Articles Posted in Negligent Truck Drivers

Before anyone gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, a driver should be familiar with how that vehicle operates as well as the laws of the state in which they will be driving. Whether it be learning how to drive a manual transmission or learning the “quirks” of the local traffic ordinances, it is essential that motorists are educated in how to safely operate a vehicle before they head out onto the road.

This is especially true for New Mexico truck drivers, who frequently operate massive rigs weighing up to 80,000 pounds. Of course, all truck drivers are required to obtain a commercial driver’s license, but being a safe driver requires more than a bare-bones knowledge. In order to avoid a New Mexico truck accident, truck drivers should also know the limitations of the rig that they will be operating in its current state. Thus, as a truck’s load changes, a truck driver may be required to reassess their driving style.

Semi-trucks and other large vehicles have many limitations. For example, trucks take a longer distance to stop, require a larger turning radius, have large blind spots, and also take longer to get up to highway speeds. A recent accident illustrates the potential result of a truck driver’s failure to consider the limitations of his vehicle.

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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.

There 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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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.

In 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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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-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.

Semi-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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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.

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

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

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

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Last year, actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was severely injured, and a friend was killed, when their stationary vehicle was struck by a Walmart truck. According to news reports, the civil lawsuit brought against Walmart and the truck driver was settled without a trial. However, now the truck driver is asking that the criminal charges against him be dropped as well.

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

Negligent Behavior by Truck Drivers
When individuals learn how to drive, they are taught that in order to maintain their license and avoid an accident, they must follow certain rules of the road. When an individual fails to follow these rules and subsequently causes an accident, that person may be held liable for the injuries and damages that resulted from the accident. All drivers should follow the safety rules mandated by law. Moreover, truck drivers have an even higher responsibility because of the large size of their vehicles and the carnage that can result from a truck accident.
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State Police have reported that earlier this week a truck driver was involved in an accident after hitting the barriers on a side of an interstate bridge. Evidently, news reports indicated that the truck driver was transporting wine bottles to California. While he was driving on the bridge, he hit the bridge’s barrier, which caused his truck to begin skidding and crossing all of the southbound lanes. The truck ended up hitting the barriers on the other side of the bridge before finally flipping onto its side.

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

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

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

As a result of the accident, one of the semi-trucks was sheared in two with the cab of the truck on one end of the highway and the split-apart trailer in the middle of the road. The driver of the tour bus, as well as three other passengers, were pronounced dead at the scene. Thirteen others sustained various injuries. Surprisingly, the drivers of both semi-trucks did not sustain serious injuries in the accident. Police are currently conducting an investigation into what may have caused the fatal accident.
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Right before Memorial Day weekend, a 17-year-old recent high-school graduate was killed after a collision with a logging truck in Tennessee. Evidently, the girl was planning on beginning her undergraduate studies at Lee University.

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

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

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

The highway was shut down for several hours but reopened later that night. The driver was arrested and is being held in a detention center. He has been charged with reckless homicide, wanton endangerment, and a communication-device violation.
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A semi-truck driver died in a Texas hospital last month after being involved in an accident near Jal, New Mexico that left the truck he was driving rolled over on its side. According to one local news report, the man was driving his semi-truck on Orrla Road when he lost control of his vehicle and rolled the truck on its side while trying to regain control.

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

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

According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the construction is part of a larger project to widen the interstate to four lanes. Several other overpasses are part of the construction project.

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

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

Truck Driver Responsibility in New Mexico
In understanding civil negligence claims against truck drivers, it is important for victims and their families to understand which entities are actually at fault. Many times, the fault can be divided between the driver, the plaintiff, and even the trucking company.
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A Texas tractor-trailer driver who was killed in an accident in Long Island several weeks ago has been identified. According to news reports, the man was driving a flatbed tractor trailer for a freight company when the accident occurred at around 4:30 p.m. Apparently, the individual accidentally entered the parkway and then tried to brake to avoid the overpass. It seems that he was trying to avoid the overpass because he likely did not think that his truck would fit underneath it. However, police have stated that it seems that his truck would have probably made it through if he remained in the middle lane.

