In most New Mexico personal injury cases, the parties do not agree on the underlying facts. For example, in a car accident involving two motorists, each motorist may claim that the accident was caused by the other driver. In many personal injury cases, this hypothetical situation creates an issue of fact that would need to be resolved by a judge or jury.

Dump TruckIf the parties do agree on the underlying facts, and the only issues that need to be resolved are legal in nature, a judge can resolve the case through a motion for summary judgment. An example of this would be if both motorists agreed on what happened prior to the accident, but each believes that the law is on their side. In these cases, the judge resolves the legal issue, and the case is resolved.

Assuming that the parties do not agree on the underlying facts, the question then becomes which version of the facts will the jury adopt. This is where the importance of an experienced trial attorney comes into play. An attorney who is well versed in cross-examination can expose a party’s bias and may be able to establish that a witness is attempting to cover up certain facts.

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Recently, an appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case finding that summary judgment should be granted because the plaintiff did not properly respond to the defendant’s motion. The case is important for New Mexico trucking accident victims because it illustrates how crucial it is to comply with all court-imposed requirements.

Highway TruckerFacts of the Case

The plaintiff was a truck driver who was injured when he opened the door to his truck’s trailer, and a load of boxes toppled over on top of him. The truck driver sustained injuries and subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against the person who loaded the truck and that person’s employer.

The company moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff could not establish each element of his case. However, the plaintiff did not respond. Instead, the plaintiff asked the court to allow him to call an expert witness to testify at trial. The lower court found that since the driver did not respond to the summary judgment motion, he essentially accepted the facts presented in that motion, and as a result, the motion should be granted.

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One state supreme court recently released an opinion regarding a trucking accident in which multiple parties were alleged to be responsible for the injuries sustained by the plaintiff. The opinion is important to New Mexico trucking accidents victims because the situation is one that commonly arises in trucking accidents.

Truck AccidentThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and defendant were co-drivers and were employed by a private trucking company that was hired to haul a FedEx trailer. The defendant was provided training by co-driving trucks with experienced drivers. For the first few months, he was paired with one driver and then was paired with the plaintiff.

On the day of the accident, it started to snow as the defendant’s shift started. For safety reasons, he pulled over onto the side of the road for a short period of time, but when he attempted to start the truck, it would not move. The defendant then decided to wake the plaintiff up because he needed assistance getting the truck to move.

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When someone is injured in a New Mexico motor vehicle accident, they might think that their first and only recourse is to bring a workers’ compensation claim against the employer. However, this benefit is limited and not always available, depending on the circumstances.

Garbage Truck WorkersWorkers’ compensation laws vary by state, but generally, workers’ compensation covers individuals if they are injured at work. In workers’ compensation cases, the employee does not necessarily need to establish that their employer was at fault in order to obtain benefits. However, workers’ compensation benefits are limited to actual expenses incurred.

In certain instances, an employee may be injured due to the negligence of a third party while at work or performing their work-related duties. These cases are aptly called “third party liability” lawsuits. This occurs when the accident or injury stems from a person or entity that is unrelated to the injured worker’s employer.

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School buses are designed to be very visible to reduce the possibility of a driver not seeing a bus. This is illustrated by their bright color and flashing lights. In addition, the law specifically provides protection to school buses because they carry such precious cargo. One example is that it is illegal for motorists to pass a school bus while children are being picked up or dropped off.

School BusesWhile school buses are designed to be some of the safest vehicles on the road, they are not immune from being involved in a serious accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – an entity that was established following the Highway Safety Act of 1970 – is tasked with researching and studying highway and vehicle design and safety. According to the NHTSA, from 2006 to 2015, there were about 324,710 fatal car accidents, and of those, about 1,172 were related to school transportation. Sadly, there have been about 1,313 children and adults killed in school vehicle accidents. Over 100 of these accident victims were school-aged children.

When these accidents occur, aside from being emotionally devastating, establishing liability and recovering compensation can be very difficult. One reason is that there are many issues in play, including who caused the accident, why the accident occurred, and whether the school district, the bus driver, or another party may be held liable.

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Those who have been injured in a New Mexico bus accident may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries they have sustained in the accident. This compensation may include amounts for past medical expenses, as well as for any future medical needs. Additionally, successful accident victims often recover amounts for any lost wages, if applicable, as well as compensation for their pain and suffering.

Bus SeatsIn order to establish liability in a bus accident case, an accident victim must establish several elements. Essentially, the accident victim must show that the bus driver owed them a duty of care that was violated by some action of the bus driver. Alternatively, an accident victim can also establish liability by showing that the bus driver should have taken a necessary action to prevent an accident or injury but failed to do so. Additionally, the accident victim must be able to show a link between the bus driver’s alleged negligence and their injuries.

While it may seem straightforward to establish liability in a New Mexico bus accident case, in reality, the task can often be quite complex. For instance, there may be a question as to whether the bus driver was actually negligent, or a question of whether the bus driver’s employer should also be named in the lawsuit. These questions are important for accident victims to consider in advance of filing their lawsuit.

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In hopes of decreasing the number of fatal New Mexico truck accidents, lawmakers have recently been considering a number of trucking industry regulations. Indeed, during the previous administration, several regulations were implemented that resulted in a significant amount of push back from the trucking industry. Continuing in this vein, according to a recent news report, close to 3.5 million truck drivers began protesting around highways and truck stops across the nation in an attempt to stop a new safety regulation that is set to be implemented sometime this year. Two of the most hotly contested regulations were related to testing drivers for sleep apnea and requiring drivers to log their hours electronically.

Truck TiresThe pending regulation that caused the truck drivers to organize was related to the requirement that commercial trucks electronically log their hours, rather than using the old pen-and-paper system. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) believes that written logs are inaccurate and easily manipulated by drivers to meet requirements.

The truck drivers and trucking companies retorted that these devices are expensive and are designed in a way that ignores the nuances of truck driving and transportation. The executive vice president of one truck driver organization complained that truckers work in the most over-regulated industry in the United States, and the FMCSA does not understand the intricacies of the job.

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Periodically, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducts studies involving accidents that occur on U.S. highways. The NTSB is a federal agency that was created to promote safety standards for trucks and other vehicles transporting goods across state lines. The NTSB tracks accidents, injuries, and their causes in an attempt to develop new safety standards to decrease the frequency of accidents in the future.

Truck in TrafficThe most recent study conducted by the NTSB indicates that there are over eight million single-unit trucks registered in the U.S. that travel over 110 billion miles each year. Even though these vehicles only amount to about 3% of registered motor vehicles, they account for about 9% of all fatal accidents. These startling numbers show the true hazard to all drivers and passengers these trucks pose. Ultimately, the study revealed that there are many areas in which safety improvements are needed, such as ones to prevent underride accidents.

One important conclusion of the most recent study was that many fatalities are caused due to underride accidents. Interestingly, this is due in large part to the fact that many single-unit trucks are excluded from many safety rules that apply to tractor-trailers. As a result, these vehicles do not meet the safety standards for improved underride guards, which can prevent a significant number of deaths and injuries.

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During this time of year, many companies and organizations host holiday and end-of-the-year parties. In an attempt to avoid to avoid drunken or fatigued driving, many companies enlist the assistance of private buses to transport employees. However, even though hiring a private bus or charter company is generally a good idea because it is economical and efficient, accidents can still occur.

Bus InteriorWhen a New Mexico bus accident occurs, it may be confusing to determine who are the responsible parties and how fault should be apportioned. In these situations, there are often several entities that can be held liable for the accident, including the bus company, the bus driver, the touring company, and potentially even an employer that arranges the transportation.

When a company hires a company to transport employees to various locations, the company has a duty to ensure that the driver is trained and experienced in transporting large numbers of people on a bus. If the company did not perform due diligence in the selection of a transport company, the company may be held liable.

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According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), approximately 25 million school-aged children ride school buses in the United States, either to or from school or to or from other extracurricular activities. As a result, there are almost half a million buses that travel over 250 million miles a day. These vehicles carry our most precious cargo and for the most part are some of the safest vehicles.

School BusIn fact, school buses are specially designed with a “compartmentalization” technology, which is a protection system designed to make sure students stay safe. However, a recent report by the NTSB indicates that although school buses are some of the safest vehicles, the compartmentalization system is not enough to avoid all risk of injuries or death in a New Mexico school bus accident.

Crash simulations have shown that seat belts could prevent a significant number of serious injuries and death. When put this way, it is odd that seat belts are not mandatory on school buses. The NTSB has now recommended that school buses should have a three-point seat belt to ensure that if the school bus is involved in a crash, the impact will be mitigated because of the school bus’ design.

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Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit released an opinion stemming from a 2014 negligence lawsuit brought by an injured plaintiff against a trucking company and a driver who worked for the company. According to the opinion, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendants, alleging that a tractor-trailer hit his car, causing him to lose control and slam into the median. The defendants argued that the plaintiff was actually the one who lost control and hit the median before ever hitting the tractor-trailer.

