A plaintiff injured in a New Mexico car accident who sues to recover damages for personal injuries often can assert causes of action based on multiple theories of recovery. Under some circumstances, a defendant can successfully move to bifurcate the causes of action. The consequences will depend on what stage the litigation is in when bifurcation is sought and can result, for example, in the litigation being split up so that discovery proceeds with respect to one or more causes of action while being stayed with respect to other causes of action.
In a recent case, the plaintiff asserted causes of action against an insurance company, which included breach of the underinsured motorist coverage provisions of the contract he had entered into with the insurance company that provided him car insurance, plus alleging bad faith. The insurance company filed a successful motion to bifurcate the cause of action for denial of underinsured motorist coverage under the insurance contract from extra-contractual causes of action, and to stay discovery with respect to all extra-contractual causes of action.
The plaintiff had filed a lawsuit in the Twelfth Judicial District for Lincoln County, New Mexico. He alleged that a teenager had driven her parents’ car into his truck while talking on her cell phone after rolling through a stop sign, and that this resulted in his truck spinning on two wheels and sustaining severe damage. The plaintiff also alleged that he suffered grave injuries, which necessitated evaluation and treatment of his chest, hip, back and neck at the Lincoln County Medical Center. Continue reading