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

Truck Fatalities in New Mexico
All traffic accidents have the potential to result in serious bodily or property damage, but with trucking accidents that likelihood is exponentially increased. Often, the magnitude of the truck, the load it is carrying, and the fatigue of long travel times can result in a particularly dangerous situation.
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Earlier this month, an individual driving a stolen truck slammed into another truck as he was attempting to evade police. According to a local New Mexican news report, the accident occurred early last week on Tuesday afternoon. The individual who was driving the stolen truck was driving in a neighborhood near Southern, New Mexico. Police officers attempted to pull the driver over. However, he began to speed away as they signaled for him to do so. As the driver was attempting to escape the police, he ran through an intersection with a three-way stop. Shortly after running the three-way stop, he hit the truck.

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

Bringing a Civil Charge When Criminal Charges Are Not Being Pressed in New Mexico
In New Mexico, it is possible to bring civil charges against a culpable party even though no criminal charges are being filed against the individual. Although the likelihood of success on a civil claim is greater when a person is found criminally responsible, it is far from necessary for a civil lawsuit.
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A 50-year-old woman was killed earlier this month in a four-vehicle accident that also left an overturned semi-truck and a load of rocks strewn across the highway. According to an article from the Denton Record-Chronicle, the woman was driving on State Highway 114 in Denton County, Texas when an oncoming semi-truck carrying a load of rocks crossed into her lane and caused an accident.

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

Semi-Truck Crashes Caused by Overloading
When semi-trucks and tractor trailers are loaded with heavy cargo, like the rocks involved in this story, they are not only more difficult to control, but they can cause more damage if they are involved in an accident. States and national regulatory agencies have weight restrictions for certain types of trucks and for routes on certain roads to minimize this danger. Often, in an effort to move more material in each load, semi-truck companies and drivers will ignore these regulations and overload their trucks and trailers, increasing the danger to other drivers on the road.
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A chain reaction car accident involving nine vehicles left a five-year-old girl dead and 13 other people injured in Los Angeles County early last Thursday morning. The pile-up involved two semi-trucks and a tanker truck loaded with milk, as well as six other vehicles, two of which caught fire.

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

The Differences Between Semi-Truck Brakes and Regular Car Brakes Increases the Danger of Accidents
Semi-trucks are designed to carry freight long distances across our country, and they most commonly travel on interstate highways or large state highways. Since the rigs are designed to carry more weight for longer distances at faster speeds than standard automobiles, the brake systems in semi-trucks use different technology than that used in cars and small trucks or SUVs.
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A fatal accident occurred earlier this month in our neighboring state of Oklahoma. According to an article from CBS affiliate KXII News 12, a man driving a semi-truck crashed into another semi-truck which was illegally parked along the side of the road in Garvin County on July 3. It is not known why the driver of the parked truck, a 58 year old from Eufaula, Oklahoma, was parked on the shoulder of the interstate. But as the driver of the second truck approached, he was unable to avoid a serious collision and was killed. The driver of the first truck was not injured from the collision. Police are still investigating the accident further.

The Inherent Dangers of Semi-Trucks on the Interstate Highways.

Many goods and products are transported by semi-trucks on the interstate highways, which cross through New Mexico in several directions. The sheer amount of semi-truck traffic presents a danger to other drivers on the highways, and the long distances that semi-trucks often travel exacerbate truck maintenance or driver fatigue issues that may occur on the road. It appears that the first truck driver stopped on the side of the shoulder on the interstate away from an exit, which is against the law, and caused or contributed to this month’s accident. He could have been resting or potentially his truck had broken down, but whatever the cause of the accident, the end result was tragic.
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A man on a bicycle was hit and injured by a garbage truck at an intersection in Albuquerque late last month. According to a report by ABC affiliate KOAT news, the intersection at Lomas and Yale Boulevards has been the sight of over five accidents in the past year, and it is seen as one of the more dangerous locations in the city for all kinds of auto accidents. According to the report, the accident occurred around 7:00 AM on Friday, June 20, and resulted in the cyclist being transported to a local hospital with serious injuries.

