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Albuquerque New Mexico Personal Injury Law Blog

Federal court rules on whistleblower protections

The False Claims Act prohibits employers in New Mexico and around the country from taking retaliatory action against workers who expose fraud or other illegal activity. Employers may not suspend, demote, harass, threaten or fire workers who report or threaten to report wrongdoing, but the landmark law does not include constructive dismissal among its list of prohibited forms of retaliation. Issues such as this are generally left to the courts to resolve, and a case involving whistleblower protections was heard earlier in 2018 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

The case involved a registered nurse who resigned after her employer allegedly took no action when told about billing irregularities and widespread fraud. The woman says that she was left to choose between leaving her job and risking her nursing license and possible criminal sanctions by engaging in illegal activity. According to the woman's lawsuit, records were routinely altered and patients were sometimes admitted without the proper paperwork.

There's more to distracted driving than cellphones

For many New Mexico residents, the image of motorists using cellphones is what comes to mind when they hear the term "distracted driving." However, studies reveal that cellphone usage is not the main cause of distracted driving. In fact, a new report points to daydreaming as the top culprit.

While any type of distracted driving should be avoided, a study by Erie Insurance has found that daydreaming and losing focus on the road is the greatest cause of car accidents. The study analyzed information from 172,000 deaths caused by auto crashes. Of these, roughly 10 percent involved distracted driving. In 61 percent of these incidents, the distraction came from daydreaming while driving, not smartphone use. The data, which was compiled over five years, came from the Fatality Reporting System. The use of cell phones while driving was a factor in only 14 percent of these crashes.

New Mexico roads can be fatal for pedestrians

She was only 12 when she died hours after being struck by a sport utility vehicle as she and a friend crossed the street outside her school. The tragic death in March of a 12-year-old Albuquerque middle school student continues to highlight hazards faced by pedestrians throughout the country.

The above-mentioned accident occurred during daylight hours. The two girls sought to cross the street through the crosswalk along a two-lane road. A vehicle in the left lane stopped to let two girls go, however, the vehicle in the right lane didn’t see the girls and continued driving striking one of them.

4 congressmen want answers from CMS about nursing home oversight

Residents of nursing homes in New Mexico trust the operators to maintain clean and safe facilities. Ongoing stories of abuse and negligence nationwide have prompted four congressmen, who are investigating skilled nursing homes, to demand answers from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In their formal letter to the agency, the lawmakers stated their expectation that CMS would brief them by April 16.

Concerns about nursing homes arose after a power loss at one facility in a Gulf state during Hurricane Irma allegedly caused 14 residents to die because the home lacked generators. The facility was also owned by someone with a long history of locking horns with regulators and law enforcement.

Recent study shows increase in distracted driving

A survey published in 2018 related to traffic behavior and attitudes in the United States has been released, and the primary conclusion is that phone-related distracted driving has increased dramatically since 2013. The study also reflects that these same drivers see distracted driving as a major road hazard. Drivers across New Mexico face an increased risk any time they share the road with a distracted driver.

The study, released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, reviewed attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. Over 2,600 participants from every corner of the United States were interviewed. All of them had driven a car within the last 30 days.

Dealing with harassment as an undocumented worker

Many undocumented workers who suffer sexual harassment at work are afraid to report their experiences. They worry that their supervisors will retaliate against them, costing them their jobs. Or, worse, that they will be arrested, detained and deported as retribution.

Sexual harassment is not only unethical, it illegal. This is true for workers who are citizens and workers who are undocumented immigrants. And though some employers may try to retaliate against employees who report harassment, this behavior is also illegal and can carry serious penalties. In this blog post, we will discuss dealing with sexual harassment as an undocumented worker.

The causes of fatalities on the highways

Car accidents are a regular occurrence on America's highways, and many of them turn out to be fatal as well. There are many different factors that can cause deadly accidents. Drivers in New Mexico will want to be aware of some of the most common causes of fatal car crashes.

First of all, anyone can be involved in an accident, though the chances of a fatality decrease if the driver wears a seatbelt and maintains the airbag system. Negligence is arguably the No. 1 cause of accidents. Some drivers can succumb to road rage and make irrational decisions while others may pose a risk by driving drowsily.

How damages are distributed in wrongful death cases

When a person is killed as a result of the negligent or wrongful actions of another person or entity in New Mexico, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed against the responsible party or parties. The lawsuit must be filed by the personal representative of the victim. If the lawsuit is successful, New Mexico outlines how the damages should be distributed to the decedent's family members.

New Mexico Statutes 41-2-3 controls how damages are distributed in wrongful death claims. When the decedent leaves behind a spouse but no children, the damages will be distributed to the spouse. If the deceased leaves behind a spouse and a surviving child or grandchild, then half of the damages will be paid to the spouse, and the other half will go to the surviving child or grandchild.

Esurance studies prevalence of distracted driving

Drivers in New Mexico are probably aware that distracted driving is a common hazard on the road, and it may not be just from other drivers. A new study from Esurance, the insurance company, shows that distracted driving is more prevalent than some think. Even those who claimed that they rarely drove distracted were found in the study to engage in distracting behavior.

Out of the more than 1,000 drivers who participated in the Esurance survey, over 90 percent said they considered texting, emailing and browsing for apps to be distracting, yet more than half of those with a daily commute admitted to engaging in these activities. The study claims that the longer the commute, the greater the chance of distracted driving. It also claims that drivers of newer vehicles are more prone to distractions because of the various safety and entertainment features they come with.

Small number of workers report workplace harassment

Sources indicate that only 10 percent of people who are victims of harassment in the workplace in New Mexico and the rest of the country will file an official complaint. Their reluctance to do so is linked to the belief that their concerns will not be taken seriously or that they will be retaliated against. According to a 2016 report issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, both concerns have grounds.

A spokesperson for the EEOC states that companies should modify their training to stay abreast of current social norms. As sexual harassment was made illegal in 1986 with the passage of Title VII, ensuring that sexual harassment is curtailed has more to do with how the training on the subject is approached, new social norms and how the issue is discussed.

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