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Can I Be Compensated for Pre-existing Injuries that are Worsened In New Mexico Car Accidents?

- Mark Caruso

New Mexico Car Accidents Worsening Pre-existing Injuries Can be Compensated For, but Not Fully and it Can be Difficult to Prove but NOT Impossible

As we get older, our bodies begin to break down.  This is no more true than of the back and spinal column.  This can be worsened by sports in high school or college, or even just normal wear and tear as we age.  Other injuries prior injuries could also cause vulnerable spots on our bodies which can be more susceptible to additional injuries.  We could even be healing from an injury when we are injured in a New Mexico car accident.  This can worsen our preexisting injury or the wear and tear done on our bodies.  But can it be compensated?

Generally, the law is that you take the plaintiff as you find them.  This means that, even if a plaintiff is known as an “egg shell plaintiff”—or a plaintiff who can easily be hurt—the defendant is still liable for the injuries caused.  For example, if a defendant breaks the hip of a healthy, young athlete or an elderly man, the defendant will still be liable for a broken hip.

Where it gets complicated is where the broken hip is caused by some other comorbidity.  In the example above, it could be that the elderly man as arthritis which lowers the value of a broken hip.  Or perhaps the athlete previously suffered a broken hip in a football accident.  This would make a second hip fracture less valuable as the hip is already susceptible to arthritis and future pain and suffering.  But the important point in each injury is that, just because there is a comorbidity or prior injury, the victim can be compensated.

A Special Note about Back Injuries in New Mexico Car Accidents

New Mexico car accidents generally cause back injuries or back pain.  This can be particularly because whiplash injuries put a lot of stress on the spine.  But this is also because the spine is very complex and can be easily injured even in low speed collisions.

With back injuries, however, there is almost always the case for a pre-existing back injury or degenerative condition.  In fact, the claim of a degenerative condition in a victim’s back is almost a go-to defense made by a defendant in any motor vehicle accident—even for young victims in their 20s or 30s!  This is particularly because the spine begins to narrow and bare stress from the day we begin to stand.  Most people also complain of back pain at least once in their life, even at a young age.

But again, this degenerative pain in the back is NOT the cause of your current pain and suffering.  Prior to your motor vehicle accident you were not missing work, complaining of pain, or taking pain medication.  After your motor vehicle accident you may be required to endure all or some of these issues.  That does not meant that you cannot be compensated for it, but rather that your compensation may be lowered due to pre-existing injuries.

Thus, any victim can receive compensation for pre-existing injuries.  A victim with prior injuries may not get the same value as a victim without any prior injuries.  But a victim will nonetheless be compensated.  This is a vicious battle sometimes and requires an experienced New Mexico car accident attorney to help prove your entitlement to damages.

Pre-Existing Injuries Can Be Compensated and Can Result in Significant Verdicts in New Mexico Car Accidents

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, call the experienced New Mexico car accident attorneys at the Caruso Law Offices, P.C. today by dialing (505) 883-5000 You can also contact us on our website through the easy to use and convenient Contact box located by clicking here.

Valuing Burn Injuries in New Mexico Trucking Accidents

- Mark Caruso

What Compensation is a Burn Victim Entitled to in a New Mexico Trucking Accident?

Burn injuries are some of the most horrific and painful injuries that any individual can sustain.  Many times burn injuries will cause scarring, and can result in serious and permanent tissue, nerve, muscle, or tendon and ligament damage.  Burn injuries can also cause a very agonizing wrongful death, particularly in trucking accident cases.

The Caruso Law Offices, P.C. is currently in trial for a burn injury case resulting in such the death of Joseph Guttuso.  This accident occurred approximately two years ago as a result of a New Mexico trucking accident on Interstate 10.  Three passenger vehicles were traveling through an ongoing dust storm and appropriately slowed down given the ongoing weather conditions.  However, three truck drivers continued to plow through the ongoing dust storm blindly.  This resulted in a large pileup collision and an explosion, trapping Mr. Guttuso and six others.  These seven victims burned to death, while the truck drivers walked away without serious injury.

If you or a loved on has sustained burn injuries or been killed due to a fire or explosion, contact the experienced New Mexico burn injury attorneys at the Caruso Law Offices, P.C. to represent you.  We offer a FREE case consultation and will explain to you what rights to compensation you and your family may have.  Call us today by dialing (505) 883-5000.

