Here at Roadrunner Law, we’re all making summer travel plans–and for some of us, that means a summer road trip. I’m planning on taking my family of six all the way from Albuquerque to Glacier National Park this summer via Interstate 15. But while we’re making plans for fun summer travel, we’re also making plans for SAFE summer travel. And being safe means sharing the road and watching for motorcycles!
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2016 “5,286 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes—an increase of 5.1 percent from the 5,029 motorcyclists killed in 2015.” The Motorcycle Safety Foundation provides some explanation for the increase in crashes, including fatal collisions. Simply put, motorcycles utilize the road differently than vehicles. For example, many drivers don’t understand how motorcycles maneuver within their lanes to avoid potholes or loose gravel, or that motorcycles don’t always use the brakes, instead downshifting or rolling off the throttle to slow for road debris. Many drivers also have poor spatial understanding, and can’t tell how far away an approaching motorcycle is (leading to a high number of “left turn” crashes), or can’t tell the distance between the front of their vehicle and the rear of the motorcycle in front of them (leading to a high number of rear-end accidents). Also, unfortunately many drivers fail to check their blind spots. Since motorcycles are smaller than cars, they occupy a different blind space, and lane changes end up causing accidents more often than they should because of simple driver negligence.
Fortunately, there are easy steps drivers can take to be more aware of motorcyclists, and these simple steps also carry the added bonus of making you a safer driver generally! Here are a few tips to help you become more aware of motorcycles on your summer road trip:
Be aware of turning motorcycles.
Because motorcycles are smaller than cars, and because they move differently in their lane, cars don’t always realize that a motorcycle is preparing to make a turn. Watch for motorcycle signals–hand signals or lights on the bike–that let you know what a motorcyclist is planning. Even more importantly–slow down and give them a few extra moments to make their move! It doesn’t cost you anything to be a patient, courteous driver.
Check your blind spots!
Motorcycles don’t occupy the same space in your blind spot as a car or truck! Don’t just rely on your mirrors. Take a few extra seconds to look behind you by physically turning your head and looking behind your shoulder. Ask your backseat occupants to let you know when you have motorcyclists to your rear. Listen for the roar of a motorcycle engine–motorcycles are loud for a reason! Turn down your stereo and become aware of your surroundings!
Motorcycles maneuver differently than cars!
Motorcycles need to move within their lanes of traffic more frequently than cars, to avoid debris and road hazards. Give them some space! Don’t crowd motorcycles, and DON’T TAILGATE. Motorcyclists often have to make quick decisions with regard to navigation, so an extra car length can really mean the difference between life and death for a biker.
Use your signals! If necessary, tap your horn to make surrounding motorcyclists aware of your intentions. Check your blind spots carefully, and change lanes S-L-O-W-L-Y! What’s the rush? A few extra seconds could save a life!
Make sure you have enough time to make a left turn!
We’ve seen this scenario more times than we can count. A driver is making a left turn. They see a motorcycle in oncoming traffic, but it’s so small–it looks so far away! The car thinks it has plenty of time to make the turn and then–BOOM! Then the car usually says the motorcyclist “must have been speeding because I had plenty of space!”
The motorcyclist wasn’t speeding. The driver of the car just didn’t understand the spatial dynamics involved. The motorcycle is smaller on the horizon than the driver is used to, so the driver thinks the motorcycle is farther away than it really is, and that lapse in judgment leads to accidents more often than it should.
The solution is easy. If you see a motorcycle coming when you’re making a left-hand turn–WAIT FOR THEM TO PASS. It costs you a few seconds. It could easily save a life.
Road Trip Games.
If you’re traveling this summer with kids, you’ll need ways to entertain them. Most of us medicate our kids with screens these days, but a good way to help kids get in the habit of identifying motorcycles early is this game.
It’s simple–have your kids count the number of motorcycles they see. You can assign each kid a different color to count, or a different kind of bike. They’ll start looking for motorcycles, and it will help them become more aware of the number of bikes on the road, which can only help them when they start to drive themselves!
SLOW DOWN. BREATHE. ENJOY YOUR TRAVELS.
In this world of rush, rush, rush, it’s hard to slow down, even when we’re on vacation. But just a few extra moments could truly save the life of a motorcyclist. And by taking those few extra seconds to check your blind spot, change lanes safely, or let a motorcyclist pass before making a left turn, you could be saving a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a friend.
