The New Mexico Court of Appeals Rules that a Semi-Truck and the Attached Trailer are Separate Vehicles for Purposes of Determining Insurance Policy Limits

In an interesting decision that was published on February 24, 2014, the New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, who had filed suit against an Insurance Company after being involved in a semi-truck accident. In Lucero v. Northland Insurance Company, NMCA 2014 (docket No. 32426), the Court decided that a semi-tractor and semi-trailer are classified as two different vehicles when determining policy limits for an insurance claim, and that the combination of policy limits for each vehicle can be sought from a single accident.

semi-mirror-2-26788-m.jpgAccording to the court documents, the plaintiffs were driving on a New Mexico road when their car was struck by a semi-truck, which was being driven by an employee of a New Mexico trucking company. The plaintiffs were injured in the accident, and they filed a claim against the trucking company’s insurance provider. The plaintiffs claimed substantial damages, and argued that the tractor and trailer should be classified as two different covered vehicles under the policies, which would make the trucking company liable for up to $2 million in damages.

The Decision in the Trial Court

Believing that the tractor and trailer constituted only one vehicle, the insurance company was only willing to cover the claim up to $1 million, which was the total policy limit. The insurance company also argued that the total policy limit per accident was $1 million and the plaintiffs were not entitled to $2 million from any single accident, regardless of how many covered vehicles are involved. The state District Court sided with the insurance company, determining that the policy only covered $1 million total for the accident, and the plaintiffs appealed.

The Court of Appeals Decision

The New Mexico Court of Appeals made two important decisions that helped the plaintiffs in this case. First, the Court ruled that the tractor and trailer were separate vehicles, each covered by a policy with a limit up to $1 million. Additionally, the Court determined that because the tractor and trailer were each covered under an individual policy, the $1 million per accident policy limit does not apply, and the plaintiffs were entitled to seek a total of $2 million from the accident. Regarding the insurance policy, the Court ruled “that the reasonable expectations of the insured under this policy were that it would provide $1 million in liability coverage for each covered vehicle involved in an accident, even if it was the same accident.” As a result of this ruling, a plaintiff involved in a New Mexico semi-truck accident can seek the policy limit for each defendant vehicle involved in the accident, including tractors and any attached trailers.

Have You Been Injured in a New Mexico Truck Accident?

If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in a semi-truck accident, you should contact a New Mexico accident attorney at the Fine Law Firm today. Our skilled lawyers pride themselves on giving personal attention to all of their clients, and will work their hardest to get you the financial compensation that you deserve. The Fine Law Firm is experienced in semi-truck accidents, and can get started on your case today. To schedule a cost-free, confidential case evaluation with a dedicated advocate, contact the Fine Law Firm today at (505) 889-3463 or contact us through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Tractor Trailer Hits and Kills Two People on the Side of I-10, New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, February 26, 2014.

Utah Woman Hit By Semi Truck As She Crosses the Street, New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, March 4, 2014.