the manufacturer’s knowledge or lack of knowledge about the product’s defects. Your case will focus on the product rather than the manufacturer. This makes strict liability the most common ground for a product liability claim.

To win a strict liability claim in New Mexico, you must prove:

  • The product was defective
  • The product was defective when it left the manufacturer’s hands and remained substantially unchanged when it reached you
  • The product was unreasonably dangerous
  • You suffered an injury
  • The defective product caused your injury

If you can prove all these elements, a jury can award damages to cover your injuries and other losses.

You can base your product liability claim on three types of defects:

Design Defect

A product has a design defect if the product has no safe use. Examples of design defects include lawn darts and thalidomide, a morning sickness drug that caused birth defects.

Consumers could not use these products for their intended purposes in a safe manner. For example, the purpose of lawn darts was to pierce the lawn when thrown in the air. There was no safe way to use them for that purpose.

The purpose of thalidomide was to treat pregnant women. But since thalidomide caused birth defects, it put every patient and her baby at risk.

Manufacturing Defect

Manufacturing defects happen when a product’s features depart in some dangerous way from its design. Manufacturing defects happen at the factory. An example of a manufacturing defect was the tread separation that occurred in Bridgestone tires in the 1990s.

After analyzing the tires that caused more than 270 deaths and 700 injuries, the company concluded that the layer of rubber between the steel belts failed to conform to its design standards. This thin layer would crack and allow the tread to separate from the rest of the tire.

Warning Defect

Warning defects happen when the instructions fail to warn the consumer of a reasonably common hazard. They can also happen when a product has a safe use, but the instructions do not reasonably describe how to use it safely.

Negligence

Negligence happens when a company knew or should have known that its products were unreasonably dangerous, yet still allowed the product to enter the stream of commerce.

Negligence requires your product liability lawyer to delve into what the company knew about its product’s defects, and you might not have access to this information. 

But if you can find a whistleblower, you might obtain internal documents about the company’s knowledge. You can then use the company’s knowledge of the defect, or its reckless disregard of warning signs about possible defects, to seek punitive damages.

Breach of Warranty

Another legal theory for product liability cases is a breach of warranty. Under this claim, you must prove that the product failed to fulfill its intended purpose.

For example, If you bought a light switch that electrocuted you when it was properly installed, the company failed to provide the promised product. As a result, you can seek damages for its failure.

Choosing a Theory

You do not need to choose between the various product liability theories. Many cases include all the theories and allow a jury to decide which claims had evidentiary support.

It is important to note that you cannot get multiple damage awards for the same harm. But different theories look at different types of damages. So, you might get compensation that more completely covers your losses by presenting multiple grounds for your product liability claim.

Hunt Law is ready to pursue justice for your medical malpractice, personal injury, wrongful death, or catastrophic injury case in northern New Mexico. To discuss the compensation you can seek for your injuries from a defective product, contact Hunt Law today.

Nursing home room

5 Signs of Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home neglect is defined as a situation in which a residential facility fails to provide reasonable care to its residents. Neglect differs from abuse in that neglect generally involves a failure to act.

It’s important to know the signs of nursing home neglect and learn how an injury lawyer can help victims seek fair compensation for the neglect they’ve endured.

How Neglect Happens

Nursing homes take on the responsibility of caring for their residents. Neglect happens when the facility’s staff doesn’t meet your loved one’s needs.

Humans have a range of needs, including:

  • Social interaction
  • Mental stimulation
  • Physical comfort and safety

Nursing home neglect cases usually focus on residents’ physical comfort and safety. Neglect typically occurs when caretakers allow a resident’s comfort and safety to deteriorate by doing nothing.

Five telltale signs of neglect include:

1. Bedsores

Bedsores develop when pressure cuts off the blood flow to an area of the skin and underlying tissues. They usually appear discolored and swollen and may include an open wound in the center where the skin has deteriorated and the fat has collapsed.

