A personal injury lawyer with an open law book explaining legal details to a client.

Navigating the aftermath of a severe injury can be challenging, and you may have several questions. You might be uncertain who is responsible, whether to pursue an insurance claim or the appropriate amount of compensation to seek.

What if you also have some responsibility for the accident? Do you even have a viable claim? Is there any point in trying to recover damages? Is the insurance company’s offer fair, or do you deserve more?

Get Answers From an Albuquerque Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you’re grappling with concerns about a recent injury that you suspect was due to someone else’s negligence, please contact Olson Personal Injury Lawyers for a complimentary consultation. We’ll examine the specifics of your case, address your questions, and outline your options for pursuing compensation.

There is no obligation, but if you decide to proceed with our assistance, you won’t be charged unless we win or settle your case.

How Do You Know if You Have a Personal Injury Case?

This is one of the most common questions we answer during consultations. The answer is that we learn about the accident and its causes and work to determine if another party was negligent.

If so, and their negligence caused or contributed to your accident or injury, you will likely be able to seek compensation for your injuries.

How Is Negligence Defined?

Negligence refers to a failure to exercise the level of care that a reasonably prudent person would in comparable situations. While the specifics of “reasonable” behavior can differ depending on the context, the general expectation is that everyone should take thoughtful but feasible measures to prevent causing harm to others.

For example, if you open your home to guests or your business to the public, you have a responsibility to provide a reasonably safe environment. It would not be reasonable to expect a property owner to bubblewrap every surface in the building to prevent injuries.

It would, however, be reasonable to expect the owner to remove, fix, or warn guests about obvious hazards, such as wet floors, loose railings, uneven bottom steps, etc.

So, if you visit a clothing store at the mall and slip and fall on a wet floor, is the store liable? Yes, if there is evidence that the store’s staff knew or should have known about the wet floor and failed to take reasonable steps to address it—like drying the floor with a mop and setting out a “Wet Floor” sign.

In this situation, we would work to learn how and when the floor became wet because that would affect whether the staff could reasonably be expected to fix the hazard. For instance, if someone spilled coffee on the floor two minutes before you slipped, it’s likely the staff didn’t have a chance to see the spill and clean it up.

However, if the spilled coffee had been there for an hour, it’s reasonable to expect one of the staff members would have seen it and cleaned it up.

What if I Was at Fault?

This is another common question, and you should ask your lawyer—but don’t discuss it with anyone else. In particular, don’t admit fault at the scene of your accident or injury because you might be mistaken; we often meet people who think they are at fault when they aren’t.

It’s also possible that you have some fault, and so does another party. Shared fault is accounted for in New Mexico law, and you may still be able to recover some of your damages.

New Mexico uses pure comparative negligence statutes for personal injury cases, and each party is assigned a percentage of fault. Each party is responsible for their share of the damages, so if you are 20 percent at fault, you can recover 80 percent of your damages, and the other party can recover 20 percent of their damages from you.

In most cases, your respective insurance companies will pay these damages, so you probably won’t have to worry about paying the other party’s damages.

However, there are still possible pitfalls with the pure comparative negligence system. Typically, the insurance company or companies will decide on the apportionment of fault.

For instance, let’s say you’re injured in a car accident. You and the other driver both file claims on the other’s car insurance.

Both companies will assign a claims adjuster to review the claim and decide how much fault each party has.

Insurance adjusters from both companies will often call the involved parties to ask questions about the accident. They will usually say they’re trying to “Get your claim settled faster” or something similar.

You should always speak to an attorney before giving the insurance company a statement because their real goal is to identify opportunities to save the insurance company money. If they find an excuse to reject your claim or reduce its value by shifting some of the blame to you, that’s exactly what they’ll do.

While you might think you can rely on your insurance adjuster to defend you, and they will, to some extent, you could still lose some of the money you deserve in the process. When adjusters negotiate, your adjuster may agree to a slightly higher amount of fault if they feel they’ve reduced their costs enough and want to be done with the claim.

If you have the assistance of an experienced Albuquerque personal injury lawyer, we’ll fight for a fair evaluation of your fault (if any). In many cases, our review of the insurance company’s offer reveals that the adjuster has overestimated the injured person’s contributions to the accident.

After gathering evidence, we can build a case to show our client had little or no culpability. Often, this leads to increasing the final settlement by thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.

When Should You Contact an Albuquerque Personal Injury Attorney?

You should contact an Albuquerque personal injury attorney any time you’ve experienced the following:

  • You were injured and you believe another party is or might be at least party responsible. (If you’re not sure, an attorney can help you sort out who may be at fault.) The other party can be a person, such as the driver of a car that hit you, or an entity, like a business, such as a store where you slipped and fell.
  • Your injuries resulted in significant damages, such as medical bills, lost income, permanent disability or disfigurement, pain and suffering, and property damage.

