A truck on a highway on a rainy afternoon seen from the window of another vehicle.

Collisions involving large trucks pose significant dangers to anyone outside the truck. Smaller vehicles stand little chance against a tractor-trailer weighing up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded.

Tragically, these accidents often result in severe injuries or fatalities for passengers in smaller vehicles. If you or a loved one have been involved in a large truck accident, you may face years of chronic pain, permanent disability, loss of income, and numerous other challenges.

Trucking companies and their insurers quickly start working to limit their liability after an accident. They might attempt to shift blame onto you or downplay the severity of your injuries.

If you’ve been hurt in a collision with a large truck, you need an experienced truck accident attorney to advocate for your right to fair compensation. Contacting a lawyer promptly is crucial, as insurance adjusters will waste no time trying to weaken your claim.

Talk With an Albuquerque Truck Accident Attorney Today

At Olson Personal Injury Lawyers, our expertise and experience equip us to challenge large trucking conglomerates and their insurance companies, striving to secure the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one are recuperating from a truck accident, please contact us for a free consultation.

We’ll examine the specifics of your case, address your questions, and outline your options for seeking damages. Should we accept your case, you won’t have to pay any fees until we achieve a successful resolution, so there’s no need to be concerned about upfront costs.

How Many Semi-Trucks Are Involved in New Mexico Traffic Accidents?

Truck drivers have a responsibility to drive safely because trucks can cause an inordinate amount of damage to smaller vehicles and the people inside them. For the most part, truckers are well-educated on the risks and make every effort to drive carefully.

Even so, sometimes, the negligence of a truck driver or another party causes a severe accident.

The University of New Mexico’s traffic collision data shows that in 2021, 84 large trucks were involved in New Mexico road accidents, making up about 10.8 percent of fatal crashes in the state. Another 862 tractor-trailers were in injury accidents, or about 3.6 percent of crashes that caused injuries.

The difference in percentages may be due to the fact that semi-truck collisions are more likely to be fatal for those outside the truck.

Who Is at Fault in a Large Truck Accident?

Every truck accident is different, and there can be more than one at-fault party. To complicate matters, drivers are not the only parties who might be responsible.

Here is a look at some of the most common truck accidents and who might be at fault:

Truck Rollovers

Unfortunately, a semi-trailer’s shape and high center of gravity make it prone to flipping or rolling over. There are few scenarios more horrifying for a driver than the thought of a trailer crashing down on their vehicle, and with good reason—these accidents frequently cause fatal or catastrophic injuries to anyone in the trailer’s path.

Truck driver error is a frequent cause of rollover accidents. If the driver is going too fast or takes a curve too sharply, they can easily cause the trailer to flip.

Even minor mistakes that could be easily corrected in a car might lead to a rollover in a large truck.

However, a passenger vehicle driver may also be at fault if their reckless driving contributes to the accident. For instance, if a car cuts carelessly in front of a semi, the driver may react quickly to avoid an accident, inadvertently causing the trailer to flip.

However, third parties may also play a role in this type of collision. A trailer is much more likely to flip if loaded incorrectly.

For example, if heavier items are placed near the top or any large items are unsecured, the cargo can shift, toppling the trailer. In these situations, it’s important to determine who was responsible for cargo loading—it could be the truck driver, someone else at the trucking company, or a third party like a warehouse or retail store.

Your lawyer will work to learn who loaded the cargo and establish a strong case showing fault.

As you can see, there are numerous parties who might be responsible for a rollover. New Mexico law allows for shared fault and damages in an accident, and we’ll discuss how that works later in this article.

Rear End Collisions

When a truck rear-ends a passenger car, it’s often because the trucker doesn’t see the smaller vehicle. In trying to understand these collisions, it may be helpful to picture the cab of a truck and how high up the driver sits.

The engine also juts out in front for several feet, making it hard for the driver to see straight down. As a result, it can be difficult for a driver to notice a vehicle that’s very close to the front of the cab.

If a truck rear-ends a car, this is usually the reason why. Other possible causes include speeding, failing to maintain a safe following distance (which is especially important for a truck driver), and distracted driving.

However, there are a few situations where the smaller vehicle’s driver is at fault. If you cut closely in front of a semi, the driver may not see you at all or might not have time to slow down enough to avoid a collision.

Remember, it’s much harder to slow an 80,000-pound vehicle than a passenger vehicle. If you need to merge in front of a truck, always allow ample space so the driver can see you and adjust their speed if necessary.

When a car rear-ends a truck, the results can be disastrous for the passenger vehicle occupants. In some cases, the car may actually slide under the truck (called an underride accident), damaging the car’s roof and seriously injuring the people inside.

Worse, the driver may be unaware of the collision as they won’t necessarily feel the impact in the cab.