Nursing home staff members should regularly move immobile residents. By shifting their positions, the staff relieves pressure on the skin and allows blood to flow to pressure points.

If your loved one has bedsores, it means the nursing home staff has not changed their position often enough.

2. Physical Injuries

In some cases, physical injuries can signify abuse. But physical injuries can also indicate neglect, which leads to physical injuries when residents:

  • Fall out of bed or slip in the bathroom due to a lack of assistance
  • Don’t receive proper medical attention for accidental injuries
  • Are assaulted by other residents due to a lack of supervision

In all of these examples, reasonable care could have prevented or treated the resident’s injuries.

3. Hunger and Dehydration

A common form of neglect comes from food and water deprivation. This can happen for many reasons, including:

  • Cutting corners when preparing and serving food
  • Failing to hire enough staff to feed residents
  • Punishing residents by depriving them of food or water

Unfortunately, weight loss and loss of appetite are common in older adults. But if your loved one always seems hungry or thirsty, they might be experiencing neglect.

4. Dirty Clothes and Bedding

Nursing homes, assisted living centers, and other residential facilities usually provide basic services like cleaning to their residents. Cleaning rooms and washing clothing prevents residents from developing skin conditions and experiencing allergies. When these tasks are abandoned, it often shows in the resident’s appearance.

5. Unkempt Hair and Body Odor

Residential facilities should provide caretakers who can help residents clean themselves, as well as cleaning products and personal hygiene items or ways for residents to obtain them.

If your loved one has unkempt hair or body odor, they might have gone too long without bathing. If you can trace this back to the facility’s caretakers, your loved one might have a claim for negligence.

The Role of an Injury Attorney

An injury lawyer can play a critical role in investigating what’s been going on at a facility. Some unscrupulous facilities prey on the elderly because they often have conditions that prevent them from reporting neglect, such as:

  • Dementia
  • Speech difficulties
  • Memory loss

Caretakers can also count on the residents’ shame and embarrassment about not being able to care for themselves to keep them from complaining.

A lawyer can request records from the facility. They can also research whether past residents filed lawsuits against the facility for neglect. And once litigation begins, they can take depositions of current and former staff members who may have witnessed neglect.

To discuss what an injury lawyer can do to help your loved one victimized by nursing home neglect, contact Hunt Law, a personal injury law firm in Northern New Mexico.

Person walking on cross-walk

Essential Steps to Take After a Pedestrian Accident

Pedestrian accidents in New Mexico can cause serious or even fatal injuries. Your actions in the aftermath of an accident could affect your right to injury compensation.

Here are some essential steps to take after a pedestrian accident to protect your health and your legal rights.

Pedestrian Accidents in New Mexico

In 2020, New Mexico had 495 pedestrian accidents. Roughly 91.9% of these accidents caused injury or death. These numbers made New Mexico the most dangerous state for pedestrians, according to the U.S. government.

If you’re involved in a pedestrian accident as a driver or a pedestrian, here are some crucial steps to take:

Call the Police

New Mexico law requires drivers to call the police to report any accident resulting in:

  • Injury
  • Death
  • Property damage over $500

Since over 90% of pedestrian accidents in the state cause an injury or death, a good rule of thumb is to always report pedestrian accidents to the police.

Officers will investigate the accident and issue an accident report. This report will contain essential information about the incident. For drivers, an accident report might absolve you of fault for the accident. For pedestrians, an accident report could lead your injury lawyer to witnesses and evidence to support your injury claim.

Stop and Assist Anyone Injured

New Mexico law also requires drivers to stop at the scene of an accident and assist injured persons. If you fail to stop and render aid, prosecutors could charge you with hit-and-run.

This duty exists even if the driver was not at fault for the accident. Thus, even if you hit a jaywalker, you must still stop to help.

If you were the one who got hit, stay at the accident scene. You can help the police complete their accident investigation and preserve your right to seek injury compensation from the at-fault driver.

