People hurt in a New Mexico car accident have the right to pursue legal remedies against all at-fault parties for causing their harm. Often, car accident legal claims are filed under a negligence theory of law. Negligence is a failure to act reasonably, under the circumstances. Careless drivers who speed or drive distractedly may be deemed negligent by a judge or jury if the plaintiff proves all of the necessary legal elements of a negligence allegation. These elements include duty, breach, causation, and damages.
In a recent appellate case, the important concept of causation was at issue, when that court assessed whether a defendant’s hand gesture in waving the plaintiff forward in his vehicle proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries. After reviewing the facts of the case, the court determined that the plaintiff was unable to show the defendant’s conduct caused his injuries. This case is significant because New Mexico negligence law also requires a showing of causation, since the defendant’s conduct must be the but-for cause of the accident. In other words, but for the defendant’s conduct, the accident would not have occurred.
The plaintiff in the appellate case was an on-duty officer driving in his patrol car. He approached an intersection and was attempting to make a left hand turn across two lanes of traffic, in order to return his car to the barracks. The plaintiff encountered a line of cars in the close eastbound lane and made eye contact with the defendant, who was operating a vehicle in the close eastbound lane of traffic. The defendant checked his mirrors and motioned for the plaintiff to drive forward. As the plaintiff slowly proceeded in front of the defendant’s car and entered the far eastbound lane of traffic, he was struck by another motorist.