Earlier this week a New Mexico resident was attempting to flee from the police when he was involved in an accident. According to Albuquerque news reports, the man was driving drunk late on March 23rd. Police officials noticed the drunk driver’s car speeding on Interstate 40 and they attempted to pull the driver over. However, as the police got closer to the car the driver sped away. A witness explained that they saw the driver crash into a SUV around Quail Road and Coors Boulevard. The SUV was carrying a family, one member of the family died as a result of the crash.
The witness recounted that they tried to stay with the family, and tried to calm down one of the young girls whose body was hanging outside of the car. When the police arrived the driver of the vehicle was declared dead at the scene of the accident. The three other individuals in the car sustained serious injuries and were taken to the emergency room.
The police reported that following the accident the drunk driver ripped off his clothes and attempted to run away. Fortunately, the police were able to apprehend him immediately. Currently, the driver is facing four charges of greatly injuring or killing someone with a vehicle in addition to his DWI charge. The driver stated to police that he did not care about going to jail, because he had been to jail previously.
Punitive Damages in Drunken Driving Cases in New Mexico
Many times when an individual brings a personal injury lawsuit against another party, if they are successful, they are awarded compensatory damages. These damages usually cover medical expenses, burial expenses and property damage. However, in some particularly egregious cases punitive damages are awarded. Punitive damages are designed not to cover injuries and costs related to the accidents but rather to punish the other party for behaving in a disturbing, dangerous or callous manner.
New Mexico law explains that the behavior must be considered intentional or reckless. As one can imagine this is an extremely high standard and it is only awarded in very few cases. Some examples of when punitive damages may be awarded are in situations such as the one above. Additionally punitive damages may be awarded in cases where a person leaves the scene of the accident, if they refuse to call for emergency help or if they are engaged in another crime and an accident occurs.
The analysis for punitive damages does not include a bright line test. In other words, there is no exact calculation or circumstance that automatically allows for punitive damages. Instead the analysis explains that any award for punitive damages should consider justice and reason rather than just passion. It is important to note that oftentimes a punitive damage award can be extremely high and that even if these are awarded there is a possibility that it will be appealed by the defendant.
Have You Been Injured in an Accident in New Mexico?
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may consider bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the culpable party. As you may know, these cases are often emotion, tolling, and can be extremely complex. As such, it is highly recommended that you contact an experienced and dedicated attorney to assist you in your claim. You may be entitled to compensatory damages for your injuries and depending on the circumstances surrounding your case you may even be entitled to punitive damages. Please contact the Fine Law Firm in New Mexico at 505-889-FINE to schedule a free initial consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Hospital Attempts to Get Case Dismissed Because of Statute of Limitations, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 20, 2015.
Skateboarder Hit and Killed in Fatal DUI Accident in New Mexico, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, February 25, 2015.