Seek Medical Attention

After your accident, you should seek immediate medical attention for any injuries you suffered. A medical examination will help you:

  • Diagnose your injuries
  • Document your injuries
  • Determine whether you have any hidden injuries

A sore back might turn out to be a life-threatening vertebral fracture, and a headache could signify a concussion. Only a visit to a doctor can tell you what injuries you suffered and how you can treat them.

If you choose to pursue an injury claim, your medical records will prove the severity of your injuries. An injury lawyer will have a hard time persuading a jury of the damages you suffered if they can’t even prove the at-fault driver injured you.

Follow Your Doctor’s Advice

After you see a doctor, you should follow their recommended treatment plan. If you fail to follow the treatment plan, you could exacerbate your injuries and jeopardize your injury claim.

New Mexico uses comparative negligence to allocate fault after a pedestrian accident. Under this doctrine, a jury can assign fault to anyone who played a part in your injuries, including you.

For example, if a jury determines your failure to follow your treatment plan contributed to 30% of your injuries, you might only get compensation for 70% of your losses.

Speak With a Lawyer

Whether you’re in a car or on foot, a pedestrian accident can change your life forever. 

Drivers found liable for a pedestrian’s injuries could face financial ruin, while pedestrians could face both financial and health challenges as they struggle to pay for treatment and recover from their injuries.

An experienced injury lawyer can review the facts of your case and provide objective legal advice about your rights and liabilities. For pedestrians, consulting a lawyer could provide valuable insight into the compensation you can seek and how to preserve your right to claim it. For drivers, a lawyer can help your insurer defend you from an injured pedestrian.

To discuss your legal status after your pedestrian accident, contact Hunt Law, a personal injury law firm in Northern New Mexico.

motorcycle accident

Steps to Take After You Have Been in a Motorcycle Accident

Motorcycle accidents are scary and chaotic. They often occur in a split second without warning, contributing to the anxiety and stress of the traumatic event. 

After a motorcycle accident, you may have the opportunity to seek financial compensation for your injuries and losses. To do so, it’s important to take certain steps to protect your rights and build your future claim.

The following are some of the most critical steps to take after a motorcycle accident. 

Move to Safety If Necessary

It is common to land in harm’s way immediately after your motorcycle accident. If you’re in an unsafe area, like the middle of the road, moving to safety can help avoid subsequent incidents and further injury. 

Call 911

Call 911 as soon as you can to request police assistance and emergency medical aid. Law enforcement officers will arrive as quickly as possible to assist at the scene of the accident. 

Police officers play an essential role in motorcycle accident cases. They speak to all parties involved and witnesses and collect crucial information to put into a police report. Police reports can answer some of the most vital questions associated with accident claims and help you hold the responsible party liable.

Seek Medical Care

If your injuries are severe, paramedics can provide emergency medical care at the scene of the accident. Whether you receive treatment at the scene or not, you should follow up at an emergency room or with your primary care physician.

A healthcare provider can thoroughly examine you and determine the extent of your injuries. They can then provide a treatment plan to help you reach maximum recovery.

Gather Evidence

If possible, begin gathering evidence as soon as you can. Quality evidence for motorcycle accidents can include:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Surveillance footage
  • Traffic cam footage
  • Witness contact information

Once you’ve initiated your accident claim and more evidence becomes available, your motorcycle accident lawyer can continue collecting evidence, including police reports and medical records. 

Evidence can help considerably in strengthening your case. 

Avoid Speaking to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company

After an accident, it is common for the other driver’s insurer to reach out to you seeking a recorded statement. You should avoid speaking to the insurance company, as they have questionable motives.

By obtaining a recorded statement, the insurance company is looking to hold your words against you. They do this to help limit their liability or avoid paying you what your claim is worth altogether. 

If you are contacted by the other driver’s insurer, simply inform them you cannot speak to them without your lawyer. 

Follow Through with Medical Treatment

Finishing your medical treatment is as important as getting medical care in the first place. When you do not follow through with your treatment plan, this can communicate to the opposing party and insurance company that your injuries are not as serious as you claim. 

