If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, you know how devastating it can be. Dealing with a serious accident’s physical, emotional, and financial aftermath can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to go through it alone.
Our experienced New Mexico truck accident lawyers have helped countless clients recover financial compensation for their injuries and damages caused by commercial truck crashes. Our legal team understands the complexities of these cases and can navigate the legal system while you focus on your recovery.
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What Should You Do After a Collision With a Truck?
The minutes immediately following a truck crash are the most important. Following certain steps will help preserve your truck accident claim and recover fair compensation for your damages:
Avoid Taking Blame for Your New Mexico Truck Accident
Even if you think you may be fully or partially responsible for the accident, do not admit fault because you may not know all the factors that contributed to the wreck. Such an admission may be used against you later.
At the initial collision scene, you may not know what was happening inside the other vehicle, which traffic laws the other driver might have broken, or what transpired in the seconds leading up to the crash. For example, an investigation may reveal that the other driver failed to yield, was texting, or ran a stop sign.
Drivers should avoid participating in lengthy conversations about what transpired. These conversations could lead to admissions that do not necessarily reflect the facts of the collision.
You must also avoid providing statements to the other side, especially before seeking legal advice. While you must cooperate with the police and provide basic information, you should state only the facts.
Call the Police Following Your Collision with an 18-Wheeler
One of the first steps in any car crash is to call 911. This step ensures officers and first responders arrive on the scene, and you receive treatment for your injuries.
The responding police officer will likely complete a written accident report, which is important because it documents when, where, and how the accident happened. Your attorney can help you obtain a copy of the police report once it is available.
Provide as much identifying information to the police as possible about the other involved parties, including any witnesses to the crash.
Gather Evidence To Support Your Truck Accident Claim
Physical evidence is extremely important in accident injury cases. This evidence may include damage to the involved vehicles, skid marks on the pavement, broken glass or other debris from the crash, and the driver’s demeanor at the time of the accident.
After an accident, do your best to document the accident scene as soon as possible. The best way to document the scene is to take photos or videos with your phone. Taking notes that describe the accident can also help you recall the specifics later.
Exchange Information and Obtain Witness Statements
After you have confirmed that everyone is safe, exchange contact information with the other party. Be sure to get the other driver’s name, phone number, address, license number, and insurance information.
If there are any eyewitnesses, try to get their contact information since witnesses can play a key role in proving your case.
Seek Medical Attention
Regardless of the type of accident, involved drivers should always check to see if anyone is hurt. Even in minor fender benders, always check yourself and your passengers first.
After ensuring that the people in your car are safe, you can move to check on people in other vehicles; if anyone is hurt, immediately call for medical assistance.
Even if you do not think you are badly hurt, it is best to seek medical attention to get checked out for injuries that may not be immediately apparent. A medical examination will help you rule out any severe injuries.
In addition to protecting your health and well-being, seeking treatment may provide legal advantages. Seeing a doctor or other medical professional will create an official medical record of your injuries. If you later wish to pursue a personal injury claim or lawsuit, you can use these medical documents to prove your injuries.
Keep Track of Your Expenses
Also, keep a detailed list of any expenses related to the accident, including medical bills, repair invoices, and proof of lost wages.
If you were injured in a car accident and are uncertain about the documentation you’ll need, speak with an attorney who can help you with this and other aspects of your case.
Consult With an Experienced Semi Truck Accident Lawyer
Managing the legal consequences of a collision can be exhausting. This is partly because insurance companies can be difficult to deal with. However, an experienced truck accident attorney knows how to negotiate with even the most aggressive insurance carriers, taking the burden off your shoulders.
Winning compensation for losses incurred during an accident can help you fully recover, and hiring an attorney is best if you want the highest compensation for your damages.
An attorney may improve your chances of obtaining a higher settlement amount for accident-related damages. This can aid your recovery by providing the financial resources to pay various expenses, including medical bills, ongoing treatment, and lost wages due to time away from work.
An experienced attorney can also help you:
- Identify at-fault parties.
- Navigate the claims process.
- Assess your damages.
- Negotiate with the involved insurance companies.
