If you are hurt because you encountered a road hazard or collided with a car driven by a government employee, you may have a claim for municipal negligence. Hazards could include construction zones, potholes, and objects that have fallen from another vehicle and have not been removed from the road. Sometimes collisions involving government employees occur in emergency situations, such as when a police car is chasing a suspect, or an ambulance is rushing through a red light. The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at the Fine Law Firm can guide Albuquerque residents who have been hurt as a result of municipal negligence.Holding a Municipality Accountable for Negligence
Generally, municipalities have immunity from being sued except when they have expressly waived their immunity. One potential waiver is with regard to car accidents involving government employees. If you are trying to sue a municipality for a car crash, the car must be owned or leased by the municipality, and it must be driven or operated by an employee of the municipality doing his or her job at the time of the accident. However, if there is an emergency, the government has greater room to respond to that emergency, and it may be difficult to argue that the government employee was negligent, particularly if the emergency vehicle had its lights activated.
Another area in which municipalities may be held liable involves road hazards. While municipalities remain immune for planning and design issues, they may be held liable for negligent construction and maintenance issues. For example, if a construction zone is not properly marked and as a result, a right-hand lane merges without warning into another lane, and one night one driver crashes into another, the municipality may be liable.
In some cases, the private construction company doing the work may also be liable. If you are injured by a road hazard, in most cases, you will have to show either that the municipality's negligence (or the negligence of another party for which the municipality is vicariously liable) created the hazard that caused the accident, or that the municipality was on notice about the hazard that caused the accident.
In many cases, there are multiple parties at fault for an accident, including the plaintiff. In New Mexico, you can possibly recover damages from another defendant to the extent that defendant is at fault for the injuries, but you are responsible for a percentage of the damages equal to your fault for the accident.
For example, if you saw that a car next to you was trying to merge into your lane to avoid crashing into a construction work site, but instead of braking to allow the merge you maintained your speed, you might be found partially to blame for a resulting crash. If the total damages were $100,000 and the jury found you were 30% at fault, the city was 40% at fault, and the other driver was 30% at fault, you could potentially recover up to $40,000 from the city and $30,000 from the other driver.
Under the Tort Claims Act, written notice must be given to the municipality (and any governmental entity that you believe is at fault) within 90 days after an accident for which immunity has been waived. The written notice must state the time, place, and circumstances of the injuries being claimed. Other procedural requirements must also be met within a shortened window of time when suing a municipality.Consult an Experienced Albuquerque Lawyer after a Car Accident
If you are injured or a loved one is killed in a car accident as the result of municipal negligence by a city in the Albuquerque area, you can retain a motor vehicle collision attorney with experience handling cases that arise under the Tort Claims Act. Contact the Fine Law Firm via our online form or call us at (505) 243-4541 to arrange a free consultation. We also advise injured people in Rio Rancho and elsewhere in New Mexico.