Pedestrian Killed by Drugged Driver in Roswell: New Mexico Personal Injury Attorney Explains

- Mark Caruso

Drugged Driver Strikes and Kills Woman Walking on US 380 Outside Roswell, New Mexico

New outlets are reporting that a pedestrian who was walking along US Highway 380 in Lincoln, New Mexico was struck and killed by a drugged driver on July 12, 2017.  Beverly Bradburry Cline of Kilgore, Texas was walking in the shoulder of the highway when the vehicle driver by Margaret Cano-Sammis left the road and struck Cline causing fatal injuries.  First responders pronounced Cline deceased at the scene.  The driver, Cano-Sammis, admitted to using medicinal marijuana and methadone earlier in the day and was arrested for alleged vehicular homicide.

Cline’s death could have been avoided.  But unfortunately it was not, and many other people across New Mexico are injured or killed on highways, interstates, and other roads throughout the state.  Here at the Caruso Law Offices, P.C., we know that most motor vehicle crashes can be avoided.  Drugged driving accidents are on the rise and result in more fatal collisions than drunk driving.  If you or a loved one has been injured or killed, call our experienced Roswell car accident attorneys for a FREE consultation by dialing (505) 883-5000.

This sad news story brings up many interesting legal issues to be discussed.  All parties are innocent until proven guilty, but this does not mean that there may not be liability to explain.

Pedestrian Collisions in New Mexico

Whenever a motor vehicle strikes a pedestrian in New Mexico, it is very likely that the driver will be negligent as a matter of law.  This is because New Mexico Stat. 66-7-337 provides that “every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway[.]”  This law is intended to protect pedestrians on or around the roadway from being struck by a motor vehicle.  When this occurs, it can result in serious personal injuries or death.  Victims can be permanently injured or killed in pedestrian knockdowns.

Therefore, under the doctrine of negligence per se the driver who strikes and injures a pedestrian will be found automatically negligent for violating this statute.  The driver may provide a rebuttable presumption that the pedestrian solely caused or contributed to the subject accident, but it is a difficult position to be in.

Also under the common law, or judge-made law, a pedestrian struck by a car will have the common law definition of negligence on their side.  This provides that a motorist must use reasonable care under the circumstances and in the use and operation of his or her vehicle to avoid striking a pedestrian.  If that occurs, the defendant is likely negligent under the common law standard for negligence as well.

Drugged Driving is a Serious Problem

Cline was killed by a driver who admitted to taking controlled substances earlier in the day, including marijuana.  Many people are under the impression that marijuana is not as dangerous as other drugs, and is safe to drive under the influence of.  However, medicinal marijuana is used to help relax an anxious person and fight certain ailments.  It can calm a person and slow down their alertness and ability to react.  This can obviously be dangerous when traveling on a highway such as US 380, or even an interstate such as I-40, I-25, or I-10.

A drugged driver be also be negligent per se.  This is because NM Stat. 66-8-102 provides that it is “illegal for a person who is under the influence of any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safety driving a vehicle to drive a vehicle in this state.”  Any drug in a driver’s system will result in liability.

Where to Commence an Action: New Mexico or Texas?

The victim was from Texas but killed due to the apparent negligence of a driver in New Mexico.  A common question is where should the victim’s family commence an action?  This is known as a conflict of law issue and a venue question.  There are classes in law school which cover just this topic because the area of law is complicated and very important.

However the simple answer is that the victim will likely best be protected by suing in New Mexico.  This is because the conflict of laws approach generally requires torts—civil wrongs such as negligence in a car accident—to be commenced in the state where the tort occurred.  This means that Cline’s family can commence an action in New Mexico for wrongful death.  While Cline’s family could commence an action in Texas, it is likely to be dismissed or transferred back to New Mexico.

And this happens a lot.  Truck drivers working for some of the largest trucking companies across the country such as Schneider, Estes, US Parcel, and McLane are usually from Upland, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, and other nearby cities in California.  This is a major trucking hub which uses New Mexico’s interstates such as I-10 to cut across the country.  When these drivers are injured in New Mexico trucking accidents but live in California, most of them choose to commence an action in New Mexico to protect their rights.

Pedestrian Collisions Caused by Drugged Drivers Brings Serious Liability Issues

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.