A recent decision by the New Mexico Court of Appeals reversed a prior judgment, allowing a woman’s product liability and negligence lawsuit against the manufacturer of a crosswalk lighting system and the City of Las Cruces, New Mexico to proceed toward trial.
On October 9, 2008 the plaintiff was crossing at a marked crosswalk in Las Cruces, New Mexico, when she was struck by a car and seriously injured. The woman claimed that she pushed the button at the crosswalk, but the flashing lights did not function properly to alert the driver of the car that ultimately hit her. The woman filed suit against the manufacturer of the lighting system and the city of Las Cruces, alleging that the company supplied a defective product, which was negligently employed by the city and caused her to be injured.
The Lower Court’s Ruling
The Defendants argued that the woman’s claim was invalid based on her own testimony taken in a deposition. The woman said that she would have crossed the street regardless of whether the warning lights were flashing. Based on the fact that the woman suggested the defective lights were not a cause of the accident, the New Mexico district Court ruled that the plaintiff did not present sufficient evidence for a jury to decide that the city nor the manufacturers were liable for her injuries.
The Role of Causation in New Mexico Law
For a plaintiff to recover damages in a New Mexico personal injury suit, they must usually prove that someone breached a duty owed to the plaintiff, and this breach proximately caused an injury. Proximate cause is a legal requirement that an injury be closely enough related to the alleged conduct to mandate liability. The defendants in this case argued that because the plaintiff testified that the accident would have occurred whether the lights were working or not, that there was no legal way they were responsible for the accident.
The Court of Appeals’ Decision.
The Court of Appeals of New Mexico ruled that proximate cause is an issue that must be decided by the jury, and that the woman’s allegation that the malfunctioning light system was a cause of her accident was enough for the case to go on. Under New Mexico law, even if the plaintiff thought at the time of her deposition that the light system failure didn’t contribute to her accident that does not mean that she cannot later have a jury determine if she is entitled to compensation from the city or manufacturer for her injuries.
Have you Been Hit by a Car?
If you have been in an auto-pedestrian accident, or injured in almost any kind of accident, the Fine Law Firm would love to take a look at your case. In the above case, it was the skilled lawyers on appeal that gave the accident victim her chance for recover against the city and manufacturer. With a skilled New Mexico personal injury lawyer, your case should never need to go to appeal to be heard by a jury. We will do all we can to get the settlement or jury verdict that you deserve before the other side uses confusing legal arguments to prevent you from recovery. We represent clients in all types of New Mexico personal injury cases, including auto accidents, and would love to discuss our case today. Call us at (505)889-3463 to schedule a no obligation consultation. Or contact us online.
More Blog Posts:
Recent New Mexico Appellate Court Decision Harmful to Medical Malpractice Plaintiffs, Increases Importance of Quickly Consulting an Attorney, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, March 13, 2014.
New Mexico Federal Court Rejects Defendant’s Attempt to Disqualify Plaintiff’s Witness in Slip-and-Fall Case, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, April 5, 2014.