Frequently Asked Questions about Truck Accident Cases in New Mexico
Below are the answers to common initial questions many clients have when they first contact Keller and Keller. We hope that the information below address many initial concerns you may have, but if you don't find the answers here, please contact us with questions specific to your case. The consultation is free and confidential.
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Why do I need a lawyer for my New Mexico semi-truck accident?
If you have been injured in a semi-truck accident in New Mexico, you are already at a disadvantage. Not only are you 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 legal team with years of experience handling the many accidents their drivers are involved in, so you should have the same advantage of having an experienced team behind you. Crashes with commercial vehicles are not like car accidents and should not be handled the same way.
How Keller & Keller Can Help Your Recovery
When you hire the experienced truck accident attorneys at Keller & Keller to represent you in your claim against a negligent truck driver, we will strengthen your case by doing the following:
- Conducting a thorough investigation. 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 to be preserved before it disappears. Our experienced team of investigators will file the necessary paperwork to block the destruction of key pieces of evidence, including driver logs and the truck’s electronic data recorder, to support your claim for compensation.
- Standing up to aggressive insurance companies. The trucking company’s insurer has one goal: to save themselves and their insured money. Most commercial trucks carry over $1 million in insurance, so there is a great deal of money on the line. You need someone on your side who is not afraid to stand up to the insurance company and demand the settlement you will need to make up for your losses.
- Fighting claims of shared liability. One way the trucker’s insurer will try to reduce its liability is to pin at least part of the blame on you. New Mexico’s pure comparative negligence law means your recovery will be reduced by the percentage you are found to be at fault. For example, if you are found to be 50 percent to blame for the accident, your settlement will be cut in half. Our attorneys will not allow the trucker’s legal team to influence determination of liability. We will fight to protect your recovery.
Get a Free Analysis of Your New Mexico Truck Accident
When you have been injured in a crash with a commercial semi-truck, call us as soon as possible. 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 New Mexico.
What are the most common types of New Mexico truck accidents?
Traveling on I-40 or I-25 in New Mexico, you see plenty of commercial semi-trucks passing through Albuquerque. In fact, I-40 is one of the most dangerous sections of interstate in the country, due in large part to its heavy use by semi-trucks making their way across the country. When you are aware of the kinds of accidents semi-trucks can cause, you may be able to avoid becoming the victim of one.
Types of Truck Accidents Common in New Mexico
Truck accidents can be caused by driver negligence, truck malfunction, negligent maintenance of the truck, or a combination of these issues. Because of their size and weight, there are many different types of accidents that can result, including:
- Jackknife accidents. Jackknifing is a term used to describe what happens when the back end or trailer portion of a truck swings around and creates a fold or an angle between the trailer and the cab. This happens when truck drivers are speeding or following too closely to be able to stop suddenly.
- Underride accidents. Because truck trailers are higher off the ground than most other vehicles on the roadway, cars traveling next to or behind the truck can end up pinned underneath the trailer when the truck stops suddenly. These kinds of crashes are often fatal for the occupants of the car.
- Unsecured cargo accidents. A fully loaded semi-truck can carry tens of thousands of pounds of cargo. If the cargo is not loaded and secured properly, it can fall into the roadway. This can be very dangerous if the truck is carrying hazardous material. Another common accident caused by improperly loaded cargo is overturning. When a truck is attempting to make a turn, it may be thrown off balance by improperly loaded cargo in its trailer.
- Truck driver negligence. Some of the most common examples of truck driver negligence include aggressive driving, drug or alcohol abuse, inexperience, criminal behavior, speeding, texting while driving, unsafe lane movements, and driver drowsiness.
- Failure to maintain the truck. Trucks are driven thousands of miles a week and because of this, it is critical that they are regularly examined and maintained by a trained mechanic. Common problems that can result in serious accidents include brake failure, work tires, defective equipment, improper reflectors and worn out locks and load straps.
- Employer negligence. Employers of truck drivers have a legal obligation to ensure that their drivers are qualified. This means that they have a duty to perform random drug testing, conduct background checks, and take measures to ensure that their drivers are properly trained and licensed. Federal and state regulations require that companies annually review each trucker’s driving record, which includes checking for any traffic violations.
When You Are Injured, You Need a New Mexico Truck Accident Attorney
If you were injured in any of these types of truck accidents in New Mexico, call the truck accident attorneys in our Albuquerque office. We have the experts you need on your side to investigate the crash and support your claim for compensation.
What is the most dangerous truck route in New Mexico?
You may never feel all that safe when driving near a commercial semi-truck. After all, your mid-size SUV will not offer much protection if you are sideswiped or rear-ended by a 40-ton tractor-trailer. And what if you are in a head-on collision with one? Your chances of survival are minimal. That is exactly what makes U.S. 550 so dangerous. In fact, it is among the deadliest stretches of road in New Mexico.
What Makes U.S. 550 So Deadly?
This 175-mile stretch of road runs between Bernalillo just north of Albuquerque to the Colorado border, passing through the towns of San Ysidro, Cuba, Nageezi, Bloomfield, and Aztec. It is a four-lane undivided highway with a speed limit of 70 miles per hour. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, only I-40 had more fatalities per road mile in New Mexico from 2013-2015, and that interstate carries twice the traffic of U.S. 550. With no barrier between the two directions of traffic, vehicles—including semi-trucks—can easily cross the 6-foot-wide median into oncoming traffic. This is exactly what happened in a tragic 2017 crash on U.S. 550—a semi-truck crossed the median and collided with the Crawford family, killing them all. Another family of four—the Millers—were killed in a similar accident on U.S. 550 in 2014.