What Accidents or Injuries Might Be Personal Injury Situations?

Almost any situation can be a personal injury if it meets the criteria above—another party’s negligence caused you to be injured, leading to damages. However, several major categories of personal injuries describe most of our cases:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are not just limited to cars. This category includes any collision involving cars, vans, buses, trucks (including tractor-trailers and other large trucks), motorcycles, and pedestrians struck by any of the above.

Unfortunately, New Mexico experiences a high incidence of distracted and drunk driving, leading to numerous vehicle accidents. Even when the other driver is clearly at fault, their insurance company might argue that you share some responsibility.

Under pure comparative negligence laws, this can result in a reduction of the compensation you receive. To mitigate this issue, it’s crucial that you consult with an experienced car accident attorney.

In other cases, determining fault is not straightforward. Both drivers might blame each other, and without additional witnesses or clear evidence, it can be challenging for the responding officer to learn what happened.

Although the officer will strive to uncover the truth and file an accurate police report, the injured party might disagree with its findings. In such scenarios, it’s wise to contact an attorney right away.

We will carry out our own investigation, and if we uncover new evidence indicating the other driver’s fault, we can contest the police report.

Often, the responding officer has limited time to investigate a car accident before they’re needed at another emergency. As a result, they may not have time to conduct the in-depth analysis your lawyer will perform.

First, we’ll send an investigative team to canvas the area where your accident occurred. Frequently, we find additional witnesses, and sometimes, we’re lucky enough to meet someone whose doorbell or security camera captured the accident.

The owner may not even know they have video of the collision until asked about the camera and how long the video is stored. If we can obtain a copy of the accident video, this is often helpful in proving the client’s case.

However, if video isn’t available, we may use other types of evidence. Event data recorder (EDR) data from both vehicles can usually be obtained with a court order.

Almost all modern cars have EDRs, which record a wealth of data about an accident, including the speed and direction of the car, plus any actions the driver took to evade the crash.

Once we’ve collected all the evidence, we’ll study it and develop a strategy to show you had little or even no fault at all. We aim to secure the best possible settlement so you can get the help you need to recover.

Medical Malpractice

When a physician makes a mistake that harms a patient, the consequences can be severe and even deadly. Accepting that a trusted physician has harmed you, even unintentionally, can be challenging.

More often than not, patients dismiss what happened as an unavoidable complication or worsening of their illness, and sometimes, that’s true. However, in other situations, the actions of a healthcare provider are the real cause, leaving the patient with additional medical bills and sometimes permanent health effects.

If you have experienced significant health issues and suspect your doctor may be at fault, it’s crucial that you do not directly confront your doctor. Doing so could complicate matters, possibly inspiring the doctor to hide or destroy evidence.

At the very least, they will likely consult an attorney who will immediately begin building a case to discredit your story.

Instead, discreetly obtain your medical records, which are often accessible through online patient portals. Then, consult with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

Typically, you have three years from the date of the error or injury to file a medical malpractice claim, with a few exceptions. However, it’s important to remember that your attorney will need time to investigate your case.

Additionally, an “application for review” must be submitted to the state’s Medical Review Commission before proceeding with a lawsuit, and this review process can take up to 60 days. If you think you might have a malpractice case, it is essential to contact a lawyer immediately.

Harm can also come from other healthcare professionals, not just doctors. Nurses or other medical staff might make errors, such as giving the wrong medication.

Sadly, some healthcare workers may even intentionally abuse or neglect patients. This issue is particularly prevalent in nursing homes or long-term care facilities where residents are often especially vulnerable.

If you suspect a loved one has been harmed in a medical facility, please seek legal advice promptly.

One common situation we see is a patient experiencing a fall. It’s possible the hospital failed to deal with a hazard such as a slippery floor, but in medical facilities, there is also a concern that the healthcare providers failed to provide appropriate care for a patient with a high “fall risk.”

This is a medical term for someone who is likely to fall, either because of difficulty walking or the risk of becoming dizzy or losing consciousness. The hospital has a responsibility to assist a “fall risk” patient when they must move around; if hospital workers leave the patient to walk unassisted and the patient suffers an injury from falling, the facility could be liable.

Workplace and Construction Accidents

Over 12,000 nonfatal, private industry workplace injuries or illnesses were reported in New Mexico in 2022. When workplace injuries happen, injured employees typically rely on Worker’s Compensation to cover their medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages.

