A truck driving down a major highway next to a large fence.

Large truck crashes are particularly dangerous to anyone outside of the truck. Smaller vehicles are simply no match for a truck that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded.

Sadly, these truck accidents often involve severe injuries or death for occupants of passenger vehicles. If you or a loved one have suffered a large truck accident, you could be facing years of chronic pain, permanent disability, income loss, and countless other difficulties.

However, the trucking company and its insurer will immediately go to work to reduce their liability for the accident. In some cases, they may try to blame you for the accident or minimize the impact of your damages.

When you’ve been injured in a large truck collision, you need the assistance of a seasoned truck accident lawyer who can fight for your right to fair compensation. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the better—there is no time to lose when the insurance company adjuster is already working to undermine your claim.

How Can a New Mexico Truck Accident Attorney Help You?

At Olson Personal Injury Lawyers, we have the knowledge and experience to take on big trucking companies and insurers and work to acquire the settlement you deserve. If you or a loved one are recovering from a truck accident, please contact us for a free consultation about your case.

We’ll review the details, answer your questions, and explain your options for pursuing damages. If we take your case, you won’t owe us anything until we win or settle it, so there is no need to worry about upfront costs.

Why Are There So Many Truck Accidents in New Mexico?

New Mexico ranks as the state with the fourth-highest rate of large trucks involved in fatal crashes—about 15 percent. Some experts believe the state’s geographic features create unusual weather patterns that take even experienced truckers by surprise.

New Mexico also has high rates of drunk and distracted driving, which increases the rate of motor vehicle accidents in general.

How Can You Reduce the Risk of Large Truck Accidents?

The best way to stay safe around large trucks is to give them as much space as possible. Here are some tips for navigating the roads around semi-trucks:

  • Signs that say, “If you can’t see me or my mirrors, I can’t see you,” should be taken seriously. Never cut sharply in front of a truck. The driver sits high up and looks down over an engine that sticks out several feet in front of the truck. If you are too close to the front of the truck, there is simply no way the driver can see you, no matter how carefully they might be driving.
  • When you have to pass a large truck, pass only on the left as quickly as possible. If the trailer is loaded improperly, it may be prone to flipping, which can be very dangerous for anyone in a vehicle next to the truck. In general, it’s best to spend as little time as possible on the side of a truck. Move over into the truck’s lane only after confirming there is ample space between you and the front of the cab so the driver can see you.
  • If you’re behind a truck, remember that it’s hard to see around a semi. For this reason, it’s a good idea to increase your following distance beyond what’s typical when following a car.
  • When you see a truck turning, give it a wide berth. Trucks take up most of an intersection while turning. One common type of accident occurs when a car or smaller vehicle edges closer to the intersection as the truck turns. Often, the car is in the truck driver’s blind spot and may have been further back when the driver began the turn, and the car could be sideswiped or even crushed in this scenario.
  • Don’t drive aggressively. This is good advice in general, but especially when large trucks are involved. If a truck is trying to pass you, let it. Trying to stay ahead of the truck or “play chicken” with it may lead to more time in the driver’s blind spot.

Who Is at Fault in a Truck Accident?

This is a complicated question, as there are multiple potentially liable parties in a truck accident. Many people tell us the truck driver is at fault, and that’s often the case. But several other parties may be at least partially at fault, including:

  • The trucking company. Sometimes, the issue is not the driver but a lack of maintenance on the truck, failure to replace an old component, etc. The trucking company could also be at fault for negligent hiring if they failed to properly screen a driver with a history of driving infractions or substance use difficulties or who failed to meet the job’s requirements.
  • A truck or component manufacturer. The manufacturer could be liable if a defective component caused or contributed to the crash. However, we’ll need to investigate thoroughly to determine whether the component was defective when released by the manufacturer or failed due to lack of maintenance or replacement.
  • A third party responsible for loading the truck. Some truck accidents are caused by errors in loading the cargo. Because trailers are boxy and prone to flipping, loading them correctly is essential. If heavier items are loaded higher up, or any item isn’t secured, cargo can shift or fall as the truck moves. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to the trailer flipping or jackknifing, which can put others on the road at risk. When we believe improper cargo loading caused a collision, we’ll work to determine who actually loaded the cargo. Sometimes, the driver or someone else at the trucking company loads the trailer, but in other situations, a worker at a warehouse or store (a third party) is responsible.
  • Another driver. Not surprisingly, the truck driver, trucking company, and the relevant insurance carriers often insist the driver of the smaller vehicle is at fault. This is possible, but in many cases, the trucking company is simply trying to avoid liability. New Mexico also allows for shared fault in motor vehicle accidents, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

What Is Pure Comparative Negligence, and How Does It Affect Your Truck Accident Case?