Types of Burn Injuries in New Mexico Trucking Accidents

New Mexico trucking accidents can result in many different types of injuries, most being very significant and catastrophic.  Burn injuries can be a very common type of trucking accident injury.  There are three classifications of burns.  These include the following:

First Degree Burns – This is the least serious burn injury, but it can still be very painful.  This affects the outer layer of skin.  This is usually characterized by swelling, redness of the skin, and pain.  Most of the time a first degree burn alone will not require immediately medical attention, but it may be necessary if the redness and swelling does not go away in a few days, the pain worsens, or an infection starts.

Second Degree Burns – This type of burn injury occurs when the second layer of skin is burned, not just the first lawyer.  A second degree burn is usually identified by blistering, and is a deep, red color.  These types of burns are very painful and will remain painful for days.  There will be swelling.  The skin may even crack a little at the blister, causing an oozing or bleeding.  While all second degree burns should be treated by a medical professional, small second degree burns (less than three inches long) could be treated at home without issue.

Third Degree Burns – This is the most serious type of burn and always requires immediately medical attention, no matter how small.  This occurs when all layers of the skin are burned, and the damage affects the underlying tissue.  These types of burns appear black or charred-looking, and may result in bleeding.  They are incredibly painful and will remain painful for a long time.

Value of a Burn Injury Case Caused by a New Mexico Trucking Accident

Like all injuries, burn injuries cause pain and suffering.  It is this pain and suffering that you can get compensated for, in addition to damages for surgery, scarring, lost wages, lost earning, and past or future medical expenses.  The more severe the burn, the more pain and suffering, and thus the more compensation you may be entitled to.  New Mexico trucking accidents can result in very serious burn injuries, particularly when there are explosions.

The value of a victim’s case will depend on the severity of the burn (first degree versus third degree), and the extent that the burn covers the body.  The worse the burn and the more coverage, the more pain and suffering and thus the more compensation.

Burn injuries can also result in a lot of surgeries, like grafting.  These surgeries are incredibly painful and may have to be repeated multiple times.  Burn injuries can also easily result in infections, which are extremely painful and life threatening.  The more complications and the more surgeries caused by the accident, the more a burn injury case is worth.

Call the Experienced New Mexico Burn Injury Attorneys at the Caruso Law Offices, P.C.

If a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a New Mexico trucking accident caused by a fire, contact the experienced burn injury attorneys at the Caruso Law Offices, P.C. today by dialing (505) 883-5000.  You can also contact us on our website through the easy to use and convenient Contact box located by clicking here.

Albuquerque Police Reports and APD Collision Reports Help Determine Who Caused Accident

- Mark Caruso

Accident and Collision Reports by Albuquerque Police Department and Bernalillo Sheriff Department for Auto, Truck, Motorcycle, Bicycle and Pedestrian Injuries

By Mark Caruso, Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorney (Albuquerque, NM)

 

 

The police report, accident report or crash collision report prepared by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) or Bernalillo County Sheriff Department (BCSO) is the best way to determine who was at fault for your  car accidenttruck accident or  motorcycle accident.

 

If you have been in an accident in the Albuquerque area, then most likely an APD officer or Sheriff deputy showed up at the scene to investigate the accident and prepare the accident report.

 

At the scene the officer talked with the drivers of the vehicles and any witnesses who presented themselves to him/her with information about the collision.

 

The officer most likely took handwritten notes of the individuals which will be typed on to a computer form. The officer will also assess the amount of damage and location of the damage to the vehicles and other property that might have been involved.  The officer will also look for other physical evidence such as skid marks, broken glass.  Most importantly the officer will assess the actual location of the accident taking into consideration the number of lanes, traffic control devices like stop signs and traffic signals and the amount of traffic. The officer will also note any complaints of personal injuries from the collision.

 

Based on his/her own training and the laws of the state of New Mexico, the officer will determine which driver was at fault.  In some instances the officer will cite one of the drivers.

 

Normally the officer will not give each driver any information on the other driver.  Instead, the officer will give you his/her business card with the accident report record locator number written on the card.  The officer will tell you that the accident report will be available in 7 to 10 days.

 

The APD officer or Sheriff deputy will then enter all the information from the handwritten notes on to a computerized form approved by the State of New Mexico.  The report includes all of the information discussed above, but the report has a separate section called “Contributing Factors“.  It is this section that is the most important section of the report, because it determines who is at fault for the collision.

 

Let me explain to you how to read this section.

 

Each “Contributing Factors” section on the accident report identifies a specific vehicle such as vehicle 1, vehicle 2, vehicle 3, etc. You will need to look at the first few pages of the accident report to determine which driver and vehicle you are to determine which section of the “Contributing Factors” applies to you.  So, if you are vehicle/driver one on the page 1 of the report, then your “Contributing Factors” are only those listed for vehicle on on about page 3 of the report.