Garbage trucks, semi-trucks, and other large vehicles are at an increased risk for a collision, and when they are in collisions with other vehicles, even full-size cars or trucks, the results can be devastating. The fact that last month’s crash involved a bicycle getting in an accident with a garbage truck makes the accident even more risky. It is fortunate that the bicyclist was not injured more seriously or even killed.

New Mexico semi-truck accidents are common on our state’s roads, and the damage that is caused by these crashes can be extreme. Not all semi-truck accidents are the fault of the semi-truck driver, and when a victim is injured by a collision with a semi, it is not always easy to determine who is at fault and to what degree. In New Mexico, semi-truck drivers are generally held accountable for an accident if it can be shown that they acted negligently or recklessly in causing the accident.
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A saddening accident occurred earlier this month when a semi-truck struck and killed a bicyclist at an intersection in Tempe, Arizona near Arizona State University. According to a report by Tucson, Arizona NBC affiliate KVOA, the bicyclist was traveling eastbound on Elliot Road against the flow of traffic in the early morning of June 5, and the semi-truck was at an intersection turning right into the westbound lanes when the collision occurred. It appears that the driver of the semi-truck did not see the bicyclist in the roadway as he was making the turn, and he was unable to avoid the collision. According to the report, paramedics arrived at the scene to perform first aid but were unable to save the bicyclist’s life. Police have stated that the truck driver was not impaired, and they do not intend to file criminal charges against him.

Although this accident occurred in our neighboring state of Arizona, the dangers of accidents with semi-trucks are very much the same here in New Mexico. Semi-trucks, especially when they are carrying trailers with full loads, have limited visibility, and the drivers often cannot see everything in their vehicles’ paths at all times. People in smaller vehicles, and especially bicyclists and pedestrians, must exercise extreme caution when traveling near semi-trucks. It is always safest to assume that a semi-truck cannot see you, and to avoid placing yourself in a truck’s path.

In New Mexico, the law states that bicyclists are to drive on the right side of the road, with the flow of traffic, unless it is impossible or exceedingly dangerous to do so. The fact that the bicyclist involved in this month’s fatal crash was traveling against the flow of traffic may have contributed to the cause of the accident, although the exact details remain unknown. Although the police have declined to file criminal charges against the semi-truck driver, he still may be subject to civil liability from the accident if it can be shown that he acted negligently in some other way.
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A California couple and the woman’s teenage son were driving from Vacaville, California to Houston, Texas to start a new life together when they were involved in an accident early in the morning on May 5 near Gallup, New Mexico. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, the car was being driven by a 38-year-old woman. Her 28-year-old boyfriend was in the passenger seat, and her 15-year-old son was asleep in the back seat when they were rear-ended by a semi-truck. The accident was so violent that the car rolled onto its roof and burst into flames. The man and woman were killed on the scene, but the teenager luckily suffered only minor injuries.

The Dangers of Semi-Trucks on the Highway
The cause of this month’s accident is still under investigation, but it appears from the article that the truck driver either did not see the couple’s car or was unable to slow down to avoid the collision. Semi-trucks often carry heavy and large loads at high speeds, and semi-trucks are not always able to stop as quickly as other vehicles. If a semi-truck is following another vehicle too closely, and the front vehicle slows or comes to a stop, the truck may not be able to stop as quickly as the other vehicle, and the results can be devastating. This danger is increased if the semi or trailer has not been properly serviced.

Poor Maintenance Can Cause a Disaster
Many New Mexico semi-truck accidents are caused by poorly maintained trucks. Semi-trucks can travel tens or even hundreds of thousands of miles each year, and they must be maintained to the highest standards of safety to protect the public. Unfortunately, this standard of safety is not always met. Often, the tractor and trailer portions of a truck are maintained separately, and maintenance reports are not always kept properly. Each axle of a tractor trailer is designed to have functioning brakes, but it is easy for a truck driver or maintenance technician to overlook problems in the braking system, which can prevent the truck from stopping quickly enough. The brakes may appear to function properly when the trailer is empty or on flat ground, but when a semi-truck has a full payload or is traveling downhill, it is much harder to stop. A simple mistake or oversight can be deadly.
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A terrible crash last week near Carlsbad, New Mexico killed a woman and injured her three children when a semi-truck made a wide turn directly in front of her vehicle, causing a collision.

