A fatal motorcycle accident occurred in Santa Fe, NM recently that that left one man dead and two others facing criminal charges. According to the Journal North, Ryan Palma, 22, and Armando Alvarez, 21, had been traveling inside a 2005 Infinity on I-25 at a high rate of speed after attending a racing contest. Emmanuel Hernandez Gonzales, 20, who had also attended the same event, was also traveling on the interstate, although the Infiniti was a short distance behind him.
The source stated that a black Cadillac CTS-4 passenger car pulled up in the left lane next to the Infinite and “Palma maintained the same speed, 90 mph in a 75-mph zone, while attempting to look at the black Cadillac and keep the same distances as if preparing for a race on the interstate,” according to Alvarado’s statement that was later given. Unfortunately, Palma, who was driving the Infinity, was also looking down at his phone and by the time he looked up, he didn’t have enough time to stop before colliding into Gonzalez who was in front of him. As a result of the impact, the motorcycle was thrown to the side of the roadway and Palma continued on driving. Instead of stopping at the accident scene to assess Gonzales’ condition, he drove to the La Cienega exit and that is where Alvarado’s brother came to pick the two of them up about 20 minutes later.
The crashed motorcycle and Gonzalez’s lifeless body were eventually reported to police who later arrived at the scene. Police were able to locate the damaged Infinity near the La Cienega exit, which is about a mile and a half away from the accident site and police were able to arrest both Palma and Alvarado. The two men were booked into the Santa Fe County Jail and were charged with vehicular homicide, reckless driving, tampering with evidence, failure to give information and render aid in a crash, along with some other charges. You see, in the state of New Mexico, not only it is illegal to engage in street racing, but is also illegal for a driver to leave the scene of a crash.
Therefore, because Palma committed several traffic infractions and caused an accident that resulted in a death, he not only risks being charged for several crimes, but he could potentially be faced with a lawsuit should the family choose to take legal action against him.
Many people who lose a loved one in an accident similar to this where negligence was a factor often choose to file suit on behalf of their deceased loved one. Not only will this help them obtain the justice they deserve and the closure they might need, but it can help them afford the expenses that have accrued as a result of the wreck.
Aside from a family seeking compensation for things like pain and suffering, medical expenses, and funeral expenses, they may also choose to request that punitive damages be awarded on the decedent’s behalf as well.
What are punitive damages and what is the cap on how much I can receive in New Mexico?
The surviving family of someone who was killed in an accident may demand that punitive damages be awarded as a way to punish the individual for the harm they have caused. If you lost a loved one in an accident and are seeking punitive damages, there are a few things you need to be aware of. These include:
- “Punitive damages may be awarded where the acts of the defendant were malicious, willful, reckless, wanton, or fraudulent.”
- In the state of New Mexico, there is no cap for punitive damages.
- “An award of punitive damages cannot be used to punish and deter conduct which bore no relationship to the Plaintiff’s harm.”
[Source: Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education].
To learn more about filing suit against an individual or multiple parties who contributed to causing an accident that took the life of your loved one, contact Albuquerque, NM wrongful death lawyer Brian K. Branch. Our office will help you understand what the lawsuit process entails as well as how much your case might be worth.