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Court Determines Power Company Is Not Liable for Failing to Provide Enough Light to Safely Illuminate Roadway

Posted in Firm News

In a recent opinion, a state appellate court discussed a personal injury case involving a plaintiff’s claim against a utility company. The case arose when the plaintiff was injured in a serious truck accident that took place in an area that was not well lit by streetlights. The issue for the court to decide was whether the utility company could be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries based on its failure to provide adequate light.

The case presents an interesting issue because under New Mexico law utility companies are not granted immunity in most cases. Thus, in New Mexico, a plaintiff may be able to pursue a claim against a utility company if a plaintiff can establish that a utility company violated a duty of care that resulted in their injuries.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was walking with two others to a convenience store across the street from her home. The group stopped in the median as they were crossing the four-lane road. While the group was waiting for traffic to clear, a semi-truck crashed into them, seriously injuring the plaintiff and killing the two people who were with her. The truck driver later explained that he was unable to see the group standing in the road.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the power company, claiming that there was not sufficient light to safely illuminate the roadway. The plaintiff argued that the power company placed streetlights on the west side of the street, there were no lights on the east side. A subsequent investigation revealed that one of the streetlights in the area went on and off randomly, and that the lighting “appeared insufficient” at nighttime.

The court, however, rejected the plaintiff’s claim. The court explained that, as a general matter, a power company does not owe citizens a duty to provide light or power. The court acknowledged that a party could be found to have assumed if they undertake a task and then negligently perform that task.

Here, the court held that by placing some streetlights the power company did not assume a duty to the plaintiff. The court explained that by installing streetlights on the west side of the street, the power company did nothing to make the lighting worse. The court also noted that although a nearby light was malfunctioning, there was o evidence that it had been reported to the power company.

Have You Been Injured in a New Mexico Truck Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a New Mexico truck accident, you may be able to recover financially for your injuries. The dedicated New Mexico truck accident attorneys at the Fine Law Firm have extensive experience representing injury victims in a wide range of truck accident cases, including New Mexico underride accidents. To learn more about how we can help you recover for the injuries you have sustained, call 505-889-FINE to schedule a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Court Permits Plaintiff’s Negligent Entrustment Claim to Proceed Against Employer, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 30, 2018.

Court Discusses What Happens in the Event an Insurance Company Becomes Insolvent, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 19, 2018.