New Mexico is a pure comparative negligence state for personal injury claims, including traffic accidents. Pure comparative negligence is a legal concept in which each party to an accident or injury is assigned some percentage of fault.

One party can be 100 percent responsible and the other 0 percent responsible, which is how people often think about accidents. However, there are many situations in which both parties make mistakes that contribute to the accident.

For example, it’s possible the truck driver is 70 percent at fault, and you are 30 percent at fault.

In New Mexico, each party is considered to be responsible for their own share of the damages. So, if you were 30 percent at fault, you could still recover 70 percent of your losses.

Although this system aims to provide an equitable way of distributing damages after an accident, there are potential pitfalls. The biggest concern arises from the process of assigning fault to the involved parties.

Who Determines Fault After a Truck Accident?

Clients often believe that fault is determined by the court system, but this is only occasionally true. Yes, some personal injury cases are resolved in a courtroom trial, but most are settled outside of court with the appropriate insurance company.

Usually, when a person is injured and believes another driver is at fault, they will make a claim on the other driver’s liability insurance. They may do this with or without the assistance of an attorney, but a New Mexico personal injury lawyer can often help to avoid many of the potential issues with an insurance claim.

Because trucks have such a high potential for causing severe injuries, most truck drivers are required to carry at least $750,000 in liability insurance, although some may carry $1 million or more.

However, accessing that coverage can be very difficult. The insurance adjuster who reviews your claim will look for any reason to reject it or reduce your settlement.

Remember that if you are partially at fault, the insurance adjuster can justify subtracting your percentage of fault from your final settlement. In some cases, the adjuster may overestimate the injured person’s contributions or assign some percentage of fault when they had none.

One of many essential tasks your attorney will perform is to investigate the accident and accurately calculate how much—if any—fault you have. If we find the insurance company’s estimate is incorrect, we’ll advocate for a more accurate number, which often results in a much larger settlement.

Shared fault is also why we recommend that you avoid taking responsibility for an accident at the scene. You should answer the responding officer’s questions honestly, but don’t volunteer additional information or speculate about fault.

If you suspect you have some fault, please speak with a truck accident lawyer immediately.

How Much Is Your Truck Accident Claim Worth?

This is a question that requires an individual answer. Your attorney will inquire about your injuries and property damage and determine an approximate value for each category of damages.

Once we’ve covered everything, we’ll add up these values to arrive at an approximate value for your claim.

In general, truck accidents often settle for more significant amounts because they usually result in serious injuries. However, if you want an estimate for your accident, the best solution is to contact us for a free consultation to learn more about your case.

Here are some of the damages we’ll look at when evaluating your claim:

Medical Expenses

Due to the severity of injuries in a trucking accident, this category’s value is often considerable. Your lawyer will assess the entirety of your medical expenses stemming from the accident, including hospitalizations, consultations, prescribed medications, physical therapy, mobility aids or accessibility needs, and any surgical procedures you have undergone.

If you need to travel to see a specialist or make other purchases related to your injuries, these expenses may also be covered.

If necessary, provisions will be made to address the expenses of continuous medical care. We will usually wait to settle a claim until the injured person’s treatment is complete, but if your doctor believes you will need long-term care, we can estimate future treatment costs.

Lost Income or Earning Potential

A truck accident is often followed by long periods of hospitalization. Even when you’re able to leave the hospital, you may not be able to return to work right away.

We’ll seek compensation for all the income you lost when you were unable to work, including any PTO you had to use. While you may have been paid for that time, you lost PTO that you could have used in other situations.

Unfortunately, some severe injuries result in a permanent inability to work. In some instances, the injured person may be able to work, but only at reduced hours, or they might have to take a less demanding job at lower pay.

All of these circumstances lead to a loss of earning potential for the injured party, and we’ll work to determine how much future income you may have lost so we can seek restitution.

Pain and Suffering

Any motor vehicle accident can be physically and emotionally damaging, and truck accidents are no exception. They can result in severe injuries, including broken bones, torn muscles and ligaments, traumatic brain injury (TBI), back and neck injuries, severe lacerations, internal damage or bleeding, and more.

As a result, you could have months of physical pain, and some people develop lifelong chronic pain as well.

The psychological effects of a large truck accident shouldn’t be overlooked, either; many people injured in these collisions later experience anxiety, depression, or PTSD. If you develop changes in mood, sleep, or appetite, or you simply don’t feel like yourself after a truck accident, we encourage you to speak with a mental health specialist.

