Recently, a state appellate court released a written opinion in an auto accident personal injury case discussing the issue of government liability as it pertained to a car accident that was allegedly caused by a police officer while he was responding to an emergency call. The case is important to New Mexico personal injury plaintiffs because it illustrates how courts view claims against government entities. That being said, the New Mexico Tort Claims Act provides a more favorable legal landscape for accident victims.
The Case Facts
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was seriously injured when she was struck by a police car that was responding to the scene an emergency call. The accident occurred when the police officer entered an intersection against a red traffic signal in an attempt to make a left turn. However, as the officer’s vehicle entered the intersection, it struck the plaintiff’s car. It was later determined that the plaintiff was not speeding and could not have seen the officer approaching the intersection given the road’s surroundings.
The plaintiff filed an injury lawsuit against the police officer along with the city where he was employed. The defendants claimed that they were entitled to government immunity because the officer had been responding to an emergency situation at the time, and his decision to enter the intersection against the red signal was a discretionary one, which was entitled to immunity under state law.
The court rejected the defendants’ claims, however, based on the fact that another state law required an officer use “due care” when responding to an emergency. The court held that the officer may not have used due care when entering the intersection without his sirens on, and therefore the plaintiff’s case should be permitted to proceed towards trial.
Government Immunity and Liability in New Mexico Car Accidents
Under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, the state and local governments are granted immunity from liability for any tort that was committed while carrying out a public duty. However, the Act lists some exceptions where immunity does not apply. For example, New Mexico Statutes section 41-4-5 provides that immunity does not apply to “damages . . . caused by the negligence of public employees while acting within the scope of their duties in the operation or maintenance of any motor vehicle, aircraft or watercraft.”
It is important to note, however, that cases brought under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act are subject to specific requirements and restrictions. Anyone who has been injured due to the negligence of a public employee or government agency should consult with a dedicated New Mexico personal injury attorney to discuss their case.
Have You Been Injured in a New Mexico Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a New Mexico car accident involving a government employee, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a New Mexico personal injury lawsuit. The dedicated New Mexico personal injury attorneys at the Fine Law Firm have decades of experience representing injury victims and their families in all types of claims, including those brought against state and local governments. To learn more, call 505-889-FINE to schedule your free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Government Immunity in New Mexico Car Accident Cases, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, September 17, 2018.
Court Dismisses Slip-and-Fall Case, Applying Recreational-Use Statute, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 1, 2018.