Additionally, completing your medical treatment is also in your best interests, as it helps you recover from your injuries. 

Consult with a Motorcycle Accident Attorney 

As soon as you’re able, discuss your situation with a motorcycle accident lawyer. An attorney can address your questions and concerns, provide sound legal advice, and determine the next steps to help get you on the path to financial recovery.

Keep in mind — there is a statute of limitations for motorcycle accident cases. If you do not initiate your case within three years of your accident, this could negatively affect your ability to pursue compensation.

Hunt Law is ready to help you with your motorcycle accident claim. Our personal injury attorneys serve clients in Northern New Mexico and the surrounding areas. Contact us today to request a consultation.

Client discussing medical malpractice case with attorney

Effectively Proving You Are a Victim of Medical Malpractice

When you seek medical care from a healthcare professional, you’re putting your health and well-being in their hands. Unfortunately, some doctors act negligently, resulting in harm you never saw coming.

If you need legal guidance with your medical malpractice case, rely on the legal team at Hunt Law. 

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider’s act or omission results in harm to their patient. Medical malpractice can involve multiple parties, including:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Hospitals and other healthcare facilities

Doctors and other healthcare providers must provide a standard of care to their patients. When a medical professional fails to act as a provider with similar credentials would, they’ve likely breached their level of care and could be held liable for medical malpractice. 

If you’ve been harmed by a healthcare professional, you could file a medical malpractice lawsuit and seek compensation for your injuries and other losses. 

How does medical malpractice occur?

Medical malpractice can happen as a result of many scenarios. The most common medical malpractice cases include:

  • Failure to diagnose
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Surgical error
  • Failure to provide adequate treatment
  • Prematurely discharging a patient from the hospital
  • Issues with prescription medication
  • Birth injuries

Any of these situations can negatively affect a patient, either by causing them harm or contributing to the development or worsening of a medical condition. 

Proving You Are a Victim of Medical Malpractice

Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a provider requires proving that you are, in fact, a victim of medical malpractice. These cases usually require the following proof. 

Establishing That a Provider/Patient Relationship Existed

The first step is establishing that the healthcare provider treated you and that there was a provider/patient relationship. You can prove such a relationship existed with evidence like medical and hospital records. 

Proving the Healthcare Provider Acted Negligently

Establishing the provider’s liability is a critical part of a medical malpractice case. 

While medical malpractice cases can arise out of intentional acts, a majority of cases involve negligence. Negligence refers to a failure to act in a way a reasonable person would have in a similar situation.

Proving the provider’s negligence requires satisfying these elements:

  • The party owed you a duty of care
  • The party breached their duty of care
  • The breach was the cause of your harm
  • You suffered losses as a result

Medical malpractice cases are unique and often rely on the assistance of expert witnesses. Expert witnesses are usually doctors or providers with similar education and specialties as the responsible party. They can review medical records and evidence to give their expert opinions.

Establishing the liable party’s negligence gets you one step closer to recovering compensation. 

Providing Sufficient Evidence of Your Harm and Losses

Evidence is key in medical malpractice cases. Some of the most important evidence your attorney can use to help build your case include:

  • Medical records
  • Doctor notes
  • Medical bills
  • Evidence of missed work and lost wages
  • Proof of other tangible and intangible losses

Your medical malpractice attorney can thoroughly investigate your claim and determine what evidence would benefit your case best.

Discuss Your Case with a Medical Malpractice Attorney

Suffering harm at the hands of a healthcare provider can be challenging and frustrating. Financial compensation cannot fix all of your issues, but it can relieve some of the undue financial stress.

The legal team at Hunt Law understands the consequences that clients experience from medical malpractice, and we want to help make it right. Our medical malpractice attorneys give you the care and compassion you deserve while aggressively fighting to protect your rights and get compensation for you.

We proudly serve clients in Northern New Mexico and the surrounding areas. Contact us today to request a consultation.

Rose on tombstone

Wrongful Death Claim: How Is Value Determined?