Despite being a no-fault system, Worker’s Compensation claims are not always approved. Many injured workers are dismayed when their claims are denied for reasons such as:

  • The insurance adjuster suspects the injury is fabricated or that the worker is exaggerating their condition.
  • A claim may be denied if the injury did not occur at the workplace. This is a common reason for denials in cases of repetitive motion injuries, such as shoulder damage from daily hammering, where the adjuster might argue the injury happened outside of work.
  • Claims can be denied if the worker was intoxicated, engaged in horseplay, or intentionally caused injury.
  • Employers may argue that they were not informed of the injury within the required 15-day period. Some clients report their injury promptly, but their employer denies recalling the conversation. For example, a boss or supervisor might tell the insurance adjuster, “This is the first I’ve heard of an accident with the sledgehammer!” To avoid this situation, it’s advisable to report injuries in a traceable manner, such as via email or text from your personal account or phone.
  • A delay in reporting the injury and/or seeking medical care can also cause problems for your claim. Many employees shrug off their injuries, assuming they will feel better in a few days. When they finally decide to see a doctor, their employer has the first choice of the physician they can see, and it could take time to get an appointment. But when an insurance adjuster sees that someone was injured on, say, May 15 and that they didn’t see a doctor until June 5, the adjuster is likely to assume the injury wasn’t that bad, was unrelated to work, or was entirely made up. You can protect yourself by asking your employer to choose a doctor immediately after any work injury, even if you don’t think your injuries are serious. Again, make sure your request is traceable.

Some of the reasons for denial above can be impacted by workplace issues, like a supervisor who loudly complains about Worker’s Compensation premiums and how it might be necessary to cut hours. Some employees feel uneasy about filing a Worker’s Compensation claim or fear job retaliation in such situations.

It’s illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for filing a legitimate Worker’s Compensation claim, but it does happen. Remember, you can confidentially consult a personal injury lawyer if you have concerns or questions about a work-related injury or a Worker’s Compensation claim.

We will discuss your options and address your concerns.

While injuries can happen in any occupation, the heavy and often hazardous equipment used in construction significantly increases the risk of harm. Many workers suffer severe lacerations, broken bones, nerve damage, and other severe injuries, only to learn their employer and the insurance company have found a reason to deny their claim.

It’s also worth noting that construction workers are not the only individuals at risk of injury on or near construction sites. Passersby can also be injured by falling objects or other hazards.

Construction crews must implement safety measures to protect the public, such as placing signs and cones to divert people from dangerous areas. If a crew fails to adequately warn you of hazards or control dangerous materials, the site or project owner may be liable.

In these cases, we may be able to file a personal injury claim to seek damages.

Premises Liability

These cases involve injuries on another party’s property. The other party can be an individual, such as a friend or colleague who invited you to their home, or a business, such as a store, park, or other entity that is generally open to the public.

To pursue a premises liability claim, we’ll need to show that your injury was caused by an unreasonable hazard on the property that the owner knew or should have known about but did not take reasonable steps to address.

While falls are among the most common premises liability cases, they are not the only ones. Other potentially dangerous scenarios include:

  • Loose railings on stairs, bridges, or walkways
  • Any tripping hazard, including problems with carpet, loose tiles, or floorboards
  • An unfenced swimming pool, which could attract young children
  • Unsecured chemicals or other hazardous materials or chemicals
  • Blocked emergency exits
  • Any hazard that could cause fire or electrocution
  • Insufficient security to prevent crimes such as robberies or break-ins

Unfortunately, the injured person isn’t always aware of what caused their injury right away. Some may dismiss it as merely an accident without realizing the property owner was negligent. For this reason, if you have been injured on another party’s property, we recommend discussing the matter with an attorney to learn more.

Dog Bites

A dog bite can be severe, causing infection, scarring, pain, and, in some cases, even nerve damage. New Mexico doesn’t have specific statutes about dog bite liability, but it does have uniform jury instructions for dog bite cases that come up in civil court.

Juries are told to find the owner liable if they knew or should have known about the dog’s “vicious tendencies.” However, the owner is not liable if the injured person also knew of the dog’s dangerous nature and put themselves in harm’s way.

As you might guess, these jury instructions are sometimes confusing, and the dog owner’s attorney has numerous avenues to claim their client shouldn’t be liable. Fortunately, a dog bite attorney can investigate the situation and seek evidence to show you did not knowingly place yourself in harm’s way.

How Can You Find a Good Albuquerque Personal Injury Law Firm?

Regardless of how your injury occurred, if you suspect it was due to someone else’s negligence, Olson Personal Injury Lawyers is ready to assist you. Please reach out to us for a complimentary consultation to examine the specifics of your situation.

We’ll go over your options and strive to find the best solution for you. If we take on your case, there are no initial fees—you only pay us when we achieve a successful outcome.

Attorney Sean Olson’s career began in photojournalism, where his passion for helping others tell their stories eventually led him to the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. Graduating in the top one percent of his class, he set out to narrate the experiences of those who had suffered severe injuries, and he founded Olson Personal Injury Lawyers in 2012.

Work with Sean and his team of experts when you call Olson Personal Injury Lawyers at  (505) 391-4149.