Mountain HighwayBoth parties moved for summary judgment, and the lower court granted the defendants’ motion to strike the plaintiff’s statement of facts – including two expert reports. The expert reports were excluded because they were filed about four months after the deadline. Furthermore, the lower court judge held that the plaintiff did not comply with a rule which requires that any opposition to summary judgment include a statement of material facts.

The plaintiff filed objections and appealed the ruling. The plaintiff argued that the late disclosure was because he believed that there was an open-ended discovery period after an order posting a status was issued. The appellate court found that there was no abuse of discretion in the lower court’s decision to exclude the plaintiff’s expert reports. Furthermore, the court stated that there is nothing in the record that supports the plaintiff’s position that the tractor-trailer hit him. In fact, the court noted that during depositions, the plaintiff admitted to not looking in his rear-view mirror prior to the accident. In sum, the court held that there were no facts in the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment that supported his version of the events.

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When someone desires to become a commercial truck driver, there is a series of skills and knowledge tests that they must pass. In order to drive a truck or other large vehicle, it is important that the driver possesses the advanced skills that are necessary to maneuver a commercial motor vehicle. Furthermore, due to the potential hazards in the event of a New Mexico truck accident, these drivers are understandably held to a standard higher than those operating any other type of motor vehicle.

Truck at DawnIn order to acquire a commercial driver’s license (CDL), the driver must first get a special license from their home state. If a driver will be operating a vehicle with multiple trailers, tanks, hazardous materials, or other passengers, they must get additional “endorsements” on their license. These endorsements indicate that the driver has obtained additional safety and skills training.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA) maintains a database that tracks the safety records of trucking companies and drivers. The Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) is one record-keeping tool that tracks company records. These records indicate the types of vehicles the company maintains, their inspection records, crash data, and other safety-related ratings.

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Many people are under the impression that if they are injured at their workplace, they will be able to recover compensation for the injuries they sustained by bringing a lawsuit against their employer. However, this is not usually the case. Many New Mexico employers are covered through the state’s workers’ compensation laws.

Construction SiteIn New Mexico, if an employer employs three or more individuals, they are required to have self-insurance or workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation is designed to provide quick benefits to injured workers in a way that is reasonable and manageable for the employer.

If an employee is covered under a workers’ compensation policy, a workers’ compensation claim may be the employee’s only avenue of recovery. However, if a third party was responsible for an employee’s injuries, the employee may pursue a New Mexico personal injury case against that third party.

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While New Mexico truck accidents have a variety of causes, one of the most common reasons is an improper lane change. Semi-trucks, due to their length, have large blind spots along the sides of the truck, as well as behind the truck. This means that if a motorist is traveling in one of these areas, the truck driver most likely will not see them.

Highway TrafficWhile trucks are known to have blind spots, that does not mean that truck drivers are not responsible for an accident involving another vehicle that is traveling in a truck’s blind spot. As a general rule, New Mexico truck drivers are responsible to be aware of the traffic conditions as well as whether there are any motorists traveling in their blind spot. Of course, exceptions do exist, and in some cases a truck driver may be excused of liability if the motorist is negligently operating their own vehicle.

When a motorist believes that a truck driver was responsible for an accident, the motorist may file a New Mexico personal injury lawsuit against the truck driver. In some cases, the truck driver’s employer can also be named as a potentially liable party. This further increases an accident victim’s chance of recovering compensation for their injuries. It is also important to name all potentially liable parties in a New Mexico truck accident lawsuit because otherwise a named defendant may be able to shift liability away from themselves and onto a non-present party. If this occurs, the accident victim will likely be without any means of recovery.

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While the causes of some New Mexico truck accidents are clear from the surrounding circumstances, other truck accidents present a more difficult task for the investigators charged with determining what precipitated the collision. Often, accidents with more than two vehicles involved are those in which investigators have their work cut out for them. However, there can be unanswered questions in some two-vehicle collisions when the damage to both vehicles is substantial or when there are significant injuries.

Cement TruckThe result of an accident scene investigation can be used by both criminal and civil courts. Initially, the police and prosecutor’s office will review an investigation to determine if criminal charges are appropriate given the circumstances of the accident. However, even if no criminal charges are pursued, the victims of the truck accident may proceed with a civil lawsuit against the truck driver and potentially the truck driver’s employer.

It is important for New Mexico accident victims to understand that the result of a pending criminal case – while potentially helpful – is not necessary to establish civil liability. This is because the burden of proof placed on the prosecution in a criminal matter is the highest anywhere in the law. However, a personal injury plaintiff’s claim for damages must only be proved by a “preponderance of the evidence,” which is to say that it was more likely than not that the defendant’s actions resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries.

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New Mexico personal injury cases are often based in negligence. In some cases, there may be accusations that the injured party was partly at fault for the accident. These cases require a consideration of the state’s comparative negligence law and the effect it can have on a case.

Young BicyclistNegligence Claims

Motor vehicle crashes are generally results of negligent conduct rather than intentional conduct. To succeed in a New Mexico truck accident case, a plaintiff must prove the following:  the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff, the defendant breached that duty, and the breach was a proximate cause and cause in fact of the plaintiff’s damages.

Comparative Negligence

If more than one party is alleged to be at fault in an accident, the fact-finder will have to determine the percentage of fault of each of the parties. States have different rules about how courts should consider a plaintiff’s own fault in causing an accident. Generally, states follow either a “contributory negligence” model or a “comparative negligence” model. In a contributory negligence state, a plaintiff cannot recover any damages if the plaintiff is found to be even one percent at fault for the accident. Although this was the traditional rule for many years, very few states continue to follow a contributory negligence model.

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Determining what happened in the moments leading up to a fatal New Mexico truck accident is not always a simple task. While some truck accidents are straightforward, and the causes can readily be determined by local authorities, others require an in-depth investigation. An investigation into a fatal truck accident may require investigators to look into cell phone records, rest logs, and maintenance records.

Mountain HighwayBack in October of last year, a fatal bus accident that occurred on a California highway claimed 13 lives and injured several others. According to reports at the time, the bus was carrying upwards of 40 passengers when it rear-ended a semi-truck. At the time, it was clear from the wreckage that the bus was traveling much faster than the truck, but authorities were unsure what caused the accident.

According to a recent news report, the driver of the semi-truck that was rear-ended was arrested and charged with several counts of vehicular homicide and reckless driving. Apparently, the truck driver had stopped his truck on the highway in a traffic jam that was caused by road construction up ahead. However, while he was stopped, the truck driver fell asleep. When traffic resumed, the truck driver remained asleep until his truck was rear-ended by the bus moments later. The bus was traveling at 76 miles per hour at the time of the collision.

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Whenever someone is injured in a New Mexico traffic accident involving a government employee, certain complications can arise. For example, personal injury lawsuits naming a government employee or entity must comply with additional procedural requirements in order to be properly heard by the court. Moreover, the issue of government immunity is likely to come up in any case claiming that a government entity is liable for a New Mexico trucking accident.

Fire TruckGovernment immunity has been around since the country’s formation and is discussed in the U.S. Constitution. As a general rule, states cannot be held liable for the negligent actions of their employees unless they consent to be named in the lawsuit. However, through the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, the government consents to be sued in many types of personal injury cases. A recent case illustrates the type of claim that is not covered under governmental immunity.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when the truck he was driving collided with a fire truck as the two vehicles entered an intersection. At the time of the collision, the fireman operating the truck was returning after conducting a “routine patrol” of the area. The routine patrol consisted of “learning the streets and areas, inspecting the streets and layout of the city,” and covering the territory in case someone needed assistance. Once the routine patrol had concluded, the fireman stopped briefly at a grocery store and then was planning on heading back to the station.

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New Mexico bus accidents happen. And sometimes, the person responsible for causing the accident does not have the ability to pay for the damages themselves and may not even have adequate insurance coverage to ensure that the victims are properly compensated.

School BusFor this reason, it is very important that all bus accident victims are extremely diligent when it comes to investigating their claims, and they should take every precaution to ensure that all potentially liable parties are named in the complaint. A plaintiff’s failure to name all of the appropriate parties may result in a plaintiff being under-compensated for their injuries or, worse yet, being unable to collect compensation at all.

Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, employers can be held liable for the negligent acts of their employees in some situations. Before an accident victim is able to recover damages from a negligent employee’s employer, they must first show that the employee was acting within the scope of their employment at the time of the accident. In New Mexico, this can be shown by establishing:

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Under New Mexico law, any time a truck driver is involved in a New Mexico truck accident, the driver is required to stop and exchange information with any other party who was involved in the accident. Additionally, the truck driver must arrange to get anyone injured in the accident the necessary medical treatment. Often, the means calling 911 and waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.

CrosswalkWhen a truck driver flees after causing an accident, he may be criminally liable when apprehended by authorities. However, the fact that a driver fled the scene may be an indication that they do not have insurance. Even if a driver is located, there is the possibility that they do not have adequate insurance to cover the expenses of the accident victims. Under New Mexico law, drivers are only required to have $25,000 in coverage per person and $50,000 per accident. In situations in which an at-fault motorist does not have adequate insurance, accident victims can file a claim with their own insurance company under the underinsured motorist provision.

