When individuals are injured because of the negligence of another party, there is often a way to at least get some sort of relief, whether it be through a personal injury case or an insurance claim. However, this is not necessarily the case when the other party is a governmental entity. All states have some form of governmental immunity that bars civil personal injury lawsuits against the government. This was originally enacted to ensure that the government runs smoothly without being unduly delayed by many, occasionally frivolous lawsuits. However, this bar can cause a serious problem for victims who are left without any recourse after being injured by a negligent government employee or agency.

Fire TruckAlthough the Tort Claims Act bars many lawsuits, there are still certain waivers that can allow the government to be held liable. First, it is very important that individuals know that if they want to bring a lawsuit against the government in New Mexico, they give notice within 90 days of the event that gave rise to the claim. Furthermore, the case must involve an actor that falls within one of the exceptions to immunity.

In New Mexico, government immunity attaches to governmental actors, such as those that were operating a motor vehicle, aircraft, or watercraft, as well as government agencies like those operating or maintaining a public park or building, operating an airport, or operating a hospital or mental institution. Furthermore, this waiver may apply to injuries or damages that were caused by law enforcement officers who were acting within the scope of their employment.

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New Mexico is a vast state that is home to many long-haul truck drivers, making cross-country trips. As a result, there are many serious and fatal truck accidents that occur each year. Trucking accidents occur for a variety of reasons, including driver fatigue, mechanical failures, inexperience, and distraction. In a situation in which an individual is involved in a trucking accident, it may seem most logical to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the truck driver, and this is often the case. However, the driver is not always the sole party responsible for the accident. Victims should consider the root cause of the accident and the possibility that the trucking company was also at fault.

Three TrucksThe theory that is used to pursue a claim against a trucking company is referred to as “respondeat superior.” This is a Latin phrase representing the idea that in certain instances an employer should be held liable for those whom they are supervising. However, there are many caveats to this doctrine, and it can be complicated to navigate without an attorney who is well-versed in this specific area of the law.

Generally speaking, the employer will be responsible if the negligent truck driver was acting within the “scope of employment” when the accident occurred. Of course, as with many things in the law, this is not always straightforward. Issues may arise when the trucking company claims that the truck driver was an “independent contractor,” and therefore the company should not be liable. An experienced attorney can assist a victim with going through the intricacies of the law and making sure that they are fairly compensated by all responsible parties.

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Truck  accidents can be extremely traumatizing and often involve serious injuries or even deaths. This experience can be doubly difficult when the culpable party does not stay at the scene of the accident. New Mexico law mandates that individuals who are involved in an accident must stop their vehicles and, if possible, move their cars to a place where they are least likely to cause further delays or accidents. The driver must provide their name, address, and identifying information to any law enforcement and the injured party. Furthermore, the state requires that if another party is injured, the culpable party must provide “reasonable assistance” to the victim. This may be acts such as calling emergency personnel or even taking the injured party to the hospital.

Semi-TrucksA hit-and-run occurs when the culpable party does not engage in the above behaviors but rather leaves the scene of the accident. Participating in a hit-and-run can lead to criminal repercussions in addition to civil lawsuits, fines, and penalties.

Sadly, in these situations, the burden is put on the victim or a witness to provide pertinent information to law enforcement. However, in many situations, the victim is not in a position to jot down a license plate number or identifying information. It is very important that victims immediately contact law enforcement when they are involved in a hit-and-run because time is of the essence in these sorts of cases.

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Truck accidents occur each day on New Mexico highways. While some of them are minor, and all parties involved are able to walk away from the crash, others are much more serious. In fact, in 2014, the total number of fatal trucking accidents was 337. Since several of these truck accidents resulted in multiple fatalities, the total number of lives lost was 383. This equates to about 18 deaths per 100,000 people.

TruckerThere are many causes of truck accidents. Of course, sometimes it is as clear-cut as police determining that the truck driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident or had fallen asleep behind the wheel. Other times, however, determining who is at fault in a fatal truck accident, and how the accident was caused, can be difficult. In these cases, it is often left to the court system to make a determination of who was at fault. Even in cases in which citations were issued, the court system must still enter its own judgment before any victim is entitled to compensation for their injuries.

It is therefore very important that anyone involved in a serious or fatal truck accident retain dedicated counsel to assist them with the preparation of their case. Accident victims only get one chance to bring their case against an allegedly negligent truck driver, and if a court finds that the truck driver was not at fault, an accident victim’s opportunity to recover compensation is gone.

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Truck drivers, like all other motorists, have a duty to ensure the safe operation of their vehicle. Of course, this includes maintaining their rig so that it meets safety standards and also following the rules of the road. When a truck driver causes an accident because of a failure to follow these rules, he may be held liable for any injuries caused as a result. This is normally done through a negligence lawsuit.

Semi TruckIn some cases, the police or highway patrol may cite a truck driver for some traffic violation in relation to an accident. In other egregious cases, there may be criminal charges filed against the truck driver. However, with regard to a personal injury lawsuit, neither of these is required for the case to be successful. This is in part due to the different standards in civil and criminal cases. Criminal cases require a “guilty mind” and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas civil cases rely on negligence and can be proven by meeting a lower standard.

Fatal Truck Accident Claims Two Lives

Earlier this month in New York, it was announced that a truck driver responsible for an accident that claimed two lives will not face criminal charges. According to a recent news article reporting on the event, the accident took place in August of last year.

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Personal injury cases are governed by certain rules, set by the legislature in conjunction with the highest court in the state. These rules range from the procedures that must be followed by both parties when proceeding through a lawsuit to the substantive rules of evidence governing which evidence is admissible at trial.

OverpassThe rules of evidence act as a guide to trial judges, helping them understand which evidence the parties are able to submit. Not all evidence is admissible at trial. For example, only relevant evidence is admissible. If a party tries to submit irrelevant evidence at trial, the judge can properly prevent that party from introducing the evidence. There are dozens of rules of evidence governing both the general rules as well as some very specific situations.

In truck accident cases, an accident victim may want to point to previous citations issued against the truck driver. However, the rules of evidence may prevent a party from submitting this evidence to a jury. Evidence of a party’s propensity to act in a certain way is not generally admissible, unless it is offered for another reason. For example, this may mean that an accident victim may not be able to show evidence of a truck driver’s previous speeding tickets, even if the accident in the current case involved allegations of speeding. This is because the law is not willing to say that just because a party acted in a certain manner once they are likely to act in the same way on another occasion. However, there are ways that an attorney can get evidence of prior consistent acts admitted into evidence in some situations.

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When most people think of a truck accident, they think of a high-speed wreck on the highway. However, since trucks are difficult to maneuver, and drivers have a hard time checking all their blind spots, parking lots can also be a dangerous area for pedestrians when trucks are around. In fact, low-speed accidents account for a large portion of the truck accidents that occur each year.

Gas PumpsTruck drivers have a legally imposed duty to make sure that when they are operating their vehicle, they are doing so in a safe manner. This includes giving the truck a pre-trip look over to make sure that all the external mirrors, locks, and equipment are properly attached and functioning. Once the truck driver conducts that check, he also needs to make sure that he carefully leaves the parking lot. If the proper care is not taken, a serious or fatal pedestrian accident could take place, leaving the truck driver liable for the damages. In fact, this very type of accident recently occurred in the parking lot of a Pennsylvania gas station.

Truck Driver Runs Over Pedestrian in Gas Station Parking Lot

Earlier this month, one man was killed when he was run over and then dragged by a tractor trailer after he had stopped to get gas off the highway. According to one local news report covering the tragic accident, the tragedy occurred in the early morning hours on a main state highway.

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When an individual has been injured due to the negligence of a truck driver, the injured person or their family will often incur a series of costly medical expenses. In many situations, insurance companies do not fully cover the costs associated with the medical care and ongoing expenses as well as the detriments that the injured party suffered. These victims may try and pursue a case against the negligent truck driver, but in certain situations the company that employs the negligent truck driver may be the party mainly responsible for the accident — or at least be partially responsible.

Truck DriverTruck drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers on the road, mainly because of the sheer magnitude of their vehicles and the disastrous impact an accident can have. Trucking companies are mandated by federal regulations to ensure that their truckers are licensed to drive commercial vehicles and are trained properly, and they need to ensure that their trucks are in proper working order. However, there are, of course, situations in which trucking companies fail to comply with the aforementioned requirements, and as a result an accident occurs.

Trucking companies are supposed to ensure that their drivers know how to control the vehicle they are driving. This means that they should be given specific training and taught safety precautions in relation to the truck they will be operating. Additionally, trucking companies are supposed to make sure that the drivers keep log books of their travel time. In fact, there are federally mandated rules that regulate the amount of time that truck drivers are allowed to drive without a break. The trucking companies need to ensure that their drivers are complying with this requirement. When truck drivers push their own limits, there are serious consequences, such as driver fatigue and inattention. Furthermore, although truck drivers are responsible to periodically inspect their vehicles, the trucking company has the duty of ensuring that such inspections actually occur and that the truck driver fixes any problems with the truck.

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New Mexico is an expansive state that many truck drivers pass through when making cross-country trips. An unfortunate consequence of such frequent travel through the state is the increased risk and prevalence of accidents. There are several causes of trucking accidents in New Mexico, such as truck driver inexperience, mechanical flaws in the truck, and unfamiliarity with road conditions. Additionally, one very common cause of trucking accidents in New Mexico is truck driver fatigue and drowsiness. There are many reasons that truck drivers may be drowsy when they are driving and still continue on without stopping for appropriate rest.

Truck's GrillThe trucking and transportation industry is highly competitive, especially in this day and age when many customers order goods online and rely on timely shipments. Often, transportation and trucking companies will mandate that their employees complete shipments in a specific amount of time. Many times, trucking companies require that their drivers drive almost 70 hours in an eight-day time frame. This comports with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which allows truckers to drive up to 11 hours straight in one day. Unfortunately, these requirements lead to exceedingly fatigued drivers who are expected to make their trips profitable for their company. There is no way that drivers can drive this amount of time without experiencing fatigue.

Furthermore, many times, truck drivers use both legal and illicit stimulants to stay up in the hopes that accidents will be avoided. However, research suggests that the overuse of these stimulants can actually result in opposite effects. There is no substitute for actual rest and sleep. The drivers may believe that they are more alert than they actually are, and accidents are bound to occur.

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An appellate court recently issued an opinion regarding a trucking accident lawsuit that hinged on jurisdiction. The lawsuit stemmed from a 2014 accident in which a SUV and a tractor-trailer were on a Texas highway. The SUV had an engine failure, and the car stopped immediately in front of the truck in the far right lane. The truck slammed into the SUV, and it was pinned to a wall. Both the truck and the SUV were seriously damaged, one of the SUV’s occupants was killed, and the other was seriously injured.

Supreme CourtThe trucking company filed a lawsuit against the SUV driver for property damage in one county. The family then brought a personal injury lawsuit against the trucking company in another county. Both parties argued that the case should be heard in the county of their choice. Both parties went on to file dueling pleas in their respective counties. The case went all the way to the state supreme court.

The court held in favor of the trucking company. The court stated that even if the trucking company’s conduct was inequitable, the family failed to allege that the trucking company’s behavior caused them a delay in filing. Ultimately, the court held that even if it is expected that parties may “race to the courthouse” to ensure that their forum is dominant, it is crucial that the race is not unfairly run.

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The State Supreme Court in Delaware recently released its opinion regarding an accident that occurred on March 27, 2012. Evidently, a student was injured when she was struck by another vehicle as she was boarding a school bus. The student waited for the signal from the school bus driver to board as she was crossing the street, and as she did so, the third-party vehicle hit her.

School BusThe bus was insured by an insurance company, and the student brought a claim to receive personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. PIP benefits are an extension of car insurance that is supposed to cover medical expenses for those other than the insured when the insured causes an accident. They are often referred to as “no-fault” coverage because an injured party should be able to claim benefits whether or not the accident was the injured party’s fault.

The insurance company argued that they should not have to pay out these benefits because their insured was not at fault for the accident. However, the Superior and Supreme Courts disagreed. The courts cited the state statute that explains that these benefits should be applied “to each person occupying such motor vehicle and to any other person injured in an accident involving such motor vehicle, other than an occupant of another vehicle.”

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In early May 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled on a products liability case surrounding a defective truck under-ride guard. According to the court’s opinion, the accident in question occurred in 2010 when a 28-year-old mother was driving near San Juan when her Jeep collided with a truck. Apparently, the front of the Jeep hit the truck from behind and “underrode” the truck’s main body. Sadly, the accident resulted in the truck slicing the woman’s head and face, which ultimately caused her death.

Truck on HighwayThe woman’s family members brought a lawsuit against the driver and municipality, claiming that the truck’s under-ride guard was defective. The plaintiff’s experts claimed that a large part of the truck was not protected by an under-ride guard and that the guard was not sufficiently designed to sustain impacts because it was not supported properly by the beams.

