Truck Accident Lawyer in Hobbs
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) reports that New Mexico is home to 4,360 trucking companies, with 88.8 percent of communities in the state relying on trucks to move goods and 97 percent of manufactured goods involving transportation by trucks. Commercial trucks are extremely common in New Mexico, and so too are accidents involving these vehicles, which can make the need for an experienced Hobbs truck accident lawyer even more important for accident victims.
The University of New Mexico and New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) statistics indicate 12,024 heavy-truck-involved crashes over a five-year period causing 289 fatalities. The most recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) statistics show there were 77 fatalities in crashes involving large trucks in 61 fatal crashes involving large trucks, both the highest totals of the past ten years.
Determining Truck Accident Liability
If you are wondering who should be accountable for your truck accident, truck owners can be a good place to start. The owners of trucks are usually the people who are responsible for maintaining trucks.
Truck accidents that were the result of certain truck failures, such as blown tires or brake failure, might make truck owners liable. You should also know that FMCSA imposes several different federal regulations for the inspection and maintenance of trucks.
Several other different parties could also share liability for certain truck accidents. Some examples can include:
- Truck drivers — Negligence by a truck driver could include instances of aggressive driving, use of prescription or illegal drugs, or possible distractions while driving when a driver is using a cell phone or other electronic device. One problem with pursuing a claim against a truck driver is that many drivers do not have significant wealth, so it can be difficult to obtain adequate financial compensation from them.
- Truck or truck part manufacturers — It is not uncommon for a truck driver to try to claim that something was wrong with the truck they were driving and that some kind of defect was the cause of a crash. When this is true, then there may be grounds for a product liability claim against a part manufacturer. Parts could malfunction on both new trucks or as replacement parts that were part of installation during regular maintenance.
- Loading companies responsible for cargo on trucks — The companies that handle cargo for large trucks have to comply with various FMCSA cargo securement rules, so any violation of such rules could be grounds for holding the cargo loading company liable for an accident when cargo plays a role in causing an accident. Not only can lose cargo cause a truck driver to lose control of their vehicle, but some cargo can also fall off trucks and into the paths of motor vehicles on the road.
- Companies responsible for hiring truck drivers — While several companies rely on their own personnel to hire the drivers they will employ, it is not uncommon for some companies to rely on third parties to perform job searches and find qualified candidates. A trucking company itself can be responsible for negligent hiring practices, but another company could also bear responsibility if it did not thoroughly vet a driver.
- Maintenance companies or mechanics — Certain companies with the task of caring for large trucks could become responsible for accidents when they do not perform necessary repairs or fail to address other issues concerning the safety of a large truck. In addition to major issues such as brake and tire care, even smaller items such as lights and wipers can play major roles in certain crashes.
- State or local governmental entities — There may be cases in which a state or local government agency has the task of ensuring that roadways are safe to use. In addition to common issues like potholes, any failure to correct a known hazard or warn road users about possible dangers could make the agency liable.
Types of Truck Accidents
There is a wide range of possible truck accidents that people can be involved in that involve many different possible causes. The type of crash can often be an important early indication of what the cause might have been.
One kind of truck accident can be a side impact or T-bone collision. Such accidents occur when a large truck smashes into the side of another motor vehicle, and the damage can typically be profound in these cases because large trucks weigh much more than standard passenger vehicles.
Similarly, side-wipe accidents can also be common. Unlike the side impact crash that involves the front of a truck striking the side of a passenger vehicle, a sideswipe collision involves the side of a commercial truck striking the side of a passenger vehicle, and these collisions can force the passenger vehicles off the road or possibly into other lanes of traffic.
Other common kinds of large truck accidents include, but are not limited to:
- Tire Blowout Accidents
- Trailer Accidents
- Intersection Accidents
- Rollover Accidents
- Jackknife Accidents
- Override Accidents
- Underride Accidents
- Hazardous Material Spills
- Brake Failure Accidents
- Rear-End Collisions
- Head-On Collisions
- Wide Turn Accidents
- Blind Spot Accidents
- Left or Right Turn Accidents
- Lane Change or Merging Accidents
- Work Zone or Highway Construction Crashes
- Multiple-Vehicle Accidents
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Determining the actual cause of a large truck accident can be complicated, but an attorney will usually know how to sort out the details and get answers. Various truck accidents can involve several different causes.
In some cases, truck drivers may be guilty of running stop signs or stop lights. Truck drivers can often be in a rush to get their deliveries to destinations, so some drivers may try to race through yellow lights, risking collisions at intersections.
Tailgating can be another common cause when a truck driver is following another vehicle too closely. In such cases, trucks cannot come to complete stops when passenger vehicles stop suddenly.