Filing a claim, however, is by no means a guarantee that an accident victim will receive fair compensation for their injuries. If an insurance company believes there is any basis to reject an accident victim’s claim – for example, if the accident victim was partially at fault – the insurance company may offer a very low settlement figure or deny the claim altogether.

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School bus drivers are entrusted to safely transport children to and from school, a job that carries an incredible amount of responsibility. However, school bus drivers, like all other motorists, are human and can make mistakes. When a bus driver is involved in a New Mexico school bus accident, an in-depth investigation is nearly always conducted by the authorities to determine if the accident was due in any part to the bus driver’s negligence.

School BusesMost of the time, school bus drivers travel the same route day after day, enabling them to become very familiar with the route. Other times, however, a bus driver may be assigned a temporary route, or a construction project requires that a bus driver take a different route. In these situations, it is incredibly important for the bus driver to safely travel the route and follow all posted traffic laws along the way. This may mean slowing down, pulling over, or traveling the route in advance to ensure that the students are safe along the journey.

When a bus driver does cause an accident, and students are injured as a result, the parents of the injured students are entitled to seek compensation for their children’s injuries through a New Mexico personal injury lawsuit.

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Construction sites are known to be dangerous. For most people, the dangers of a construction site are normally thought to be limited to the site itself. However, New Mexico truck accidents involving construction vehicles and machinery are not uncommon. Indeed, construction vehicles are large and cumbersome, and often they must navigate crowded city streets.

Construction TruckDue to the difficulties of driving a large commercial vehicle, New Mexico truck drivers must obtain a commercial driver’s license in order to legally operate a dump truck or any other commercial vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds. This requires the driver to complete a safety course that educates the driver on how to safely control large commercial vehicles. However, even with specialized education, drivers still make mistakes.

When a truck driver negligently causes an accident, they may be held liable for any injuries caused as a result of the accident through a New Mexico trucking accident lawsuit. In some cases, the truck driver’s employer may also be named as a defendant, potentially increasing an accident victim’s chances of being fully and fairly compensated for their injuries.

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Semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles have the potential to cause major havoc when they are involved in a New Mexico truck accident. Not only are accidents involving semi-trucks often more serious than those involving other vehicles, but also they are more likely to occur, due to the size and weight of these large trucks. For example, given their large size, semi-trucks take a much longer distance to come to a safe and complete stop, resulting in a higher likelihood of rear-end accidents.

Truck on HighwayWhen a New Mexico truck accident occurs, several motorists may be involved, especially if the initial collision resulted in a subsequent chain-reaction accident. Determining liability in a New Mexico chain-reaction accident can be difficult, given the number of motorists involved and the task of determining which motorist was responsible for causing the initial accident. Additionally, fault may reside with several of the other motorists involved if they were not taking adequate precautions prior to the accident. For example, a motorist may be partially responsible for an accident if they are found to have been following too closely.

Establishing Fault in New Mexico Chain-Reaction Accidents

When it comes to determining who is financially liable in a New Mexico chain-reaction accident case, the task is usually left to a jury. New Mexico employs the “pure comparative negligence” model when determining which accident victims are entitled to recover compensation for their injuries and whether their award amount should be reduced due to their own fault in contributing to their injuries.

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While seeking financial compensation after any traffic accident can be a lengthy and frustrating process, perhaps no other type of accident is more frustrating than a New Mexico hit-and-run accident. For starters, the responsible party may not be located for days or weeks after the accident – if at all. This puts accidents victims in a difficult spot when it comes time to pay for the myriad costs associated with being an accident victim.

Passing BusEven when a hit-and-run driver cannot be located, however, hit-and-run accident victims may have a means of recovering compensation for their injuries through their own insurance company. New Mexico law mandates that all drivers carry a certain amount of insurance coverage, including $25,000 per person for two people, for a total of $50,000. Thus, a driver with even the bare minimum amount of insurance in New Mexico can file a claim for compensation under their own insurance policy up to these limits. Of course, it is recommended to carry more than the minimum amount of insurance, in the event that injuries from an accident exceed $25,000 per person.

Driver Flees Scene After Bus Accident

Earlier this month, one man was arrested after he initially fled the scene of a bus accident and then returned a short time later. According to a local news report, the accident occurred when the bus driver attempted to make a left turn through an intersection and clipped another vehicle that was waiting to make a turn in the process. Thankfully, no one was injured; however, witnesses say that it was very clear the accident involved property damage, and the bus driver must have known that he was involved in a collision.

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In most New Mexico truck accident cases, the fact that one of the drivers involved in the accident had marijuana in their system would seem to be a relevant fact. However, in a recent truck accident case out of California, the court held that evidence of the plaintiff’s prior marijuana use was not admissible.

18-WheelerThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a truck accident that was caused when the defendant truck driver pulled onto the highway after taking a nap on the side of the road. The plaintiff was unable to stop his vehicle in time, and he crashed into the side of the semi-truck, which was completely blocking his lane.

While the plaintiff was being treated for his injuries, he disclosed that he occasionally smoked marijuana but that he had not done so in the last 36 hours. A preliminary drug test was given to the plaintiff, and it came back showing that there were trace amounts of the inactive metabolite of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

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New Mexico truck drivers routinely drive hundreds of miles across the country delivering goods. The majority of a truck driver’s time is spent navigating the nations’ vast highways, often traveling hundreds of miles without making a turn. Indeed, highways are specifically designed for large trucks to easily travel from one city to another. Even when they are operated on roads designed to accommodate these large vehicles, New Mexico truck accidents are still common.

Pedestrian AccidentWhen truck drivers begin and end their journey, however, they are often operating their rigs on city streets. These surface streets, unlike highways, are not designed for large trucks and present truck drivers with a unique set of challenges. For example, city streets are narrower than highways, limiting truck drivers’ visibility and offering reduced space to complete necessary turns. Additionally, truck drivers must navigate around countless motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Despite the additional challenges of driving on city streets, it is a part of a truck driver’s job, and truck drivers must take all of the necessary precautions to prevent accidents. In many cases, truck drivers will approach their destination late at night, after fatigue has set in. In these situations, truck drivers should pull off the road, find a rest stop, and get some sleep so that they are alert as they drive on city streets.

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New Mexico is a vast and fairly unpopulated state with thousands of miles of dirt roads stretching across the state’s open deserts. Many of these dirt roads cross federal lands that are virtually unoccupied, but other roads, however, are more frequently used by hunters and others seeking to explore what New Mexico has to offer. While dirt roads allow residents to access remote areas, they also pose a risk to motorists because most dirt roads do not have signage or markings, and they may be in various states of disrepair.

Dirt RoadIn New Mexico, it is common to encounter dirt roads crossing both government and private land. Regardless of whose land a dirt road is on, the owner of the land may have a duty to ensure that the road is safe, especially when it comes to known travelers. However, it is worth noting that in some cases, New Mexico’s recreational use statute will protect landowners who open up their land at no cost to others.

In addition to the duties placed on landowners, those who use dirt roads must operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner. This includes driving at a reasonable speed and following other applicable traffic laws. When a motorist is injured in a New Mexico truck accident due to either the landowner’s or truck driver’s negligence, the injured accident victim may be able to seek compensation for their injuries through a New Mexico personal injury lawsuit.

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Emergency vehicles may need to park on the shoulder of the highway for a number of reasons. Commonly, these vehicles are responding to New Mexico auto accidents or are taking care of official government business. However, the presence of these vehicles in such close proximity to fast-moving traffic certainly presents safety issues.

Fire TruckCivilian motorists as well as the government employees who operate emergency vehicles are responsible to take the necessary actions so that traffic is not impeded and motorist safety is not jeopardized. Indeed, in 2005, New Mexico lawmakers passed a “move over” law, requiring motorists to change lanes and slow down as they pass emergency vehicles.

At the same time, drivers of emergency vehicles have a duty to make sure that they take adequate precautions. For example, emergency vehicle drivers should ensure they are pulled over as far off the highway as possible and illuminate any emergency lights on their vehicle to notify passing traffic of their presence.

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Truck accidents can occur for a number of reasons. For example, it is common to see reports of truck accidents being caused by distracted drivers or drivers who fail to get the necessary amount of rest between shifts. However, one of the most common causes of New Mexico truck accident continues to be intoxicated driving.

Semi-TruckIn New Mexico, it is estimated that there are approximately 120 alcohol-related deaths per year. While this number has been going down over the past several decades, the reality is that drunk drivers still pose a serious threat to the safety of New Mexico motorists. Any drunk driving accident can be serious, but when a truck driver gets behind the wheel after having too much to drink or after taking illegal drugs, the consequences are often disastrous.

Truck drivers, like all motorists, have a duty to ensure that they operate their vehicle in a safe and responsible manner. Of course, this includes refraining from drunk driving or driving under the influence of illegal drugs. However, truck drivers are also responsible to avoid taking prescription medications that may affect their ability to drive. In fact, the law makes no distinction regarding whether the substance involved is prescribed or illicit.

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Earlier this month in Bavaria, Germany, an accident between a passenger bus and a semi-truck resulted in 18 deaths and dozens of injuries. According to a national news report covering the tragic accident, a tour bus full of seniors enjoying a summer holiday crashed into the back of a truck that had slowed down for an approaching traffic jam.