Trucks are required to have a rear safety guard to prevent most underride accidents from rear impacts, but if the guard is not installed to safety standards, the trucking company could be liable.

While rear-end collisions are usually the rear driver’s fault, there are a few exceptions. For instance, if the truck’s taillights weren’t working and you couldn’t see the truck, the driver or trucking company may be at fault.

Or, if the truck driver cut you off, they might also be responsible. However, in these situations, the truck driver, trucking company, and insurance company may all blame the rear driver.

Proving your case might be difficult, but if there’s any way to show you weren’t responsible, a seasoned truck accident lawyer will find it.

Jackknife Accidents

A jackknife accident occurs when a driver brakes too hard or loses traction, causing the trailer to sweep out at a 90-degree angle. Any vehicle in the trailer’s path can suffer serious damage when this happens.

As with rollover accidents, cargo loading can also affect the risk of a jackknife accident, but usually, there is some element of driver error as well.

Turning Accidents

Turning in a semi-truck is much different from turning in your passenger vehicle. Unlike a car, the truck takes up a large portion of the road to turn and often needs to swing wide.

Sometimes, turning accidents happen when a car driver moves forward, thinking the trucker is just changing lanes or there will be enough space.

Unfortunately, this can lead to a “squeeze play” accident in which the side of the trailer damages the passenger vehicle by crushing it against the curb. In some cases, an underride accident can also happen here, especially since safety guards are required on the rear of a trailer but not the sides.

Most of the time, squeeze play accidents are the fault of the car driver who attempted to move forward. However, if you weren’t moving and the truck still clipped your car while turning, the truck driver may have been at fault.

Other turning accidents involve a car turning in front of a truck or a truck turning in front of a car. The first scenario isn’t very common because few people fail to see a truck heading their way unless they are distracted.

When a truck turns in front of a car, the truck driver is usually at fault, but in a few cases, there may be aspects of road design that prevent the trucker from seeing clearly before turning.

T-Bone Accidents

These usually occur at intersections and often cause severe injuries or fatalities for those in the passenger vehicle. Most of the time, the problem is that one driver ran a red light or stop sign or was confused about the right-of-way.

Truckers are generally taught to be careful drivers and respect traffic signals. However, in some cases, a truck driver who is speeding, distracted, or under the influence may run a red light and cause a T-bone collision.

In other cases, the passenger car driver thinks they can slip through a slow yellow or run a red in time to avoid a truck. Or, they might believe they have the right of way.

Regardless of the reason, this is a perilous situation. Again, we urge you to remember that a trucker can’t stop their vehicle as quickly as you can.

If you see a truck heading into an intersection to your right or left, it’s best to let it pass, even if you think you have the right of way.

Driver error is frequently responsible for T-bone accidents, but in a few cases, a faulty component on the truck may be at fault. Sometimes, the trucking company is responsible for failing to perform appropriate maintenance or address an issue.

Other times, the manufacturer may be liable for a defective component, such as faulty brakes.

Blind Spots

As we mentioned earlier, truck drivers must contend with multiple significant blind spots, including one close to the front of the vehicle. The areas on both sides of the trailer are also mostly concealed by the trailer.

This is why you may see signs on big trucks that say, “If you can’t see me or my mirrors, I can’t see you.”

When driving near a truck, keep this in mind and avoid spending any more time in the driver’s blind spot than necessary. If you have to pass a truck, make sure you have sufficient room to do so and pass as quickly as possible.

If several vehicles are in front of you and there is a distinct possibility of being trapped next to the truck, it’s better to wait for another opportunity to pass.

However, not all blind spot accidents are the fault of the driver in the blind spot. Sometimes, a truck driver makes an error by failing to adjust their mirrors correctly, ignoring traffic laws, or being tired or distracted.

Another liable party may cause some of these mistakes. For instance, the trucking company could be at fault if the driver wasn’t properly trained or didn’t have the necessary qualifications for the type of truck they were driving.

They may also be liable if they pressure the driver to make unrealistic delivery times and the driver then ignores federal rules about rest periods.

Truck Tire Blowouts

If a tire blows out on a trailer, this can cause the trailer to fishtail across the road, damaging nearby vehicles. No tire lasts forever, but drivers should regularly inspect tires and pay attention to tire pressure warnings on the dashboards.

At the same time, the trucking company should regularly change tires after so many miles to prevent these issues. However, a defective tire could also be the cause.

Head-On Collisions

These usually happen because one driver loses control of their vehicle or is distracted, intoxicated, or asleep at the wheel. If the trucker crosses the center line and hits your vehicle, they are almost certainly at fault (unless a faulty component caused the loss of control).

Unfortunately, these collisions often cause severe or fatal injuries to the car’s occupants.