The experts concluded that the Jeep’s safety features were unable to perform effectively because the truck did not have appropriate under-ride guards. The experts also testified at trial that there are safer alternative guard designs for the truck in question. A verdict in favor of the plaintiff was handed down, and the defendants appealed on the basis of the jury’s damages award as well as the inclusion of the plaintiff’s expert testimony. However, the First Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision to allow the expert testimony regarding the conclusion that safer alternatives to the under-ride guard existed at the time.

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The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts recently released its opinion in a case that arose from a tragic drunk driving accident back in 2011. According to the court’s opinion, the decedent was killed when he drove drunk after leaving a local restaurant. Evidently, the decedent was a frequent patron of the restaurant and was witnessed to have been drunk on several prior occasions. There was also evidence that he was heavily drinking on the night of the accident. Evidence also showed that on a prior night, the decedent was with his two young daughters at the very same bar. One of his daughters was crying and told the bartender that she was crying because her father was drunk, but the bartender continued to serve drinks to the man.

Liquor BottlesAfter the deadly accident, the deceased man’s daughters filed a wrongful death action under state law, claiming that the defendant was negligent in serving alcohol to their father. The defendant argued that the plaintiffs did not have personal knowledge of the circumstances, and therefore the case should be dismissed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling that the case should not be dismissed because the state’s Dram Shop Law allows affidavits based on other information and beliefs, and this particular case satisfied the evidentiary requirements. In other words, first-hand knowledge was not required.

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Trucking accidents are some of the deadliest types of accidents. This is largely because of the size and weight of large trucks, and the resulting damage that occurs when large vehicles crash into one another. It is no surprise that many of New Mexico’s trucking accidents are caused by negligent driving. To ensure safe roads, truck drivers in New Mexico are required to undergo training prior to being issued a commercial driver’s license. Additionally, it is important that truck drivers are routinely educated on new safety regulations and are aware of the intricacies of the specific truck they are driving. At no time are diligence and care more important than when weather conditions are poor.

Rainy RoadInclement Weather and New Mexico Truck Accidents

Weather conditions in New Mexico can change drastically, and it is extremely important that truck drivers adjust their driving to those conditions. Truck drivers should always conduct a pre-journey inspection of their vehicle. This includes a visual and hands-on inspection, making sure to pay particular attention to brakes and wipers. Additionally, when the weather begins to change, the drivers should immediately and safely slow down. Many times, truck drivers do not pay attention to the speed they are driving, or they consciously speed to get to their destination more quickly.

Fast-moving trucks next to normal-sized sedans can cause sedans to have to swerve out of the way or be splashed with ice or snow. Furthermore, truck drivers should always hold their steering wheels with a tight grip and provide enough space for other drivers to safely pass them. Most importantly, although drivers have deadlines to meet, it is important that if road conditions are especially bad, they get off the road so that they do not cause an accident.

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As of 2012, all 50 states in the U.S. have some version of a Move Over Law that was enacted to make the roads safer for law enforcement and first responders. Move Over Laws were a response to the increasing number of workers, law enforcement, and first responders who have been injured or killed by a car when they were working on the side of the road. Evidently, in 2005, almost 400 workers were killed in what is termed “struck-by” accidents, when they were conducting roadwork. Additionally, the FBI has stated that law enforcement officers being struck on the side of the road is one of the major causes of law enforcement deaths.

police carIn 2005, New Mexico implemented a Move Over Law, which applies to law enforcement, emergency vehicles, and first responders. The law mandates that drivers slow down and change lanes, as long as it is possible, to provide the individuals on the side of the road with ample room to safely conduct their business. New Mexico Law 66-7-332 explained that as soon as an individual approaches an authorized emergency vehicle that has flashing lights on, they must yield the right of way and drive to a position as close to the right-hand side of the road, edge, or curb as possible. Furthermore, they must remain there until they are directed by the police officer to move.

Moreover, if a driver approaches a stationary emergency vehicle that is displaying flashing lights, barring very specific extenuating circumstances, they must drive in a lane that is not adjacent to the stopped car and proceed with caution. If they cannot drive in an adjacent lane, they must decrease their speed, proceed with caution, and be prepared to stop. Importantly, this law still requires that the emergency vehicle driver abide by the duty of care to drive safely on the highway.

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Negligence and personal injury lawsuits often take a great deal of time and as a result can be a truly mentally, emotionally, and even physically daunting experience. This is especially true in trucking accidents because the injuries are often more severe, there are usually many parties involved, and apportioning liability may take a significant amount of time. It is important that people understand that there is a possibility that cases may be handled and settled before even getting to the trial stage. An experienced attorney can help clients determine whether pre-trial interventions and settlements will be the best course of action.

truck-766800_960_720Many states require that certain initial steps be taken in order to commence a lawsuit. In New Mexico, the injured victim or the plaintiff will need to file a complaint that alleges what the cause of action is. In this complaint, the plaintiff must ask for relief from the culpable party, and this relief will include the damages that are demanded. Next, the New Mexico clerk of court will summon the defendant, and the paperwork will be served upon them, at which point they will have time to file an answer.

These initial stages are actually some of the most crucial stages in these types of lawsuits. During this stage, attorneys may attempt to persuade the judge to make a decision based on the alleged facts, which may include finding in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant. Moreover, cases may be thrown out for procedural missteps as well.

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The Court of Appeals in Maryland recently heard a case involving an injured plaintiff who was hit by a dump truck. The dump truck company was operated by an individual and owned by a trucking company. A third-party concrete company hired the trucking company to conduct some work on their behalf. Apparently, the plaintiff was crossing an intersection when he was hit by the dump truck. The injured plaintiff brought a claim of negligence against the driver, the trucking company, and the concrete company that contracted with the trucking company.

eighteen-wheeler-614201_960_720At trial, the plaintiff claimed that the companies engaged in negligent hiring and that the driver was negligent. The concrete company asked the court to exclude evidence that showed that the driver had a suspended license at the time of the accident. Additionally, the concrete company also wanted to exclude that the truck was not insured at the time of the accident. The lower court denied those requests and allowed a witness to testify regarding the driver’s insurance status.

Ultimately, the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff. The case was then brought to the Court of Special Appeals. At that point, neither party disputed the fact that the lack of insurance was not relevant to any claim of ordinary negligence. However, the plaintiff contended that the lack of insurance showed that the concrete company did not use reasonable care in hiring the truck driver. The intermediate court reversed the circuit court’s decision, and the high court affirmed. It found that the admission into evidence of the seemingly irrelevant evidence of the driver’s insurance status was an error.

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Car accidents are an inevitable risk that individuals must take when traveling. Often, people rely on their driving skills and attention to avoid these situations, but when a person is a passenger in a vehicle, they lose that sense of control over situations that may arise. This is especially true when a person is traveling in a taxi cab or similar vehicle.

crash-1308575_960_720Although accidents involving passengers may seem straightforward, they are often not, especially if a truck is involved. Generally, a taxi-cab passenger will likely be able to collect damages from either the taxi-cab driver or the truck driver, since one party has to be liable or partially liable for the accident. Issues arise when neither party will assume responsibility, or if liability is difficult to attribute.

There are certain steps that an injured person must take to ensure that the case gets resolved quickly and without issue. First, after a party has been injured, it is important that they get all of the contact information of the parties involved. It may be difficult to do this if any of the parties is severely injured, but it is important to try and remember as much information as possible. The party should then immediately contact police officials.

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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Mississippi issued an opinion in a wrongful death case filed by the surviving family members of a man who was killed in a truck accident. In the case, Moreno v. TLSL, the court ended up dismissing the case against the truck driver and his employer, citing a lack of evidence of the driver’s negligence.

railings-1171037The Facts of the Case

Three men were killed when the pickup truck they were riding in struck a semi-truck from the rear. This case was brought by the estate of the driver of the pickup truck. The facts of the case were in dispute, and three witnesses testified to quite different versions of what happened in the moments leading up to the fatal truck accident.

The truck driver testified that he had just merged onto the highway when he saw headlights in his mirrors. He estimated that the headlights were about three-quarters of a mile away. However, the lights approached quickly, and not long after that a vehicle slammed into the back of his truck. He estimated that he was going about 35 miles per hour and was in 5th gear at the time of the accident.

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Bus drivers, taxi cabs, and train operators all share one thing in common, and that is a duty to their passengers. While all drivers have a duty to others on the road, these “common carriers” also have a heightened duty to ensure that the passengers they are transporting for pay enjoy a safe trip. When a common carrier lapses in this duty, the individual driver as well as the company employing him may be held liable in a New Mexico lawsuit.

up-in-clouds-1556517Lawsuits against common carriers rely on a breach of the common carrier’s duty to its passengers. Commonly, this is established through some kind of violation of the law or showing that the driver was somehow negligent in the operation of the vehicle. This can be shown through direct evidence, such as a blood-alcohol report indicating a driver was legally intoxicated at the time of the accident, or though circumstantial evidence.

Circumstantial evidence is evidence that tends to prove something but requires a fact-finder to make an inference to reach the ultimate conclusion. For example, if a driver inexplicably crosses over the center line and into traffic without any explanation, and no evidence of a medical emergency was presented, a fact-finder may determine that the driver had fallen asleep behind the wheel. This is similar to what happened in a recent accident that claimed 12 lives in France.

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Earlier this month, the West Virginia Supreme Court released its opinion regarding a trucking accident that was caused by one driver’s road rage. Evidently, in 2010 the plaintiff-truck driver was injured when he tried to avoid the defendant who negligently veered in front of the truck driver. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant was acting with road rage when he cut the truck driver off and quickly slammed on his brakes.

semi-mirror-1-1455724The plaintiff had to swerve to avoid the car and subsequently wrecked his truck and injured himself. The defendant left the scene of the accident; however, he was later apprehended because a witness followed him and wrote down his license plate information. The defendant claimed that he was unaware an accident had occurred and alleged that he was the victim of mistaken identity. The evidence at trial proved otherwise. Nevertheless, a jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant. They found that the plaintiff did not prove that the defendant negligently caused the accident.

The plaintiff asked the court to set aside the judgment. He argued that the defendant was not honest during pretrial discovery when he claimed that he had not been issued prior citations. The plaintiff claimed that because of this the verdict was unjust. The trial court, however, did not grant the plaintiff’s motion.

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Late last month, a federal appellate released its opinion regarding a negligence case against a trucker, his employer, and company. The case stems from a tragic accident that occurred back in 2011. According to court documents, a man was killed when a log skidder fell off of a truck in front of him while he was crossing a bridge over the Mississippi River. One of the defendants was driving the truck for his uncle, another defendant, who owned the trucking company.

gavel-1238036The deceased driver’s wife brought a claim against the truck driver and the trucking company’s owner, who was supposed to be blocking traffic on the bridge. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants were negligent for not following protocol when they attempted to block off the bridge to oncoming traffic. She argued that the accident occurred because the traffic controller (the trucking company’s owner) did not properly direct the driver. In support of her claim, the plaintiff had the sheriff of the county testify. He explained that it is local practice for a driver who is crossing the bridge with a wide load to call law enforcement ahead of time so that they can control traffic, rather than try and control traffic on their own.

The defendant truck driver admitted to being negligent. The other defendant denied being negligent and contested the specifics of the plaintiff’s claim. The jury went on to award the woman a $3 million verdict, finding that all of the parties were negligent. Two of the defendants, the company and truck driver’s employer, filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law, arguing that there had been insufficient evidence to find them liable for the traffic controller’s negligence. The appeals court and Circuit Court both found in favor of the plaintiff, opining that the plaintiff established all of the necessary requirements of a negligence claim, and that the company and truck driver’s employer should have foreseen the risks of their transport.

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According to the National Transportation Safety Board, New Mexico is known to have one of the highest amounts of truck traffic per capita on its highways. Often, these long-haul truckers have been driving for many hours without a break, and this, compounded with other factors, can result in dangerous accidents with potentially devastating results. Trucking accidents can be caused because of driver fatigue, distraction, lack of training, and truck malfunctions or loading mistakes.

gas-pedal-397481_960_720While an equipment malfunction may be categorized differently than fatigue or distraction, in many cases, it too can be the result of a party’s negligence. When a truck malfunctions and ultimately causes a dangerous situation that results in an accident, there may still be parties that should be held liable for their role in the accident. These parties may include the driver, the employer of the truck driver, or even the company that manufactured the defective part.

Truck drivers are supposed to make sure that their trucks are in proper working order prior to embarking on a trip. This includes doing a pre-travel check as well as mid-route check-ups. A truck driver can be held liable if they did not properly inspect their vehicle before embarking on their trip. Furthermore, the driver’s employer may be held liable if it did not properly train the driver on how to handle certain common circumstance that may arise in the course of his or her employment.

