Earlier this month, a truck that was being inspected by its driver collided with a Toyota Tundra that was carrying a family. The accident occurred during the evening hours in Georgia. According to one local news report, the truck driver was attempting to do a safety inspection on his semi-truck at the time of the accident. To make matters more dangerous, the semi-truck was carrying hazardous/corrosive cleaning chemicals.
Evidently, the driver allegedly failed to put the truck’s parking brake on. Unfortunately, that failure caused the giant truck to begin rolling into the northbound lane of traffic. The truck ended up ramming right into the Toyota Tundra that was carrying the young mother, her husband, and two children. The mother was sitting in the passenger seat and was killed upon impact.
Emergency personnel stated that it took over two hours to get the father and children out of the vehicle. The father was taken to a local hospital and did not suffer life-threatening injuries. The two children were taken to a children’s hospital, and, although they are in serious condition, they are expected to survive.
Officers performed a sobriety test on the trucker, and the results indicated that he was under the influence of drugs. Officers immediately arrested the truck driver. He was charged with DUI and later with reckless conduct, failure to exercise due care, involuntary manslaughter, and first-degree vehicular homicide.
Punitive Damages in New Mexico Trucking Accidents
The above case is particularly tragic for many reasons, including the age of the young mother, but especially because of the recklessness of the truck driver. Accidents are often just accidents, but in many situations the negligent behavior of one of the parties is what caused the accident. In such cases, the family of the victim or the victim themselves may wish to pursue damages for the resulting effect of the accident. There are generally two types of damages a victim may pursue: compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory damages are designed to “make the plaintiff whole again.” These types of damages usually include payments for medical bills, loss of wages, and other expenses that are necessary to assist the victim in completing his normal daily activities. Pain and suffering are also included in compensatory damages.
The other type of damages award is punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are solely based on the theory of retribution, which means punishing the defendant. The New Mexico Supreme Court has explained that there is no actual test to determine when punitive damages should be awarded, but it listed certain factors that should be considered.
Some of those factors are whether the harm was physical, whether the act showed an indifference to the health and safety of others, whether the party was engaged in repeated behavior, and whether the harm was the result of malice. In cases when a party was under the influence of drugs, and their behavior was the actual or proximate cause of the injuries that ensued, it is likely the court will consider whether punitive damages are appropriate.
Have You Been Injured Because of the Negligence or Recklessness of Another?
If you or a loved one has unfortunately been involved in a truck accident because of another’s negligence, you may consider bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the culpable party. After establishing negligence, the plaintiff must then allege and prove damages. Punitive damages are rarely awarded, and it is important that your case is prepared thoroughly. An attorney at the Fine Law Firm can assist you with all aspects of your case and provide you with diligent and appropriate representation. Contact the Fine Law Firm today at 505-889-FINE to schedule a free initial consultation.
More Blog Posts:
New Mexico Judge Denies Motion for New Trial in Largest Jury Award in New Mexico History, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, August 6, 2015.
New Mexico Woman Arrested after Arriving at Husband’s DUI Stop Drunk, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 6, 2015.