The Accident
Early in the morning on April 14, a woman was driving with her three children, travelling southbound on the Loving Highway (US 285) in the right lane. According to a report by the Carlsbad Current-Argus, the driver of a semi-truck was in front of the woman’s vehicle in the left lane and attempted to make a right hand turn across both lanes of traffic, directing the truck directly in the woman’s path. The woman was unable to stop or avoid the collision, and slammed into the semi. The woman died at the scene, and all three of the children in the car were hospitalized with injuries from the crash.

Semi-Trucks Need to Make Wide Turns
As a vehicle gets longer, it becomes more difficult to make tight turns. As a result of this, semi-truck drivers frequently make wide turns, forcing them to impede multiple lanes of traffic as they perform the maneuver. Even if making a wide turn is unavoidable, it is the responsibility of a truck driver to ensure that the turn will not put them in the path of another vehicle. In last week’s accident, it appears that the driver of the truck did not notice the woman driving behind her and tried to make the turn, with tragic results.
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A horrific accident near Sacramento, California on April 10 has killed at least ten people, including five high school students who were en route to tour a college campus. The busload of students and chaperones was travelling northbound on Interstate 5 when a FedEx freight truck in the southbound lanes crossed over the median and slammed head on into the bus, causing explosions and starting both vehicles on fire.

According to reports by CNN and the Los Angeles Times, the students, who were high school seniors from various schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District, were on a trip to visit Humboldt State College and tour the school. The crash occurred about 100 miles north of Sacramento, near Orland, California at approximately 5:00 PM. For an unknown reason, the freight truck veered into oncoming traffic, sideswiped another vehicle, and struck the bus head on. According to witnesses, both vehicles were on fire almost immediately after the collision, and a series of explosions occurred shortly after the crash.

Several bus passengers were able to escape through emergency exits or by breaking windows, but many were unable to get out of the burning bus. Some that did manage to escape were severely burned by the flames. The crash killed both the driver of the bus and the driver of the freight truck, as well as eight passengers on the bus, including five students and three chaperones. The driver and passengers in the other vehicle that was involved suffered only minor injuries. Police report that at least 31 people were injured, and survivors were transported to seven different hospitals.
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A driver had a terrifying morning on the streets of Loving, New Mexico on March 7, when his car became wedged underneath a semi-truck and dragged through the street. According to a report from Current-Argus News, the truck – with the car underneath it – finally came to rest on a railroad crossing.

The driver of the car reported that he was driving east down Grandi Road in Loving when a semi-truck crossed four lanes directly into him. His car became wedged into the space between the axles of the semi-truck as the truck drove on, dragging the car with it down the street. The driver then stopped the truck in the middle of a railroad crossing, in the path of an oncoming train. Luckily, the train was delayed and the driver emerged from his car uninjured. This was a dangerous situation that had a fortunate result, but auto accidents with semi-trucks often end much worse.

Semi-Trucks Have Larger Blind Spots

In the story above, the truck driver makes several lane changes at once across a city road. When driving a loaded semi-trailer there are large blind spots, or portions of the road along the sides of and behind the truck that the driver is unable to see. When truck drivers change lanes, they sometimes fail to notice other vehicles in their blind spot and will cause an accident. Even when a truck driver cannot see a vehicle in their blind spot, it is their responsibility not to cause an accident while changing lanes.
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Last week, a woman was injured when she was hit by a semi-truck while crossing the street just outside Salt Lake City, Utah. According to a report by KSL News, the woman was crossing the road at the 3500 block of Redwood Road when she was hit by the truck. The woman was crossing the road at a crosswalk and did have the right of way at the time of the accident.

The driver did the right thing and stopped the truck immediately, running back to render aid to the fallen woman. He was cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian at a crosswalk. The accident victim was taken to a nearby hospital with serious leg injuries and other less serious injuries. At the time the article was published, she was in serious condition but was expected to survive.