We are pleased that KRQE News 13 decided to highlight Roadrunner Law Firm’s recently-filed lawsuit against Circle K Stores in Albuquerque, NM. Our client was brutally attacked and left for dead by an unknown assailant at the Circle K store at San Mateo and Central in Albuquerque. That area of town is very high-crime and extremely dangerous. Our lawsuit aims to make Circle K accountable for putting appropriate security measures in place to ensure the safety of all visitors to its stores.
We are proud to work hard for our clients who have been injured at dangerous properties in Albuquerque and throughout the state of New Mexico. We are pleased that our lawsuit has shined a light on this problem, and we hope that our efforts make a difference for our client, as well as for the wider community.
We’ve written elsewhere on our site about the fact that New Mexico insurance law is generally pretty favorable for injured New Mexicans. This is especially true when it comes to uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (sometimes referred to as UM/UIM). Unfortunately, many New Mexicans don’t really understand what this coverage is, or why it’s so important to carry it. Even many insurance agents don’t understand this coverage, and tell their customers not to bother getting it! This is a HUGE MISTAKE, and really bad information.
UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE: WHAT IS IT?
Ordinarily, if you are involved in a car or motorcycle crash and it’s not your fault, the other person’s auto insurance will step in to pay for the damage to your vehicle and for your injuries, including your medical bills and other damages. This is called “liability insurance.” But what happens if the driver who hits you didn’t have any insurance?
This is where uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage comes into play. UM/UIM coverage says that if the driver who hit you (sometimes called the “liable party”) didn’t have auto insurance, your own auto policy will step in to pay all of the damages caused by that driver–including the damage to your vehicle, as well as your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and lost enjoyment of life.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage also comes into play when the driver who hit you had insurance, but did not have enough insurance to fully compensate you for your losses. The state minimum bodily injury liability policy in our state is $25,000/$50,000. This is the least amount of auto insurance that we all, by law, must carry, and, frankly, that amount of coverage doesn’t go very far when you’re talking about bad wrecks and big injuries. The easiest way to explain what this means is with an illustration: Let’s imagine that Driver A, who carries a minimal insurance policy, t-bones a vehicle containing Driver B and Passengers C, D, and E. Driver B is badly injured, incurring medical bills of more than $100,000.00, while passengers C, D, and E all suffer lesser injuries. In most scenarios, Driver B would be entitled to the first $25,000.00 of Driver A’s insurance coverage, with Passengers C, D, and E splitting the second $25,000.00. This is all that can be recovered from Driver A, unless Driver A has significant personal assets (a very, very unlikely scenario). But let’s say Driver B has uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage of $100,000.00. In that case, Driver B’s UNDERINSURED motorist coverage will kick in to help compensate Driver B for his damages, above and beyond what Driver B has recovered from Driver A’s minimal insurance policy.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Unfortunately, New Mexico has one of the highest rates of uninsured motorists in the country. Simply put, if you are involved in a crash that’s not your fault, there’s a good chance that the driver who hit you may not have any insurance to cover your damages. And if you don’t carry uninsured motorist coverage, you are out of luck. You could, of course, sue the uninsured driver for your damages, but the likelihood of recovering your full damages from a person who couldn’t be bothered to keep their insurance coverage active is, in our experience, highly unlikely. So if you are hit by an uninsured driver and you don’t have UM/UIM coverage on your own auto policy, you could be left with an unrepaired car, unpaid medical bills, and unreimbursed lost wages. We’ve even, unfortunately, seen cases where New Mexicans were tragically killed by uninsured drivers, and without UM/UIM, the loved ones they left behind were left with no financial recourse.
It is also important to carry UM/UIM because uninsured motorist coverage will cover punitive damages, in the event that you are injured by a drunk, texting, or other reckless driver. We have a very high rate of drunk driving crashes in the state of New Mexico, with New Mexico leading the nation in drunk driving deaths. The criminal justice system tries to punish drunk drivers by imposing fines and jail time, but the civil justice system also provides a remedy to punish these bad drivers in the form of money, called “punitive damages.” Some liability insurance policies try to exclude coverage for punitive damages. But your own UM/UIM coverage will pay for all damages to which you are legally entitled if you’ve been hurt by an uninsured or underinsured motorist–including punitive damages. This means, simply put, that if you are hurt by a drunk or texter, and you have UM/UIM coverage, you may be able to get more money for your claim.