 

A perfect notation in the section would be something like “No Contributing Factor” or “None” meaning that you did absolutely nothing to cause the collision.  Other notations like “Speeding Too Fast for Conditions” or “Failing to Yield” or “Disregarding Traffic Controls” mean that you caused the collision.

 

In my experience as a personal injury attorney I believe that the “Contributing Factor” section of the accident report is the primary factor that insurance companies and attorneys use to determine who is at fault.

It is very difficult to get an insurance company to reject the findings of the officer unless the officer clearly made a mistake and reversed the parties. (This does happen!)

 

The officer is the best person to make a decision on who is at fault for the vehicular collision.  He is at the scene minutes after the collision. The officer can judge the character of the drivers and witnesses to help determine who he/she believes is telling the truth.  The officer sees the physical evidence and the location first hand.

 

If you review the accident report prepared by the officer and find errors, you can file a supplemental report to be attached to the accident report. You can do so by taking the original report with you to the local APD or BCSO office and requesting a supplemental sheet.  You can handwrite your version of the collision together with the accident report number appearing on the original accident report and submit it to staff at the office.

 

Witnesses who are not listed on the accident report are not very credible.  The exception is the witness who may be noted on the 911 transcript. It is important to get a copy of the transcript from the APD or BCSO if the fault of one of the parties is important.

 

Often times the transcript will indicate that a particular witness used his/her cell phone to report an accident that they actually witnessed.  However, because of time constraints they did not stop to talk with the individuals involved or wait for the investigating officer.

 

If you have questions concerning your vehicle accident please contact Caruso Law Offices at 505-883-5000 for a free consultation.  Also, visit our web site at  www.carusolaw.com   We only handle  personal injury  and  wrongful death  cases as a result of a car, truck, motorcycle, bus, bicycle or pedestrian accidents.

 

 

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2013 Poll: Worst Insurance Companies To Handle Your New Mexico Car Accident Claim

- Mark Caruso

If you have a New Mexico personal injury claim against Fred Loya Insurance, Nevada General Insurance, Allstate Insurance or Geico Insurance, you may have a tough time dealing with the claims adjuster according to a recent 2013 informal poll of New Mexico attorneys.

These insurance companies and their claims adjusters rank the highest among all insurance companies in New Mexico in complaints to attorneys about the handling of  car accident claims involving property damage and personal injury.

According to Albuquerque personal injury attorney Mark Caruso the poor attitudes of  insurance claims adjusters employed by these four companies cause clients to contact Caruso Law Offices and other New Mexico personal injury law firms for help. Clients are frustrated when the claims adjuster won’t   pay for all the repairs to their car or give them a rental car.  What irritates clients the most is when a claims adjuster challenges the client’s complaint of pain or injury or tells the client to just take a Tylenol and get some rest.

One reason why these four insurance companies may be so difficult to deal with is because the personal injury claims adjusters for these four insurance companies are based outside of New Mexico.

Fred Loya, which according to Mark Caruso is the worst of the bunch, is based in Texas and only recently began selling automobile insurance in New Mexico.

Their claims adjusters are Texans, and they just don’t have enough years of experience evaluating the dollar value of cases in New Mexico. Most personal injury attorneys will agree that cases are evaluated differently in Texas than in New Mexico.

There have been many instances where Mark Caruso has had to “educate” these out of state claims adjusters about New Mexico law and the valuation of injuries in New Mexico.  As a former insurance company attorney, Caruso has insight as to how these adjusters should evaluate cases and the process that they use in reaching a settlement value.

Under our state’s law New Mexicans are entitled to have their vehicle repaired to pre-accident status or be paid the market value of the vehicle if it is totaled. They are entitled to payment for the loss of use of their vehicle during its unavailability. New Mexicans are also entitled to  money from the insurance company for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost earnings and permanent injuries resulting from the collision.

Caruso advises people with property damage and personal injury claims against Fred Loya Insurance, Nevada General Insurance, Allstate Insurance and Geico Insurance to immediately contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation.

Claims adjusters have no special duty to you to point you in the right direction.  Instead, their job is to settle claims as cheaply as possible so that they may be rewarded in bonuses and a pat on the back by their claims supervisor.

A personal injury attorney will point you in the right direction, even if all you do is have a free consultation. A personal injury attorney’s loyalty is to you–no one else.   Mark Caruso will give you a free consultation to discuss your claims against these four insurance companies. He will also give you some additional insight that can’t be published in this public blog. Call Mark Caruso at (505) 883-5000 for a telephone or in office appointment. We have 2 offices in Albuquerque to serve you–the Northeast Heights (Montgomery and Carlisle) or the Westside (I-40 at Coors).  We handle cases statewide and make home visits, hospital visits and after hours appointments.