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Truck accidents are an unfortunate risk when driving on New Mexico roads. New Mexico happens to be one of the states where long-haul truckers frequently drive through and rest. As many people are aware, trucking accidents are also a very frequent occurrence in New Mexico. This may be because of the sheer strength and magnitude of trucks as well as the fatigue of the truck drivers. These accidents occur despite national regulations regarding the safety and training of these truck drivers.

truck-1181063_960_720The rate of accidents of truckers with even significant training is remarkably high, so one can imagine the rate of accidents involving people driving trucks who do not have that experience. A common scenario in which this can occur is when people rent moving trucks. Often, accidents will occur because the people renting the trucks have very little experience driving trucks and virtually no safety training. Additionally, people who rent moving trucks often do not understand the focus that is needed to drive trucks of that size. Distracted driving can result in serious accidents when the driver is driving in an average-sized sedan, and the risk of serious injury only increases relative to the size of the vehicle. Also, individuals who rent trucks may not know how the truck is supposed to drive when working properly. They may ignore signs that the truck is malfunctioning and continue to operate it.

In almost all cases, the rental companies require people to sign a waiver of liability before allowing them to rent their trucks. However, the validity of the waivers depends largely on the wording of the waiver and the exact circumstances of the accident. It is important that people who have been injured because they were involved in an accident with a rental truck contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

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Late last month, the Supreme Court of North Carolina released its opinion in a case stemming from an accident involving a school bus and another driver. The accident occurred back in 2007, when the plaintiff’s car was hit by a school bus that was in the process of transporting students to an athletic event. Approximately three years later, the plaintiff brought a lawsuit against the school board, alleging that the school bus driver was negligent and that his negligence resulted in the plaintiff’s serious injuries. This lawsuit was brought in front of the North Carolina Industrial Commission (“the Commission”).

Public school buses parked in a line with doors open

The defendant moved for a motion for summary judgment, claiming that the Commission did not have jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s claim. The plaintiff then appealed this decision, which was ultimately unanimously reversed. However, the defendant then went on to file a petition for discretionary review, which was permitted. The plaintiff argued that the school activity buses should be within the Commission’s discretion because the vehicle falls within the definition of a “public school bus or school transportation service vehicle.” The Supreme Court ruled that school buses, as described in the governmental immunity statute, and school activity buses, such as the one involved here, are two distinct categories, so these buses were not incorporated into the immunity waivers.

Jurisdictional Issues When Bringing a Negligence Suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act in New Mexico

As this blog has previously addressed, the Federal Tort Claims Act was created to limit the burden of excessive lawsuits against the government. However, with this Act come certain exceptions that allow individuals to bring suits against the government despite the statute. Issues may arise when there is a question as to what is actually covered by the Act and where to bring these types of suits.

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In previous posts, we have talked generally about the Tort Claims Act and how it applies to negligence lawsuits brought against the New Mexico government. To elaborate, many states, including New Mexico, are governed by the Tort Claims Act, which outlines when and how the government can be sued. This law provides certain exceptions to the immunity enjoyed by the government.

fire-truck-1479787It is important that individuals who wish to sue the government understand that even if their claim falls into one of the few enumerated exceptions, there are still very specific limitations on what they can recover.

For example, suppose an individual was injured because of a poorly maintained or designed roadway. At first glance, they may meet one of the exceptions, but the next step in the process is for the plaintiff to allege damages. This is where the limitations come into play. In New Mexico, a plaintiff is capped at $200,000 for damage to their property. Additionally, the cap extends to $300,000 for medical expenses and $400,000 for non-medically related damages.

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Whenever someone is injured in an auto accident that was caused at least in part by the road’s poor condition, that person may consider bringing a lawsuit against the government entity that maintains that roadway. In the majority of cases, this means that a plaintiff will bring a suit against the local or state government. Although these cases may seem straightforward, they are anything but. Suing the government comes with myriad issues because of the restrictions on those who attempt to sue the government. Additionally, sometimes there are several agencies that share control of maintaining different parts of the roadway, which complicates the matter even further.

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New Mexico is governed by the Tort Claims Act. This Act grants government entities certain immunities in personal injury cases. This was enacted to prevent the government from being burdened by an onslaught of lawsuits. However, taking into consideration public policy concerns, there are some exceptions in which individuals may still sue the government despite this immunity. In such cases, the immunity will not attach, and the lawsuit can proceed as normal.

New Mexico is a state that has a series of exceptions to the aforementioned Act, and these exceptions allow the government to be sued. One of the exceptions is when a person is injured because they were involved in an accident on a poorly maintained roadway. However, even after a plaintiff establishes that the roadway was poorly maintained or designed, they must still determine who is actually responsible for the part of the road that actually caused their injuries. For example, maybe one governmental agency designed the road and another agency was supposed to make repairs. In this situation, the plaintiff needs to indicate exactly which parties’ negligence caused their injuries. A failure to do so could result in the accident victim losing their ability to recover damages.

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Personal injury lawsuits are one of the most common ways to financially recover after being injured in an accident due to another person’s negligence. Although the requirements of a negligence lawsuit may seem clear-cut at first glance, they are anything but. This is especially the case when a government or government agency is alleged to be responsible for the accident.

snow-plows-1252488Unfortunately, the government is a powerful entity, and suing them entails significant hurdles. New Mexico, like many other states, is controlled by the Tort Claims Act. This Act was enacted to protect the government from being sued for its own negligent acts. However, as much as the government needs to be protected, individuals’ rights and remedies are also a legitimate concern for the government. Therefore, even though the government has certain protections, there are several situations when the immunity is waived or does not apply, and an individual is permitted to bring a claim against the government.

However, even when an exception may apply, bringing a suit against the government still entails additional procedural hurdles. For example, the government may assert that the employee who committed the tortuous act was an independent contractor. In those situations, the government can avoid liability and demand that the suit be dismissed.

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Every state in the United States has a law that outlines the repercussions for those who are found liable in a hit-and-run accident. Generally, hit-and-runs are accidents in which a person hits another vehicle, a pedestrian, or property and leaves the scene without attempting to call emergency personnel or render assistance. It also may include a failure to exchange information, even if no one is hurt in the accident.

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Under New Mexico law, specifically statute 66-7-203, the driver of a vehicle that is involved in any accident that causes an injury or death must comply with certain very specific requirements. First, the individual must provide their name, address, and registration number to the individual who was hit or any law enforcement authority that requests this information. Furthermore, the individual who collided with the injured party must attempt to render reasonable assistance. This usually means that they must call emergency personnel or make arrangements for carrying the individual to a hospital for treatment.

Unlike many other offenses, a hit-and-run does not necessarily include the element of fault. This means the violation occurs when a person leaves the scene of the accident, regardless of their level of fault in the initial incident. Thus, a driver can be found liable for a hit-and-run even for an accident they did not cause.

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Trucking accidents are some of the deadliest types of accidents that occur on New Mexico roads. Due to the number of trucks on our highways and the potential fatigue of long-haul truck drivers as they cross long stretches of open road, these accidents are quite prevalent in New Mexico. Clearly, the consequences are often disastrous. To help increase motorist safety, there are many federal regulations and safety standards that truck drivers and their respective companies must abide by. In part, these rules have been developed in response to the overwhelming number of accidents that are caused by drowsy truck drivers that push their own physical limits in order to try and stay on the road and remain as profitable as possible.

trucks-on-the-road-1449684Recently, in fact, there have been new regulations concerning how truckers keep track of their rest hours and how long a truck driver can be on the road without a break. As is often the case with regulations that may be difficult to enforce, some trucking companies have tried to bypass these rules in favor of making a larger profit by delivering goods at a faster rate. However, often it is not until an accident occurs and a subsequent investigation is conducted that this comes to light.

When an individual has been injured in a truck accident, they may be able to bring a lawsuit against the truck driver as well as their employer. Both truck drivers and their employers have a duty to operate their vehicles in a safe manner. Most people understand that a truck driver must not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, too drowsy to safely operate the vehicle, or otherwise too impaired to drive. However, since the trucking company that employs the driver also has a duty to other motorists not to put them in danger, this translates to a duty to make sure that their employees are properly trained and not imposing unrealistic driving expectations on them.

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When an individual injures another person because of their negligence, the victim or the victim’s family members may commence a negligence lawsuit to hold the other party liable. In certain circumstances, the alleged behavior that the culpable party engaged that caused the injury may be addressed and prohibited by an applicable statute. In those situations, the theory of negligence per se may apply.

spiral-notebook2-1542074In New Mexico, there is a specific test that must be addressed before there can be a finding of negligence per se. First, there must be a statute that addresses a certain action or standard of conduct. This statute can address the behavior either directly or implicitly. Next, the culpable party must have violated the statute. Then, the plaintiff must be able to establish that they are in the class of individuals that the statute was designed to protect. Lastly, the injury or damages suffered by the plaintiff must be the type that the regulation was designed to protect against.

Negligence per se may apply in some common situations. For example, this statute often applies in drunk driving cases or in cases with injuries caused by truck drivers not following outlined safety regulations.

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Distracted driving is not a new problem. However, it seems to be the cause of more and more accidents nationwide. In fact, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration has recently released reports indicating that thousands of individuals are killed as a result of distracted drivers each year. In response to the drastic increase in accidents because of cell phone usage and text messaging, New Mexico passed Senate Bill 19 back in 2014.

valentine-sms-1312776This bill made it illegal for individuals for talk or text while driving. The bill does allow people to talk if they are not using a hand held device, and it allows individuals to text during emergencies. New Mexico is one of the last states to ban texting while operating a vehicle.

If an individual is found to be violating this law, the penalties will be relative to the specific circumstances of their situation. For example, the police may fine a first-time offender roughly $25. However, the fines will essentially double every time they are found to be in violation. Some individuals feel that sole monetary punishment will not be enough to deter individuals from committing this offense, but others believe this is a good first step in the right direction. Of course, if a distracted driver causes an accident while texting, they may be held liable for the injuries caused by their negligence.

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New Mexico, like many other states, has very specific rules regarding when an employer can be held liable for their employee’s behavior. There are four theories on which a claim can be brought. These theories are respondeat superior, negligent entrustment, negligent hiring, and negligent supervision or training.

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Under the theory of respondeat superior, an employer may be held liable for injuries caused by one of their employees if the employee was acting within the “scope” of his or her employment. There are very specific elements that must be met in these types of cases, including establishing whether the behavior was incidental to employment and whether the employee was actually engaged in their work at the time of the accident.

The next theory under which a victim may bring a claim is negligent entrustment. In these cases, a victim must show four very specific elements. This claim generally arises in car accident cases. The victim must show that the person in control of the vehicle allowed the at-fault driver to operate the car, and they knew or should have known that the person to whom they lent the vehicle would create an unreasonable risk of harm to another individual. Furthermore, the victim must be able to show that the person who was driving was actually negligent and that their behavior resulted in the victim’s injuries.

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Truck accidents have the potential to result in massive property damage, serious injury, and even death, due to the magnitude of the trucks and the subsequent havoc that is caused when vehicles of this size are involved in an accident. There are many causes of truck accidents, and even with stringent safety regulations and driver training these accidents continue to occur.

truck-on-hwy-1615510One common type of truck accident is called an under-ride accident. There are several studies that have found that under-ride accidents have the highest likelihood of causing a fatality.

An under-ride accident occurs when a smaller vehicle somehow ends up underneath a larger truck, often an 18-wheeler. The reason these accidents occur is because often the bottom of a truck is roughly 45 inches above the ground, whereas a standard passenger sedan is about 30 inches above the ground. When a sedan crashes into the rear of a truck, the car can become stuck underneath the trailer. This can also occur when a truck crashes into the sedan, and the truck engulfs the car underneath the front of the truck. Unfortunately, this type of accident often results in major damage, such as a fire or explosion, and it almost always results in serious injury or death to those in the car.

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Many states have some form of governmental immunity, which is a privilege that prevents the government from being sued in a tort lawsuit. Oftentimes, under this doctrine the government may only be sued if it specifically grants permission to be sued. Like the majority of other states, New Mexico has its own Tort Claims Act which addresses issues of “sovereign immunity.”

curvy-road-1350939In New Mexico, this Act prevents many tort claims against the government, unless the suit falls into a very specific exception. In many instances, an individual may attempt to bring a suit against the government when they have been injured on what they perceive as a dangerously designed or maintained road. However, in New Mexico the Tort Claims Act prevents individuals from bringing a suit against the government under the theory that the government did not safely design a roadway or highway.

Although those types of suits are barred, an individual may bring a suit against the government if they can establish it failed to adequately maintain the road. For example, a person will not likely succeed in a claim against the government if they claim that the accident was caused because drivers could not see oncoming traffic while approaching a curve. However, if a plaintiff claims that the road was not properly maintained because there were known to be potholes on the road’s surface that were not repaired, the claim may be viable. Therefore, it can be very important how a plaintiff’s case is plead in his or her initial filing.

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A double-decker tour bus crashed earlier this month in San Francisco, startling many bystanders and seriously injuring several passengers. According to one national news report, the driver of the tour bus lost control and ended up causing destruction across almost two city blocks. A witness reported that they saw the tour bus driving very fast – what seemed like over 40 M.P.H. – through an intersection. The witness also stated that the bus looked “like it was going out of control.”

