Truck Accident Lawyers in Las Cruces, New Mexico
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Semi-trucks form an important and substantial part of our nation’s shipping infrastructure. On any road trip, you’ll be bound to pass more than a few on the highway. However, their size and ability to carry large loads of cargo also means that they can potentially be dangerous. When trucks collide with standard-sized passenger vehicles, it is often the smaller car that bears the brunt of the accident. This can result in significant property damage, as well as serious injuries or death. When this happens, it is crucial to have an experienced Las Cruces truck accident attorney on your side.
TRUCK ACCIDENT STATISTICS
Large semi-trucks comprise a larger percentage of the vehicles on the road than most people may think. In fact, 4.3% of vehicles on the nation’s highways , and in the most congested corridors, one in every four vehicles is a truck. This is especially important in a city like Las Cruces, which sits at the intersection of two major interstates. Some stats about truck accidents in the US, and more specifically in New Mexico, include:
- In 2018 in New Mexico, according to data compiled by the University of New Mexico, heavy truck-involved crashes comprised 5.6% of all crashes that occurred. These crashes led to 60 fatalities.
- According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, trucks often weigh as much as 20-30 times more than a standard passenger vehicle. In addition, a loaded tractor-trailer takes around 20-40% longer than a car to come to a complete stop.
- A total of 4,136 people died in large truck crashes in 2018 across the country. Sixteen percent of these deaths were truck occupants, 67 percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 15 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists.
TRUCK ACCIDENT CAUSES
Truck accidents can have a lot of the same causes as typical accidents that involve two passenger vehicles. However, there are a few factors that impact truck accidents at a higher rate due to the unique circumstances that accompany an accident involving such a large vehicle.
For most drivers on the road, driving constitutes only a small portion of their day. However, for truck drivers, it is their full-time job. Truck drivers can become fatigued after spending hours on the road. This fatigue can lead to a lack of focus, which in turn can lead to accidents caused by tired drivers. Federal laws exist to restrict the number of hours that drivers are allowed to drive on a given day, but drivers are often incentivized to stay on the road as long as possible, even if they’re of these rules.
Read More: New Mexico Commercial Trucking Laws
Improperly Loaded Cargo
Collisions with another vehicle are not the only way that semi-trucks can cause accidents. A truck’s cargo can also come loose and hit another vehicle or cause an obstruction of the roadway. Trucking companies need to comply with certain regulations when it comes to loading cargo, but these regulations are not always followed, and even properly loaded cargo can come loose.
Even if a truck driver is driving within the time allowed for a given day, it is still possible for them to make a poor decision and end up causing an accident. Driving an 18-wheeler is difficult given the extensive distance that it takes to come to a complete stop and the size of the truck that makes it difficult to be aware of the other vehicles that are around you. Any small lapse of focus or poor decision may contribute to an accident.
HOW TO FILE A TRUCK ACCIDENT CLAIM
Each truck accident is different and comes with its own particular set of peculiarities. An experienced Las Cruces truck accident attorney mat help you determine the best way to move forward with your claim. However, it is generally the case that most claims will follow the same basic steps.
1. Contact a Truck Accident Attorney
Your first step should be to consult with an 18-wheeler accident attorney about the unique details of your accident. An experienced attorney might be able to guide you through the process of seeking maximum compensation by helping you avoid any potential pitfalls and crafting effective research, negotiation, and litigation strategies.
After you have hired a truck accident lawyer, they may be able to begin the process of investigating the claim. At this stage, your attorney should have the experience to conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation. The investigation stage should uncover all of the relevant information about your case. This might include analyzing any video or photo evidence, conducting interviews with witnesses or the truck driver, and requesting information from the trucking company that the driver was employed by.
3. Negotiation and Settlement
This stage is particularly critical because most cases will end up settling before they ever reach a courtroom. At this stage, it is important to have an experienced attorney who has dealt with similar cases before and has an understanding of what your case might be worth. Your attorney may structure an argument in such a way as to maximize the strengths of your claim while minimizing any potential weaknesses.
WHO IS LIABLE FOR MY INJURIES?
An important part of any lawsuit is the determination of who is at fault. This is important because the party who is at fault for an accident will generally be liable to pay damages to the other parties that they have injured. In a truck accident, the parties who might be at fault for your injuries include:
Just as in a standard accident involving passenger vehicles, the truck driver can be at fault for your injuries. This can happen in any number of ways, including the driver driving while drunk, distracted, or simply failing to obey the rules of the road.
The Trucking Company
One of the critical differences that distinguish a trucking accident from a car accident is that most 18-wheeler drivers drive for a trucking company. This adds another party to the mix when it comes to determining liability. Employers are generally liable for the actions of their employees when they employees were on the job. Similarly, if the company was negligent when conducting the process of hiring the driver, or if they failed to secure the cargo to the truck properly, then they might share in at least part of the liability for the injuries that these issues cause.
The City or Township
Though it is relatively rare that this category comes into play, the government that is in charge of the road where the accident occurred could be at least partially liable for injuries. It is the responsibility of the city or town who maintains a road to make sure that it is safe and any lights or signs are functioning properly. If the failure to do so ends up causing an accident, then the government could be held responsible for any injuries that result.
WHAT IS MY CASE WORTH?
After a truck accident, many victims might begin to wonder, “What is my case worth?” There is no way to give a realistic answer without knowing the details of an accident, and you should be wary of any lawyer or law firm who promises that they can deliver certain monetary results. However, the damages that you might receive are generally comprised of economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are things that can be calculated with a relatively high degree of certainty. They include medical bills, property damage, and lost wages from being unable to work due to injury.
Non-economic damages refer to the pain and suffering that a victim experiences as a result of their injuries. It is usually more difficult to attach a calculable dollar value to non-economic damages.
Learn More: How to Calculate the Value of Case
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
Every personal injury claim has an associated time limit, which is known as the statute of limitations. The statute begins to run when the accident occurs, and a claim that is brought after the statute expires risks being dismissed by the court. In New Mexico, the statute of limitations for car accidents is three years. This means that starting on the date of the accident, an accident victim has three years to bring their claim.
There are certain exceptions to the statute of limitations, however. For example, if the victim is a minor when the accident occurs, then the statute of limitations may be tolled until they reach the age of majority in New Mexico. If the injury that results from the accident does not become apparent until some time after the accident, the statute of limitations might be paused for a time. Generally speaking, it is advisable to speak to a Las Cruces truck accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident to avoid running into problems in this area.
GET HELP WITH YOUR LAS CRUCES TRUCK ACCIDENT SETTLEMENT
At Zinda Law Group, we believe no one should have to worry about affording legal representation after an accident, which is why we offer a No Win, No Fee Guarantee. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case. Our team of experienced Las Cruces attorneys may help you seek compensation for your injuries.