Passenger BusEvidently, the accident occurred at around seven in the morning, on a day with fair weather and good visibility. Reports indicate that the bus, which was carrying 48 seniors between the ages of 66 and 81, was immediately engulfed in flames as it collided with the truck. Several people were able to evacuate the bus in the moments after the accident. However, firefighters told reporters that by the time they got to the scene, no one else was able to be removed from the wreckage, due to the extreme heat given off by the burning bus.

The accident is still under official investigation, and a final report has not yet been released. However, at this early juncture, it seems as though the bus driver was either distracted or had fallen asleep behind the wheel. There is no indication that he suffered a medical event in the moments leading up to the accident. However, since the bus driver was among those who were killed in the accident, authorities will not be able to obtain his side of the story.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Florida issued a written opinion in a truck accident case involving an accident caused while the owner of the truck was present in the cab but not operating the truck. The court was required to determine if the truck’s owner should have his liability reduced under a state law that limits an owner’s liability to $100,000 when liability is based only on the fact that the owner loaned the vehicle to another person who negligently caused the accident. The court ultimately determined that the owner did loan the vehicle to the driver and limited his liability accordingly.

The Facts of the CaseTruck on Highway

The plaintiffs’ daughter attempted to pass the truck owned by the defendant. As their daughter began to pass the truck, she was in a passing zone, but as she entered her own lane of travel, she was in a no-passing zone. When she crossed back into her lane of travel, she noticed another vehicle was stopped, waiting to make a left turn. She quickly applied her brakes and was able to stop; however, the truck behind her was not able to stop and rear-ended her. The plaintiffs’ daughter was killed in the accident, and her parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both the truck’s driver and its owner.

As it turns out, the owner of the truck had been driving but previously asked the passenger to drive while he took a nap in the back.

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As self-driving and partially self-driving cars begin to become more common, questions about safety and liability arise. Self-driving cars have been touted as safer than regular cars because they reduce driver error. However, others worry that relying on software and technology brings a different kind of risk. Some drivers have claimed that the self-driving cars behave erratically, for example by failing to recognize cars stopped in front of them.

Push StartThere are also questions about who is liable when a crash occurs. Manufacturers have generally required buyers to agree to keep their hands on the steering wheel, even when the car is on autopilot. But if a product malfunctions and causes a crash, the manufacturer might be to blame. As fully self-driving cars inch closer to reality, these questions will no doubt play out in courts across the country.

New Details Emerge About 2016 Semi-Truck and Tesla Autopilot Crash

New details about a fatal 2016 Tesla autopilot crash have recently emerged. According to one news source, the crash, which occurred in May 2016, involved a collision between a semi-truck and a Tesla Model S, which was on autopilot with a driver inside. It was the first known crash that occurred while autopilot was activated. The Tesla driver had been driving in Florida when a truck made a left turn in front of the car. The car went under the truck, hitting the bottom of the trailer, and the car then went off the road and crashed. The roof was torn off the car, and the driver was killed.

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In New Mexico personal injury cases, there are several types of awards that a successful plaintiff may be awarded. The most common type of damages is compensatory damages. These damages include amounts for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Compensatory damages are designed to put the plaintiff back into the position in which they were before the accident resulting in their injuries.

Truck DriverThe other category of damages available in some New Mexico truck accident cases is punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for especially reprehensible conduct and to deter other potential defendants from engaging in similar conduct. Punitive damages awards are often significant, but obtaining them can be difficult.

In New Mexico, punitive damages require a showing that the defendant’s conduct was “willful, wanton, malicious, reckless, oppressive, grossly negligent, or fraudulent and in bad faith.” New Mexico courts use several factors in determining if punitive damages are appropriate. Essentially, courts will look at the type of harm suffered and the level of reckless disregard the defendant exhibited when determining if punitive damages should be awarded.

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New Mexico statute 66-8-102 prohibits people from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs. Drivers who are impaired, whether due to the influence of drugs or alcohol or for any other reason, offer strong evidence of negligent conduct if they are involved in an accident.

School BusNormally, the levels of intoxication shown in the blood are admitted into evidence for the drivers involved in the accident, and sometimes for passengers as well. This may be true even if the person is not intoxicated beyond the legal limit. The question of whether a person’s level of intoxication may be admitted into evidence depends on whether the person could have avoided or mitigated the accident by exercising due care—that is, by being sober and alert. Drivers may also be considered impaired for other reasons, including fatigue, a physical disability, or driving without a license.

Intoxication and Punitive Damages

Driving while intoxicated or impaired may also give rise to punitive damages. If a defendant’s conduct is found to be willful, wanton, malicious, reckless, oppressive, or fraudulent, punitive damages may be imposed in New Mexico. Reckless conduct means acting intentionally with utter indifference to the consequences. This may be shown by demonstrating that a defendant was intoxicated while driving.

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Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of fatal accidents in New Mexico and across the country. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015 alone, nearly 3,500 people were killed in accidents involving a distracted driver. This places distracted driving as the third-most common cause of fatal traffic accidents, behind drunk driving and speeding.

Truck MirrorUnlike drunk driving or speeding, however, it is not always easy to determine if driver distraction was a factor in an accident. While some causes of distracted driving can be prevented, such as cell-phone use, other causes are much more difficult to regulate. For example, a driver may be distracted by a passenger, by a road-side sign, or by their GPS system. This makes it difficult for lawmakers to completely outlaw distracted driving.

While lawmakers cannot outlaw distracted driving as a whole, they have taken steps to reduce the causes of distracted driving. For example, in New Mexico, it is against the law for drivers to talk on the phone or text while driving. While the penalty for distracted driving consists only of a small fine, the real import of this law is that it can assist accident victims in proving their case against a driver who was distracted by their phone at the time of the crash.

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Trucking accidents are unfortunately a common occurrence on New Mexico highways. The state is located in a prime position for many truck routes to pass through while on long-haul trips across the United States. Often, truck drivers have been traveling for hours upon end without taking a significant break. This can create situations in which truck drivers are not as alert as they should be.

Truck on HighwayWhen large trucks are involved in an accident, domino effects may occur. Unlike sedans or even SUVs, large trucks are difficult to maneuver and are especially difficult to stop quickly. This makes it difficult for truck drivers to avoid accidents that occur ahead of them. Additionally, the reality is that many truck drivers are not as experienced as they should be, which can lead to instances of negligent driving, increasing the risk of an accident. According to the most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 14% of fatal accidents involved these large trucks.

Victims of truck accidents may seek compensation for the injuries they suffered. However, the domino effect of these accidents often makes it difficult to apportion liability or determine who actually caused the accident. Some accident victims are tempted to rely on an insurance company’s assessment of who is at fault and which parties should be compensated. However, that is rarely the best course of action because insurance companies are looking out for their own best interest and may offer low-ball settlement offers in hopes of making a case “go away” for as little money as possible.

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When an accident occurs and a lawsuit is filed, the jury’s main purpose is to apportion liability and award damages. To do this, the jury must determine who was at fault for the incident and the resulting damages. In some circumstances, the negligent party is very evident given the surrounding facts; however, in certain situations, determining liability can be a bit murkier. In these situations, it is possible that the plaintiff may be found at fault for some or all of the accident. The outcome in a case in which the plaintiff is at fault can vary greatly depending on the state in which it occurs. Generally, there are four theories of negligence when determining liability:Pie Chart

  • Pure contributory negligence
  • Pure comparative negligence
  • Modified comparative negligence (50% rule)
  • Modified comparative negligence (51% rule)

New Mexico applies the doctrine of pure comparative negligence. This means that any injured party can file a lawsuit against any other party involved in the accident, regardless of the injured party’s percentage of fault. In these situations, the jury will make a determination as to the fault of each party involved and then apportion liability and damages in accordance with that level of fault. If a plaintiff is found to be partially at fault in causing the accident that resulted in their injuries, the plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by their own amount of fault. Since New Mexico employs pure comparative negligence, there is no bar to recovery even when a plaintiff’s fault exceeds 51%.

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There are few accidents more deadly than head-on collisions. In fact, depending on the type of vehicle involved in the accident and the age and physical condition of the passenger, survival rates in head-on collisions are typically less than 50%. While head-on collisions are dangerous, they are one of the easiest types of accidents to avoid if both parties are paying sufficient attention to the road.

Bus SeatsHead-on collisions are most commonly caused by one driver failing to pay attention to the road ahead of them. This may be because the driver is distracted by a passenger or is texting on their cell phone. In other cases, head-on collisions are caused by drunk or intoxicated drivers who have a difficult time maintaining control of their vehicle. In either case, a drunk or distracted driver can be held liable for any injuries resulting from a head-on collision through a New Mexico personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

New Mexico Wrongful Death Lawsuits

As noted above, most head-on collisions are fatal. Thus, many of the personal injury cases that are brought in the wake of a head-on collision are wrongful death cases. A New Mexico wrongful death case must be brought by a personal representative of the deceased person. If successful, any proceeds from the lawsuit will be distributed among the deceased’s heirs according to New Mexico Statutes 41-2-3. Generally speaking, the surviving spouse, children, and grandchildren of the deceased have priority. Secondary beneficiaries include siblings, parents, and the survivors of the deceased’s parents.