Losing a loved one is difficult enough, but when their death results from the wrongdoing of another, it hurts much worse. While money can never bring back a loved one, filing a lawsuit and pursuing compensation for your loss can help ease some of the financial burdens.

It’s tough to place a monetary value on someone’s life, but it’s a necessary step in the wrongful death claim process. Continue reading to better understand wrongful death claims and what factors play a role in determining value.

What is wrongful death? 

A wrongful death occurs when a victim dies as a result of another person’s negligent or wrongful acts. If the person had lived through the accident or incident, they would have had the opportunity to file a personal injury lawsuit. Because of their passing, the victim’s family is left to pursue financial recovery for the loss of their loved one.

Not just anyone can file wrongful death claims. In New Mexico, the decedent’s personal representative handles the lawsuit for the benefit of the surviving family. A personal representative is typically appointed in a person’s estate plan, but if the decedent did not designate a representative, the court could appoint one. 

Damages for Wrongful Death Claims

The death of a loved one can result in financial strain. Damages for wrongful death claims can help relieve some of this pressure.

The types of damages available commonly depend on the details of the case. However, damages for wrongful death claims can include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical bills for the decedent’s injuries that resulted in their death
  • Lost wages or benefits the decedent could have earned had they lived
  • Loss of household financial contributions the decedent could have made
  • The decedent’s pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress caused by the loss
  • Loss of guidance and support

While the personal representative must file the wrongful death lawsuit, the financial recovery goes to the decedent’s estate, which is then distributed to the family. The compensation received can benefit spouses, children, grandchildren, or siblings, depending on the decedent’s family situation.

Factors Affecting the Value of a Wrongful Death Claim

Assigning a value to a case is often one of the most challenging parts; placing a monetary value on life can seem almost impossible. However, to pursue financial recovery for a wrongful death lawsuit, your lawyer must determine what the case is worth to ensure they seek maximum compensation.

To determine how much a wrongful death claim is worth, your attorney will examine several factors, including:

  • The decedent’s age and health at the time of the incident
  • The amount spent on medical expenses before the decedent’s passing
  • The level of pain and suffering the decedent experienced before their death
  • The decedent’s income at the time of their death and their earning potential
  • The decedent’s educational background or training
  • Whether the decedent has any dependents and their ages
  • How much was spent on the decedent’s funeral and burial
  • Available insurance coverage to provide compensation for the wrongful death
  • The defendant’s actions or wrongdoing
  • Any economic losses resulting from the decedent’s death
  • Any intangible losses resulting from the decedent’s death

Your wrongful death lawyer will consider these and many other details when determining the value of your case. While it is not simple, it is a required step toward financial recovery. 

Consult with a New Mexico Wrongful Death Attorney

If you’ve lost a loved one at the hands of another, you may have the right to file a wrongful death claim. Discuss your case with a lawyer as soon as you’re able.

Hunt Law has extensive experience helping New Mexico clients after experiencing the untimely death of a loved one. We’ll stand by you to protect your rights to fair compensation for your difficult loss. Our attorneys never back down from a challenge — we go the extra mile for our clients. 

Let us pursue justice on your behalf. Contact Hunt Law today to schedule a meeting with one of our New Mexico wrongful death lawyers.

man taking photo of car accident

What to Do Immediately After a Hit and Run in New Mexico

Car accidents are always frustrating. However, when the driver responsible hits your vehicle and immediately leaves the scene of the accident, it adds much more stress. Not only is leaving the scene of an accident against the law, but it also leaves the victim to deal with everything on their own. It’s easy to wonder whether you’ll ever be able to receive compensation for your injuries and property damage if the other driver leaves the scene. You may still be eligible for financial recovery, but it’s important to take certain steps to protect your right to compensation through a car accident lawyer.

The following should be done immediately after a hit and run in New Mexico.

Call 911

Right after the accident, assess your injuries. If you have any passengers, determine whether anyone else in the vehicle has sustained injuries.