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Medical Care and Expenses From Your New Mexico Car Accident

- Mark Caruso

If you are involved in an accident or collision that is not your fault, New Mexico law clearly states that you are entitled to be paid your  medical expenses from the at-fault driver or its insurance company. Since you didn’t cause the accident, it is reasonable for you to expect that they would pay for all of your medical expenses.  The question I am most oftern asked as an Albuquerque Personal Injury Attorney is, “What types of medical care will be covered?    This is the topic of today’s blog by Mark Caruso, Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorney.

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Let’s look at the actual law according to the New Mexico Statutes.  For this we turn to the NM Jury Instuctions 13-1804.  This is the law that the judge reads to the jury, and is the law that is applicable to before trial and during settlement as well.  The law states, You are entitled to “The reasonable expense of necessary medical care, treatment and services received and the present cash value of the reasonable expenses of medical care, treatment and services certain to be received in the future.” Also, 13-1802 states that the injury must have resulted from the negligence of the other person.  Taken together, and in layman’s terms, the law is this…You are entitled to reasonable medical expenses you need as a result of the negligence of the other driver.

Clearly transport by ambulance and ER care meet this criteria. But questions are always raised by insurance companies about follow up care with your primary care doctors, medications, physical therapy, chiropractice care, medical massage therapy and other medical care.  Note that the law does not limit the care to anything except two words…..(1) result and (2) reasonable.  The law doesn’t say that you don’t get reimbursed for chiropractic care or medical massage therapy or limit you in advance of the type of medical care from your accident.

Auto insurance company claims adjusters try to limit your medical care or scare you into believing that certain medical care will not be paid for These are interpretations, restrictions and limitations wrongly placed on NM law by greedy insurance companies trying to save money for their shareholders.  You shouldn’t let claims adjusters from State Farm, Farmers, Allstate, Geico, Progressive, USAA, Fred Loya, Travelers, Hartford, Nevada General and other insurance companies decide the medical care you should get.  They are not doctors, they are just claims adjusters!  Only your doctor and health care providers should decide your medical care.

In order to prove that the medical care from your wreck should be paid to you, you merely need to be able to show the following:

A.  You gave your doctor or health care provider an honest history or your prior medical condition and what happened in the wreck?

History of Prior Injuries:    It is extremely important to tell your doctor about prior problems, symptoms and medical care to the part of the body that you are currently claiming was injured as a result of the wreck. Clearly, he cannot state that you suffered an injury from the current wreck unless he knows about prior problems.  Your doctor may be able to state that you aggravated your prior condition in the current wreck if your symptoms are now worse than before the wreck.

History of Current Wreck:   It is also important to tell your doctor exactly how the wreck happened, the speed of impact, the location of the impact and the amount of damages to your vehicle, if known.  The doctor needs an accurate history of the wreck to determine whether you sustained a significant impact to cause the injuries you are now claiming were from this same wreck.

B.  Your doctor or health care provider examined you.

The doctor needs to perform an actual examination of your injuries.  The doctor will normally check your range of motion and areas of sensitivity and pain.  Make sure to report all of your symptoms to your doctor so that your doctor can examine each area of your body that is painful.

C.  Your doctor performed diagnostic tests such as x-rays.

Don’t be surprised if your doctor asks your permission to perform diagnostic tests such as x-rays to help the doctor determine the extent of injuries.  X-rays are important to determine broken bones but are also useful in determining the effects of a soft tissue injury on your spine.

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D.  Your doctor reached a diagnosis that your injuries were a result of the accident.

Once your doctor takes your history, completes your examination and reviews the diagnostic reports he/she will reach a diagnosis of your injuries.  The diagnosis will tell you the injury that you suffered and will also state the cause of the injury.  An example would be that you suffered a broken leg as a result of the wreck or that you suffered a whiplash as a result of the wreck.

E.  Your doctor will recommend and prescribe treatment or medications for your injuries.

Now that you have been told that your injuries are a result of the wreck, the doctor’s job is to try and fix those injuries.  Some doctors will give you drugs and send you home.  Better doctors will make a referral for physical therapy, chiropractic care and perhaps medical massage therapy.  At the conclusion of your care, the doctor will state that that care that has been provided is reasonable.  Usually, the doctor’s final report lays out all of the doctor’s findings about history, examination, diagnostic tests, diagnosis and treatment.  It is extremely important that you doctor create this final report, because you will need it for the insurance company and perhaps even for litigation.