Auto-Pedestrian Accidents in New Mexico
Although this accident occurred in a fellow-four corner state, auto-pedestrian accidents are just as common in New Mexico. In fact, in one study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, New Mexico had the highest number of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 citizens at 3.94. This amounted to over 70 fatal pedestrian deaths caused by auto-pedestrian accidents.
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Earlier this month in a tragic accident out of California, a mother was killed as she was crossing the street near a middle school with her 9-year-old daughter. According to a report by KTLA 5, the mother was escorting her daughter across the street shortly after 8 a.m. when she was fatally hit by the truck. She was crossing at a designated crosswalk at the time of the accident.

The woman’s young daughter was also hit by the semi-truck, and was taken to the hospital where she recovered. A spokesperson for the company told reporters that “Our hearts go out to the family. We are still trying to figure out exactly what happened. We feel absolutely horrible about the situation.”

The driver of the semi-truck was described by the trucking company as an “excellent driver.” After the accident police administered field sobriety test to determine if the driver was intoxicated. He passed the tests indicating that he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
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Earlier this week in a tragic semi-truck accident out of Michigan, an 11-year-old boy was killed when the SUV he was in was struck by a semi-truck. According to a report by the Detroit Free Press, the child was sitting in the SUV that was stopped on the far right side of the road with some kind of engine problem. Shortly after 8:30 p.m. a semi-truck driving on the same highway did not see the disabled SUV and collided with the rear of the vehicle.

The SUV had five people in it, two adults and three children; aged four months, one year, and eleven years. The two younger children suffered minor injuries and are expected to recover fully. The eleven-year-old child suffered critical injuries, and despite emergency personnel attempts to save him, he died later that evening at the hospital. The two adults also suffered minor injuries that did not require hospitalization.

There is no indication that the driver of the semi-truck was issued any citation; however, an investigation is ongoing.
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A New Mexico federal court has ordered a lawsuit stemming from a collision between two tractor trailers to trial. In Gleason v. Savine, a semi owned by FedEx Freight, Inc. and being operated by Alonzo Gleason struck the back of a big rig owned by Sparkling Snow, Inc. on Interstate 40 in Guadalupe County, New Mexico. Although Victor Savine and Oleh Sichkar were operating the Sparkling Snow truck under a co-driving agreement, it is unclear which man was driving the vehicle at the time of the 18-wheeler crash.

Following the accident, Gleason and FedEx filed a personal injury and property damage lawsuit against Savine, Sichkar, and Sparkling Snow. As part of the complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that Sichkar was liable for the collision based upon a theory of negligence and negligence per se. According to Sichkar, he was not driving the Sparkling Snow truck at the time of the semi-truck wreck. Sichkar also asserted that he committed no statutory violations that would give rise to a negligence per se claim. As a result, he filed a motion for summary judgment on both issues.

First, the New Mexico court stated in order to succeed on a negligence claim, a duty must be owed to a plaintiff, that duty must be breached, and the breach must be the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. Additionally, the court said New Mexico law requires that an injury be “a foreseeable result of the negligent act.” Sichkar claims he owed the plaintiffs no duty of care because he was a passenger in the Sparkling Snow tractor-trailer when the collision took place.
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A California jury has ordered a negligent trucker and the company that employs her to pay a record $34.9 million verdict in connection with a 2010 semi-truck collision. In Hackett v. Silva Trucking, Inc., No. 2012-128931, a semi-truck operator, Elaine McDonold, apparently crossed the center line on Highway 12 near Isleton and struck a bus that was being driven by Debra Hackett. As a result of the crash, Hackett reportedly suffered a serious head injury and became paralyzed from the waist down.

Following trial, a 12-person Sacramento jury found both McDonold and Silva Trucking negligent. The jurors also stated the accident substantially caused Hackett’s harm. Because of this, the jury awarded Hackett almost $1.2 million in past medical expenses and economic losses, about $16.7 million in future medical bills and economic damages, and $14 million in past and future non-economic damages. Non-economic loss includes pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other damages. The jurors also awarded Hackett’s spouse $3 million for past and future loss of consortium. Three days after the jury’s verdict was issued, a Sacramento County judge signed an order awarding the Hacketts the entirety of the verdict plus interest.