Unfortunately, insurance adjusters frequently undervalue damages in this category. The most common way of calculating pain and suffering is to multiply the injured person’s economic damages by a number between 1.5 and 5.

It’s up to the insurance adjuster to assign this number based on the severity of your injuries, which leaves the matter somewhat up to interpretation. If the adjuster downplays your losses, they might choose a lower number than appropriate, costing you tens of thousands of dollars or more.

Another method insurers sometimes use is the daily or “per diem” method, in which they pay a certain amount for each day the injured person experiences pain and suffering. However, this method is not appropriate in every case, and the daily rate may also be too low with the per diem method.

In these situations, we always advocate for another review of the client’s injuries to impress upon the adjuster how much they’ve endured.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

This often occurs when the injured person develops a severe and permanent disability or disfigurement from their injuries. If your injuries have permanently affected your relationships or ability to pursue your interests, you may be entitled to compensation for this loss.

Property Damage

In most traffic accidents, property damage refers to vehicle damage, but it can also include other valuable items that were damaged in the accident, such as phones and laptops. Truck accidents frequently cause severe damage to smaller vehicles, and in many cases, the smaller vehicle is totaled.

We’ll work to ensure you receive an appropriate amount for repair or replacement costs, as well as a rental vehicle if needed.

Wrongful Death

Unfortunately, truck accidents are often severe enough to cause fatal injuries, leading to a wrongful death case. Losing a loved one for any reason is devastating, and while you’re dealing with your grief after a truck accident, you might find yourself swamped with financial obligations.

Final medical expenses, funeral or burial costs, lost income, and other expenses can make the grieving process even more exhausting. We’ll fight to recover compensation for these losses so you can spend this difficult time with your family and loved ones, not worrying about how to pay bills.

How Long Will It Take Your New Mexico Truck Accident Attorney to Resolve Your Case?

We will do everything in our power to achieve a successful outcome as quickly as possible, but due to the higher amount of damage, truck accidents tend to take longer to complete. The insurance adjuster will spend considerable time looking for any way to reduce or reject your claim, and in many cases, multiple rounds of negotiations are necessary to recover a fair settlement.

We know you want to receive your settlement as soon as possible so you have the resources you need to recover and move on with your life, but we want to ensure all your damages are included.

Your attorney should be able to give you a timeline based on the specifics of your case, but most truck accident claims take between one and three years to settle. In the meantime, if you are being harassed by bill collectors, please let your lawyer know right away.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?

Your initial consultation at OIson Personal Injury Lawyers is always free. We don’t want anyone to avoid seeking legal advice due to concerns about cost, and we believe you should be able to learn your options for free.

If you decide to move forward with our help, we will work on a contingency basis. That means we don’t charge you anything upfront but take an agreed-upon fee after we win or settle your case.

As a result, you don’t have to worry about paying a retainer or an hourly fee, and there is no risk to you.

What Should You Look for in a New Mexico Truck Accident Law Firm?

You should always ask a prospective attorney or law firm about their experience with large truck accidents. It’s helpful to know that they’ve successfully handled other truck accident cases and have the knowledge and understanding necessary.

Ask for examples of recent settlements so you can get an idea of the breadth of their experience. Your attorney should be eager to talk about their successes, and if they avoid or dodge the question, they may not be well-versed in truck accidents.

Additionally, you want to work with an attorney who is responsive and ready to discuss any aspect of the case. Often, clients tell us their previous lawyer made them feel like an afterthought, taking weeks to return their calls or emails or ignoring them completely.

At Olson Personal Injury Lawyers, we always want you to know that you’re a priority. We’re committed to keeping the lines of communication open and responding promptly if you have questions or concerns.

While your claim might take a while due to the nature of truck accidents, we’re always happy to tell you where we’re at in the case, who we’re waiting to hear back from, what the next step is, etc.

If you have questions or concerns about a potential truck accident case, please don’t hesitate to contact Olson Personal Injury Lawyers for your free consultation. We’ll review the facts of your case, address your concerns, and describe your options so you can make an informed decision. If there’s a way to recover compensation in your case, we’ll find it.

About Sean Olson

Attorney Sean Olson is the founder and managing partner of Olson Personal Injury Lawyers. He began his career as a journalist, then later transferred his passion for storytelling to advocating for the injured.

Determined to make a difference in the world, he attended the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, graduating in the top one percent of his class. He now tells his clients’ stories in courtrooms and boardrooms, fighting to secure the compensation they need to put their lives back together after catastrophic injuries.

In his spare time, he enjoys mountain biking, fly fishing, and spending time with his wife, children, and pets. Work with him and his team today when you call (505) 391-4149.