Our firm asks the doctor to also state that the treatment was reasonable, necessary and customary.  This means that the treatment  was the type of treatment that would have been provided by other doctors of the same qualifications in the area for the same or similar price of other doctors in the area. It also means that the treatment was necessary to treat the injuries, not just optional treatment.

Often times, outside sources can be used to help prove that the injuries were reasonable and customary.  Our firm utilizes two such sources for chiropractic injuries and treatment.

The first is the Croft Guidelines.   These Guidelines have been accepted by the New Mexico Chiropractic Association as the guidelines for chiropractic care in our state.  The Guidlines permit a specific number of treatments over a specific duration of time based on the findings of degrees of injuries. As long as the treatment of the chiropractor falls within these Guidelines, the treatment is deemed reasonable. It is important that your chiropractor limit treatment to that which is permitted by the Guidelines, or the insurance company will use the Guidelines to argue that the care was excessive. You should only use chiropractors who are familiar with the Guidelines and agree to treat you in accordance with the Guidelines.

The second is the PMIC. The PMIC is a national publication used by health care providers and insurance companies nationwide to determine the customary charges for a particular service or procedure.  Each individual service or procedure done by a health care provider is designated a code,  and each code is designated a customary price in the community. Compare your charges from your doctor with the average charged by other doctors to determine whether your doctor was charging a customary charge in the community. You will have problems getting the insurance compoany to pay or reimburse you for charges that exceed the customary charge in your community.

Conclusion

Under NM law you are entitled to reasonable medcial care to take care of your injuries from the collision.  In communicating with all health care providers you must be honest in reporting your history and when cooperating with your doctor for the examination, the diagnostic tests and treatment.  The doctor’s diagnosis will determine whether the insurance company will pay for these injuries  provided the health care providers complies with Guidelines established by the doctor’s profession and PMIC.

Caruso Law Offices exclusively handles personal injuries and wrongful death as a result of accidents, collisions and wrecks from autos, trucks, motorcycles, buses, bicycles and pedestrians. We do our best to insure that the health care providers our clients see have done everything possible to prove that the injuries claimed by our clients were reasonable and a result of the accident. Sometimes that means pressuring the doctors to write reports, and other times it means arguing with a doctor why their charges are too high.

We fight for our clients not only with the insurance companies but also argue on their behalf to their health care providers. After  all, we work for our clients–not the insurance companies or the health care providers.

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Located in Albuquerque, Caruso Law Offices handles cases statewide throughout New Mexico.  We have two locations in Albuquerque–Northeast Heights and Westside.  Free consultations with an attorney can be scheduled by calling us at (505) 883-5000. You can also visit our web site at www.carusolaw.com  Mark Caruso is a former insurance company attorney who now works against these same insurance companies to get his clients the most money possible.  Licensed since 1982 our firm has represented tens of thousands of personal injury and wrongful death clients with vehicular accidents,  malpractice, product injury and other negligence. Our firm handles injuries whiplash, spinal injuries, head trauma, PTSD, permanent injuries and wrongful death.  Please contact our firm if we can help you in any way.

We are highly rated and ranked as one of the top New Mexico personal injury and wrongful death attorneys by www.AVVO.com as a 9.6 SUPERB.   We have peer reviews by other attorneys and reviews by our clients at this site.   We have received a Client Distinction Award and been rated a 4.5/5.0 by Martindale Hubbell ratings.  We have an A+ rating by the New Mexico Better Business Bureau.  We have been selected as a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Formum.  We are members of the NM Trial Lawyers Association and the American Association for Justice.  Also, as  a Christian attorney, Mark Caruso believes in honesty and fairness in everything he does at the office and away from the office.  We take care of our clients and it shows in these reviews. We continue to strive to receive the best reviews possible.

We offer a discounted 29% attorney fee on all cases that are settled prior to a lawsuit being filed. This discounted fee puts more money in your pocket when compared with other personal injury attorneys who charge the higher 33 1/3% fee to help pay for their expensive television, radio, billboard and bus advertising.  We pass this savings directly to you. However, you still receive the same quality care by a firm which fights for its clients to get them the most money possible on their personal injury claim.

Watch this Blog for future topics by Mark Caruso  about your right to money for  Pain and Suffering,  Lost Earnings,  Permanent Injury,  Punitive Damages  under NM law.

If you have a question that you need answered quickly, call Mark Caruso and he will be happy to share his knowledge with you, for FREE!

Just call 505-883-5000 and ask for Mark Caruso