The bus ended up slamming into a bicyclist, hitting two pedestrians, and then colliding with several cars, all without stopping. The tour bus finally ended its path of destruction when it came to a stop in the middle of a construction site in the popular Union Square, an area known for its shopping and hotels.

Witnesses told reporters that the accident sounded as though a bomb went off and that it seemed like the bus did not have brakes. After the bus finally stopped, over 20 of the 30 passengers were injured, and eight individuals were taken to local hospitals. As of the time of publication of the article, four people were still in critical condition following the accident.

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Early last week, two individuals were killed in a tragic accident near El Paso, Texas. According to one news report, the accident occurred when a music group’s touring van collided with a large 18-wheeler near a Border Patrol checkpoint. Evidently, the metal band was traveling in their tour bus at around 9:00 a.m. near U.S. 62/180 at the time of the accident. The tour bus was carrying about 11 people, 10 of which were band members. The band was on their way to Mesa, Arizona to perform a show when the accident occurred.

gianini-1491869An initial investigation revealed that the band’s tour bus was traveling westbound and slammed head-on into the 18-wheeler. Currently, the reason the band’s bus slammed into the truck is not known. The El Paso Police stated that both the driver of the tour bus and the driver of the semi-truck were killed on impact. Several of the other band members are still facing serious to critical injuries.

Pursuing a Case for Damages as a Passenger in a New Mexico Accident

New Mexico is considered an at-fault state, and therefore a victim needs to prove fault and liability for any damages. In New Mexico, a person can seek financial compensation for what they have been through in one of several ways.

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An investigation of a multi-vehicle crash in Arizona revealed that a New Mexico resident was one of the victims. According to an Arizona news report, the victim was a 26-year-old resident of Farmington, New Mexico. The report indicated that the accident occurred late last week on Highway 89.

i-haul-1450942Emergency personnel told reporters that a tractor-trailer that was proceeding north on the highway crossed into the center median. As the tractor-trailer was shifting lanes, it swiped a medium-sized moving van that was driving in the southbound lane. After that side swipe, the tractor-trailer slammed head-on into a pickup truck that was behind the moving van. The initial reason that the tractor-trailer shifted lanes so abruptly is still unknown.

The driver of the moving van could not control his van after being struck and had to stop beyond the actual point of the accident. The pickup truck was severely damaged, and the New Mexico driver was found dead in the vehicle when emergency personnel arrived. The driver of the van was reported to have suffered minor injuries but was still transported to the hospital. An investigation is ongoing, and at the time of the report no charges had been filed.

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Earlier this month, an unborn child, two adults, and two children were involved in a fiery crash with an 18-wheeler. According to one news report, the accident occurred on a major highway in Dallas, Texas at around 6:30 in the morning. The details of the accident are still being determined, since there is still a question as to whether the large truck was stalled or was experiencing other mechanical issues. However, the passenger vehicle and the 18-wheeler crashed into each other on the ramp.

truck-1560934Evidently, the tanker’s fuel tank erupted after the collision, and a fire ensued, engulfing the lumber that the truck was transporting. The flames quickly took over the entire highway, and smoke could be seen from miles away. A witness to the accident stated that he was driving right behind the truck when he saw it burst into flames. At that point, the witness did not even see the other car. He noted that he saw the truck driver get out of the car as the fuel was leaking from the large tanker.

Unfortunately, by the time emergency personnel arrived at the scene of the accident, the car was incinerated. Police officials have not released the names of the deceased individuals. An investigation into the cause of the fatal accident is ongoing.

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France recently experienced one of the largest truck crashes in the country’s long history. According to a national news report, over 40 people, mostly seniors, were killed while they were on a day trip visiting a countryside town. Evidently, this was the worst road disaster the country experienced in over 30 years.

old-blue-bus-2-1451006According to initial reports, a tourist bus crashed into a truck carrying logs and other timber materials. Witnesses and local residents of the town told investigators and news reporters that the location of the accident occurred at a very dangerous bend in the road. After the truck and bus slammed into each other, they both caught on fire and became engulfed in flames.

An investigation is ongoing to determine the actual cause of the accident. Some stated that the timber driver lost control of his truck and was left in the middle of the road, and when the bus approached the driver was unable to avoid an accident. Some conflicting reports stated that the bus driver was able to get some people off the bus. Townspeople reported seeing massive amounts of smoke from miles away. The two large vehicles were basically incinerated and completely black when emergency crews were finally able to get the flames under control.

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The United States District Court for Nebraska recently released an opinion regarding a tragic multi-vehicle accident that occurred earlier this past summer. According to the court’s opinion, a tractor-trailer driver was proceeding on a Nebraska highway when he hit an object on the highway. The tractor-trailer lost air-brake pressure, so the driver pulled over into the right-hand lane. Later, experts determined that it was possible that he could have pulled completely onto the shoulder, but the driver did put on his hazard lights and reflectors.

semi-mirror-1-1455724About 15 minutes later, another semi-truck crashed into the tractor-trailer. That driver did not slow down and unfortunately was killed at the scene of the accident. A fire ensued, and all of the lanes were blocked. A family that was driving on the highway in two separate cars stopped safely when they noticed the traffic jam. However, another tractor-trailer was driving about 75 mph and did not slow down. That driver ended up slamming into one of the family’s cars. That car ended up slamming into the other family car. The entire family died as a result of the accident.

The representative of the family in the cars brought a suit against the tractor-trailer driver and his employer as well as the semi-truck driver and his employer. Those parties filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to dismiss the case. The Circuit Court affirmed the granting of summary judgment, finding that the tractor-trailer driver was an “intervening cause,” and therefore the two other drivers were not responsible.

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Truck accidents are some of the most serious accidents on the road. Whether it is because their vehicles are larger, because they are often traveling at high speeds, or because the drivers are often fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, serious truck accidents have become commonplace in newspapers across the country. Over the course of the last few months, a new method for drug testing semi-truck drivers has been proposed to increase the accuracy as well as the look-back period that the test covers. In fact, the newly proposed hair-follicle testing can detect whether a subject used substances up to 90 days in the past, whereas urine testing can only detect drug use up to a few weeks back.

comb-1426679However, according to one news report, the new test, which examines a subject’s hair rather than their urine, is coming under sharp criticism from many in the industry, including the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD), which is essentially the truck drivers’ union. The TTD makes several claims against the implementation of hair-follicle testing.

First, the TTD claims that the testing method has not yet been approved by the Department of Health and Human Services, and as a result there are no established protocols for its use. They also point out that urine testing has been successfully used for years, and there is no reason to change the testing method to one that is not as scientifically reliable.

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Earlier this month in New Jersey, the driver of a tanker truck was killed when he was involved in an accident with another vehicle. According to one local news source, the cause of the accident was at least in part due to mattresses that had fallen off another vehicle and onto the highway.

tanker-truck-reflection-1562831.jpgEvidently, as the truck was heading down the highway, the driver failed to notice that traffic had slowed for the mattresses that were in the middle of the highway. By the time the driver did see traffic slowed ahead of him, it was too late. While the truck driver attempted to avoid a collision with a Honda CRV that was in front of him, the truck driver was unable to do so.

After the initial collision, the truck flipped over onto its side and then crashed through a guard rail, eventually bursting into flames. According to emergency responders, the flames burned at high intensity for several hours before they were able to be put out.
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Late last month, a massive accident occurred near Richland County, North Dakota after foggy conditions led to dangerous road conditions. According to a local news report, the accident involved four large semi-trucks and two school buses that were transporting school children on a field trip.

cold-foggy-morning-2-1538058.jpgUnfortunately, four students were injured and one of the bus drivers was possibly seriously injured. The bus driver had to be disentangled from the school bus by emergency personnel and subsequently taken to a local hospital. The uninjured students were picked up by another school bus and taken back to the school, where they were picked up by their parents. Emergency personnel, including police officers, highway patrol, fire trucks, ambulances, and multiple tow trucks were all involved in the cleanup of the highway. It took several hours before the debris and wreckage were cleared from the road. Currently, the Highway Patrol is investigating the accident to determine exactly how such a large accident occurred.
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Late this month, a New Mexico bus driver was caught on camera eating a burrito immediately prior to causing a serious accident. The driver caused a multi-car pileup when he was traveling down a city street because he failed to notice the vehicles in front of him coming to a stop. According to one local news source, the bus driver ended up slamming into the back of the vehicle directly in front of him, subsequently causing a domino effect.

on-bus-1452762.jpgWhen emergency personnel and officers arrived, the city bus driver claimed that he was texting right before the accident occurred. Interestingly, video cameras caught his actions right before the accident happened, and he was not texting. The driver was actually eating a burrito at the time of the accident. Video footage shows him eating the burrito with both of his hands and taking sips of his drink. It was clear that he was distracted but not because of the actions he originally claimed.

One of the individuals involved in the accident has brought a civil lawsuit against the city. The city has not terminated the city bus driver, even though they admitted that city bus drivers are not supposed to be drinking or eating while operating a city bus. The city claims that they retrained the driver and that he has not been involved in an accident since.
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A recent New York Times article addressed the growing rate of truck accidents across the country as well as the fatalities that follow as a result. The article referenced studies that compared the rate of deaths between those who died in commercial airline accidents versus those who have been killed in trucking accidents. Startlingly, more people have been killed this year in accidents involving trucks than the total number of people killed in the past 45 years in airline crashes.

Thumbnail image for truck-5th-avenue-569266-m.jpgEven with the prevalence and severity of trucking accidents, Congress has still attempted to thwart many safety procedures that have been implemented by federal regulators. For example, Congress has fought to allow truck drivers to work 82 hours over eight days. This number is 12 hours higher than is currently allowed.

Furthermore, Congress has tried to suspend the rule that drivers need to take a 34-hour break over two nights before starting their week. Additionally, Congress has even tried to lower the minimum age of drivers to 18 years old. Congress has continually pushed for these changes, even though the death toll in truck accidents has risen over 17 percent over the past five years while there has been about a three percent drop in accidents involving cars. This drop, the article suggests, is likely due to the increase in technological safety devices, of which many trucking companies oppose the widespread or mandated use. Although statistics indicate that large trucks are disproportionately responsible for fatalities, Congress continues to push for potentially dangerous rule changes.
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Last year, actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was severely injured, and a friend was killed, when their stationary vehicle was struck by a Walmart truck. According to news reports, the civil lawsuit brought against Walmart and the truck driver was settled without a trial. However, now the truck driver is asking that the criminal charges against him be dropped as well.

white-semi-truck-1465662.jpgThe National Transportation Safety Board conducted an investigation following the crash and found that the truck driver was responsible for the accident. Apparently, the Georgia truck driver had been awake for over 28 hours when he began his journey. He ended up causing the multi-car crash that resulted in the death of one man and the serious injury of Tracy Morgan. Tracy Morgan suffered a traumatic brain injury and was unable to walk for nearly five months after the crash. The truck driver is now contending that he will not be able to get a fair trial because of the publicity this case has received. The court has not yet made a decision on the motion to dismiss the criminal charges against the truck driver.

Negligent Behavior by Truck Drivers
When individuals learn how to drive, they are taught that in order to maintain their license and avoid an accident, they must follow certain rules of the road. When an individual fails to follow these rules and subsequently causes an accident, that person may be held liable for the injuries and damages that resulted from the accident. All drivers should follow the safety rules mandated by law. Moreover, truck drivers have an even higher responsibility because of the large size of their vehicles and the carnage that can result from a truck accident.
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Three people were recently killed in a tragic accident near Denton, Texas. According to news reports, a giant 18-wheeler was proceeding south on the highway when it somehow veered into the median. After crossing into the median, the truck crashed into a cable barrier and eventually ended up in the northbound lanes, subsequently crashing head-on into a minivan.

big-rig-1495770.jpgAccording to one local news source, the driver and their passenger were immediately killed at the scene of the accident. The truck did not stop after crashing into the car, and it continued to drag the barrier down the highway and caused a grass fire. The truck driver was immediately taken to a hospital, and he was also pronounced dead. The investigation is pending, but family members of the truck driver have claimed that the man suffered a heart attack while he was driving the truck and became unconscious. Police have yet to reveal the results of any further investigation.

Establishing Negligent Behavior in Trucking Accidents in New Mexico
Car accidents are an unfortunate reality of life, and in many cases the victims walk away with minor bruises and damage. However, in accidents such as the one above, when a giant truck was involved in a head-on collision, the ensuing damage is often devastating. In many cases, an accident is just that: an accident. However, that does not necessarily mean that one of the parties was not negligent.
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Last month, an early morning multi-vehicle collision in Texas ended up causing the death of a truck driver. National news reports indicated that the 54-year-old truck driver succumbed to the serious injuries he suffered following the six-vehicle crash on Interstate 81.

truck-accident-1450067.jpgEvidently, traffic began to slow down on the northbound lane of I-81, and as that happened the truck driver slammed into the back of a sedan. Because of that collision, the sedan was pushed into the median of the highway. The truck driver was unable to control the tractor-trailer, and it continued to slide north and ended up hitting another similar sedan. That car was also pushed into the middle of the highway. Even the second collision did not stop the truck, and it continued sliding north and hit another sedan. That third sedan slammed into another car, which then collided with the final vehicle involved.

