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Any sort of vehicular accident is, in the best-case scenario, a major headache to deal with. At worst, though, accidents can leave victims and their families with piled-up medical bills, a totaled car, and severe or potentially fatal injuries. These risks are enhanced even further when an accident involves a commercial truck. Due to their size, accidents with a truck can quickly turn into a devastating situation. After your commercial trucking accident, you may be left wondering about commercial trucking personal injury laws in New Mexico, which is where an attorney may be able to help.
ELEMENTS OF A NEW MEXICO TRUCK ACCIDENT CLAIM
Typically, when an accident victim is looking to recover for their losses from a truck driver or trucking company, they will attempt to recover under a theory of negligence. Simply put, negligence occurs when someone has an obligation to act reasonably and fails to do so. Negligence has four basic components:
The first step in trying to establish negligence is to establish that the person or entity you are attempting to recover from had a duty to act in a certain way. If there was no obligation to act reasonably in the first place, then you can’t be held responsible for not conforming to that standard. Truck drivers have the general obligation to drive safely when they are on the road, and they also have the additional obligation of conforming to federal and commercial trucking personal injury laws in New Mexico, as well as company policy if they are employed by a trucking company
Once you have established a duty, you must then establish that the other party breached that duty. For example, if you can establish that the speed limit on the section of the road where your accident occurred was 65 mph and that the truck driver was driving at 85 mph, then this may establish that they breached their duty to drive safely. Further, if you can establish that there is a federal law limiting how many hours per day truck drivers are allowed to drive and that the truck driver in your case had driven more than that amount when the accident occurred, this could also be good evidence of a breach of their duty.
After establishing a duty and a breach, you must establish a link between the two. In other words, it is necessary to prove that the breach of duty is what ended up causing your injuries. If the driver of the truck in your accident was somehow driving illegally but it was another car swerving in front of you that caused your accident, then it might not be possible to recover damages from the truck driver.
To be able to recover in a lawsuit, you have to be able to prove that you sustained some sort of loss or suffering, whether it be physical, emotional, or financial. If you were in a minor accident where you walked away unscathed and your vehicle dint suffer from any damage, then you likely do not have a compensable claim. However, if you suffered large amounts of trauma and have had to pay lots of costly bills, then it is possible that you are entitled to compensation.
CAUSES OF TRUCKING ACCIDENTS
When it comes to trucking accidents, there are many similarities to car accidents, including the potential causes. However, driving a truck is also unique from driving a passenger vehicle in ways that may put them at a higher risk for being involved in accidents.
Fatigue can be a very real and present danger when it comes to truck drivers. Most people in the car do not spend hours on end driving on New Mexico’s interstates. However, the freeways are essentially the office space of the truck driver. This means that long hours on the road can wear down the alertness of drivers and put them at risk for causing accidents. There may also be demands from the company to meet deadlines, keeping them on the road for even longer stretches of time.
Truck drivers need to go through special training and receive special licensing to be able to take 18-wheelers out on the road. That being said, they are still prone to driver error. Trucks can present more risks than a typical passenger vehicle might, such as an increased distance to come to a complete stop due to their sheer size and a larger blind spot because of their length.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Another problem that can crop up due to the massive size of trucks and the amount of time that truck drivers spend on the road is maintenance issues. Trucks require lots of moving parts working together in a very efficient way and they can wear out quickly. If truck drivers or their employers do not keep up with the regular maintenance of the vehicle, it can lead to accidents and cause harm to the other people on the road.
WHO IS LIABLE?
The liable party is simply the person who is at fault for your accident, i.e., the person who caused it and is on the hook to make it right. It might seem like a straightforward process to figure out who, exactly, is liable for a car accident. However, there are always more complications than appear at first glance, in particular when trucks are involved. Below are a few of the parties who could potentially be liable for your injuries.
The Truck Driver
For most vehicle accidents, the starting point for attempting to determine liability is with the driver. The driver is the person in control of the vehicle, and thus there is a good chance that they might share in the liability when an accident happens. A truck driver might be liable when they are breaking New Mexico law by driving over the speed limit or driving while intoxicated, or when they are breaking federal regulations by driving past the amount of time in a day that they have been approved to do.
The Trucking Company
Trucking companies can add a whole new level of complication to an accident. In an accident involving only passenger vehicles, the responsibility to keep a vehicle in good working order and to drive responsibly lies solely with the driver. However, trucking companies add a new level of complexity and potential liability. If a trucking company employs the truck driver who was involved in your accident, then they could potentially be liable if they did not do enough to keep the truck in good working order or if they negligently hired the driver in the first place.
Read More: I Was Hit by a Delivery Truck
The Town or Municipality
Rarely, the town or municipality where your accident took place could share in the liability for the accident. This can happen if the roads were in unsafe condition and should have been noticed and repaired. For example, if a streetlight in the location where the accident took place had been faulty for a long period of time and the town had done nothing to try fixing it or prevent a dangerous situation, then they may be at least partially liable.
Read More: New Mexico 18-Wheeler Accident Laws
WHAT IS MY CASE WORTH?
One of the most pressing questions that many accident victims have when researching commercial trucking personal injury laws in New Mexico is, “What, exactly, could my case be worth?” There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but the potential number depends on a few different factors.
You can begin to get an estimate of the value of your case by adding up your economic damages. Economic damages are tangible losses that can be calculated to a fairly exact degree of certainty. They include things like medical bills, damage to your vehicle, and lost wages from being unable to work. Next, you may be eligible to receive non-economic damages as well. Non-economic damages are more difficult to put an exact dollar figure on, but they include the pain and suffering that you experience as a result of your injuries.
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
Every type of personal injury case has an associated time limit for when it can be brought, also known as a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is set by New Mexico law, and for most vehicle accidents, it is three years. This means that you have three years from the date of your accident within which to bring a claim based on that accident. Certain exceptions to this general statute of limitations might exist, such as if you do not discover your injuries until after the accident or if the accident victim is a minor, but it is generally advisable to seek the advice of a qualified New Mexico truck accident attorney as soon as possible to avoid running into any sort of problems with timeliness.
CONTACT ZINDA LAW GROUP TODAY
Zinda Law Group believes that no accident victim should need to go through this process without legal representation. We also believe that money shouldn’t be an impediment to this, which is why you don’t pay us anything until we win your case for you. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
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