If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your attorney can take your case to court and fight for justice there.
Common Injuries Sustained in a New Mexico Truck Accident
Due to the substantial size and weight of semi-trucks, accidents can lead to devastating injuries for anyone involved.
Common truck accident injuries include:
- Back and neck injuries, including whiplash
- Head trauma, including traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Cuts and bruises
- Disfiguring facial injuries
- Internal injuries
- Knee injuries
- Wrist, hand, and shoulder injuries
- Crush injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of limbs
- Post-traumatic stress (PTSD)
- Wrongful death
Address Your Truck Accident Injuries As Soon as Possible
It is important to demonstrate that you tried to address your injuries quickly after an accident for several reasons.
- Seeking prompt medical attention ensures that you receive the necessary care for your injuries, which can prevent complications, reduce pain, and speed up your recovery process.
- Addressing your injuries in a timely manner strengthens your personal injury claim, as it creates a clear connection between the accident and the injuries you sustained. Delaying medical treatment may allow the opposing party to argue that your injuries were not caused by the accident or were worsened by your failure to seek medical care.
- Obtaining immediate medical care creates a documented record of your injuries and treatment, providing crucial evidence for your claim.
Contact a personal injury attorney if you were injured in an accident and need help gathering evidence to strengthen your compensation case.
An attorney can advise you on your next steps and help you find a doctor or physical therapist to provide ongoing treatment.
How Are Truck Accidents Different from Other Car Accidents?
Eighteen-wheeler and car accident cases are notably different for a variety of reasons. Some key distinctions include:
- Size and weight: Semi-trucks are considerably bulkier and heavier than passenger vehicles. This disparity in size and weight can result in more severe damage during a collision, leading to catastrophic injuries and fatalities.
- Maneuverability: Due to their larger size, semi-trucks have a reduced capacity to make sharp turns, accelerate, or decelerate rapidly compared to smaller vehicles. This limited maneuverability can contribute to the likelihood of accidents, particularly when quick reactions are necessary to avoid collisions.
- Stopping distance: The stopping distance for a fully loaded semi-truck is significantly longer than that of a passenger vehicle, making it more difficult for truck drivers to avoid collisions when faced with sudden stops or obstacles.
- Regulations: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry, which includes maintenance requirements, limits on vehicle weights, and hours on the road. These regulations can play a role in truck accident cases, as violations may contribute to accidents and indicate negligence by the truck driver or trucking company.
- Multiple parties: Truck accidents may involve multiple potentially liable parties, including the truck driver, trucking company, cargo loader, and truck parts manufacturer. This can make determining liability and navigating the legal process more complex than accidents involving only passenger vehicles.
- Insurance policies: Commercial trucks typically carry larger insurance policies than passenger vehicles, which can affect your compensation. However, this also means that trucking companies and insurers may aggressively defend against claims to minimize payouts. Working with a lawyer can help you maximize your insurance settlement.
These differences highlight commercial truck accident cases’ unique challenges and complexities. They also emphasize the importance of seeking an experienced truck accident lawyer when pursuing a claim related to such an incident.
Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents
According to the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT), heavy trucks were involved in 4.5% of all crashes in 2021. Collisions involving heavy vehicles nationwide have remained high in recent years.
The most prevalent contributing factors to crashes are driver inattention, failing to yield the right of way, and following too closely.
Other common causes of trucking accidents include:
- Driver fatigue: Commercial drivers are often on a time limit to deliver cargo and may feel pressured to continue driving even when tired. Most accidents involving fatal injuries occur on rural highways or at night, between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., when drivers are tired. The FMCSA has regulations requiring rest periods to reduce driver fatigue.
- Improper truck maintenance: Large commercial vehicles must be regularly serviced to ensure they comply with safety inspections and are suitable for the road. Any mechanical failure can be catastrophic.
- Driving overloaded: Trucks carrying heavy loads will take longer to brake. It is also harder for large trucks to see vehicles in their blind spots, making overloaded trucks even more dangerous.
- Driver inexperience: Commercial truck companies must train their employees and require that they maintain the proper license for driving a semi.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol: A truck accident caused by a driver under the influence could result in serious criminal charges for the driver in addition to any civil suit you and your lawyer bring against them.