After a hit and run, the driver doesn’t always automatically flee. They may get out of the car initially and speak with you. When this occurs, it’s particularly common for the other driver to dissuade you from calling 911. Never listen to them — always call 911 as soon as possible.

A police report is an important piece of evidence. When you call 911, police are dispatched to the scene of the accident to gather the information required to put in the accident report.

Get Medical Attention

If you’ve suffered injuries that require immediate attention, you can receive emergency care at the scene of the accident. Even if you believe you have not suffered any harm, it’s always best to visit an emergency room or your doctor as soon as possible.

Injuries after an accident are not always visible and may take some time to surface. A healthcare provider can detect an injury even if you’re unaware of it, allowing you to begin medical treatment even sooner.

Gather Any Information Possible for Your Car Accident Lawyer and Insurance

If possible, gather any information you can at the scene of the accident. For hit and run accidents, the most important information (and the hardest to obtain) usually includes photos and videos of the other driver’s vehicle or license plate, as well as any witness information. 

Witnesses can help you greatly. For example, you may not have had the chance to get a photo of the other driver’s license plate, but perhaps a witness did. Witnesses can pass along vital information.

Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company

As soon as possible, report the accident to your insurance company. They will ask questions regarding your accident and assign an insurance adjuster to handle your claim. 

Reporting your accident is always required but is especially important if you have uninsured motorist protection. If you have this type of coverage, your insurance company can cover your related accident expenses and losses, even if you were a hit and run victim.

Discuss Your Case with a Car Accident Lawyer

Hit and run accidents can be particularly challenging to handle alone. A qualified car accident lawyer will handle your claim to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. 

Let a New Mexico Car Accident Lawyer Help You

At Hunt Law, we understand the disappointment and annoyance a hit-and-run accident can cause. We have extensive experience helping clients throughout New Mexico with car accident claims, including those involving a hit and run. 

Our attorneys and staff give clients the kindness and care they need while doing everything necessary to protect their right to compensation. You’re not alone in your battle.

After a hit-and-run accident, contact Hunt Law to schedule a consultation with our New Mexico car accident lawyer.

Woman signing personal injury document

What Are “Survival Actions” and Should You Claim Them?

Most people are familiar with the concept of wrongful death lawsuits. In New Mexico, the executor of an individual’s estate has the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit when the individual has died due to fault or negligence by another person or entity. 

Wrongful death claims focus on the damages sustained by the loved ones of the deceased, including outstanding medical bills, pain, and suffering, and lost income as a result of their loved one’s death. 

Wrongful death claims must be filed within three years of the action that led to the decedent’s passing.

What is a “survival action”?

Survival actions are different from wrongful death claims in that they focus on the suffering of the decedent and the damages they could have received if they had survived. In essence, it’s the civil claim the decedent could file if they were still alive.

If the deceased already filed a lawsuit for personal injury but did not live to see the outcome of the case, the executor may continue the claim to collect damages. In other words, the passing of an individual does not grant the negligent party immunity from their actions. They can still be sued.

What types of damages can be collected from a survival action?

Survival actions can seek to obtain damages related to the injury the deceased suffered. For example, if the individual incurred medical bills due to their injury, the estate may sue the negligent party to recover those costs.

Depending on how long the individual lived following their injury, it may be possible to recover the value of lost income and their pain and suffering. However, lost income may not be a viable claim if the person died within hours of their injury. It’s also possible to collect damages related to funeral expenses and lost property in a survival action claim.

Personal injury claims filed by the deceased before their death may be continued by the executor of their estate. Any damages awarded that the deceased would have been entitled to will be added to the value of their estate and distributed to their heirs according to their wishes.

When is a survival action viable?

A survival action is a viable alternative whenever a deceased person suffered an injury due to the fault or negligence of another party or entity. If the deceased filed a personal injury lawsuit before their death, the executor of the estate can continue the claim.

Suppose the deceased did not file a personal injury lawsuit before their death. In that case, the executor may file one on their behalf to collect damages to pay for the decedent’s medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost income. 