Loose or Spilled Cargo Incidents

This type of accident doesn’t usually happen with trailer-type trucks, except in rare instances when the doors aren’t latched properly and the cargo inside is unsecured. However, they can occur with open-bed trucks hauling large items like lumber, machinery, vehicles, etc.

For instance, if a truck is carrying a load of felled trees to a lumber mill, and the trees aren’t securely strapped down, one could come loose and crash into a vehicle behind the lumber truck. Besides damaging the front of the vehicle, this impact can cause secondary collisions as the car driver struggles to see past the obstruction or avoid an object on the road.

Seeking compensation for this kind of accident can be difficult. In some cases, the truck driver doesn’t notice the cargo has come loose or caused an accident and keeps going, while the rear driver is forced to swerve to avoid the object or can’t avoid a collision.

Worse, the accident may happen so quickly that the rear driver doesn’t get the plate number from the truck. If this has happened to you, please report the accident with as much information as you have and contact an attorney immediately.

Our investigative team will do their best to identify the truck so we can seek compensation from the liable party.

DUI Accidents

We’re all familiar with the dangers of drinking and driving, but these risks are amplified when an intoxicated driver gets behind the wheel of a big rig. While the trucker is at fault for this type of accident, the trucking company may also be liable for negligent hiring if they failed to perform drug tests or check a driver’s record for previous DUIs.

Frustratingly, even in a situation where it seems that the fault should be clear, the insurance company may still try to place at least part of the blame on you. Under New Mexico law, the insurer can subtract any percentage of blame they attribute to you from your final settlement.

For this reason, you can’t assume an insurance claim for a truck driver DUI accident will be easy or simple, even if the driver was arrested for a DUI. However, an experienced truck accident attorney can help by gathering evidence and building a strong case to show the truck driver’s or trucking company’s culpability.

How Is Fault Decided in an Albuquerque Truck Accident?

As discussed in the previous section, New Mexico uses pure comparative negligence law for personal injury cases, meaning that each involved party is responsible for their own portion of the damages (This can affect any kind of truck accident, not just a DUI case). For instance, if the truck driver is 80 percent at fault and you are 20 percent at fault, the truck driver’s insurance would be expected to pay for 80 percent of your damages.

The problem is that the insurance company will review the evidence and create their own determination of fault. They might decide you are 20 percent responsible when you didn’t contribute at all, or they could attribute 30 percent responsibility to you when you were only 10 or 15 percent at fault.

Remember, the insurance company is always looking for a way to reduce or eliminate your potential settlement.

How Can an Albuquerque Truck Accident Attorney Help After Your Accident?

If you rely on the insurance company’s estimate of fault or valuation of your damages, you could lose a considerable portion of what you deserve. However, a truck accident lawyer will work to ensure you receive the best settlement possible.

We know how devastating truck accident injuries can be, how long your recovery might take, and the very real possibility of permanent disability or disfigurement. For this reason, we’ll fight to get every bit of restitution you deserve so you have the resources needed to recover and move on with your life.

What to Consider When Choosing an Albuquerque Truck Accident Law Firm

When evaluating a potential Albuquerque personal injury attorney or law firm for a truck accident case, it’s crucial to inquire about their specific experience with large truck accidents. Understanding their track record with similar cases can give you confidence in their expertise, so you should ask for details of recent settlements to gauge their experience and ability to successfully resolve a case.

A competent attorney will be transparent about their past successes and take the time to answer all your questions. If they seem evasive, it might indicate a lack of experience in handling truck accidents.

It’s also important to find an attorney who is responsive and willing to discuss any aspect of your case. Many clients have experienced frustration with previous lawyers who took their time responding to calls or emails or ignored the client entirely.

At Olson Personal Injury Lawyers, we prioritize our clients, ensuring that communication is prompt and consistent. We understand that truck accident claims can take considerable time, but we are always ready to update you on the case’s progress, including any delays, next steps, etc.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding a truck accident case, please contact Olson Personal Injury Lawyers for a complimentary consultation. We will review the details of your case, address your concerns, and explain your options, enabling you to make an informed decision.

We are dedicated to finding ways to recover the compensation you deserve, and you never owe us anything until we win or settle your case.

About Sean Olson

Sean Olson is the founder and managing partner of Olson Personal Injury Lawyers. With a background in journalism, he transitioned to legal advocacy for the injured.

Driven by a desire to make an impact, he attended the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, graduating in the top one percent of his class. Mr. Olson now passionately represents his clients in courtrooms and boardrooms, striving to secure the compensation they need to rebuild their lives after severe injuries.

In his free time, he enjoys mountain biking, fly fishing, and spending quality time with his wife, children, and pets. You can work with Sean and his team of experts when you call (505) 391-4149.