HOW MUCH CAN I GET?
You can carry UM/UIM coverage in any underwritten amount up to the total liability coverage you carry. So, for example, if you have $100,000/$300,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, you are entitled to purchase UP TO $100,000/$300,000 in UM/UIM coverage. You could also choose to purchase less than your liability limits (unless you have a minimal insurance policy), but we do not recommend doing this. Our advice is to purchase as much UM/UIM coverage as you can afford on every vehicle you insure!
Also note: if you insure more than one vehicle on your insurance policy, your UM/UIM coverages may “stack” to give you an even bigger pot of coverage to tap into. For example, let’s say you insure four vehicles on your auto policy: your commuter vehicle, your spouse’s commuter vehicle, a vehicle for your teenage son, and a big family vehicle for road trips. Let’s also say that you carry $50,000/$100,000 in UM/UIM coverage on each insured vehicle. In the event that you get in a wreck with an uninsured or underinsured driver and you are badly injured, your four separate vehicle UM/UIM coverages may “stack” on top of each other, giving you a total coverage of $200,000/$400,000 that you may potentially be able to tap into to compensate you for your damages.
HOW DO I GET IT?
Talk to your insurance agent or, if you do business with your insurance company online, request a quote to revise your coverages.
I WAS HURT BY AN UNINSURED OR UNDERINSURED MOTORIST AND MY INSURANCE COMPANY SAYS I DID NOT HAVE UM/UIM COVERAGE. WHAT CAN I DO?
There is still hope! In the state of New Mexico, there are very specific requirements insurance companies must comply with in order to ensure that you understand what UM/UIM coverage is, and what you are giving up if you choose not to purchase it on your auto policy. Our experienced attorneys have had great success arguing to the court that various insurance companies failed to comply with those requirements. If the court finds that the insurance company did not comply, your policy might be “reformed” to include UM/UIM coverage–even if you never paid premiums for it. We’re not miracle workers, and we can’t always get the insurance companies to provide this coverage, but we understand the complex requirements put in place by our courts and legislature, and we know exactly the arguments to make in a situation like this. If you’ve been hurt by an uninsured motorist and your insurance company says you didn’t have coverage, give us a call. We’re happy to analyze your insurance documents to see if we can make an argument for reformation.
Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage is hugely important in the state of New Mexico. Every year hundreds of New Mexicans are injured, and even killed, by drivers without valid liability insurance. If these victims don’t have UM/UIM coverage, they could be completely without recourse. We recommend carrying UM/UIM coverage in the greatest available amount you can afford. We have seen too many people left out to dry after being grievously injured by uninsured drivers in New Mexico. Check your coverages today, and talk to your insurance agent about adding this important coverage if you don’t have it!Read More
We haven’t posted much lately because we’ve been so busy with our involvement in various community events, and of course we’ve been busy taking care of our clients! But we wanted to take some time to send shout-outs to the great folks we’ve been lucky enough to meet this summer.
In May, we attended the Red River Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally. We wanted to let New Mexico riders know that we’re here if they need us, and that we strongly support our community of bikers and their right to ride. We are corporate members of the New Mexico Motorcycle Rights Organization, and we strongly support efforts in our legislature to make our roads safer for motorcyclists. We’ve seen many, many cases of motorcyclists hurt by distracted, careless, reckless drivers, and we understand that motorcyclists are some of our best-trained, most careful users of our roads. So we wanted to get out to Red River and let folks know that we support NM Motorcyclists!
We want to send a huge thank you to Michael, Bobbie Jo, and the whole team at Resort Realty in Red River. These folks really went above and beyond to make our stay comfortable and memorable. We were able to hang out at the Hotel Ryland and get to know a lot of the bikers who hit the rally every year. We had a great time hanging out with these friendly folks!
We also want to send a huge shout out to Texas Reds Steakhouse. We were just down the road from this awesome restaurant and bar, and the staff there was just incredible, not to mention the amazing in-house music. We got to see Albuquerque natives Honeyhouse (aka Missing Mandy), and really cannot recommend trying to catch them highly enough if you have the chance. They are absolutely fabulous, and of course Eva and I love the girl power!