Eventually, the truck turned into the median and ended up flipping over onto its right side. All of the drivers were taken to various local hospitals, and their current medical status is unknown. Unfortunately, the truck driver was not wearing a seat belt, and he was killed in the accident.
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Earlier this month, a truck that was being inspected by its driver collided with a Toyota Tundra that was carrying a family. The accident occurred during the evening hours in Georgia. According to one local news report, the truck driver was attempting to do a safety inspection on his semi-truck at the time of the accident. To make matters more dangerous, the semi-truck was carrying hazardous/corrosive cleaning chemicals.

park-brake-1448019.jpgEvidently, the driver allegedly failed to put the truck’s parking brake on. Unfortunately, that failure caused the giant truck to begin rolling into the northbound lane of traffic. The truck ended up ramming right into the Toyota Tundra that was carrying the young mother, her husband, and two children. The mother was sitting in the passenger seat and was killed upon impact.

Emergency personnel stated that it took over two hours to get the father and children out of the vehicle. The father was taken to a local hospital and did not suffer life-threatening injuries. The two children were taken to a children’s hospital, and, although they are in serious condition, they are expected to survive.
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Earlier last month, a truck in Mexico ended up slamming into a series of cars and religious pilgrims, killing several and injuring dozens. According to a news report, the tragic accident occurred near Mazapil.

funride-1366505.jpgEvidently, several hundred pilgrims were walking toward the famed San Gregorio Mango church when a truck carrying sand rammed into the marching individuals as well as several cars. The truck then ended up swerving into a building and pinning people up against the façade. Witnesses explained that the dump truck driver jumped out of his truck before the vehicle finally stopped. Fourteen individuals were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, and many other individuals were transported to local hospitals because of severe injuries.

The Health Minister explained that the death toll had risen to around 26 individuals by the end of the day. Additionally, about 120 people were hurt, and over 40 were still hospitalized. There is no information regarding the cause of the dump truck’s initial crash, but the owner of the trucking company has been identified. The religious festival brought over 1,000 people from the surrounding areas to the north-central town.
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At the end of last month, a prominent New Mexico news source reported that a New Mexico judge denied FedEx’s motion for a new trial in a wrongful death suit against the company. As a previous New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog post discussed, the company was sued after a FedEx truck was involved in an accident that killed a mother and her daughter.

Thumbnail image for a4-highway-1368417.jpgEvidently, the truck was traveling at a very high rate of speed when it rammed into the family’s pickup truck. The pickup truck was moving very slowly with its emergency flashers on in Las Cruces on I-10. The family asserted that the company was negligent because it allowed its truck to be contracted out to this particular individual, who was on sleeping medication and had a history of mental health problems. The family was awarded a $165 million verdict.

The family’s attorney claims that FedEx still has not paid anything. FedEx moved the court for a new trial. However, that motion was rejected by the judge. In fact, the judge also refused to reduce the large judgment against FedEx.
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In late July, a Utah semi-truck driver lost control of his vehicle and rammed into a concrete barrier. According to one local news report, the driver was traveling northbound on I-15 at around 10 a.m. when the vehicle’s tire blew up. According to witnesses, the truck’s tire seemed to explode, and the semi-truck began to swerve to the left.

Thumbnail image for moving-cell-phone-1463980.jpgAfter veering to the left, the truck slammed into a concrete barrier and began sliding down the guardrail. The truck finally came to a rest at around mile post 12 of the highway. Police arrived at the scene shortly after the incident and reported visible serious damage to the semi-truck. State Troopers and Highway Patrol had to shut down the freeway for several hours to clear the scene and tow the large truck. An investigation is underway. However, reports indicate that distracted and drowsy driving may have been a contributing factor to the accident.

New Mexico Truck Driving Liability

In the above case, the reports do not indicate that anyone was seriously injured after this accident, although people were likely inconvenienced by the traffic delays. However, this is an anomaly because semi-truck accidents often result in serious injury, property damage, and on occasion fatalities.
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Four young students were involved in a fatal accident as they were participating in a driver’s education course. According to one news report, the three students were sitting in the backseat, while a fourth student was driving.

steering-wheel-1480110.jpgEvidently, a tractor-trailer and the students’ car approached an intersection at approximately the same time. The tractor-trailer had a blinking yellow light, and the car had a blinking red light. The tractor-trailer driver explained that the students’ car stopped at the blinking red light but then suddenly went through it. The tractor-trailer driver stated that he did not have enough time to stop, and he rammed into the side of the car. Of course, this is just the truck driver’s side of the story. It is very possible that the truck driver’s account of the accident differs from the others involved.

Unfortunately, the three students sitting in the backseat were killed upon impact. The fourth student was taken to the hospital and is listed in critical condition. The instructor and truck driver were both hospitalized and are expected to recover. The school has organized counseling services for all students and faculty who wish to participate.
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Right after the Fourth of July, a motorcyclist in Utah was killed after losing control of his bike on the highway. According to news reports, the 59-year-old man was driving on Interstate 84 in the early evening when the crash occurred. The most recent reports reveal that the man was driving west on the highway on his 2013 BMW motorcycle when he approached a curve.

bikers-1-1257567.jpgEvidently, the man was unable to negotiate the curve, and he ended up losing control of his motorcycle. After losing control, he flew into a median and subsequently crashed into a metal cable barrier. Even though the man was wearing a helmet, he was killed on impact. State officials have concluded that it is likely that speed was a factor in the accident. However, they are currently determining whether a semi-truck could have added to the severity of the crash. State police are investigating whether the semi-truck may have made a dangerous lane change or cut off the motorcyclist.

Finding Fault in New Mexico When the Plaintiff is Partially Responsible
In many cases when an individual is injured in a car accident, there is someone who is responsible for causing the accident. To properly bring a negligence claim in front of a judge or jury, there are certain elements that must be met.
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Recently, a New Mexico news article reported on a new development that will hopefully decrease the number of serious and fatal trucking accidents on many of the State’s two-lane roadways. Samsung is in the development process of a new technology that will allow trucks to have a camera attached to the front of the vehicle. This camera will work to show drivers following behind the truck what is directly in front of the truck on a large TV screen that will be placed on the back of the truck.

gasoline-tanker-21066-m.jpgLarge semi-trucks and tractor-trailers cause big obstructions and blind spots for drivers. The wireless camera will allow drivers to be able to safely pass a truck because they will be able to see what is in front of the truck. State Police have recently reported that many of their accident calls are in response to distracted driving situations. As a side note, developers of the new technology hope that in addition to reduced accidents, one of the positive side effects of this technology will be the reduction of bottle necks and congested highways.

New Mexico Commercial Motor Vehicle Distracted Driving Laws
As State Police have referenced above, distracted driving is one of the main reasons that truck accidents occur on New Mexico state highways. Although this technology will work to hopefully drastically reduce the number of accidents, it is still in the very preliminary developmental phase. According to the news report, only one prototype has been tested in Argentina, and that truck is currently off the road.
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Earlier this month, an Ohio highway was closed for over 16 hours after a large tanker truck was involved in an accident. The early evening crash caused a fiery explosion on the Ohio State Highway. The exact circumstances surrounding how the accident actually occurred have not yet been revealed. However, news reports have indicated that the tanker truck was carrying about 5,000 gallons of “marine pollutant.” Thankfully, no other vehicles were involved in the accident.

tanker-truck-reflection-395160-m.jpgAuthorities do not believe that any of the pollutant leaked from the truck. However, the truck’s fuel likely burned or leaked out of the vehicle. Following the crash, toxic fumes began to fill the air, and police advised residents to “shelter in place” to avoid inhaling the toxic fumes. Additionally, residents were advised to turn off their air conditioners until it was determined that hazardous fumes were no longer in the air. Traffic was diverted while emergency personnel cleared the scene. The truck’s driver suffered non-life threatening injuries. Latest reports do not indicate whether the driver will be charged with any crimes.

Transportation of Hazardous Material in New Mexico
In New Mexico, commercial transportation is an important and growing industry, and many of those commercial vehicles are in the business of transporting hazardous materials. Trucking activities are highly regulated in the United States, and truck drivers who cross state lines need to be registered under the International Registration Plan. Furthermore, truck drivers who transport hazardous materials are under even more strict scrutiny by the government. The government has implemented very specific rules and regulations to ensure that these truck drivers are abiding by all safety regulations and are transporting their materials in the most efficient and safe way.
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State Police have reported that earlier this week a truck driver was involved in an accident after hitting the barriers on a side of an interstate bridge. Evidently, news reports indicated that the truck driver was transporting wine bottles to California. While he was driving on the bridge, he hit the bridge’s barrier, which caused his truck to begin skidding and crossing all of the southbound lanes. The truck ended up hitting the barriers on the other side of the bridge before finally flipping onto its side.

bridge-1444492-m.jpgA witness to the accident was actually sleeping in the back of the semi-truck’s cab, and he stated that the aftermath was startling. He explained that the truck was full of smoke, and he had worried that the truck was spilling gasoline. The truck actually belongs to a company that has never been involved in a crash of this nature. The Department of Transportation indicated that out of the 150 crashes on that bridge, about 13 involved a semi-truck. State Patrol cited the truck driver for negligent driving. No signs of drugs or alcohol were found.

Who Can Sue in a Personal Injury Lawsuit Following a Truck Accident in New Mexico
Driving can always be dangerous. However, when a semi-truck is involved the consequences of an accident can be particularly devastating. In the unfortunate case when an accident does occur, it is also important for the victims to know who the culpable parties actually are.
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Earlier this month in Pennsylvania, three people were killed and several others injured in a massive accident involving two semi-trucks and a bus full of Italian tourists. According to one local news source, the accident took place on a multi-lane highway in the rural Pennsylvania countryside.

sunset-run-1427546-m.jpgEvidently, a bus full of tourists was traveling north on the highway, next to a semi-truck in an adjacent lane. There was also another semi-truck traveling in the opposite direction. That truck left its lane of travel and crossed into oncoming traffic for some unknown reason. As the truck crossed into oncoming traffic, it collided with the northbound semi-truck and then was deflected into the bus, resulting in a head-on collision.

As a result of the accident, one of the semi-trucks was sheared in two with the cab of the truck on one end of the highway and the split-apart trailer in the middle of the road. The driver of the tour bus, as well as three other passengers, were pronounced dead at the scene. Thirteen others sustained various injuries. Surprisingly, the drivers of both semi-trucks did not sustain serious injuries in the accident. Police are currently conducting an investigation into what may have caused the fatal accident.
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Earlier last month near Savannah, Georgia, five people lost their lives when a semi-truck and two cars were all involved in a serious accident on Interstate 16. According to a local news source, the multi-vehicle crash occurred just a few miles west of Savannah, near where Interstates 16 and 95 intersect.

truck-delivery-1042539-m.jpgEvidently, witnesses told reporters that they saw a semi-truck “drifting in and out of lanes” and colliding with cars, eventually catching fire. In total, the accident involved seven vehicles. Five of the people involved in the accident were pronounced dead. Three of them were in a vehicle that was struck by the semi-truck, and two were in another vehicle that was crushed between two semi-trucks. Several others were injured as a result of the accident.

Police are still in the midst of an investigation into the cause of the fatal accident. However, at this early juncture police believe that the truck driver may have fallen asleep behind the wheel of the truck. Charges are pending, awaiting the result of the investigation.
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Right before Memorial Day weekend, a 17-year-old recent high-school graduate was killed after a collision with a logging truck in Tennessee. Evidently, the girl was planning on beginning her undergraduate studies at Lee University.

logging-truck-1019695-m.jpgRecent reports indicate that on May 21st the girl was waiting at a red light near Highway 11. As the light turned green, the girl attempted to make a left turn onto Highway 11. However, a logging truck was proceeding north on Highway 11, heading towards the intersection the girl was turning on. The logging truck driver did not stop at the light and slammed into the girl’s car. He ended up crashing his truck right into the driver’s door, killing the recent graduate.

The Cleveland Police Department and Sheriff’s Office are still investigating the incident. The Tennessee Highway Patrol has reported that charges are still pending.
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A 22-year-old semi-truck driver from Washington State was charged with reckless homicide last week after he was involved in a fatal accident. According to one local news report, the man was driving his semi-truck on Interstate 64 in Kentucky when he allegedly neglected to pay attention to the flow of traffic in front of him. He proceeded to slam into the car in front of him, which subsequently exploded into flames because of the extreme force of the accident.

i-haul-299523-m.jpgUnfortunately the elderly driver of that vehicle was killed after the impact. The car was so severely destroyed that the majority of it melted. Several other vehicles were involved in the accident as a result of the chain reaction. Three of the individuals involved in the accident were transported to the hospital by emergency personnel.

