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Who is Liable in an Accident With a Truck?

Truck overturned after an accident

Any accident can be bad, but being hit by a truck or a trailer is particularly devastating. Commercial truck accidents in New Mexico can result in serious personal injuries or death. When the crash is the result of the truck driver’s or the trucking company’s negligence, the victim is entitled to compensation. This can include reimbursement for property damage, medical expenses, and lost wages, as well as compensation for permanent disabilities, diminished work capacity, and pain and suffering.

Truck overturned after an accident Image by Stephen Tafra from Unsplash

Proving who is liable in a truck accident is often more complicated than a crash involving two cars. Victims may have difficulty navigating an insurance claim or lawsuit by themselves. Instead, it is beneficial to contact a law firm with experience in truck crashes like Kane Personal Injury in Las Cruces.

How Commercial Truck Accidents Are Different

Truck accidents in New Mexico or any state are different in a few ways that are important to a personal injury case.

First, the very nature of large commercial trucks can result in very serious crashes.

  • Semis and other heavy trucks outweigh cars by so much that the impact can cause a lot of damage.
  • The height of truck chassis make under-rides possible, meaning a smaller vehicle can get wedged underneath a truck.
  • Unsecured cargo can slide off into traffic or hit other vehicles.
  • Hazardous material may cause a fire or explosion on impact.
  • Blindspots, a wide turning radius, and a long stopping distance all make accidents more likely in the first place.

Commercial vehicles are subject to special regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These include guidelines for licensing, training, hours a driver can be behind the wheel, and truck maintenance. Unfortunately, these rules do not necessarily make trucks safer. Many truck accidents in New Mexico result from driver fatigue, distractions, or speeding and disregarding safety to meet delivery deadlines.

When one of these situations results in an accident, the driver might not be the only party at fault. The driver may be held responsible, but so may the company that owns the truck, the loading company, or even the mechanics hired to service a commercial fleet.

This is what makes commercial truck accident cases so complex. Blame may fall on any one or more of the parties involved in the trucking operation. There may also be several insurance companies involved in negotiating a settlement. It is a good idea to let an attorney handle these complicated matters so that the victim can concentrate on healing.

trucks in a parking lot of trucking company Image by Canva.com

Gathering Evidence After the Crash

In any personal injury accident, proof of liability is essential to making a case for compensation. Facts and evidence from the scene will help. First, though, it is important to call 911 and get medical attention for anyone who is hurt.

Next, if physically able, begin to gather information and evidence. Our article “What To Do if You Are in an Accident Involving a Truck in New Mexico” lists everything a victim should and should not do.

When documenting the crash site with pictures and video, pay special attention to details about the truck. Take a photo of anything that will verify the identity of the truck and its company. This includes license plates, company names and logos, special markings and identification numbers. In the case of a company with a large fleet of identical trucks, this will help identify the exact vehicle from the crash.

Photos will also help prove that there were problems with a truck, for example missing mirrors, an open door latch, or broken tie-down cables.

Truck drivers may receive instructions from their company about what to do or say in the case of an accident. Nevertheless, victims should try to get the driver’s name and insurance information. Companies have a duty to only employ safe, insured drivers. If it turns out that the driver is uninsured, an attorney will help the victim navigate New Mexico’s minimum liability insurance requirements and pursue compensation from other sources—namely, the company that hired the driver.

Proving Who is Liable in a Truck Accident

Whether a company runs 18-wheelers, construction trucks (cement trucks, dump trucks, etc.), or a fleet of local delivery vans, they can often be held responsible for negligent behavior by their drivers.

Reputable companies are careful to make sure that only safe vehicles and drivers are on the road. That means they must ensure the proper training and fitness of all drivers, including doing background checks, checking driving records, and periodic physicals and drug tests. Failure to take these actions could make the company liable if their driver gets in a wreck.

Another way companies expose themselves to large insurance settlements and lawsuits is by establishing negligent or unsafe practices. Pressuring drivers to work extended hours will get them into trouble, not only with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, but with potential lawsuits should the driver get in an accident. Pushing drivers to reach quotas within an unreasonable time frame is also dangerous, as drivers might speed or take unnecessary risks to reach their goals.

Company mechanics, or independent mechanics hired to service a fleet of trucks might also share in the responsibility for truck accidents in New Mexico. Missed inspections or faulty repairs might contribute to the crash.

If logs or documentation are falsified by a trucking company, its drivers, or its mechanics, they might be held liable for damages in an accident, and may even face criminal charges.

An attorney with experience in truck accidents will understand how to gather the appropriate evidence against any and all liable parties. Insurance companies routinely deny an initial claim and even try to place blame on the victim. Early settlement offers are almost always well below the amount of money needed to fully compensate the victim.

empty table at insurance office Image by Canva.com

In addition to the insurance company, large companies will often have a team of aggressive attorneys ready to fight any claims from victims of crashes.

The attorneys at Kane Personal injury deal with a defendant’s attorney and insurance company so that the victim of a truck accident can focus on getting well. They know what belongs in an official demand letter and can take care of its filing. They have the ability to subpoena things like dash cam footage or telematics data. Telematics systems are used by many companies to monitor and track speed, locations, and other driver data in their fleet of trucks.

Why the Right Truck Accident Attorney is Important

If your car is hit by a truck or trailer, it is likely that it sustained damage and you suffered from injuries. Finding the right truck accident attorney is essential to getting full compensation for your losses. Kane Personal Injury in Las Cruces has experience proving who is liable in a truck accident and fighting for their clients rights to a fair settlement.

Please note that this article was created for advertisement purposes, and it does not constitute any contractual legal relationship, nor imply one.