Improper training can be another common cause of truck accidents because some drivers simply do not have the necessary experience to operate a large commercial truck. Other types of causes of truck accidents might include, but are not limited to:
- Distracted driving
- FMCSA Hours-of-Service (HOS) violations
- Tire Blowouts
- Driver fatigue or drowsy driving
- Truck defects
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
- Lack of proper safety equipment
- Reckless or Aggressive Driving
- Improper Lane Changes or Turns
- Failure to yield right of way
- Potholes or other dangerous road conditions
- Inclement weather conditions
Truck Accident Injuries
The injuries that people may suffer in large truck accidents can often be catastrophic because most trucks will simply crush the passenger vehicles they collide with. Most every victim is going to require immediate medical attention, but all victims should go to a hospital just to be sure that they did not suffer injuries with delayed symptoms.
When an extremity experiences severe trauma in a truck collision, then amputations may be required. A National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) study found that trauma was the most common cause of amputations.
People who undergo amputations must relearn how to perform even basic everyday tasks. While prosthetic limbs may be possible in some cases, these can still require significant learning to adjust.
Some truck accidents can also involve severe burn injuries when a truck crash causes a fire that victims cannot immediately escape. Certain burns can cause lifelong disfigurement.
Some of the other kinds of injuries stemming from truck accidents could include, but are not limited to:
- Sprains and strains
- Herniated discs
- Joint damage
- Permanent nerve injuries
- Internal injuries
- Fractures or broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Closed head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Skull fractures
- Back injuries
- Knee injuries
- Leg injuries
- Neck injuries
- Arm injuries
A death resulting from a truck accident could lead to a family wanting to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Under New Mexico Statute § 41-2-1, a party that would have been liable for the personal injury had death not ensued will still be liable to an action for damages whenever the death of a person is the result of a wrongful act, neglect, or default of the other party.
In New Mexico, a wrongful death claim has to be filed by a personal representative or executor of a deceased person’s estate, so family members cannot take legal action without an appointment as such. If a personal representative refuses or is unable to serve, or if a victim had no estate plan, a court appoints somebody to serve instead.
The statute of limitations relating to wrongful death lawsuits under New Mexico Statute § 41-2-2 is a mere three years. You should not assume that this means you have three years to take legal action as a lawyer is going to need as much notice as possible.
Damages in Truck Accident Cases
When a person files suit in a truck accident case, they can be eligible to recover financial awards known as compensatory damages, which have the intention of paying a person for all costs they are bearing because of their negligence. The two most common kinds of damages are economic damages, which are a person’s actual financial losses, and noneconomic damages, which are much more subjective forms of physical and mental harm.
A very common kind of economic damage in truck accident cases can be lost wages because most victims are going to be unable to return to work for several weeks or months after their crashes. Some victims may be permanently unable to go back to work and require significant assistance.
Other common kinds of economic damages include:
- Medical Bills
- Property Damage
- Rehabilitation Expenses
- Costs of Long-Term Care
- Physical Therapy Costs
With noneconomic damages, two very common forms include mental anguish and emotional distress. Juries understand how haunting truck accidents can be for most people and how victims are often reliving the horrors of accidents on a daily basis.
Some of the other forms of noneconomic damage can include:
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Mental Anguish
- Emotional Distress
- Physical Limitations
Punitive damages under the New Mexico stock jury instructions for civil trials have the limited purposes of being both punishment and to deter others from the commission of similar offenses. Punitive damages serve the important policy objectives under state common law of punishing reprehensible conduct and deterring similar conduct in the future.
The court also ruled that liability for punitive damages will involve a wrongdoer having some culpable mental state and their conduct having to rise to a willful, wanton, malicious, reckless, oppressive, or fraudulent level. Willful conduct refers to a defendant’s intentional commission of an act with the knowledge that harm would likely result.
Wanton conduct is a defendant’s commission of an act with indifference to or conscious disregard for a victim’s rights or safety. Malicious conduct is a defendant’s intentional commission of a wrongful act with the knowledge that the act is wrongful.
Reckless conduct is a defendant’s intentional commission of an act with indifference to the possible consequences. Under Uniform Jury Instruction § 13-1718, punitive damages can also be awarded for conduct that is malicious, willful, reckless, wanton, fraudulent, or in bad faith.
The Uniform Jury Instructions define malicious conduct as The intentional doing of a wrongful act with knowledge that the act was wrongful. Willful conduct is the intentional doing of a wrongful act with the knowledge that harm may result.
Reckless conduct relates to the intentional doing of an act with utter indifference to the consequences. Wanton conduct is the doing of an act with utter indifference to or conscious disregard for a person’s rights.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with a Hobbs Truck Accident Lawyer
Did you suffer severe injuries, or was your loved one killed in a truck accident in the greater Hobbs area? Do not delay in contacting Cesar Ornelas Injury Law because we will be capable of immediately commencing an independent investigation into your crash and taking the necessary steps to ensure that you can achieve justice.
Our firm fully understands all of the kinds of complications that can arise in truck accident cases, and we know how to deal with insurance companies that are trying to limit what they owe you. Call (888) 237-2794 or (210) 405-6503 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation that will let us conduct a complete examination of the facts in your case and help you determine the appropriate steps to take next.