- Road conditions: Commercial truck drivers should drive slower when road conditions are poor. Slowing down, stopping, or turning is even more difficult in rain or snow. So while the weather may have contributed to the crash, the driver is responsible for driving appropriately for the conditions.
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Who Can You Sue in a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
Knowing who to sue can be confusing and time-consuming. Allow our experienced truck accident attorneys to help you identify the liable parties and help you pursue a civil lawsuit against them.
- The trucking company: The truck driver’s employer may be responsible for negligent hiring or improper training. The trucking company may also be vicariously liable for damages caused by its driver if that individual acted within the scope of employment at the time of the crash.
- The freight company: This may include the shipper or cargo loader if the cargo was negligently loaded.
- The truck manufacturer: A truck or parts manufacturer could be responsible for defective parts.
- A mechanic or service provider: A person or business responsible for performing maintenance could be liable for negligence in this area.
Is It Worth Getting a Lawyer for a Minor Accident?
Truck accidents are rarely minor, but hiring an experienced lawyer is almost always worth it, even in minor accidents. Unfortunately, many personal injury law firms are not equipped to handle the complexities of a truck accident case.
Having an experienced lawyer represent you will help you recover the most compensation possible for your damages. In addition, when an insurance adjuster offers a settlement, having a lawyer review it before you sign is vital.
Insurance adjusters tend to offer inadequate settlements that don’t cover long-term problems stemming from your injuries. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer will know when to renegotiate or file a lawsuit.
Sometimes minor accidents have major consequences down the line. Seemingly minor injuries may worsen, or existing medical conditions may be exacerbated. These injuries could end up requiring costly medical procedures in the future. A good lawyer will consider the possibility of future costs when negotiating a settlement.
Truck Accident Compensation
Several forms of compensation are available for New Mexico truck accident victims. Your damages will fall into two categories: economic and non-economic compensation.
Economic losses are meant to compensate victims financially and can be calculated. These types of damages include the following:
- Medical care
- Physical therapy
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Property damage
- In the case of a fatal crash, funeral and burial costs
Non-economic losses are not as easily calculated because they are subjective. Factors for calculating these types of damages may include the severity of the injury, the length of recovery, and the extent of medical treatment.
These types of damages include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent disability
- Loss of a loved one’s companionship
In rare cases, punitive damages may also be awarded. Punitive damages punish a defendant and intend to deter others from similarly egregious behavior.
Insurance adjusters are notorious for offering inadequate compensation and may pressure you to sign a settlement offer quickly. Don’t settle for less than you are entitled to. Instead, allow a skilled truck accident lawyer to review your damages before you sign anything.
Get Help from New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyers
At Zinda Law Group, our skilled trucking accident lawyers have represented many victims of life-altering collisions. Our New Mexico attorneys have the knowledge and resources to help you seek maximum compensation in your commercial trucking accident case.
Plus, we offer a “no-win, no-fee” guarantee, meaning you won’t pay a penny unless we win your case. We aim to provide you with the highest level of legal representation and minimize your stress.
Finally, remember that New Mexico has a statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim, so don’t wait to get the help you need. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.
Our Team Includes:
- Albuquerque Truck Accident Lawyers
- Carlsbad Truck Accident Lawyers
- Las Cruces Truck Accident Lawyers
- Roswell Truck Accident Lawyers
- Santa Fe Truck Accident Lawyers
- Alamogordo Personal Injury Lawyers
- Deming Personal Injury Lawyers
- Los Alamos Personal Injury Lawyers
- Rio Rancho Personal Injury Lawyers
- Taos Personal Injury Lawyers
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION (2016-2020)
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA (2009, 2011-2012, 2014-2021), JOE CAPUTO (2019-2021), BURGESS WILLIAMS (2019-2020), & NEIL SOLOMON (2020-2021)
AWARDED TO JACK ZINDA (2016-2020), JOE CAPUTO (2016 – 2020) & BURGESS WILLIAMS (2016-2017)
LIFETIME MEMBERS JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA & JOE CAPUTO