Whether you get into an accident with an 18-wheeler or other commercial truck, the resulting injuries are often life-altering.
The sheer force of impact combined with the weight and size of the vehicle can turn even a minor accident into a fatal one.
At Flores, Tawney & Acosta, P.C., our attorneys understand the devastating impact that New Mexico truck accidents have on victims and their families.
That’s why we aggressively fight for the compensation our clients need to recover from a truck accident.
We hope that this guide helps answer some of the questions you may have after a truck accident and provides you with the information you need when deciding to pursue a claim.
Five Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents can result from a variety of issues. While driver negligence often plays a significant role, there are other factors that may lead to a collision.
This includes poor maintenance, defective truck parts, or even violations of safety regulations.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:
- Jackknifing—this occurs when the trailer part of a truck folds at an angle from where it’s attached to the cab due to speeding, sudden stops, or poor road conditions.
- Unsecured Cargo—third-party companies who load goods onto the truck may be liable if they don’t secure the cargo properly. Unsecured hazardous materials present even more danger.
- Underriding—this happens when a car gets stuck under the trailer of a truck. Unfortunately, these accidents are often fatal for the occupants of the pinned vehicle.
- DUI/DWI—some truck drivers get away with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Trucking companies have a duty to conduct random drug tests and background checks to make sure their drivers are fit for the job.
- Hours of Service Violations—sometimes, employers set impossible deadlines for their drivers, requiring them to drive for more hours than allowed. This might make them drowsy, putting others on the road at risk.
From this list, it’s clear that truck accidents have many potentially at-fault parties. Whether it’s the driver, the loader, the motor carrier, or the mechanic, determining the cause of the accident can be a complex task.
That’s why we suggest contacting one of our attorneys if you sustain an injury in a New Mexico truck accident.
Damages Available in a New Mexico Semi-Truck Accident
In New Mexico, truck accident claims typically include two types of damages: economic and non-economic. In rare instances, the court may also award punitive damages to the victim.
However, this depends on the specifics of the case and the conduct of the defendant. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different damages available and how they’re calculated.
Economic damages make up the backbone of a New Mexico truck accident claim. The losses included in this category are tangible, such as medical treatment, vehicle repairs, and lost wages.
In other words, they have a standard value that you can calculate from bills, receipts, and paychecks.
For example, if your injury results in $20,000 in medical bills, $15,000 in car damage repairs, and $10,000 in lost wages, your total economic damages are $45,000. Keep in mind that this category includes future losses as well.
This means that if your injury requires lifelong care or a job transfer with lower pay, you may pursue compensation for those losses.
General or non-economic damages are the most subjective part of your claim. These losses, unlike economic damages, are intangible and difficult to quantify.
The purpose of non-economic damages is to determine the value of these losses, including but not limited to:
- Pain and suffering,
- Emotional distress,
- Loss of enjoyment of life,
- Loss of companionship, and
- Loss of consortium.
There are a few different ways attorneys calculate non-economic damages. However, the most common methods are by determining a multiplier for economic losses or setting a per-day cost for the victim.
With the multiplier method, the attorney picks a whole number, usually between one and five. They then multiply the total economic damages by that number to calculate non-economic damages.
So if your economic damages are $100,000 and your attorney chooses the number three, your total non-economic damages would be $300,000.
Generally, the more serious the injuries, the higher the multiplier. In some cases, the attorney may choose a number higher than five.
The per diem or per day method is slightly different. Instead of multiplying economic damages, the attorney sets a cost for the non-economic damages per day of recovery.
For example, if your recovery is 1,000 days and your attorney sets a per diem cost of $350, your total non-economic damages would be $350,000.
The specific factors that affect the per day amount differ among attorneys and cases, so it’s important to ask your attorney how they calculate your damages.
Exemplary or punitive damages aren’t awarded as often as the other damage types. This is because they are designed to punish the defendant for excessively reckless, wanton, or malicious conduct.
A good example of this is if a defendant has several past instances of DUI before a major crash. However, punitive damages come with a high burden of proof, so juries rarely award them in personal injury cases.
How Liability Affects Your Claim
When determining the value of your case, it’s essential to know how New Mexico’s liability laws affect your claim. Under NMSA § 41-3A-1, New Mexico follows what’s known as the pure comparative negligence doctrine.
This means that any damages you are entitled to in a New Mexico truck accident claim is reduced by your percentage of fault.
For example, if you have $100,000 in damages and the jury finds you 10% at fault for your injuries, they reduce your damages to $90,000.
However, if you’re 50% at fault, you receive only $50,000. This is why it’s important to hire an experienced attorney who knows how to show the full extent of the defendant’s negligence.
Injured in a New Mexico Truck Accident? Contact Our Firm Today
If you or a loved one sustained an injury in a truck accident, please give Flores, Tawney & Acosta a call.
Our New Mexico trucking accident attorneys dedicate themselves to advocating for the best interests of our clients. Whether it’s taking on a large insurance company or a negligent trucking company, we’re here for you.
Contact us online or give us a call at 575-222-1000 to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout New Mexico from our offices in Las Cruces, Carlsbad, and Albuquerque.