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Truck accidents are often devastating, and since they frequently occur on the highway, they often involve several vehicles. In such cases, there may be more than one party that is responsible for causing the accident. For example, while a truck driver may have ultimately caused a collision between several vehicles, there may have been a series of negligent acts performed by other parties leading up to the accident that added to the severity of the accident and the resulting injuries.

Exiting the BusIn these cases, New Mexico’s law on joint and several liability may apply. Joint and several liability falls under the general concept of comparative negligence. New Mexico follows the idea of “pure” comparative negligence. Under comparative negligence, if a plaintiff is injured in an accident but was partially at fault, their recovery will be reduced by their degree of fault.

In a situation in which comparative negligence applies, the issue of joint and several liability can also arise. Joint and several liability applies when there are multiple negligent actors who contributed to an accident. Under the doctrine, each responsible party is responsible for the portion of the damages judgment that is equal to their particular degree of fault. However, if one party is unable to pay, the other parties are liable for the full amount. This way, a plaintiff has an increased chance of receiving their full award, even if one or more defendants are insolvent.

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Truck drivers are almost always employed by a private trucking company. These trucking companies generally provide training and set routes and designate responsibilities and job requirements for the truck driver employee. As a result, when a truck driver causes an accident due to their own negligence, it is sometimes possible to hold the trucking company liable for at least some part of the damages that the victim incurred.

Truck on HighwayIn order to succeed in a truck accident case against an employer, a plaintiff can rely on the theory of vicarious liability. This theory encompasses the idea that employers can be responsible for the acts of their employees. In order to succeed in a claim of this nature, the plaintiff must be able to establish that the truck driver was acting within the scope of employment when they acted negligently. In certain cases, trucking companies will try to avoid liability by arguing that the truck driver was an independent contractor, and therefore the company should not be held responsible. However, an experienced New Mexico plaintiff’s attorney can assist accident victims in challenging this defense.

It is also important to note that in certain instances, employers may be held liable under a unique and separate theory of liability. This may occur when the plaintiff can establish that the company negligently trained, hired, or maintained their equipment. If a trucking company does not provide proper upkeep of a vehicle, and the lack of upkeep is what caused or exacerbated the accident, the company may be held liable. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the trucking company to provide the employee with proper job training. If the company fails to do this, it may be held liable if the employee causes an accident due to lack of training or supervision. Finally, trucking companies should be diligent in their hiring practices. This includes properly screening applicants and ensuring that they possess the skills necessary to safely operate a truck. If a trucking company fails to do this, once again, they can be held liable for any accident that their employee causes.

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According to the most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 135 people are killed in school transportation-related crashes each year. Most of these fatalities occurred between the hours of seven and eight in the morning and between three and four in the afternoon. For example, between the years of 2003 and 2012, over 1,200 people were killed in school transportation-related accidents, many of these children. While this statistic only amounts to approximately half of one percent of the total 348,253 fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes that occurred between those years, the thought of these accidents is terrifying.

School BusThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for many years did not find seat belts were needed on school buses. However, that position has recently changed. Federal law does not require seat belts on most school buses, which some say sufficiently protect students due to the way they are designed. However, school buses do not always protect children in certain types of crashes or rollovers. For this reason, many safety organizations now recommend seat belts on school buses.

While federal law does not require seat belts, more and more states are beginning to require seat belts in school buses. This year, many states have introduced legislation that would make seat belts mandatory, at least in newly manufactured school buses. However, some lawmakers question whether seat belts may slow students down to evacuate in an emergency. Right now, only six states — California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas — have laws requiring seat belts on school buses, and even then, some of these states have not provided the necessary funds for the schools to complete the required upgrades.

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With the increase in popularity of text messaging, distracted driving has become a leading cause of deadly accidents throughout the United States. As a result, the majority of states have implemented some sort of law or policy against distracted driving. These new laws have imposed strict punishments upon those who choose to engage in distracted driving. In some instances, texting or even using a cell phone while driving is illegal.

Wet FloorIn New Mexico, it is against the law for any motorist to text or talk on the phone without a hands-free device. Motorists found to be using a cell phone while driving will be fined $25 for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. However, lawmakers are pushing to increase the penalties for cell-phone use while driving.

Advocates Fight for Stricter Distracted Driving Laws

With the rise in distracted driving accidents and fatalities, many lawmakers and citizens have begun fighting for stricter laws to combat distracted driving. These individuals and groups have started focusing their efforts on companies that employ large numbers of people. Advocates have started pressuring the business community to implement complete bans on using cell phones while driving. This push is similar to one many years ago when lobbyists began encouraging employers to require their employees to wear seat belts.

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Earlier this week in Texas, an accident between a pick-up truck and a bus claimed the lives of 13 of the 14 people aboard the bus. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the bus was heading back from a church retreat when the collision occurred.

Cell PhoneEvidently, moments before the accident, another motorist who was driving behind the pick-up truck that caused the accident noticed that the truck was swerving in and out of the lane of oncoming traffic. The motorist called 911 and told operators, “he’s going to hit somebody head on or he’s going to kill his own self. Somebody needs to get this guy off the road.” The motorist’s girlfriend, who was also in the vehicle with him, took out her phone and began recording the truck’s erratic movements. The motorist made several calls before the truck crossed over into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with the bus.

After the accident, the motorist who had called the police confronted the driver of the pick-up truck, who told him, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I was texting.” Due to the seriousness of the accident and the number of fatalities, the federal National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is joining in the investigation with state authorities. The NTSB declined to comment on the accident but did indicate that distracted driving would be among the issues the agency investigates.

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Commercial truck driving is a crucial and important facet of commerce in the United States. Truck drivers are highly utilized, especially recently with the prevalence of online shopping. Due to the demand placed on them, truck drivers are often overworked and are expected to follow strict delivery deadlines. With this increase in trucking activity, and often a shortage of labor, some truck drivers turn to stimulants and other drugs to keep them awake so that they can travel longer distances in a given day.

Semi-TruckAside from the obvious criminal and physical health issues that arise when individuals are taking illicit drugs, there is also a major danger to those with whom these drivers share the road. A few years ago, a study was conducted that analyzed how frequently truck drivers use drugs while on their shift. The study combined self-surveys and physical tests. Interestingly, the study had the highest positive result for alcohol use while on shift. In addition, the study revealed that truck drivers were frequently using amphetamines, cocaine, and other psychoactive drugs to stay awake.

Recently, an industry news source reported that the American Trucking Association (ATA) is lobbying the federal government to require hair samples as a form of mandatory drug testing. The organization has put forth the effort to allow companies to use hair testing instead of urinalysis. The ATA explained that many trucking companies have the burden of paying for testing out-of-pocket because the government does not cover it, and they should be given a choice in how the testing is conducted. Supporters also argue that hair analysis is a much more reliable form of drug testing, and it is more effective at preventing habitual use. It is believed that more stringent testing will reduce the number of truck driver accidents.

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In every state there are harsh criminal and civil punishments for drunk driving due to the catastrophic consequences drunk driving has on the community. In New Mexico specifically, 33% of all traffic fatalities are a result of drunk driving. A large portion of these accidents are caused by intoxicated truck drivers.

Mug of BeerOne reason that truck drivers too often get behind the wheel while intoxicated is because of the long hours truck drivers must work. In many situations, despite regulations mandating a certain amount of rest time, truck drivers push their physical limits by trying to stay out on the road as long as possible to travel as far as they can each day. This can lead to the abuse of stimulants or other drugs to help keep a driver awake.

The National Transportation Safety Board has commissioned studies about the prevalence of drug use among truck drivers. Through these studies, it was found that out of all of the truck drivers questioned, about 85% admitted to the easy accessibility of methamphetamines at truck stops. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) explicitly states that truck drivers are not permitted to consume alcohol or be under the influence of drugs or alcohol within four hours of operating a truck. Commercial truck drivers are often subjected to regular and random drug and alcohol testing. Unfortunately, despite these stringent laws, these sorts of accidents continue to occur. Even with vetting and continuing education, truck drivers continue to engage in this dangerous and potentially fatal behavior.

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Although getting into an accident is an unfortunate risk that motorists take on every day they choose to drive, most accidents can be avoided with the exercise of due care. When a preventable accident occurs, the injured party may bring a negligence claim against the at-fault party. In order to do this, the accident victim must be able to establish that the other party owed them a duty of care and the other party acted in such a way that the duty was breached. The accident victim must also show that they subsequently suffered damages.

HighwayMany car accidents, however, are not black-and-white affairs. In fact, there are commonly accidents where the injured party was also culpable to some extent. In this situation, either party involved in the accident will be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the other. That said, both parties’ total recovery amount will be reduced by their own percentage of fault under the doctrine of comparative fault. New Mexico is one of only 13 states that follows the theory of pure comparative fault. This means that even if the injured party is 99% at fault they can still recover something. Their damages will just be reduced by their degree of fault.

