Slate’s Law Blog

Family of Slain Pedestrian Sues City for Failing to Prevent the Accident and Failing to Respond Appropriately

Most car accidents are simply the result of a driver making a mistake, but most car accident lawsuits that go to trial have a large company or a local government as a defendant. One reason for this is that most individuals do not have the money to pay the damages the judge might award at trial, so the parties settle for an amount that the at-fault driver, or the at-fault driver’s insurance, can pay. Another reason is that the personal injury lawsuits that go to trial and make the news are not just about a driver making a mistake; instead, they are about accidents that were entirely preventable, but multiple people failed to use the reasonable caution that could have prevented them. If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a preventable and obvious public hazard, contact a Santa Fe motor vehicle accident lawyer.

Police Department and At-Fault Driver Showed No Regard for Man’s Life

One hot summer night in June 2023, a man from Taos got into a drunken argument with his girlfriend, and she called the police. The police told the man to leave his girlfriend’s house, but he had nowhere else to go, so the police told him to get in their car. They dropped him off at a gas station and drove off. An hour later, the man was walking on the shoulder of the road, still wearing the same shorts and bright turquoise blue tank top he had been wearing when the police dropped him off, when a car struck him from behind. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. He was 48 years old and is survived by his five children.

The driver of the car was a judge in the Village of Questa. Police bodycam footage shows the driver telling police that he could not see the pedestrian as the latter tried to cross the street.  According to the victim’s family, if the police had bothered to investigate, they would have figured out that he was not crossing the street and never even set foot in a lane of traffic.  They also claim that, given the victim’s size and the clothes he was wearing, it would have been easy for the driver to see him.  Despite this, the driver has not faced criminal charges. 

The victim’s surviving family members have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Taos. They claim that the city is doing more to protect the reputation of a judge and to cover up the police’s irresponsible action of dropping off the man with nowhere to go than it ever did to provide justice for him. Whether the driver ever faces criminal charges will not affect the outcome of the lawsuit.

Contact Slate Stern About Truck Accident Lawsuits

Slate Stern is a personal injury lawyer who represents plaintiffs injured in pedestrian accidents.  Contact Slate Stern in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or call (505)814-1517 to discuss your case.


Lawsuit alleges judge is responsible in deadly crash –

Photo by Ilyas Dautov on Unsplash