Then, in June, we got to attend the annual Running the L.A.W. (Ladies Annual Weekend) at Isleta Resort and Casino as Platinum Sponsors. This amazing event brings female bikers from all over the country together to share in a common love of the ride! We had an amazing time meeting the fabulous Toni TooFine, organizer of the ride, as well as the incredible Porche Taylor, editor of Black Girls Ride magazine! We were so happy to meet so many female riders from all over the United States, and to let them know that we’re here in New Mexico if they need us.
These ladies did an incredible job of organizing the event, and we want to thank everyone involved. We were also extremely impressed with the catering and facilities at Isleta. Everything we experienced, from brunch to the pool area, was top notch, and we appreciate the professionalism of everyone involved in pulling off a great weekend.
We have lots more events on the horizon, including the 2017 La Mosca Bicicleta, organized by Duke City Wheelmen. We are proud corporate sponsors of this fabulous event. We strongly support the Wheelmen in their mission to promote bicycle awareness and safety in New Mexico. More to come soon!Read More
Make sure you hire the best New Mexico personal injury attorneys to represent you. Blazejewski & Hansen offers attentive, personal, responsible representation for injured New Mexicans.Read More
Blazejewski & Hansen Law Firm is a Diamond Member of the Albuquerque Independent Business Association. We believe our city is unique, and we also believe that it is fundamentally important to support locally-owned businesses to keep our city and state vibrant, unique, and diverse.
Since we’re located downtown, we know firsthand how hard the ART project construction has been on many of our awesome homegrown businesses. So we’re making a special effort to visit at least one business affected by the ART construction every day. It’s a small thing, but if all of us make the same effort to choose to go out of our way to visit a business in Nob Hill or EDO during construction, we can make a real difference to the folks trying to weather the next few months of decreased business access.
Today, Eva and Heather stopped into Standard Diner located in EDO. Central is all torn up in both directions right out in front of the diner, but it’s really not that hard to get in and out on Arno, and it’s well worth the effort.
It was quiet when we arrived at about 2:30. We experienced excellent, friendly, and attentive service and really great food. We shared a plate of ahi tacos, some avocado deviled eggs, and a couple orders of (the truly incredible) buffalo cauliflower.
Standard offers happy hour deals and daily food specials. This was Heather’s first visit to Standard! But it definitely won’t be her last–Eva and Heather plan to make the diner one of their lunchtime mainstays. Standard Diner is located at 320 Central SE in East Downtown.
We know that restaurant reviews really don’t have anything to do with personal injury law, but we all have a responsibility to make this city better and to support each other when we can. So please brave the construction mess and visit Standard or another Central Ave business soon. We’ll be continuing to do so, and we’ll keep sending out our support on our blog and social media to these incredible places that make Albuquerque so special.Read More
We had a great time this morning at Century 21 Unica’s annual BARKING LOT SALE, benefiting Animal Humane of New Mexico. We saw lots of friendly faces and got the chance to chat with folks about our own local law practice, serving injured New Mexicans. We also took a short break to visit the fabulous folks at Humble Coffee. Thanks to Humble for powering our early Saturday morning!
We are a small, local business serving injured New Mexicans. As a woman-owned small business, we strongly support other local businesses and community organizations that work hard to make our city and state stronger, more interesting, and more diverse. We were happy to be a part of the Barking Lot Sale, and we appreciate Century 21 Unica Real Estate’s efforts benefiting Animal Humane New Mexico’s important work here in Albuquerque and throughout New Mexico. We encourage everyone to donate to Animal Humane, whether it’s time or money, and to adopt from Animal Humane or another local shelter when adding a pet to your family.Read More
BLAZEJEWSKI & HANSEN, LLC IS A CUT ABOVE THE REST.
We handle our client’s cases personally, from beginning to end. You will always meet the attorney handling your case when you meet with us for a free consultation. We assist our clients with their property damage claims, free of charge. We provide contact information so that our clients can get in touch with us personally in the event of emergencies after hours and on weekends. We maintain a manageable caseload so that we can provide prompt and personal service to our clients. We never take more as our fee than our clients receive in their pockets.