Truck accidents are some of the most damaging events that can happen in New Mexico. Lives can change instantly when a truck hits a much smaller vehicle. While we all hope that we never end up in that situation, being the victim of a truck accident can be a serious challenge, and one that not all lawyers are equipped to handle. Here are four secrets that only the best truck accident lawyers in New Mexico know.
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Truck Accidents Cost More, Thanks to Physics
In a world with drunk and distracted drivers, it sometimes feels like serious accidents can happen anytime. And while that’s true, truck accidents buck the trend. Basic physics are at work on the road. In an accident, the forces on your body are a factor of the cars’ speed, the angle at which you were hit, and the vehicles’ weight. The higher the forces, the greater the chance for injury and the more severe those injuries will be.
The average car weighs a tad over two tons or about 4,000 pounds. An unloaded 18-wheeler with a trailer weighs about 35,000, or 17 ½ tons. Trucks can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds, or 40 tons when carrying cargo in the United States. That’s 20 times the weight of the average vehicle. So, the same angle and speed as a minor fender-bender with another car in your weight class could easily result in life-threatening injuries with a commercial truck.
Thankfully, most people don’t realize that costs rise exponentially with severe injuries. Instead of needing one surgery for a minor injury, you might need five or more for a more serious one. Instead of a month out of work, you might not be able to return for years. And what might be a few months of physical therapy for a minor accident could turn into many years of in-home assistance if you’re severely injured. Good medical care is not cheap. By the time you’re done treating a serious injury, factoring in lost wages and other expenses, your bills could be in the hundreds of thousands or even the low millions. And that’s before factoring in punitive damages.
Truck Accident Cases are Highly Specialized
Because there can be so much at stake with a truck accident lawsuit, it’s critical that you and your lawyer do everything correctly. The law surrounding commercial truck accidents is highly specialized; small mistakes made by your legal team can be the difference between receiving a huge settlement or getting nothing.
For example, the evidence collected for these lawsuits differs from other vehicle accidents. While police reports and physical evidence play a big role, there’s a commercial aspect to these accidents, so your lawyer must move quickly to obtain other kinds of evidence. This additional evidence includes company records, driver logbooks, and data from the truck’s Engine Control Module (ECM), which acts like a plane’s black box.
The unfortunate fact is that, due to the sums involved in these kinds of cases, there’s a massive incentive for the driver, trucking company, and other interested parties to delay providing these kinds of evidence, as the information contained within is sometimes extremely damaging to their case. While it’s uncommon, these kinds of evidence are sometimes tampered with, rendered inadmissible, or outright disappear. It’s critical to the success of your case that you retain a law firm that specializes in these kinds of cases, knows that evidence needs to be collected, and knows how to move quickly to ensure that it’s preserved.
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There Are Limits to Commercial Liability
The legal specialization in truck accidents extends further than evidence gathering. In New Mexico, commercial truck drivers are required to carry $750,000 in Combined Single Limit insurance. Combined Single Limit, or CSL insurance, covers all liability, including medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, property damage, and physical and emotional pain and suffering. On the other hand, Split Limit Insurance generally limits liability payouts on a per-person and per-accident basis and keeps that number separate from the limit for property damage.
This difference can become important in multi-car accidents. For example, if a truck’s brakes fail and it hits ten cars, injuring twenty people, and the commercial driver has the state minimum of $750,000 in CSL insurance, each injured person would receive just $37,500. With serious medical expenses, missed wages, and a totaled car, that amount may not do much to help you.
Liability May Need to Extend Further Than You May Think
Unfortunately, $750,000 is sometimes not enough, even when there’s only one party injured in the accident. If a young and healthy person is seriously injured, they could raise hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in medical bills. If you get all of that $750,000 but have $1,000,000 in medical bills, then you’re still likely to end up in serious financial trouble. Of course, the driver would be personally liable for the rest of the sum in most cases, but they often don’t have the money to cover the difference.
Your truck accident lawyer must understand how liability can extend beyond the truck driver. If the company that employs the driver didn’t perform a proper background check or skirts federal safety laws, they might be liable for the accident. Likewise, if cargo was improperly loaded, it could create instability that contributed to the accident, in which case the company that owns or loaded the cargo may be liable. Poorly maintained or dangerous roads could also contribute to the crash and would result in further liability concerns. In a severe accident, understanding the complex ways liability interacts can sometimes be the only way to recover enough money to cover the medical bills, lost wages, lost future earnings, and pain and suffering that a serious accident can cause.
Contact Kane Today
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you’re at the start of a long journey. Contacting a lawyer early in the process isn’t just about maximizing your potential settlement offer—it also allows you access to an experienced expert. Your lawyer can help you understand the process from end to end and help you find peace of mind in a troubling and difficult time. Contact Kane today to learn more about what we can do for you.
Please note that this article was created for advertisement purposes, and it does not constitute any contractual legal relationship, nor imply one.