The jury’s verdict is purportedly the highest personal injury award ever issued in the county. Interestingly, Silva Trucking’s insurer allegedly refused to settle the case when a pre-litigation demand for $5 million was made. Additionally, the company also apparently declined a later offer to settle the lawsuit for $12.5 million.
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A federal court in New Mexico has stated a jury must decide whether the victim of an Albuquerque semi-truck accident should receive punitive damages from a negligent trucker. In Wood v. Bennett et al., Robin Wood was traveling east on Ouray Road when he collided with a tractor-trailer driven by Harry Bennett. Wood purportedly sustained serious injuries in the avoidable crash. At the time of the accident, Bennett was driving the big rig as part of his employment with Tennessee-based Western Express. Following the wreck, Wood sued both Bennett and his employer for “negligence, negligence per se and respondeat superior” in a New Mexico state court. Wood also asked the court to award him punitive damages from both defendants.

After the case was removed to federal court based on diversity of citizenship, both defendants stipulated liability due to Bennett’s negligence and filed a motion for summary judgment with regard to Wood’s punitive damages claim. According to the court, New Mexico law allows punitive damages to be awarded based upon both a direct and vicarious liability theory. Under a theory of direct liability, a plaintiff may receive punitive damages from a defendant who “engaged in conduct that was malicious, willful, reckless, wanton, fraudulent or in bad faith.” Vicarious liability holds an employer responsible for a worker’s conduct if it occurred within the scope of employment and the employer somehow participated in or authorized the conduct.

Because Wood offered testimony that Bennett willfully drove over the front of his vehicle while laughing and making an obscene gesture, the court found that a genuine issue of material fact with regard to punitive damages against Bennett existed. As a result, the court refused to grant summary judgment to Bennett.
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A Florida jury has awarded a commercial truck accident victim approximately $7 million. In Erb v. Peninsula Logistics, Inc. et al., six Osceola County jurors found that a truck driver, Loran Leroy Smith Sr., and his employer, Peninsula Logistics, were 100 percent responsible for the injuries sustained by Kevin Erb in a 2012 Polk County wreck. According to his complaint, Erb was driving north in a sport utility vehicle on United States Highway 27 near Lake Wales when a southbound tractor trailer being driven by Smith crossed the median and struck his car head-on. The tragic collision reportedly resulted in a five-vehicle pile-up that killed a motorcyclist. Sadly, Erb lost his left leg in the accident and incurred more than $2.5 million in medical bills.

At the time of the crash, the roadway was apparently covered in smoke as a result of a 60-acre controlled burn that was being conducted nearby. Still, jurors awarded Erb financial compensation for his lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical expenses that directly resulted from the truck driver’s negligence. The jury also issued an award of $250,000 to Erb’s wife for loss of services, comfort, society, and attention.

After a final judgment was issued by a judge for Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit, Peninsula Logistics filed a motion for a judgment not-withstanding the verdict and a new trial as well as a motion for remittitur to reduce the jury’s award. Both requests were denied and the company filed a notice of appeal.
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A California jury has awarded a 13-year-old girl about $150 million in connection with a fatal semi-truck accident that killed her family in November 2009. The crash reportedly occurred in the early morning as the family of five headed north in a GMC Yukon on I-210 to visit relatives for the Thanksgiving holiday. Both of the girl’s parents and one of her brothers reportedly died after the vehicle slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer that was illegally parked on the side of the interstate. Although the girl and her 11-year-old brother were apparently able to crawl out of a broken window, the rest of the family was killed when the Yukon became engulfed in flames.