The highway was shut down for several hours but reopened later that night. The driver was arrested and is being held in a detention center. He has been charged with reckless homicide, wanton endangerment, and a communication-device violation.
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Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 12.19.53 PM.pngEarlier this month, a semi-truck crashed into another vehicle on Interstate 70 in neighboring Topeka, Kansas. According to one news source, the semi-truck was traveling on the highway when it attempted to avoid a disabled vehicle that was in the shoulder of the eastbound lane. As the semi-truck was swerving on the rain-slicked pavement to avoid the disabled car, the driver ended up steering into the right side of the highway. While veering to the right, he ended up ramming into the back of a Dodge that had stopped on the right shoulder to assist those in the disabled vehicle.

The semi-truck ended up in a ditch on the side of the highway, and then it proceeded to roll into a fence and finally came to a rest in the grass. The semi-truck began leaking fuel because its diesel tank was punctured. The Fire Department and Hazmat crews came to the scene of the accident to assist in the cleanup of the fuel. The semi-truck driver and the driver and the passenger in the Dodge were taken to a hospital by an ambulance that arrived on the scene. Apparently, the semi-truck driver and the driver of the Dodge were wearing seat belts, but the passenger in the Dodge was not.

Comparative Negligence in New Mexico

In the above case, it seems clear that that there were a number of variables that contributed to the outcome and severity of the accident. First, there was a car parked on the side of a presumably busy highway. Second, a semi-truck was attempting to swerve on a wet highway, and third, one of the injured individuals was not wearing a seatbelt. There are also several parties that can be named in a lawsuit: possibly the owner of the car that was parked on the side of the road, the employer of the truck driver, or even the driver of the Dodge.
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In nearby Bell County, Texas, a fire truck and pickup truck were involved in a serious accident after each of the vehicles hydroplaned. Both accidents happened on FM 429. According to a firefighter-oriented newspaper, the fire truck hydroplaned, rolled over, and then proceeded to slam into a tree. Apparently, the pickup driver suffered a very similar fate, when the truck hydroplaned, hit the fire truck, and rolled off the road.

firefighters-1099588-m.jpgThe local news reports indicated that four people in the fire truck were stuck inside, while another was thrown from the truck. The firefighter who was ejected from the truck remains in serious condition. The other firefighters were stuck so badly in the truck that hydraulic tools were necessary to extract them from the vehicle. Two individuals who were traveling in the pickup truck were also taken to the hospital as a result of their injuries. In an ironic and unfortunate twist, the ambulance that was dispatched to assist at the scene of the accident was also involved in a crash.

Preventing Hydroplaning and Avoiding Accidents
Many people do not fully understand the dangers of driving when there is inclement weather. It is important for drivers, and especially trucks and those vehicles carrying passengers, to take all measures to avoid hydroplaning. Hydroplaning can be avoided if drivers take preventative measures before and while they are driving in the rain or snow.
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Earlier this month, a serious accident in New Mexico resulted in the unfortunate deaths of two individuals. According to local news reports, the individuals were driving in the morning hours of April 12, 2015 when the accident occurred.

old-truck-1228351-m.jpgEvidently, a pick-up truck was driving on I-40 near Quay County, New Mexico. The pick-up truck slammed into the back of a semi-truck. After hitting the semi-truck, the pick-up truck was hit by two additional vehicles. A pile-up of cars then ensued. Unfortunately, the two individuals in the pick-up truck were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Reports indicate that, surprisingly, no one else was injured in the pile-up.

Bringing a Personal Injury Suit in New Mexico
The above case clearly illustrates a situation where an injured individual may consider bringing a personal injury suit against a negligent party. However, it also is an example of a particularly complicated case because there were several parties involved.
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A semi-truck driver died in a Texas hospital last month after being involved in an accident near Jal, New Mexico that left the truck he was driving rolled over on its side. According to one local news report, the man was driving his semi-truck on Orrla Road when he lost control of his vehicle and rolled the truck on its side while trying to regain control.

truck-1192523-m.jpgAfter the crash, the man was taken to a hospital in Kermit, Texas, where he died from his injuries. According to the report, the man was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash, and alcohol was not believed to be a factor in the cause of the accident.

The Causes of Deadly Truck Accidents
New Mexico semi-truck accidents have various causes. Impaired drivers or dangerous road and weather conditions contribute to some accidents, while other accidents are the result of equipment failure or driver error. The exact cause of the fatal accident last month is not known, although authorities have ruled out alcohol, and the weather appears to have been clear at the time of the crash.
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In late March, a semi-truck traveling north on Interstate 35 in Texas struck the crossbeam of a bridge under construction, causing two other concrete beams to collapse onto traffic below. According to one local Texas news source, one person was killed and three others injured as a result of the truck accident. Fortunately, the injuries were not life-threatening.

oakland-overpass-8665-m.jpgAccording to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the construction is part of a larger project to widen the interstate to four lanes. Several other overpasses are part of the construction project.

After the accident, a spokeswoman for TxDOT said that at least three signs indicating the bridge clearance were posted within two miles of the bridge. However, one local news agency reported that a fourth sign near the bridge indicated a higher clearance height than the other three signs.
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In a tragic accident earlier this month, a tractor-trailer crashed into a construction beam in nearby Central Texas. According to a national news report, the accident resulted in the death of one person and long traffic delays on both sides of the highway. Evidently, the accident occurred when a semi-truck hit a beam that was being used in the construction of a bridge near Austin, Texas. After the truck hit the beam, debris and material began falling all over the highway as well as on passing cars.

truck-5th-avenue-569266-m.jpgWhen the beam fell, it landed on a pick-up truck that was proceeding on the other side of the highway. Unfortunately, the 31-year-old pick-up truck driver was killed, and three other individuals were taken to various area hospitals. The heavily damaged semi-truck finally came to a stop near an overpass. The Department of Transportation reported that the highway was closed for several hours, and when it finally opened several lanes were still closed.

Truck Driver Responsibility in New Mexico
In understanding civil negligence claims against truck drivers, it is important for victims and their families to understand which entities are actually at fault. Many times, the fault can be divided between the driver, the plaintiff, and even the trucking company.
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bright-orange-truck-1-979783-m.jpgEarlier this month in Eunice, New Mexico, a tragic accident occurred on State Road 248. According to New Mexico news reports, a 25-year-old woman was killed after colliding with a semi-truck. Evidently, the woman was in the process of turning left towards northbound State Road 18 when the accident occurred. When she was making her turn, she ended up pulling in front of a truck that was proceeding in the southbound lane on State Road 248.

The New Mexico Motor Transportation and State Police were called around 10:15 a.m. for emergency assistance. Unfortunately, the young woman was declared dead at the scene of the accident. The semi-truck driver was carrying two passengers in his truck; however none of them sustained any injuries as a result of the accident. The New Mexico State Police and Motor Transportation are currently investigating the cause and circumstances surrounding the accident, but no updates have been released yet.
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A local New Mexican online newspaper reported that an Arizona man died when he was driving in Eddy County, New Mexico. The State Police representatives explained that the 60 year-old semi-truck driver was driving south of Loving when the accident occurred late last week in the early morning hours.

semi-truck-1-232051-m.jpgApparently, the truck driver’s vehicle approached a curve and he was unable to maintain control. After reaching the curve, he proceeded onto the shoulder. His semi-truck began to roll after it fell into the ditch. No one else was injured in the accident. The New Mexico State Police have indicated that the crash is still under investigation; however, as of the most recent report, no charges have been brought.

Truck Driving Accidents in New Mexico
Although most people are aware of the severity of damage and injury to those involved in trucking accidents, it is probably surprising to note the frequency of these types of accidents. Since the oil boom in New Mexico and Texas, there has been an increasing number of trucking accidents and a higher percentage of fatalities. A trucking accident is defined as an accident where a trailer that weights about 10,000 or more crashes with other drivers, pedestrians, or stationary objects.
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The end of February brought a series of weather-related accidents in New Mexico. A local newspaper article reported on one of the most recent ones, in which a major pileup occurred near Interstate 40. According to reports, over 24 cars and trucks were involved in the disastrous wreck. The Office of Emergency Management, the Potter County Sheriff’s Office, and New Mexico DPS arrived at the scene to assist in the wreck. A New Mexico state trooper explained that the accident was a result of a chain reaction after certain vehicles lost control when it began snowing.

icy-conditions-1-929304-m.jpgEvidently, the accident began when a few cars crashed into each other. Then, another eight vehicles, including several semi-trucks, got involved as they approached the pile up. In total, over two dozen cars and trucks ended up being involved in the crash.

One of the troopers involved explained that individuals were likely driving too fast for the weather conditions at the time of the accident. Two individuals had to be hospitalized, but they suffered only minor injuries. In addition to this wreck, several other accidents occurred on several major highways in New Mexico that are frequented by long-haul trucks.
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A Texas tractor-trailer driver who was killed in an accident in Long Island several weeks ago has been identified. According to news reports, the man was driving a flatbed tractor trailer for a freight company when the accident occurred at around 4:30 p.m. Apparently, the individual accidentally entered the parkway and then tried to brake to avoid the overpass. It seems that he was trying to avoid the overpass because he likely did not think that his truck would fit underneath it. However, police have stated that it seems that his truck would have probably made it through if he remained in the middle lane.

highway-and-overpass-32229-m.jpgUnfortunately, the driver quickly applied the brakes on his truck, but the force of the applied brakes caused the steel he was carrying to shift. The steel ended up crushing the driver, and he was killed. The police did not report any injuries to other drivers or pedestrians, but the parkway was closed for several hours.

Truck Fatalities in New Mexico
All traffic accidents have the potential to result in serious bodily or property damage, but with trucking accidents that likelihood is exponentially increased. Often, the magnitude of the truck, the load it is carrying, and the fatigue of long travel times can result in a particularly dangerous situation.
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The Court of Appeals in California reversed a lower court’s decision in Vargas v. FMI, where the driver sued the trucking company and claimed that it was vicariously liable for the injuries he incurred when the truck was involved in an accident.

old-truck-1357724-m.jpgThe Facts of the Case
The company in question hires individuals to transport goods throughout the United States. In this particular case, the company hired two individuals to transport some goods from California to New Jersey. During the cross-country trek, one of the individuals was driving while the other was resting in the sleeper berth. At some point, the driver lost control of the truck, and it ended up hitting a center divider. This accident caused the driver who was resting to suffer some serious injuries.

The injured driver brought a suit against the trucking company, claiming that it was liable for his injuries because of the theory of vicarious liability. The lower court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case, stating that the individual drivers were considered “independent contractors,” and therefore the company was not liable. However, the Court of Appeals found that the defendant did not establish that it fell into the category of parties that are protected from vicarious liability claims.
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Earlier this month, an individual driving a stolen truck slammed into another truck as he was attempting to evade police. According to a local New Mexican news report, the accident occurred early last week on Tuesday afternoon. The individual who was driving the stolen truck was driving in a neighborhood near Southern, New Mexico. Police officers attempted to pull the driver over. However, he began to speed away as they signaled for him to do so. As the driver was attempting to escape the police, he ran through an intersection with a three-way stop. Shortly after running the three-way stop, he hit the truck.

snow-capped-sierra-mountain-stop-sign-1337950-m.jpgAs of right now, reports have not clarified whether police officials were in the process of chasing the driver at the specific moment when the accident occurred. Unfortunately, the individual in the truck that was hit was injured along with the suspect. At this point, no more details have been released regarding the accident, but an investigation is still pending.

Bringing a Civil Charge When Criminal Charges Are Not Being Pressed in New Mexico
In New Mexico, it is possible to bring civil charges against a culpable party even though no criminal charges are being filed against the individual. Although the likelihood of success on a civil claim is greater when a person is found criminally responsible, it is far from necessary for a civil lawsuit.
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Last month, five oil field workers were involved in an explosive accident after their van collided with an oil tanker truck. According to an article in a local news source website, the accident happened around 7 a.m. in Dimmit County. An oil tanker was attempting to avoid a pickup truck when it rolled over. The van carrying the workers ended up hitting the tanker truck and another vehicle.

oil-drilling-rig-4-161276-m.jpgFive of the individuals in the van were killed, and three other individuals were severely injured in the accident. State police are currently investigating the crash, but it has become evident that these types of accidents are becoming more prevalent since the oil boom. The boom has resulted in a higher level of traffic, and a number of the people driving are traveling long distances, which can also add to the likelihood of accidents. Fatal accidents have also been on the rise since the oil boom in the state.

New Mexico Truck Driving Negligence

As the case above illustrates, truck accidents have been on the rise in both New Mexico and its neighboring states. The oil boom has resulted in many New Mexico truck drivers and residents to begin traveling long distances for employment. This influx of trucks has coincided with the increase in fatal accidents.
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Late last week, a Sante Fe jury determined that $165.5 million should be awarded to the families of the victims in a 2011 crash near Las Cruces, New Mexico. According to a local news report, the verdict, which was mainly against FedEx, is one of the highest jury awards in the state.

car-accident-5-332864-m.jpgEvidently, a GMC pickup truck was carrying three individuals–one driver and two passengers. The car was struck by a tractor-trailer that was contracted by Fed Ex. Apparently, the accident happened around 1:30 a.m. on June 22, 2011. The driver of the GMC stopped on the side of the road with her hazard lights on, but the tractor-trailer rammed into her SUV from behind.

