Articles Posted in Truck Accident News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Negligent Behavior by Truck Drivers
When individuals learn how to drive, they are taught that in order to maintain their license and avoid an accident, they must follow certain rules of the road. When an individual fails to follow these rules and subsequently causes an accident, that person may be held liable for the injuries and damages that resulted from the accident. All drivers should follow the safety rules mandated by law. Moreover, truck drivers have an even higher responsibility because of the large size of their vehicles and the carnage that can result from a truck accident.
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Recently, a New Mexico news article reported on a new development that will hopefully decrease the number of serious and fatal trucking accidents on many of the State’s two-lane roadways. Samsung is in the development process of a new technology that will allow trucks to have a camera attached to the front of the vehicle. This camera will work to show drivers following behind the truck what is directly in front of the truck on a large TV screen that will be placed on the back of the truck.

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

New Mexico Commercial Motor Vehicle Distracted Driving Laws
As State Police have referenced above, distracted driving is one of the main reasons that truck accidents occur on New Mexico state highways. Although this technology will work to hopefully drastically reduce the number of accidents, it is still in the very preliminary developmental phase. According to the news report, only one prototype has been tested in Argentina, and that truck is currently off the road.
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