Albuquerque & Rio Rancho Truck Accident Attorney
It is no wonder that truck accidents are more frightening to contemplate than car accidents.
Fully loaded commercial trucks can weigh up to 30 times as much as automobiles. Because this disparity in weight presents much greater danger to the public in cases of collision, trucking companies are held to higher regulatory standards than are the owners of private cars. Nonetheless, accidents involving trucks involve proportionately more severe injuries and more fatalities than other types of crashes.
If you incur severe injuries as a result of an accident with a truck, you’ll need an experienced attorney by your side, one who not only has knowledge of the intricacies of personal injury law, but who is savvy regarding trucking regulations, the ways trucking companies may cut corners in obeying such regulations, and the ways insurance adjusters may attempt to use bad faith methods to bully, intimidate, or cajole victims to protect their company’s bottom line. One thing we always advise our clients is not to give statements or sign documents before consulting with legal professionals.
How MPJ Law Firm Gives You the Upper Hand
At MPJ Law Firm, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we are extremely adept at getting to the heart of insurance misconduct, ferreting out bad-faith actions on the part of some truck insurers, and pinpointing any violations of The Unfair Insurance Practices Act or the Unfair Trade Practices Act. The talents of our team in these areas give you a distinct advantage in fighting against heavyweight trucking companies and their insurers.
How Trucking Companies May Be Liable for Accidents
Although accidents are called “accidents” because they are unpredictable, there are several factors that frequently contribute to accidents involving “big rigs.” For one thing, large vehicles that are constantly traveling long distances require high-level maintenance and frequent testing to ensure that all necessary parts — engines, brakes, brake lights and headlights, steering mechanisms, reflectors, tires — are functioning properly. If the trucking company has failed to check its vehicle regularly and/or to keep detailed records of such inspections, it may well bear responsibility for your injuries.
Another reason trucking companies may be considered at fault is that they expect their drivers to work long hours under pressure to meet deadlines. While there are laws in place to limit the hours truckers are permitted to work without rest, too many employers don’t follow these mandates. For this reason, too many truck drivers are overworked and dangerously fatigued. A significant number of fatalities occur when truckers are simply exhausted, unable to concentrate or actually dozing while driving. Combine these facts with the increased time it takes for a truck to come to a stop when braking, and the cumbersome size that makes a truck much harder to maneuver than a car, and you can have a recipe for disaster.
To summarize, trucking companies may also be liable for trucking accidents if:
- They have not enforced time limits for truckers to be at the wheel
- They have dangerously overloaded the vehicle
- They have not scrupulously maintained the vehicle
- The truckload is improperly secured
- Equipment on the truck is defective, improperly installed or repaired
- They have inadequately trained their drivers
How Truckers Themselves May Be at Fault
In addition to the ways in which trucking companies may contribute to disastrous accidents, the truckers themselves are as fallible as any other drivers. They may jeopardize others on the road by:
- Failing to take required rest periods
- Driving while distracted (texting, talking on cell phones, eating)
- Driving while intoxicated or impaired by drugs
- Driving recklessly
Other Reasons for Trucking Accidents
As if the previous reasons mentioned were not enough, there are complications that may be the fault of bad weather, poorly maintained roadways, or objects blowing or falling onto the surface of the road. Unfortunately, trucking accidents are all too often exacerbated by the load being carried which may be slippery, flammable, or toxic. It is also possible that a truck, like a car, has a defective part, in which case the manufacturer, rather than the trucking company or individual driver may be responsible for the accident.
Negotiation or Litigation?
If you have been severely injured in an accident in which the trucker or trucking company is at fault, MPJ Law Firm may be able to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf without ever taking your case to court. If the opposing party makes such an agreement impossible, however, we are fully prepared to vigorously defend your rights through litigation.
Compensation for Personal Injuries
There are two basic types of legal compensation available to victims of trucking accidents: compensatory damages and punitive damages. They differ as follows:
Compensatory Damages are awarded to reimburse you, the victim, for all costs incurred as a result of your injuries, including:
- Medical, surgical, rehabilitative, and pharmaceutical out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost wages for the period of time you are unable to work
- Lost future wages if you develop a long-term disability
- Pain and suffering (both physical and psychological)
- Permanent disfigurement
Punitive Damages, on the other hand, are awarded when the opposing party (whether the truck driver, trucking company, or trucking manufacturer) has committed a particularly egregious act. These damages are awarded not only to punish the perpetrator, but to warn off any other parties who may be inclined to engage in similarly outrageous misbehavior.
There are, tragically, trucking accidents that result in fatalities. While, in terms of the distances traveled, trucking accidents are less frequent than car accidents, a larger percentage of fatalities occur in accidents involving trucks. If you have lost a loved one in a collision with a truck, no compensation will ever be enough. You are, however, entitled to collect monetary damages to reimburse you and other survivors for:
- Medical, surgical, rehabilitative costs prior to death
- Conscious pain and suffering prior to death
- Loss of support and services
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of parental guidance (for surviving children)
- Funeral expenses
>Having a capable, intelligent attorney at your side, whether you are the victim or a survivor can make all the difference in winning your case and obtaining every dollar you deserve.
Possible Complications Relative to Liability
One of the reasons it’s important to have a well-informed attorney if you’re involved in an accident with a commercial truck is that there may be a number of potential defendants should you decide to file a lawsuit. In addition to the truck driver and the company that employs that driver, there may be contractors, employers, manufacturers or shippers, or a variety of insurance companies that the law may hold responsible for your injuries. In truck accidents in which the truck driver is an independent contractor, the question of liability may become even more complex.
Pure Comparative Negligence
Something else you need to be aware of is that New Mexico is a state in which pure comparative negligence is the rule. This means that each party in an accident may be held accountable for a percentage of fault. So, if the driver of the car is found to be 20 percent at fault, he or she will have whatever amount is awarded in damages cut by 20 percent. In such a case, for example, if the award is $100,000, that driver will receive $80,000. While many states have comparative negligence standards, New Mexico is one of only 13 that has “pure” comparative negligence. Therefore, in our state you may have your award of damages decreased by as little as 1 percent if you are found to have a tiny bit of responsibility for the collision.
If you’re involved in a truck accident, having talented legal representation will help to put you on a level playing field with the large companies you will probably be dealing with. At MPJ Law Firm we are here to take over your case so that you can relax and recover from your physical and/or emotional trauma. Remember, we never bill you for services unless we win your case through settlement or verdict. Contact us for a free consultation today.