However, unlike a wrongful death action, survivors cannot claim damages related to their own pain and suffering.

Additionally, survivors cannot collect damages related to loss of consortium or parental guidance under a survival action claim.

Should I file a survival action claim?

If your relative sustained a personal injury that was unrelated to their death, you might be able to file a survival action claim. In New Mexico, survival actions are allowed when there is a cause to pursue a liability claim. The passing away of the plaintiff does not give the defendant immunity from a survival action claim. 

Do you need help with a survival action claim?

At Hunt Law, we handle cases related to medical malpractice, wrongful death, catastrophic injury, and personal injury. Our practice serves the Northern New Mexico area, including Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Raton, Roswell, Los Alamos, and Las Vegas. 

Schedule a consultation with us today to find out whether you have a viable survival action claim.

Personal Injury attorney discussing case

4 Ways to Prove Non-Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Case

Overcoming a personal injury can take serious financial and emotional tolls on victims and their loved ones. Personal injury cases generally seek compensation for a client’s economic loss, such as medical bills. 

But what about non-economic damages? These are damages that don’t come with a price tag, and victims can seek compensation for them as well. 

For anyone involved in a personal injury claim, it’s important they know what non-economic damages are and the different ways to prove them in court.

Damages Defined: Punitive, Economic, and Non-Economic

From a legal standpoint, 3 core types of damages exist:  

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are fees imposed as a penalty for significantly egregious, negligent behavior. They are rare but can be awarded to the plaintiff alongside any economic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are quantifiable, matter-of-fact losses that a victim takes on following a loss or injury. Simply put, economic damages are damages you can put a price tag on. These can range anywhere from hospital expenses to lost wages and property loss. 

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are those that might be difficult to quantify or place a precise dollar amount on. These can include emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, reputation damage, scarring/permanent disfigurement, and a general loss of enjoyment. 

Unfortunately, insurers and other parties may attempt to diminish the value and importance of non-economic damages.

Having a strong argument with corresponding evidence to back your non-economic damages is critical if you want to prevail in court.  

4 Ways to Prove Non-Economic Damages

Following are 4 top strategies that can help prove non-economic damages in your personal injury case:

1. Journaling

When you’re seeking compensation for pain and suffering, a journal can be used as a written record of your day-to-day emotional distress and other symptoms. Journals help paint a picture for the jury of how your injury resulted in a disruption of your daily life.

2. Medical and Psychological Evaluations 

Medical and psychological evaluations from accredited health professionals can be excellent tools to support your claim. Written reports that highlight the damage suffered as a result of your personal injury are important for building a strong case in your favor.

3. Testimony from Others

Individuals involved in personal injury claims often forget about the importance of personal testimonies to help prove non-economic damages. 

Direct testimony from friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers can be particularly beneficial and strengthen your claim. These statements can give a jury insight into how your life was affected. The more individuals who attest to your pain and suffering, the more likely it is that a jury will support your claim.

4. Photographs

Oftentimes, non-economic damages seek to compensate for physical disfigurement or scarring after an injury. Photographs can help to show the effects of the injury and establish a “before and after” visual. These images can be key in proving a diminished quality of life.

Other Factors to Consider

After hearing your case, a jury will review all of your evidence for non-economic damages before making a decision.

Additional questions the court or jury might pose include:

  •  How severe is your pain and suffering? 
  •  Are the damages temporary or long-term?
  •  What was your total financial burden? 
  •  How is your daily life affected?
  •  Did the damage interrupt personal or workplace relationships?

Each of these factors can influence the total compensation you’re eligible to receive.

Seeking Non-Economic Damages in Northern New Mexico

Hunt Law represents clients in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Los Alamos, Las Vegas, Rio Rancho, Roswell, and all across Northern New Mexico. 

Our team of dedicated attorneys specializes in medical malpractice, wrongful death, catastrophic injury, and personal injury cases. To learn more, contact us today.