A negligence suit against Fed Ex was brought by the victim’s husband and her parents. The crux of the family’s argument was surrounding the lack of training and safety procedures for the driver of the tractor-trailer. The victims’ attorneys argued that the tractor-trailer driver could have easily seen the victim’s car and was speeding right before the accident occurred. The jury agreed and found that the defendant was 95% at fault, which resulted in about $157,256,350 of liability.
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A family was on their way home driving back to Salt Lake City, Utah when they were able to avoid a horrendous car accident between two large semi-trucks. According to a news report, there was a huge pile-up of trucks near I-84 near Baker City. Apparently, about 20 vehicles, mainly semi-trucks, were involved in the massive accident. Officials have indicated that one of the main causes of the accidents was black ice. About 50 vehicles were affected by the crash. Two of the large trucks were apparently carrying hazardous materials.

bright-orange-truck-1-979783-m.jpgUnfortunately, about 12 people were seen at a local hospital for a varying array of injuries. Many other individuals were diverted to other local hospitals for additional treatment. As of right now, one person is still in critical condition, but thankfully no one was fatally injured. The road was closed for an extended period of time because of the size of the pileup and the amount of vehicles involved.

Multi-Truck Accidents in New Mexico
Truck accidents are often more severe than regular-sized vehicular accidents. The magnitude of the truck, its load, and the likelihood that many cars are involved are just some of the reasons these types of accidents can be particularly damaging.
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Earlier this month in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a truck slammed into the side of a bus as a result of a serious accident. Local news reports have video footage of the accident as it occurred because there was a camera inside the bus. According to one news source, the truck was approaching a bus near Central Avenue and Unser Boulevard. Footage reveals that the truck neared the left side of the bus before the accident occurred. The truck driver proceeded to run a red light and slam into the side of the bus.

bus-on-the-run-1170123-m.jpgThe camera inside the bus showed the bus driver unfortunately getting slammed by the truck and subsequently smashing through the window. Luckily, no one besides the driver was on the bus at the time of the accident. However, both drivers had minor injuries. Furthermore, reports indicate that the bus driver was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Traffic in the area was at a standstill and delayed for hours as personnel attempted to clean up the area.
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A multi-vehicle collision involving two tractor-trailers resulted in two individuals being hospitalized. A local news report indicated that the crash occurred early last week on Interstate 10 near Deming. Apparently, a yellow trailer was driving eastbound when the driver of the truck had a diabetic episode. During the episode, he crossed the highway and ended up on the westbound lane.

truck-5th-avenue-569266-m.jpgThe yellow trailer ended up colliding with another tractor trailer that was carrying large vehicles. Another smaller vehicle was involved in the crash as well. Unfortunately, both drivers of the tractors had to be hospitalized. The driver and passengers in the smaller car were treated at the scene of the incident. According to New Mexico State Police, the accident is still being investigated to determine whether the accident was due to any one driver’s fault.

Truck Driver Negligence When Medical Conditions are involved
Although at first glance it seems as if this accident was just a tragic accident, since the tractor trailer driver had a medication condition, this case has the possibility of being one of negligence. To establish negligence in New Mexico, the plaintiff in the case must be able to meet all the elements of the claim. A negligence claim must show that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to exhibit a standard of reasonable care, the defendant breached that standard, and that the breach was the actual and proximate cause of the injuries that the plaintiff sustained. Damages also must be proved.
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Late last month, there was a seven-vehicle accident near Mesquite, New Mexico that killed one woman and injured several others. There were five passenger vehicles and two commercial vehicles involved in the accident. According to a local news report, the semi-truck hit a small car from behind. This first accident caused a chain reaction, finally ending when the semi-truck rolled over.

crash-car-1-748020-m.jpgThe accident occurred on a section of the highway that has been under construction for many months. Unfortunately, there was one fatality in the series of accidents. A 43-year-old Maricopa, Arizona woman was killed as result of the accident. The Las Cruces Police and New Mexico State Police are still investigating the crash to determine if there was any fault and if any charges will be pressed.

Truck Accident Settlements in New Mexico
When a person has been injured as the result of a trucking accident, he or she may want to bring a suit against the driver or trucking company for his or her injuries. In order to do this, the victim should be able to establish the elements of negligence. To bring a negligence suit, a person must prove that the defendant owed him or her a standard duty of care, the defendant breached that duty, and that breach was the actual and proximate cause of their injuries and damages. In many cases, plaintiffs are under the impression that in order to get a favorable outcome their case must be heard by a judge or a jury, but that is not always the case.
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Earlier this month, a truck driver was killed after getting struck by another vehicle when he was on the side of the road. News reports have indicated that the individual’s truck caught on fire near Highway 80 and I-20 in Harrison County. The truck driver proceeded to get out of his truck and inspect the part that was on fire. When he was in the process of checking on the fire, another 18-wheeler struck the truck driver, and the man on the side of the road unfortunately died. Oddly, during the inspection and investigation of the truck, police found a significant amount of money in the truck. About $300,000 of it was not burned, and the origin of the money is currently being investigated to see if there is any connection to drug trafficking.

us-currency-4-1007270-m.jpgSettlements in Trucking Accidents
Many people are aware of the requirements needed to bring a personal injury lawsuit. The plaintiff must show negligence by establishing the standard duty of care owed, a breach of that duty, causation, and damages. However, this can be extremely time-consuming, costly, and emotionally and mentally exhausting. Although an attorney during this phase of a lawsuit is indispensable, he or she can also be very helpful in coming to a settlement negotiation.
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One local newspaper recently reported that an impaired truck driver in Arizona caused an accident on northbound I-17. Apparently, the truck driver was driving a tractor trailer loaded with concrete when he hit four other cars.

truck-3-229542-m.jpgThe news report indicates that he hit a median, which led to much of his load falling off the truck. He then rammed into one car, which proceeded to hit another, which then caused a domino effect that ended up in a four-car accident. This also resulted in an explosion that killed a 22-year-old driver who was pulled from his burning vehicle. The accident also injured many other drivers, who were taken to various hospitals.

One witness reported that, even though there was congestion on the highway at the time of the accident, the semi-truck driver did not even attempt to stop his truck. The witness went on to tell the reporters that the driver did not apply his brakes, nor did he reduce his speed at all. The police arrested the driver, and he was booked because the officers believed he should be charged with second-degree murder and driving under the influence.
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An recent analysis of New Mexico’s traffic fatalities has revealed significant data regarding the most frequent types and causes of accidents. Through the middle of November, New Mexico logged about 46 traffic accidents that resulted in fatalities.

yellow-truck-shots-4-291281-m.jpgAlthough drunk driving accidents have gone down, accidents due to other causes have increased. A New Mexico Police Captain has indicated that a lot of individuals who drive commercial vehicles and work on the oil fields do not live in the two counties with the highest amount of fatalities. As a result, the commuter traffic has risen almost three times in the past few years. He went on to explain that many of these commercial drivers and other employed individuals work long shifts and then proceed to drive home in the evenings or early mornings. This often results in a significant number of drowsy drivers on the road. Other New Mexico police officers have also indicated that about 90% of their calls are for oil field trucks, not necessarily just commercial drivers.
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Late last month, a truck driver died as a result of serious injuries he incurred in a trucking accident. According to the New Mexico State Police and a local news report, the accident occurred on November 19 right after midnight.

trucks-on-sea-1039933-m.jpgApparently, the truck driver was traveling west on State Route 128 when he tried to make a U-turn after missing his turn. The back of his truck became “high-centered,” or stuck in the middle of the road. Another commercial vehicle on the same side attempted to assist the truck driver. As he was doing this, a third truck that was traveling in the opposite direction struck the driver as he was attempting to get it out of the road. An initial investigation has not revealed that alcohol was a contributing factor in the accident, but it is still under investigation by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

Liability in Truck Accidents
All accidents have the potential to be disastrous, but trucking accidents often are the most severe in terms of the amount of the damage done to the parties involved. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that over 88,000 individuals were injured on average for the past several years as a result of truck accidents.
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Tracy Morgan is still struggling after his serious brain injury from an accident that occurred several months ago. The Associated Press recently reported that the star was involved in an accident with a Wal-Mart truck in New Jersey and suffered leg, nose, ribs, and traumatic brain injuries. Apparently, the truck crashed into a limo that the actor was in. There were several individuals in the limo, and unfortunately one person was killed.

truck-1094965-m.jpgThe truck driver was charged with four counts of assault by auto and death by auto. Additionally, Morgan has commenced a lawsuit for compensatory and punitive damages against Wal-Mart. The company has argued that the victims were partly responsible for their own injuries because they were not wearing seatbelts during the time of the incident.

The initial investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board stated that the truck driver was driving 65 mph until about a minute before he slammed into the limo. The speed limit at the time of the incident was 45 mph. It is normally 55 mph, but there was construction during this particular period.
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Two crashes in New Mexico resulted in the death of three people early last week . According to a local news report, the accident occurred around N.M. Highway 371 and County Road 6001 on November 11 at approximately 5 p.m. Apparently, a semi-truck and a car collided, and unfortunately two individuals were killed at the scene of the accident, and one was taken to a local hospital. This location was the scene of an earlier crash and the second accident that resulted in fatalities. The road is curved and has been the location of many fatal crashes through the years. Another crash occurred later that same evening around N.M. Highway 574. The Sheriff’s office reported that at least one person died as a result of this accident.

truck-1192523-m.jpgTrucking Collisions, Negligence, and Culpable Parties in New Mexico
All accidents have the possibility of resulting in serious bodily harm or death. However, the likelihood of a fatality is greatly increased when a truck is involved. When an individual or family member has been injured or killed as a result of a trucking accident, they may be able to sue under the theory of negligence.

In order to establish negligence in a civil suit, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a duty to exercise a reasonable standard of care, that it breached that duty, and that breach was the cause of the accident and the resulting injuries and damages.
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Authorities have reported that a 72-year-old Texas man is facing felony charges after he rear=ended a school bus near Kirbyville, Texas earlier this month, injuring several children. According to an article released by The Beaumont Enterprise, the school bus was stopping along U.S. 96 to allow a student to get on board when the tractor trailer crashed into the back of the bus.

matt-on-truck-197163-m.jpgPreliminary reports cited in the article state that the bus was flashing all of the lights on the back to indicate that it was stopping to pick up a child when the accident occurred. Six of the 53 students on the bus were injured in the crash and hospitalized, although fortunately none of them sustained life-threatening injuries.

The felony charges that the driver of the truck is facing are very serious, for he could be imprisoned for up to two years and fined up to $10,000 if he is ultimately convicted of the charges. Unfortunately for the driver of the 18-wheeler, the criminal charges are not the only legal problems that he may encounter. Because of the nature of the crash and the injuries caused, the truck driver may also be subject to substantial civil liability if the families of the injured children choose to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
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Two people were tragically killed last month in the second fatal accident involving a passenger car and a semi-truck in San Juan County in less than two months. On Tuesday, October 28 shortly before 5:00 PM, three people were riding in a passenger car near the intersection of County Road 6001 and State Highway 371 in San Juan County when their car was hit by a semi-truck. The car’s driver and one passenger were killed in the crash, and a third passenger was hospitalized with serious injuries.

coastal-highway-1261914-m.jpgAccording to an article accessed on daily-times.com and the San Juan County Sheriff’s office media release from the accident (accessed on Facebook), the car that was struck was traveling ahead of the semi-truck, an oil field rig-up truck, when the driver pulled to the left shoulder and attempted to make a U-turn. The driver of the car failed to clear traffic and was struck by the truck, causing both vehicles to veer off the road. Police say that alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash, but an investigation is ongoing.