State Highway Patrol Officers Injured After Tractor-Trailer Accident

Earlier this month, two Missouri highway patrol officers were injured after they were struck by a tractor-trailer that drifted out of its lane while on the highway. According to one news report, the two officer’s cars were parked on the shoulder of the highway when the accident occurred. Evidently, the tractor-trailer left the highway and drove onto the shoulder, slamming into both of the police vehicles.

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Semi-trucks have the propensity to cause serious damage if they are involved in an accident. The sheer magnitude of the vehicle compounded with the high speed of most truck accidents can result in fatalities and serious property and physical damage. It is important that all truck drivers, especially those who travel the long highways of New Mexico, are properly trained in all pertinent areas of truck driving.

Desert HighwayThere are a few common causes of truck driving accidents in New Mexico, and with proper training and monitoring, many of these can be avoided. For example, too often, truck drivers are not alert in the late night and early morning hours. Truck drivers drive long hours with few breaks, and this can cause drivers to become fatigued, resulting in slower reaction times. Federal rules require that truck drivers keep track of their rest hours and that truck drivers cannot start a shift without first having 10 hours off duty prior to starting.

Other truck accidents are caused by inclement weather. It is important that truck drivers are properly trained with their specific vehicle and have adequate experience and training on how to drive when severe weather occurs. Furthermore, even though truck drivers often have extremely strict deadlines they have to meet, the safety of others should always come first. It is important that, when possible, truck drivers avoid heavy traffic and peak driving hours. If truck drivers cannot avoid driving at peak times, they should change lanes as infrequently as possible.

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When a semi-truck driver causes an accident that results in injuries to one or more parties, the injured parties may be able to seek financial compensation through a personal injury lawsuit brought under the theory of negligence. In order to succeed in a negligence lawsuit, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligent act or omission resulted in the plaintiff’s injury. This requires the plaintiff to submit proof of four elements:

  • The truck driver owed the plaintiff a duty of care;Desert Highway
  • The truck driver violated that duty of care through some act or omission;
  • The truck driver’s breach of the duty owed to the plaintiff resulted in the plaintiff’s injury; and
  • The plaintiff suffered some kind of injury.

Generally speaking, evidence must be provided to the court as to each of these four elements, or the court will dismiss the case. In some cases, under the doctrine of negligence per se, evidence that a truck driver was violating the law at the time of the accident can help an accident victim’s case because it helps them meet the second and third elements. This is also the case if the truck driver faces criminal charges after an accident.

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Hit-and-run accidents are a particularly devastating and deadly type of accident. When the hit-and-run accident involves a large truck, the severity of the damages and the potential for harm is only heightened. Accidents are classified as hit-and-runs when a driver is involved in an accident and flees the scene without providing assistance or calling for emergency assistance. These types of accidents often have deadly consequences because every second is crucial after a serious car accident, and any delay can result in the exacerbation of injuries, up to and including death.

TruckAccording to New Mexico law, all drivers, including commercial truck drivers, must stop their vehicle after being involved in an accident. This is especially important if any property damage, injury, or death has likely occurred. Police and emergency personnel should be immediately contacted, and the parties must provide all pertinent identifying information to anyone else involved in the accident. In some cases, drivers should also attempt to provide a reasonable amount of care to the injured party.

If a New Mexico truck driver fails to follow the law regarding hit-and-run accidents, they may face civil liability. These cases are not taken lightly, and law enforcement thoroughly investigates the scene of the accident and questions any available witnesses in an attempt to find the culpable party. An attorney can assist anyone injured in a hit-and-run accident in bringing a lawsuit against the at-fault party. In the unfortunate circumstance that the at-fault driver is not caught, an attorney may assist an accident victim in handling a claim against their own insurance company.

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Back in 2015, a car full of nursing students was on their way to their last day of clinical training when they were rear-ended by a semi-truck going nearly 70 miles per hour. At the time of the accident, the students were completely stopped on the highway due to a major traffic jam caused by an unrelated accident up ahead. A police investigation following the tragic accident showed that the driver of the semi-truck did not apply the brakes in the moments leading up to the accident.

Truck at SunsetIn all, five of the six passengers in the car were killed, leaving only one survivor. The families of the deceased accident victims all filed wrongful death lawsuits against the truck driver as well as his employer. These lawsuits were settled out of court before they reached trial. However, the lone survivor could not reach an acceptable resolution with the trucking company in pre-trial settlement negotiations, and the case proceeded to trial.

According to a news report covering last month’s trial, the jury found in favor of the accident victim and awarded her $15 million in damages. Aside from hearing about the circumstances of the accident, the jury also heard from the victim herself, who explained that she suffered a traumatic brain injury in the accident and still suffers from ongoing anxiety.

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Earlier this month in Alabama, an appellate court discussed when it is appropriate for a lower court to set aside a default judgment that has been entered in favor of a plaintiff when the defendant failed to respond to the plaintiff’s lawsuit. The recent case discussed the three-factor test applied in Alabama, which is similar to the two-factor test applied in New Mexico courts.

Logging TruckThe Facts of the Case

The defendant was a truck driver who was planning to unload cargo off his truck after backing the truck into his driveway. As he was lining the truck up to back it into his driveway, it necessarily was blocking all lanes of travel. The plaintiff, a minor, was driving a van and struck the defendant’s truck. The plaintiff was seriously injured as a result and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the truck driver.

After three months, the truck driver had not officially responded to the lawsuit and the plaintiff asked the court to enter a default judgment against the defendant. A default judgment is the court’s mechanism for ruling in favor of the plaintiff when the defendant fails to respond to the lawsuit. Because the defendant had not yet filed any response, a default judgment was entered in the amount of $550,000.

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Although many people imagine New Mexico as a desert state without much variation in weather, New Mexicans know that the state is actually prone to a significant amount of drastic fluctuations in weather conditions. These fluctuations can lead to dangerous consequences for motorists, especially truck drivers. Often, when truck drivers are involved in an accident during severe weather conditions, they will try to attribute the accident solely to the weather. However, research into these accidents has indicated that despite bad weather, many accidents can be avoided, and in many cases, truck driver negligence is the actual cause.
Bridge Entrance

There are regulations in place that guide truck drivers and their employers regarding the length of time a driver is allowed to drive without a break. However, there are many financial incentives in the trucking industry for quick delivery and turnarounds. This often leads to exhausted and distracted drivers. This, in combination with a severe or drastic change in the weather, can lead to potentially deadly situations.

When individuals are injured due to the negligence of a truck driver, it can be extremely difficult to determine the cause of the accident and attribute liability. Truck drivers will sometimes be protected by their employer’s legal counsel, so it is important that victims in this situation are just as protected.

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A frightening accident earlier this month has left a truck driver injured and several livestock dead in Minnesota. According to a local news report, the crash appears to have been caused by the driver losing traction and slipping on icy roads, ultimately rolling the truck over into a ditch. The driver of the truck, a 37-year-old North Dakota man, was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. This accident points out the increased danger that is presented to everyday drivers by fully loaded semi-trucks in the wintertime.

Snowy RoadSemi-Truck Loses Traction While Delivering Hogs to Local Farm

The accident has been blamed on icy road conditions, which seem to have caused several more accidents in the area. Indeed, winter conditions have been affecting New Mexico drivers as well this season. Although the icy roads can be blamed partially for the increase in accidents, it is common knowledge in the trucking industry that the risk of losing traction or having another type of accident increases in the winter. Trucking companies and their drivers need to have the right training to act appropriately when driving in winter conditions. If a company fails to train drivers for the conditions they could foreseeably expect to encounter on the job, the company and driver could be liable following a crash.

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At least three people have died as a result of a chain-reaction accident involving two 18-wheelers and several other vehicles last month. According to a local news report, the crash occurred at about 5:45 in the morning on December 27, when the driver of a semi-truck failed to slow down and avoid crashing into a group of vehicles that had slowed as a result of a traffic buildup. Another semi-truck was the first vehicle hit, which was pushed into a Ford pickup and Toyota Corolla and eventually into a concrete barricade. The smaller vehicles were crushed into the barricade by the force of the two semi-trucks. Three accident victims were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, and five others were hospitalized.

Semi-TruckSemi-Truck Drivers Are Required To Maintain a Safe Following Distance to Prevent Collisions

Semi-trucks and construction vehicles can be some of the biggest, heaviest, and most difficult vehicles to control. The drivers and operators of these vehicles must receive specific training and an additional license to operate them on New Mexico roads. As part of that training, semi-truck drivers are taught that these trucks have a much greater stopping distance than other vehicles, depending on the load and weather and road conditions. Drivers need to ensure that their speed and the distance between their rig and the vehicle in front of them gives them a safety cushion to come to a complete stop without hitting the other vehicles in the event of a sudden traffic jam.

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Semi-trucks present a serious danger to the other motorists with whom they share the road. Between a truck’s large size, increased stopping distance, and inability to be quickly maneuvered, there are many concerns that a semi-truck driver must keep in mind every time they get into the cab. One concern that is too often overlooked by both truck drivers and trucking companies is whether the truck has been properly loaded with the cargo it is carrying.