What Can You Do When You Are the Victim of a Tragic Truck Crash?
While the lack of a barrier and the high speed limit on U.S. 550 make it a dangerous road, it is still a driver’s responsibility to be alert, sober, focused, and in control as they travel on it. When a truck driver fails in this responsibility and causes an accident, he—and possibly his employer—can and should be held liable for the damage that is caused. If you or your passengers are injured or a loved one is killed by a negligent trucker on U.S. 550 in New Mexico, contact the truck accident attorneys Keller & Keller in Albuquerque. We will investigate the crash to determine the cause and stand up to the team of attorneys the trucking company is likely to send in defense of its driver. Whether we are seeking injury damages or wrongful death damages, we will fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact our New Mexico office today.
Why shouldn't I settle with the insurance company myself?
Don’t Take Their First Offer
Initially, the insurance adjuster is going to seem nice and helpful. Don’t be surprised if they tell you that you don’t need an attorney. They will say that they will work with you to resolve your case fairly. The offer from the trucking may even sound appealing, and maybe even fair, at first. But, keep in mind, 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 pay you the smallest amount possible.
Insurance companies will quickly offer to may your first few medical bills or lost wages so that they can settle your case quickly and wash their hands of the incident. It is important to remember a couple of important things: (1) the insurance company will only settle with you once. If you settle with them today but go to the doctor next week, that doctor’s visit may not be covered and you will not be compensated for your ongoing pain and suffering, and (2) it is import to consider not only how you are feeling today, but how you will feel tomorrow, next week, next month, and maybe even for years to come. If you settle your case too early or sign anything from the trucking company, you may be signing away your right to full compensation should your injuries become worse or should you need more treatment.
Truck Accidents Are Complicated
They require expert investigation and liability analysis that only an experienced attorney can provide. You may not even be able to get your hands on all of the evidence without an attorney involved. In order to see the full picture, assess every avenue of liability, and ensure that you get full and fair compensation, hiring an attorney is an absolute must.
What regulations affect truck accidents in New Mexico? Why are semi accidents different?
Both Federal and State laws regulate trucking companies and semi drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates drivers of commercial motor vehicles and applies to all vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating in excess of 10,000 pounds. The FMCSA monitors vehicle drivers’ licenses as well as the safety of the drivers’ practices. Interstate trucking on public roads is overseen by the Department of Transportation (DOT). State regulations govern purely intrastate activity.
The carrier is the company behind the trucks and their operators. Before a carrier even puts one truck on the road, it must agree to adhere to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). Furthermore, interstate motor carriers (those carriers whose trucks travel across state lines) must register with the United State Department of Transportation to comply with the following:
- Regulations of the Secretary of Transportation and Surface Transportation Board
- Any safety regulations, duties of carriers and employees, and safety fitness requirements imposed by the Secretary, and
- The minimum financial responsibility requirements
Carriers that operate only within one state must comply with state regulations, which are often very similar to federal regulations.
A carrier must register with the FMCSA which grants operating authority to the carrier and receive a USDOT number that must be displayed on each commercial motor vehicle to identify the carrier name. The USDOT number identifies who owns the vehicle and assist with monitoring the carrier’s safety data from crash investigations, inspections, audits and compliance reviews.
The FMCSR states that the motor carrier has a clear, nondelegable duty to monitor, control, and supervise the conduct of every driver and employee, including independent contractors. This duty includes:
- Documentation and preservation of records
- Supervision and retention
- Financial responsibility
- Weight and size restrictions
- Post-accident truck driver testing
Not just anyone can drive a semi truck. Truck drivers must meet certain basic qualifications and comply with federal regulations before they can ever get behind the wheel. Federal regulations require truck drivers to obtain a commercial driver’s license or CDL. The New Mexico DMV website has information on New Mexico CDL testing requirements and has the Commercial Driver’s License Manual available for download.
After a driver has obtained their CDL and starts driving, there are many other regulations that they must then follow:
A driver is required to produce a “Driver Vehicle Examination Report” at the end of each work day. A driver must also properly document his hours of service.
Before beginning on his route, a driver is required by federal regulation to check and be satisfied that equipment and parts are in good working order.
3. Basic Operation
A driver must report to his employer any and all traffic violations.
4. Cargo Securement
A driver is responsible for ensuring that he is not transporting an overload, which can be very dangerous and may result in serious accidents.
5. Fatigue and Truck Driver Hours of Service Rules
One of the most controversial issues for truck drivers and those traveling on the road around them is driver fatigue. A new regulation took effect in July of 2013 mandating that the truck hours of service must not exceed 11 hours after the trucker has spent 10 consecutive hours off duty.
6. Texting and Driving
The FMCSA prohibits texting and driving. This law applies to both truck drivers and bus drivers carrying a CDL.
The FMSCA Regulations are exhaustive and can be difficult to understand. If a truck driver and/or their company failed to comply with one or more of these regulations and the violation contributed to your injuries, an experienced attorney may be able to use the violations as a basis for your lawsuit. Hiring an attorney with experiencing in handling truck accidents and knowledge of trucking regulations is key to the successful outcome of your case.
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