Increases in New Mexico Trucking Accidents
The oil boom in eastern New Mexico has caused a dramatic increase in the number of accidents involving semi-trucks on our roads, and the danger presented to drivers and passengers along the oil routes is as grave as ever. It is important for drivers along the routes used by oil-related trucking to take extreme caution and pay the utmost attention to what is in front of, behind, and alongside them. In this incident, it appears that the semi-truck driver was unable to avoid the accident, and that the driver of the car’s decision to make a U-turn in the middle of the highway likely contributed to the cause of the accident.
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An unfortunate man from Denver City, Texas was killed earlier this month after a brake drum fell off an oncoming semi-truck and crashed through the windshield of the pickup truck that he was driving. According to an article from KOB.com, the man was traveling on State Road 8 between Eunice and Hobbs in Lea County. The driver of the white semi-truck that the drum fell from did not stop after the accident and is being sought by the police for questioning. It is not known why the brake drum was able to fall from the truck.

brake-drum-866593-m.jpgDetermining Blame in the Accident
Although it can difficult to directly assign blame for a New Mexico semi-truck accident, it is nearly certain that the victim driving in the pickup truck in this case was not to blame. Since the semi-truck driver did not stop to assist the man or explain what happened to police, it may be difficult for the victim’s family to hold the responsible parties accountable for the accident. If the driver of the truck is not found, the victim’s relatives may still be able to receive compensation for their expenses and loss resulting from the accident, but it depends on the type of auto insurance that the man had.
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In a tragic accident late last month, a bicyclist riding on US 54 in Otero County was struck by a passing semi-truck and killed after being knocked off his bicycle. According to an article from KOB.com, the biker was riding on the shoulder of the roadway when a passing semi-truck struck the handlebar of the bicycle, knocking the rider to the ground and causing him to get run over by the truck. The victim was hospitalized after the accident but died from head injuries shortly after being admitted.

bike-path-480131-m.jpgThe risks of riding a bicycle are multiplied when the biker is riding on a highway alongside vehicles traveling at high speeds. When semi-trucks are traveling on the road, it can make biking on a highway even more dangerous. People who choose to ride a bicycle on a highway should always wear a helmet and pay close attention to the vehicles approaching them from behind. No matter how dangerous it is to bike on the road, the largest responsibility for preventing accidents involving bicycles lies with the drivers of motor vehicles that are on the roads, including truck drivers.
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A semi-truck smashed through the median on Interstate 35 near Davis, Oklahoma and crashed into a bus carrying 15 players from the North Central Texas College women’s softball team last month. Tragically, four of the players were killed as a result of the night-time collision. According to an article, the initial investigation suggested that there was no sign that brakes were applied or that the driver tried to steer away from the crash before it occurred. It initially appeared that the truck drove straight as the road curved to the right and continued into oncoming traffic.

baseball-glove-713628-m.jpgAccording to state investigators, the driver told them that he was distracted by something in the cabin, but the article suggests that the investigators were not entirely convinced by the truck driver’s story. As the investigation continues, the data recorder can be retrieved from the truck, and it can be determined if the brakes were applied before the accident. Authorities have also sought a search warrant to search the contents of the truck in response to the truck driver’s explanation.

It appears that the authorities are suspicious that the truck driver may have been asleep or inebriated at the time of the crash, and the details of the driver’s explanation are not yet clear enough to determine if the driver has admitted fault for the accident.
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The Court of Appeals of New Mexico released a decision in August 2014 that allowed the mother of an accident victim’s child to intervene in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the child’s stepmother (and the victim’s current wife). The ruling in the case of Spoon v. Burn Construction Company, docket no. 32674, Court of Appeals of New Mexico (2014), reversed a district-court order that the mother could not intervene to assert a loss of consortium claim against the construction company on behalf of her son, who lost his father in the deadly accident.

motorcycle-stunter-tyre-burnout-1301095-m.jpgThe victim was killed on July 30, 2012 when a truck that was being operated by the defendant construction company made a left turn into the path of the victim’s motorcycle at an intersection in Carlsbad, New Mexico. The motorcyclist was unable to avoid crashing into the construction vehicle and died from the resulting collision. A New Mexico wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the man’s current wife, which alleged that the driver of the construction vehicle was negligent and failed to yield the right of way to the motorcyclist, causing the accident. The current wife requested damages on behalf of her husband’s estate. She also requested damages for loss of consortium for herself personally, and also on behalf of the victim’s son, who is also her stepson.
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A woman and her two children from Nageezi, New Mexico were killed on U.S. 550 near Bloomfield last Thursday when their car collided with the trailer of a semi-truck that was traveling in the oncoming lane. According to an article from KOB.com, the fatal collision was the result of the trailer crossing into the oncoming lane after the semi-truck driver braked hard to avoid another crash. A 58-year-old woman and her 30-year-old son were killed immediately in the accident, and the woman’s 28-year-old daughter died at the hospital following the crash.

i-haul-299523-m.jpgA police investigation has revealed that the first accident was caused when one semi-truck pulled onto the road and was hit by another vehicle, blocking the road. The truck involved in the fatal crash braked to avoid a collision, and its trailer drifted into the oncoming lane and was hit by the car containing the family. The driver of the semi-truck involved in the first accident fled the scene and is currently sought by police.
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Earlier this month, a federal jury awarded a total of at least $4.7 million to Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad from a Nevada trucking company for damage that was caused when a truck driver for the company crashed into an Amtrak passenger train in Nevada, killing six people and injuring many others. According to an article on abcnews.com, the accident occurred on June 24, 2011 and was allegedly the result of a distracted or drowsy driver and a truck with faulty brakes.

train-1442313-1-m.jpgThe driver of the truck was killed in the accident, so he was unable to explain what may have happened. During the four-week trial in August, lawyers for Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad used videos from the train itself to argue that the lights and gate at the railroad crossing worked properly at the time of the accident, and the driver of the truck failed to respond to several whistle blasts from the train before smashing into the fourth car of the train in a fiery collision. Most of the jury award was for damage to the trains and compensation for injuries to employees and passengers, and Union Pacific Railroad was also awarded money for the costs to repair the railroad crossing that was damaged in the accident.
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A 50-year-old woman was killed earlier this month in a four-vehicle accident that also left an overturned semi-truck and a load of rocks strewn across the highway. According to an article from the Denton Record-Chronicle, the woman was driving on State Highway 114 in Denton County, Texas when an oncoming semi-truck carrying a load of rocks crossed into her lane and caused an accident.

white-semi-truck-62565-m.jpgThe oncoming truck first hit another semi and then struck the woman’s Hyundai and another car. The truck then tipped over and dumped the load of rocks on the road. The woman driving the Hyundai was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the overturned semi was taken by helicopter to a Fort Worth hospital, and the other two drivers were treated at the scene for minor injuries. The highway was closed for several hours after the accident.

Semi-Truck Crashes Caused by Overloading
When semi-trucks and tractor trailers are loaded with heavy cargo, like the rocks involved in this story, they are not only more difficult to control, but they can cause more damage if they are involved in an accident. States and national regulatory agencies have weight restrictions for certain types of trucks and for routes on certain roads to minimize this danger. Often, in an effort to move more material in each load, semi-truck companies and drivers will ignore these regulations and overload their trucks and trailers, increasing the danger to other drivers on the road.
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A semi-truck that was carrying hazardous and flammable materials exploded last month on U.S. Highway 491 in northwestern New Mexico, forcing the evacuation of approximately 300 people from the town of Naschitti, a Navajo Nation reservation community.

gasoline-tanker-21066-m.jpgAccording to an article from Albuquerque news source KRQE, the truck was believed to be carrying propane and adhesive products on August 7, and it exploded after possibly being involved in a crash at about 6:30 a.m. At the time of publication, the exact cause of the accident was still under investigation. No injuries were reported from the frightening explosion and resulting fire, although the highway remained closed for the day and residents were not allowed to return until authorities declared the area was safe.

The Danger of Trucks Transporting Hazardous Material
Semi-trucks present many dangers to drivers because of their size, as well as the number of them on New Mexico roads. In addition to these dangers, this story demonstrates that the cargo being carried by semi-trucks can present additional dangers to drivers and others who are unfortunate enough to find themselves near the scene of a crash.
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In a somewhat surprising decision released earlier this month, the New Mexico Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision that determined the New Mexico Department of Transportation could not be held liable for wrongful death based on its failure to adequately discover and remove semi-truck tire debris off the roadway before the debris caused a fatal accident. The court found that the state agency did not enjoy sovereign immunity from this negligence lawsuit because the Department may have been on constructive notice of the hazard, and it had a duty to exercise reasonable care to keep the roadway safe.

floor-3-684910-m.jpgThe Accident
The plaintiff in this case was involved in a New Mexico auto accident on Interstate 25 near St. Francis Drive in Santa Fe in October 2004. According to reports of the accident, the decedent was traveling southbound on the freeway when she either collided with or swerved to avoid pieces of semi-truck tire debris in the roadway, resulting in her death. There was no evidence that the New Mexico Department of Transportation, which maintains that stretch of roadway, had actual knowledge of the hazard. It was also unknown how long the debris had been in the road prior to the accident. A wrongful death lawsuit was filed on the woman’s behalf against the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

Government Agencies are Generally Immune from Civil Lawsuits
Governments and government agencies generally enjoy what is called sovereign immunity from negligence lawsuits for injuries and deaths that are caused in public places. This policy has developed over time to relieve the government of any duty to ensure the general safety of every citizen while in public, which would lead to an impractical legal burden. In some areas of the law, however, the government does not enjoy complete immunity from civil liability for negligence, and this includes roadway maintenance. The New Mexico Tort Claims Act, which governs many negligence claims in the state, has a roadway-maintenance exception, which explicitly states that: “the identification and remediation of roadway hazards” is the responsibility of the Department of Transportation. It is under this exception that the lawsuit was filed.
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A chain reaction car accident involving nine vehicles left a five-year-old girl dead and 13 other people injured in Los Angeles County early last Thursday morning. The pile-up involved two semi-trucks and a tanker truck loaded with milk, as well as six other vehicles, two of which caught fire.

crashed-car-921217-m 15-43-51.jpgAccording to a KPCR public radio report, the accident was caused when the tanker truck was unable to react in time to a sudden traffic slowdown on the 60 freeway at Santa Anita Avenue and crashed into several vehicles in front of it. This caused the driver to steer his truck into the center divider, where it came to a stop on top of the center divider wall. According to authorities, the wreckage from the accidents spanned across 200 yards of the eastbound lanes of the 60 freeway in South El Monte.

The Differences Between Semi-Truck Brakes and Regular Car Brakes Increases the Danger of Accidents
Semi-trucks are designed to carry freight long distances across our country, and they most commonly travel on interstate highways or large state highways. Since the rigs are designed to carry more weight for longer distances at faster speeds than standard automobiles, the brake systems in semi-trucks use different technology than that used in cars and small trucks or SUVs.
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Earlier this month near Grants, three semi-trucks were involved in an accident resulting in the death of one of the drivers. According to a report by KOB 4, the accident occurred on Interstate 40 when one of the semi-truck’s tires blew out.

old-truck-1228351-m.jpgEvidently, a tractor-trailer carrying passenger vehicles was heading east on I-40 when one of the truck’s tires blew out, sending the truck across the median and into the westbound lanes of traffic. Eventually, the truck struck a guardrail on the other side of the roadway and overturned.

As the truck was careening out of control, a second truck heading westbound nearly collided with the out-of-control truck but narrowly avoided a collision. That truck driver came to a stop in the right-hand lane of I-40 westbound. However, as that truck was stopped, a third truck carrying diesel fuel came up from behind and crashed into it, igniting both trucks as a result.
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Last Wednesday, a multiple-vehicle collision left the passenger of a pickup truck dead after the truck was rear-ended by a South Texas College bus and burst into flames. According to an article by The Monitor, the vehicles were traveling eastbound along Expressway 83 in Donna, Texas, when the pickup truck slowed down in anticipation of an upcoming wreck.

coaches-922577-m.jpgThe South Texas College bus failed to slow down, crashing into the pickup and causing it to burst into flames. Bystanders helped the driver of the pickup escape shortly after the wreck, but the passenger remained trapped inside and did not survive. An eyewitness said that he noticed the pickup slowing down, but the bus “just kept going, like it didn’t have brakes.” After hitting the pickup truck, the bus crashed into a business, damaging a sign and some outdoor merchandise. According to the article, the driver of the bus suffered minor injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital, where a blood sample was collected.

The Dangers of Buses and Trucks in Traffic
The bus involved in this accident was used to shuttle students between two campuses of South Texas College, and it travels along high-traffic routes, as do many other buses and large vehicles. When buses and semi-trucks travel on city streets and in congested areas, they present a unique danger to drivers and pedestrians who are at risk from accidents involving the larger vehicles.

Based on the witness statements in the article, it appears that the brakes on the bus were either not functioning properly or that the driver was distracted and failed to apply them in time.

Even if the brakes were functioning properly, and the driver applied them as soon as he could, large vehicles like transit buses cannot stop as quickly as other vehicles, and the crash may have been unavoidable under the circumstances. In whatever way the accident occurred, the large size and weight of the bus likely contributed to the pickup truck bursting into flames and the ultimate death of the passenger inside.

How to Deal with the Loss and Expense of an Accident
When a family member is seriously injured or killed in a traffic accident, their loved ones quickly realize how expensive a tragedy can truly be. Victims are saddled with medical bills, funeral expenses, lost wages, and other costs. Worse than the financial burden, the loss of a loved one can have a tremendous affect on the well-being of an entire family. When faced with all of the grief, costs, and expenses associated with an accident, the victims of an accident often realize that the amounts offered by insurance companies to compensate them for an accident are not even close to enough to cover all of the expenses they will face. Often, victims must hire an attorney and file a New Mexico accident lawsuit to get serious consideration from an insurance company.
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