Logging TruckSemi-trucks routinely carry many tons of cargo. While the trucks themselves are equipped to tow fully loaded trailers if they are properly loaded, if a trailer is not properly loaded, there is an increased chance that the cargo can shift, causing the truck driver to lose control of the vehicle. The same is true of overloaded trucks. The importance of properly loading a trailer increases when the cargo being loaded is especially unwieldy, large, or of uneven weight.

If a truck driver or trucking company fails to take the necessary precautions loading the trailer, and an accident is caused as a result, both the truck driver and the trucking company may be held liable for any injuries that were caused. Anyone injured in a New Mexico truck accident should consult with a dedicated attorney as soon as possible to discuss the rights they may have.

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The joyful atmosphere of a seasonal holiday market was tragically disrupted earlier this month when a semi-truck plowed through a crowd of shoppers and killed at least 12 innocent people and injured dozens more. The saddening event has been deemed an intentional attack, but it highlights the destructive power and tragic consequences that semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles can have in accidental or intentional crashes, especially if pedestrians are involved as victims.

Snowy TruckAccording to a national news report, the crash occurred when a man drove a semi-truck with a tractor trailer through the Berlin Christmas Market last week. Authorities released a statement that the truck involved in the crash was stolen from a Polish worksite that was about a two-hour drive from the Christmas market in Berlin. The crash occurred in a pedestrian-only zone, but it may raise concerns about the destructive power of large vehicles when they are able to quickly drive off a road and into a crowded area.

The Legal Consequences of Negligent Versus Intentional Conduct Causing Injuries or Death

The victims of the recent event in Germany may be entitled to compensation through a legal proceeding, but the jurisdictional and legal requirements for actions in other countries in Europe or elsewhere can differ greatly from those that apply to New Mexico semi-truck accident victims. Under some circumstances, U.S. state or federal courts may have jurisdiction over a civil or criminal claim based on events that occurred outside the U.S., although specific requirements must be met for such an action to succeed.

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The California Court of Appeals recently released a decision that upheld a trial court’s ruling to set aside their previous dismissal of an injury case filed by a woman who was hurt in an accident involving a passenger bus that was allegedly caused by the dangerous and reckless conduct of the bus driver. The plaintiff’s claim was initially dismissed after her attorney failed to respond to a motion to dismiss the case or attend the hearing to argue against it. However, the court set the dismissal aside after her attorney swore in a statement to the court that the mistake was his own fault. Using a provision that is relatively unique to California law, the court set aside the dismissal without evaluating the attorney’s failure to respond to the motion or attend the dismissal hearing. Since the appellate court upheld the trial court’s decision, the plaintiff will be able to have her day in court, and her claims against the defendant will proceed toward a possible settlement or trial.

Bus InteriorThe Plaintiff Suffered Injuries as a Passenger on a Greyhound Bus

The plaintiff in the case of Gee v. Greyhound is a woman who was hurt when the passenger bus on which she was traveling was involved in a crash that she blamed on the bus driver. After the accident, she consulted an attorney and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the company operating the bus as well as the driver, seeking damages for the injuries she sustained in the crash. In response to the lawsuit, the defendant sought to change the venue of the claim to another county where other plaintiffs had filed lawsuits based upon the same incident, and their request was granted. In addition to the venue change, the plaintiff was ordered to pay certain fees related to the change of venue, which her attorney failed to do.

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When an individual is injured due to the negligence of another party, they may be entitled to monetary compensation from the at-fault party. However, before the injured party is entitled to receive compensation for their injuries, they must establish the elements of the claim they are asserting. Generally, a personal injury plaintiff must establish that the defendant was negligent in causing an accident and that the defendant’s negligence was either the actual or proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Importantly, the type of harm the plaintiff sustained in these cases must have been foreseeable.

Utility WorkersThe legal concept of foreseeability questions what the culpable party could have reasonably foreseen as the consequences that could result from their actions at the time of the alleged negligence. Thus, an individual whose actions result in the injury of another person is not legally liable to the injured party if the injury does not reasonably or foreseeably flow from the allegedly negligent act.

It is important that anyone considering bringing a personal injury lawsuit seek proper legal representation. Defendants in these cases may claim that their actions are too attenuated to give rise to liability on their part. An attorney can assist accident victims in establishing the necessary elements of all personal injury cases. In most truck accident cases, anyone injured due to a truck driver’s negligence will be considered a foreseeable victim. However, in some chain-reaction accidents, a court may find that the negligent act was too attenuated to have foreseeably resulted in the subsequent injuries.

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Driving a truck or another large vehicle takes a substantial amount of training and continuing education. Truck drivers face a series of tasks every day, including ensuring the safety of their vehicle, maneuvering difficult roadways, combating fatigue, and meeting delivery deadlines. As a result, it is crucial that trucking companies ensure that the trucks in their fleet are well maintained and that drivers are properly trained.

Truck on HighwayIn New Mexico, if an individual is interested in driving a commercial truck, they must obtain a New Mexico commercial driver’s license (CDL). There are three different “classes” that are distinguished by the weight of the truck the driver plans to operate. In order to be considered for a CDL, the applicant must be 18 years old. However, it is important to note that the U.S. Department of Transportation requires that individuals who are transporting goods across state lines must be at least 21 years old. Moreover, applicants are required to pass a written test and a three-part driving skills test.

In addition to this basic testing, some drivers may be required to take additional exams, depending on the specific type of vehicle they are driving or cargo they are carrying.

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Trucks have the capacity to cause a significant amount of damage when they are involved in an accident. Just their sheer size should be enough to caution drivers to keep a safe distance when sharing the road with a large truck. However, unfortunately, even the most cautious drivers sometimes end up as victims in a truck accident.

Truck on HighwayOne common cause of trucking accidents is related to the lack of an effective underride guard on a truck. An underride accident is basically when a vehicle gets wedged underneath a truck because the truck runs over the vehicle. Trucks should have underride guards on both the front and the back of the vehicle to protect against this kind of accident, but some do not. An underride guard is a steel frame that is fixed to the back of a truck. The guard is intended to act as a barrier so that a car will not go underneath a truck in the event of a rear-end collision. Underride accidents are often fatal and are most often caused by sudden braking by the truck driver, malfunctioning brake lights on the truck, or inclement weather.

After a series of deadly accidents, federal regulators mandated that a study be done to quantify and pinpoint the reason that underride guards fail and to determine whether regulations should be implemented regarding underride guards. As a result of the study, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed a new rule that requires truckers to maintain a stronger grade of steel on their guards. Their research suggests that a better designed underride guard could help prevent fatalities.

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Operating a large vehicle involves a significant amount of training and expertise. Large trucks and buses have the ability to cause serious damage if the vehicle is involved in an accident. In fact, there are many situations each year in which a truck or bus accident claims the lives of several people all at once. The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) is aware of the great responsibility it is to undertake a career driving a large motor vehicle and has created certain rules and regulations that govern these occupations.

School BusIn New Mexico, generally, in order to receive a driver’s license, individuals need to pass a written exam, pass a driving test, and then pay a fee. However, if someone is planning on driving a large vehicle or one that will be carrying passengers or cargo, the driver must apply for a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Specifically, school bus drivers have a very unique set of rules and requirements that pertain to them. These individuals must become specially certified and trained as a school bus driver, which includes:

  • Passing a criminal background check;
  • Maintaining a clean driving record;
  • Passing an additional written exam that focuses on school buses specifically; and
  • Passing a driving test while operating a school bus.

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In New Mexico, many people rely on public transportation on a daily basis. Although public transportation provides individuals with a cost-effective way to travel within a city, there are risks that are associated with this mode of transportation.

Bus LanesTo help protect passengers, under New Mexico law, bus drivers are considered “common carriers,” meaning they are responsible for the safety of passengers. However, unlike other automobiles, many buses do not have seat belts and other safety features that are generally present in cars. Furthermore, bus drivers often suffer from fatigue and distraction as they become over-confident driving the same route day after day. As a result, accidents are a sad but frequent consequence of using public transportation.

Although there are varying rules and regulations outlining when and under which circumstances a city bus driver can be sued, it is important to note that a lawsuit is possible in many situations. It is very important that individuals who are injured in a bus accident seek medical treatment right away. Often, pain and discomfort do not make themselves readily apparent right after an accident. However, in order to preserve your claim, it is crucial to seek treatment. An attorney can help injured passengers pursue the compensation they are entitled to receive.

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In New Mexico, trucking companies must ensure that their drivers abide by all safety rules and regulations. A variance from the rules and regulations not only can result in truckers and their employers incurring hefty fees, but also it can cause serious or deadly injuries to other drivers.

Semi-TruckAll truck drivers in New Mexico need to possess a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL). In order to initially receive a CDL, the driver must take and pass a written test, then receive a CDL learner’s permit, and finally take a skills driving test. Additionally, drivers must participate in a commercial driver medical exam and receive a medical certificate. Moreover, truckers are required to abide by load limits, obtain trucking permits, and obey travel time restrictions.

If a truck driver is involved in an accident, either the driver or his employer may be liable for the damages he caused. A truck driver may be held responsible for causing the actual injury. In addition, the employer may be held liable under certain circumstances, such as if the employer did not ensure that their driver followed the rules and regulations of the trucking industry. Sometimes trucking companies may try to evade liability by claiming that their driver was actually an independent contractor. An attorney can help potential plaintiffs understand all of the parties that can and should be held responsible and the proper compensation to demand from each.

