It is always a good idea to consult with an attorney before making a decision on how to proceed in a semi-truck accident case. If you have been in a semi-truck accident, you are already at a disadvantage. Not only are you injured and in pain, but you are probably missing work and have a long road to recovery ahead of you. You want to make sure that the negligent truck driver and the trucking company pay you fully and fairly for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The trucking company likely has a team with years of experience handling the many accidents their drivers are involved in, so you should have the same advantage of having an experience team behind you.
Not only do you deserve experience on your side, but there are 3 BIG reasons why you should hire an attorney to represent you in your semi truck accident case.
1. Early Investigation Is Key
It is critical that truck accident cases are investigated as soon as possible. Witnesses need to be interviewed before their memories fade and evidence needs preserved before it disappears. As soon as a truck driver is involved in an accident, his instruction is to call his carrier or company main office immediately. Right away, the carrier’s or their insurers will send an investigation team to the scene to talk to witnesses and preserve evidence that supports their driver’s version of events.
The scene of a truck accident can be critically important for evidentiary purposes. Accident scenes can change quickly as debris is swept away, roads are reopened, and effects of the New Mexico weather take its toll. The more quickly you can contact an experienced attorney who can get to the scene as soon as possible, the more likely you will be able to preserve the best evidence to tell your side of the story. This critical evidence should be both photographed and documented. Important evidence can include damage to both your vehicle and the semi, road layout and surface conditions, debris, fluid stains, obstructed traffic signs, skid marks, and lighting conditions.
If you are lucky enough to have a witness to the accident, hopefully the responding police officer will document their recollection of events. However, it can be pivotal to have your attorney or your attorney’s investigator take a more formal statement from the witness as soon as possible which the memories are still fresh. Unbeknownst to you, witnesses may have observed the truck driver’s behavior prior to the accident, may have details about the weather or roadway conditions, and may have even hurt statements made by the driver after the accident occurred.
Truck Data & Reports
Today, most trucks have an electronic device—similar to a black box—that records comprehensive data about significant events. This data can be erased if not preserved within a timely fashion. One of the first things your attorney should do is notify the carrier that this information should be preserved. Without an attorney, it may be impossible to get your hands on this data. Truck drivers are also required to keep logbooks tracking information about their trips.
2. Aggressive Insurance Companies
Per FMCSA regulations, semi trucks must have a minimum of $750,000 in insurance coverage, with most having upwards of $1 million in coverage. Because of the amount of money on the line, the insurance company for the trucking driver and carrier will very aggressively defend their case and do whatever they can to limit liability. These companies have years of experience dealing with truck accident claims and have access to an experienced team who are familiar with the rules and regulations governing trucking companies and their drivers. You deserve a team that is just as experienced.
Remember! It is neither the trucking company’s nor its insurance carrier’s job to pay you what your case is worth. Instead, it is their job to limit their liability and pay you the smallest amount possible.
3. Liability Disputes
As with any accident, there are often factual disputes that arise. Sometimes, even the police report may place you partially at fault. Don’t take the police report as the final word. There are instances when officers make honest mistakes or new evidence or witnesses are located after the initial report is completed. Even if the report places you completely at fault, it is still a good idea to contact an attorney, especially in New Mexico.
If you are partially at fault for the accident, you are still entitled to a recovery in New Mexico. Every state has different laws regarding theories of negligence. New Mexico is a pure comparative fault state, which means that even if you are partially at fault, you are not barred from recovery, but the recovery is reduced by the degree of fault placed on you for the accident. The Pure Comparative Fault Rule allows the injured party to recover even if they are 99% at fault for the accident (See Scott v. Rizzo, 634 P.2d 1234 (1981)).
Example: If you were involved in a car accident that resulted in serious injury and received a settlement in the amount of $50,000 but were 90% at fault, your compensation would decrease by $45,000, leaving you with a total settlement of $5,000.
Contact Keller & Keller Today for a Free Analysis of Your Truck Accident Claim
Our experienced team of attorneys and investigators will be able to make sure that you get the assistance you deserve. From our office in Albuquerque, we're proud to serve injured victims of trucking accidents throughout all of Nex Mexico.