Sometimes, New Mexico injury victims suffer injuries due to intentional acts, such as drive by shootings.   Victims should know their civil rights in drive-by shootings.  Roadrunner Law Firm has helped victims recover for their injuries caused in drive-by shooting cases from their auto insurance.  This conversation usually focuses on the availability of uninsured motorist coverage.  New Mexico drive-by shootings occur all too often, so victims need to speak with a knowledgeable, New Mexico attorney who is familiar with the law in this area.

New Mexico Law if Favorable to Victims in Drive-By Shootings

As civil attorneys, we cannot prosecute the shooter but we can help with the financial costs from medical bills and property damages.   There is a strict legal standard applied to these types of cases.  In short, the injuries and damages must arise out of the use of an uninsured vehicle.  Britt v. Phoenix Indemnity Insurance Co., 1995-NMSC-075, 120 N.M. 813, 907 P.2d 994.  In Britt, Daniel Britt was a passenger in an automobile that was rear-ended in traffic.  Id. ¶ 2.  Mr. Britt exited the vehicle after the crash to assess the damage done to his friend’s car and to get the other driver’s insurance information.  Id.  Outside the vehicle, “a physical altercation” ensued, Mr. Britt was stabbed in the leg, and the assailants then fled the scene of the crime.  The Court crafted a three part test to access these types of cases:

  1. whether there is a sufficient causal nexus between the use of the uninsured vehicle and the resulting harm,
  2. whether an act of independent significance broke the causal link between the use of the vehicle and the harm suffered, and
  3. whether the ‘use’ to which the vehicle was put was a normal use of that vehicle.

There have been many cases since Britt that interpret this area of the law.   The case often cited with car shootings is Barncastle v. American National Property & Casualty Co., 2000-NMCA-095, ¶ 9, 129 N.M. 672, 11 P.3d 1234.   The Court found that the vehicle was an “active accessory” in achieving the shooting because: (1) the uninsured driver used the vehicle to assist in committing the crime and (2) the vehicle was used to escape from the scene of the crime, thereby making it an essential factor in completing the crime.  It is imperative to consult with an attorney who practices in New Mexico and is very familiar with this are of the law and all Court rulings. The scope of this article is New Mexico drive-by shootings, but of course other harms can occur with the “use of a vehicle”.  For example, road rage, sexual assault, and dog bites.

Victims of Drive-By Shootings May Seek Uninsured Motorist Coverage

The way attorneys recover for victims of New Mexico drive-by shootings is through their Uninsured Motorist Coverage.  Essentially, the argument is that victims were injured by an unknown or uninsured driver. Miera v. State Farm Mutual Auto Ins., 2004-NMCA-059. 135 NM 574.   Insurance policies have different language relating to this coverage, so you must speak to an attorney first.

Eva K. Blazejewski of Roadrunner Law Firm wrote this article.  Eva has practiced law in Albuquerque since 2000 and has represented injured people in hundreds of uninsured motorist cases.  If you have a question for Eva about a drive-by shooting or other vehicle accident involving you or a loved one, please call 505-444-4321.  We represent injured people throughout New Mexico.