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One of the main causes of serious and fatal truck accidents is drowsy driving. Truck drivers are compensated by the mile, so the longer a driver can stay on the road per day, the more money he or she will make. However, these long hours on the road come at the obvious cost of a driver’s decreased ability to remain awake and fully aware of his surroundings.

JournalTo help combat the incentives for truck drivers to stay on the road as long as possible, federal government regulations require that truck drivers get a certain amount of rest per day and between long trips. To help enforce these regulations, truck drivers are required to keep logs of the hours they spend on the road as well as the time they spend resting.

Until recently, trucking companies had a choice to keep electronic logs or hand-written logs. However, the use of hand-written logs has long posed a problem because truck drivers can keep dishonest records or even change the records in the event an accident occurred. For example, if a truck driver is involved in an accident and knows that he has been on the road longer than he should be, that driver may be tempted to change the rest log so that when an investigation is conducted, his violation will not be discovered. This may no longer be possible.

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A recent news story out of Indiana serves as a saddening reminder of the danger that is presented by semi-trucks and other large vehicles to bicycle and motorcycle riders. The report describes a fatal accident between a box truck and a bicyclist that occurred in Indianapolis earlier this month. It appears from the report that a woman on a bicycle was killed after she steered her bicycle into the path of the truck driver. After the fatal crash occurred, the driver of the box truck called the police and explained what happened to investigators.

Semi-TruckNo Criminal Charges Will Be Filed at This Point

After the accident, the police department released a statement that criminal charges will not be brought against the truck driver for his role in the crash, and authorities are continuing to investigate the exact cause of the crash. Even with the decision not to press criminal charges against the box truck driver, the family of the deceased woman may still be entitled to compensation after her tragic death. If the semi-truck driver has personal injury protection insurance coverage, sometimes known as “no-fault” coverage, a claim could be brought on behalf of the woman, regardless of her responsibility for the accident.

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A court of appeals in California recently released an opinion in a personal injury lawsuit that reversed a jury verdict in favor of a plaintiff who sustained injuries when he was struck by a vehicle being driven by an employee of the defendant as he returned from work. The court found that the jury’s verdict against the employer was not appropriate because the driver was operating his own vehicle and not acting within the scope of his employment when the accident occurred. Based on the recent appellate ruling, the plaintiff will be unable to receive the amount that he was awarded by the jury as compensation for the injuries that he suffered in the crash.

BakerThe Plaintiff Is Injured by the Defendant’s Employee

The plaintiff in the case of Jorge v. Culinary Institute of America was the family of a teenager who was struck by a driver while he was crossing an intersection on foot and was killed as a result. Through a legal representative, the plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the driver and his employer, the defendant in this appeal.

Evidently, the driver was returning from work when the accident occurred, and he was driving his own vehicle and was not being paid for his time. After a trial was held on the plaintiff’s claim, the jury returned a verdict awarding the plaintiff over $880,000 from the employer as compensation for his injuries. The jury determined that the defendant’s employee was acting within the scope of his employment when he caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

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A bicyclist in Chicago was killed in an accident with a flat-bed truck last month. The result of the latest accident adds to the already high death toll from accidents between bicyclists and commercial vehicles. According to a local news report discussing the crash, the latest fatality is the fifth incident in Chicago since June in which a bicyclist was critically injured or killed after being hit by a large commercial vehicle. The unacceptable number of fatalities in the last few months in that city alone supports the argument that large commercial vehicles and semi-trucks present an increased threat to commuters everywhere when they travel on small city streets with high levels of traffic.

Bike in TrafficThe Truck Driver Never Saw the Bicyclist

According to the news report, the latest fatality occurred on the morning of Monday, September 26. The bicyclist, a 23-year-old woman, was riding in the designated bike lane of a major roadway, and the flat-bed truck was traveling in the same direction at approximately the same speed. As the bicyclist was alongside the truck, going through an intersection, the truck driver made a right turn and crashed directly into the cyclist. Witnesses of the crash noted that the truck driver was distraught after the crash, and they told police that it seemed the driver did not see the bicyclist before making the turn.

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Earlier this month in North Carolina, a tragic accident took the lives of two men and left two others injured when the pickup truck in which they were riding was involved in an accident with a heavy-duty dump truck, which left the pickup truck in flames. The response of two good Samaritans who helped get the three occupants of the pickup truck out of the burning vehicle likely saved one man’s life, although the other two occupants perished in the fire.

Dump TruckThe Pickup Truck Appears to Turn Directly into the Dump Truck During the Early Morning Commute

According to a local news article discussing the recent crash, the cause of the accident is still under investigation. From the available information, it appears that the driver of the pickup truck was making a turn onto Route 9 from Rabbit Road in Durham, NC, and failed to avoid the dump truck that was in his path. The pickup struck the dump truck near the vehicle’s gas tank, resulting in the fire that engulfed the pickup truck. Speed and visibility may be factors in the accident, although the final analysis has not yet been released.

Recent Construction May Have Made the Road Unsafe

According to the news report, several accidents have occurred at this same intersection in recent months. There is a possible correlation between the spike in accidents at this location and road construction that was recently completed near the intersection. Although the article states that there is no connection between the road construction and the recent accidents, changes made in the design and function of the intersection could have resulted in increased dangers that the municipal authorities may need to address.

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The Ohio Supreme Court published a decision recently that rejected a plaintiff’s personal injury claim because the defendant was protected by the state’s Good Samaritan law, which broadly relieves any person who administers emergency care or treatment at the scene of an emergency from liability for negligence. The plaintiff had sued the defendant and alleged that he acted negligently when attempting to move the truck by which the plaintiff had been accidentally struck.


The Plaintiff Suffered an Injury After He Was Pinned Between a Truck and a Loading Dock

The plaintiff in the case of Carter v. Reese was a man who was seriously injured after the defendant found him pinned by a semi-truck and attempted to render aid and move the truck. The plaintiff’s lawsuit alleged that the defendant failed to operate the truck properly and worsened the plaintiff’s injuries by mistakenly putting the transmission in reverse after being told by the plaintiff not to do so, resulting in the plaintiff’s leg being broken and ultimately amputated.

The Defendant Was Protected By the State’s Good Samaritan Law

In response to the plaintiff’s personal injury lawsuit, the defendant cited state laws that are designed to protect anyone responding in an emergency situation and attempting to render aid or assistance. Since the defendant was responding to a random emergency and trying to help the plaintiff out of an emergency situation, he was found to be completely immune from liability for any injuries that were sustained by the plaintiff as a result of the defendant’s allegedly negligent operation of the truck he attempted to operate. The Ohio Supreme Court agreed with the lower court’s ruling that Ohio’s Good Samaritan statute protects both medical professionals and members of the general public from liability, whether they are rendering medical care or other emergency assistance.

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A violent accident that occurred recently in Maine demonstrates the tragic consequences that can occur when an unauthorized vehicle uses the turnouts that are built into divided highways for the use of law enforcement and other authorized agencies during emergencies or road construction. According to a local news report discussing the crash, a semi-truck driver attempted to use an authorized vehicle turnout to perform a U-turn on a state highway and caused an accident when an SUV behind the semi lost control while trying to avoid a collision with the semi-truck. The driver of the SUV was seriously injured after he swerved to avoid the tractor-trailer and lost control of the vehicle, which left the roadway and rolled several times, leaving the driver in critical condition from injuries sustained in the crash.

No U-TurnThe Semi-Truck Driver Faces Criminal Charges

According to the report, the driver of the semi-truck is facing criminal charges for his role in the accident and for unauthorized use of the vehicle turnout. Although the semi-truck was not hit by the SUV, it was the driver’s decision to slow down and attempt an illegal U-turn that resulted in the tragic crash. Although vehicle turnouts are commonly used by authorized vehicles on highways and interstates, unauthorized vehicles are not permitted to use them to turn around, and their drivers could face civil and criminal sanctions for an accident they cause.

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit recently published an opinion that reversed a federal district court’s decision in a wrongful death case that had been filed based on a fatal New Mexico semi-truck accident involving a tractor-trailer. The appellate court ruled that, for the purpose of determining insurance policy limits, the tractor and detached trailer involved in the accident are a single vehicle. The lower court had previously determined that the policy limits for both the insured vehicles involved in the accident could be accumulated to cover the plaintiff’s damages, but the appellate court disagreed. Based on the most recent appellate ruling, the insurance company will only be required to cover the policy limit of a single vehicle.

Big TruckA Disconnected Trailer Results in a Deadly Crash

The plaintiffs in the case of Ace v. Romero are the surviving family members of a man who was killed in a New Mexico accident involving a semi-truck and trailer insured by the defendant on a dark night in March 2011. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the deceased was driving on the dark highway and crashed into an unlit trailer that was in the middle of the road. The trailer had been attached to a tractor but somehow became disconnected, and the crash occurred before the truck driver was able to turn around and reconnect it to the rig. The plaintiffs later filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the truck driver and his insurance company, alleging over $2 million in total damages.

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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.


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.


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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