The jury deliberated for three days before deciding the semi-truck driver, Rudolph Ortiz, committed negligence when he parked his commercial vehicle on the side of the interstate in the dark without using an emergency light or other reflective warning device. According to testimony offered at trial, Ortiz ignored warning signs that stated the lane was for emergency use only and parked the big rig on the shoulder to take a nap. The jury found that the crash occurred when the girl’s father attempted to utilize the emergency lane after striking unidentified debris in the roadway. Instead, the Yukon became trapped beneath the rear of the tractor-trailer and burst into flames.

At trial, Ortiz argued he stopped on the shoulder to medicate a severe headache. According to the man, his actions constituted an emergency. Ortiz purportedly claimed at trial that he committed no negligence. Still, two 911 calls were allegedly placed and another motorist stopped at the accident scene to attempt to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher before Ortiz exited his vehicle.
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As a case recently filed in a Texas federal court demonstrates, a dangerous semi-truck accident can occur anywhere. In the lawsuit, a Louisiana woman claims she was seriously hurt when a negligent truck driver rear-ended her vehicle at a red traffic light. According to Jennifer Lee Banes, her sport utility vehicle was stopped behind another automobile at the intersection of South Eastman Road and Neiman Marcus Parkway in Longview when a Mack truck slammed into her vehicle from behind. The force of the impact apparently caused her SUV to collide with the car in front of her.

Banes allegedly suffered numerous injuries in the 18-wheeler accident. Her lawsuit accuses the tractor-trailer driver of negligence, failure to maintain control of his vehicle, speeding, failure to maintain a proper lookout, and failure to avoid the collision. She has asked the court to award her financial compensation for her pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, physical disfigurement, and other alleged damages she sustained in the wreck.

Despite alleging physical impairment and disfigurement, the plaintiff in this case only filed suit against the semi-truck driver. In New Mexico, a trucking company may also be held liable if a negligent trucker hurts another motorist while working within the scope and course of his or her employment. In general, trucking companies operating in New Mexico carry at least $1 million in insurance coverage. In some tragic crashes, this may not be enough to fully compensate all accident victims or their next of kin. This means that a severely injured person may be able to recover damages by way of the company’s assets as well as an accident insurance policy.
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One man died and six other people were hurt in a recent semi-truck accident. According to police, the 23-year-old driver of an 18-wheeler was headed west on Route 30 in Galloway Township, Pennsylvania when he failed to stop at a red light and struck three other vehicles. The force of the impact reportedly caused a Chevrolet to overturn and become pinned beneath the big rig. Sadly, the 69-year-old driver of the Chevy died at the accident scene. Two of his passengers were transported to a local area hospital for treatment. In addition, the drivers of two other autos hit by the 18-wheeler, as well as one of their passengers, were also hospitalized following the fatal crash.

According to an accident witness, the force of the impact caused diesel fuel to begin leaking from the semi-truck. Both the driver of the tractor-trailer and his female passenger were treated for undisclosed injuries. The intersection was closed for about five hours while police investigated the cause of the crash. Although the deadly wreck is still under review by police, the accident witness stated the 18-wheeler caused the collision when he ran the red light.

Although this particular semi-truck accident occurred in another state, all motorists should be mindful of the dangers associated with sharing any roadway with a tractor-trailer. Every year, negligent truckers like this one harm or kill countless drivers and passengers who are utilizing the various highways, interstates, and other roadways located across New Mexico. In fact, about 1,400 big rig wrecks take place on roads in our state each year. 18-wheeler collisions may be caused by a number of factors that often include driver distraction, fatigue, dangerous lane changes, impairment, speeding, aggressive driving, tailgating, and more. Additionally, many truckers fail to adequately inspect their vehicles for preventable safety hazards such as worn tires or malfunctioning brake lights.
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A Louisiana truck driver recently filed a lawsuit against another trucker and the company that employs him in a Texas federal court. According to the complaint, the Louisiana man was injured when a Stevens Transport Inc. truck driver rear-ended his 18-wheeler with another big rig as he headed east on Interstate 10 in November. The hurt man alleges that he slowed his vehicle and came to a stop immediately prior to the truck collision due to another accident on the roadway. The Stevens Transport Inc. trucker reportedly failed to stop and struck the man’s 18-wheeler from behind.

The lawsuit claims Stevens Transport Inc. and the company’s driver committed negligence due to the trucker’s failure to maintain control of the semi-truck, maintain a proper lookout, apply the brakes and stop in a timely manner, take sufficient evasive measures, and drive based on current roadway conditions. The allegedly injured driver has asked the court to award him financial compensation for his pain and suffering, medical costs, physical impairment, permanent disfigurement, lost earnings, tractor-trailer damage, and court costs.

According to data compiled by the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the monetary costs related to commercial vehicle accidents across the nation exceeded $89 billion in 2011. In 2010, almost 3,700 people were killed and approximately 80,000 were seriously hurt in an accident that involved a tractor-trailer. About one-quarter of those injured and 14 percent of those who died in such a crash were riding in an 18-wheeler. Additionally, more than one-third of semi accidents in 2010 were caused by a trucker. FMCSA has stated that the top five big rig crash factors are speed, failure to maintain the proper lane, obscured vision, failure to yield, and distraction or inattention.
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A rush hour semi-truck wreck on an Illinois interstate has left a tractor-trailer driver dead. According Illinois State Police Sergeant Scott Angus, the truck driver was headed west on Interstate 80 near Minooka when he unexpectedly crossed the median, rolled, and came to rest in the eastbound lanes of the roadway. Following the traffic wreck, the 35-year-old truck driver was taken by medical helicopter to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Illinois where he was pronounced dead.

The cause of the fatal wreck is currently under investigation by local authorities. At this time, it is unclear what caused the semi driver to lose control of his vehicle. Angus said the tractor-trailer struck another semi, but damage to the other vehicle was minimal. In addition, a number of truck pieces apparently struck other vehicles on the freeway and the cooking oil the big rig was carrying at the time of the accident spilled on the eastbound roadway. Traffic in both directions of the interstate was reportedly shut down for several hours while police cleaned up the accident scene.

Thankfully, no one else was injured by the semi-truck driver in this situation. Regrettably, that is not always the case. Deadly accidents are commonly caused by inattentive big rig drivers in New Mexico and across the nation. According to data from the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the costs associated with tractor-trailer and other commercial vehicle collisions nationwide exceeded $89 billion in 2011.
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A tractor-trailer driver was recently charged following a fatal semi-truck accident that killed three people in New Jersey. According to local police, the big rig driver made an illegal U-turn in front of a sport utility vehicle (SUV) that was carrying a family of five just after 6 pm. The 25-year-old driver of the SUV was reportedly unable to avoid the collision and struck the trailer of the commercial vehicle. Sadly, his 25-year-old wife, nine-year-old stepson, and three-month-old child were killed in the traffic wreck. Both the driver and his eight-year-old stepdaughter were allegedly trapped inside of the vehicle. After the two were extricated by emergency responders, they were hospitalized in stable condition. Although the exact cause of the fatal 18-wheeler accident is currently under investigation, the 45-year-old semi-truck driver was charged with death by automobile and is currently being held at the Mercer County Correctional Facility in lieu of a $100,000 bond.

The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) claims the financial expenses related to commercial vehicle crashes across the country exceeded $89 billion in 2011. In 2010, more than 3,600 people died and about 80,000 were seriously injured in an accident that involved a big rig. Only about one-fourth of those injured and 14 percent of those killed were riding in an 18-wheeler. More than one-third of tractor-trailer accidents in 2010 were caused by a semi-truck driver. FMCSA data found that the top five accident factors were speed, failure to yield, failure to maintain the proper lane, obscured vision, and distraction or inattention.

Although this deadly crash occurred in New Jersey, fatal tractor-trailer accidents often occur on the many interstates, highways, and other roadways located in the State of New Mexico. In fact, an estimated 1,400 large truck collisions occur on state roads each year. Due to the sheer size and weight of tractor-trailers, wrecks are normally serious or deadly. An individual purportedly sustains a disabling injury in about one out of every 15 New Mexico big rig collisions and someone is tragically killed in one out of every 35 such crashes. If you were seriously injured by a careless semi-truck driver anywhere in New Mexico, you should discuss your rights with an experienced lawyer.
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