As someone who resides in or regularly travels through Hobbs, whether en route up north to Albuquerque or into west Texas, you probably know how heavily trafficked Highway 62 is at some point during your journey. It is one of the main thoroughfares for trucks that connects New Mexico to Texas. Truckers traveling north to south often use Highway 18 or some of eastern New Mexico’s many other major roads.
Trucking is a key component of moving consumer products, heavy equipment, livestock, and other items from one place to another. As passenger car drivers, we must ride alongside these heavy and awkwardly maneuvering trucks. As with sharing the road with any motorists, drivers may make mistakes, causing collisions. Truck accidents can take various forms and leave behind multiple injuries that are often much worse than car crashes.
Common Causes of Hobbs Truck Accidents
Short-haul truckers travel short distances within New Mexico or into nearby states and return home at night or after a day or two out on the road. Long-haul truckers venture much further and remain out on the roads for days or weeks at a time.
No matter the type of tractor-trailer operator, they all tend to become involved in crashes for similar reasons, including:
Phone conversations, texting, listening to audiobooks or the radio, communicating with passengers, eating, using a global positioning system (GPS), and browsing the internet are just a few of the many factors that may take a trucker’s mind and eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel. Even momentary inattention can cause a trucker not to notice a road construction zone, stopped or passing vehicle, or some other obstruction in their path, potentially leading them to become entangled in a crash.
Truckers are subject to strict New Mexico and federal guidelines which prohibit their consumption of alcohol within a set amount of hours before taking to the road. Federal officials also require truckers to be subjected to random drug testing. Doing so is mandatory following any crash, regardless of who was allegedly at fault for it. Alcohol and drugs are much like distractions or fatigue in that they take a tractor-trailer operator’s attention off Hobbs roads or cloud their ability to make sound judgments, potentially leading to truck accidents.
Federal regulations require truckers to perform pre-trip inspections, which involve tractor-trailer operators looking at the truck’s main systems, such as its suspension, brakes, tires, and much more. Truckers are supposed to repeat these inspections every 24 hours they’re out on the road.
Fleet companies or owner-operators should remove any semi-truck that isn’t roadworthy from their fleet to protect themselves and others. Few truckers perform inspections as required. Even fewer remove trucks from the road to perform necessary maintenance on them as doing so would deprive them of an ability to make money. This negligence leaves us all vulnerable to becoming entangled in a truck crash.
Auto parts used to manufacture or repair tractor-trailers are mass-produced. They’re also only fabricated to withstand a certain amount of use. It’s not unheard of for trucks’ steering or braking systems to give out, leading Hobbs tractor-trailer operators to lose control of their trucks and causing a catastrophic accident.
Truckers must abide by U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Hours of Service regulations. These require truckers to take periodic rest periods after spending time on the road or before embarking on another trip. While the exclusive use of electronic trip logs has certainly made it harder for truckers to skip a required rest period, there are loopholes that tractor-trailer operators often cite to get around requirements.
For example, truckers who encounter certain traffic or weather conditions may be able to lawfully extend their service hours. This means that they may remain on the road longer than they would otherwise be able to, meaning they may be more fatigued, putting them at risk of causing a crash.
Semi-truck operators must secure a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to lawfully operate an 18-wheeler here in New Mexico and throughout the rest of the U.S. While a trucker’s possession of one of these may send a message that they’re professional drivers who don’t make mistakes, that’s not true.
Truckers still engage in reckless driving tactics like speeding, cutting in too close on others, tailgating, driving too fast for road conditions, failing to yield to another’s right of way, not staying within their lane, and more. These driving tactics can give way to truckers crashing into passenger cars, leaving drivers severely injured.
Which Truck Accident Types Happen in Hobbs?
Many of the crash types that could involve two passenger car operators can also happen when a large truck and a small automobile are involved in a collision. Some examples include T-bone, sideswipe, head-on, rear-end, and rollover accidents.
There are certain types of collisions that are unique to tractor-trailers. At least one of the vehicles involved in a crash must be an 18-wheeler for the following crashes to occur:
Truckers are taught to swing their trailers to the left when making right turns. They’re instructed to do this to avoid striking pedestrians waiting on street corners or any inanimate objects in their path that they would otherwise hit if they didn’t do so.
Tractor-trailer operators run that fine line between not making too tight of a turn or too wide of one. Any mistakes in judgment may give way to a head-on or crush injury crash.
Rollover or Jackknife Accidents
The first 10 minutes after it starts raining are some of the most dangerous times for motorists to be on the road as they adjust their driving behaviors accordingly. Ice or snow takes even further adjustments. Road conditions, speed, and factors such as a load’s weight and how well it’s secured in place can impact what happens when a trucker applies their brakes or attempts to navigate an exit ramp on an interstate.
Rollovers happen because an 18-wheeler’s wheels stop contacting the ground, and gravity and road conditions aid in tipping the truck over. Jackknife accidents occur when braking happens too quickly that the trailer separates from the truck causing an “L” or “V” formation. Either one of these accidents can become road hazards, leading to a chain-reaction crash.
These crashes most often occur at intersections or as part of sideswipe accidents. They involve a passenger car or perhaps a motorcycle becoming lodged under the tractor-trailer from the rear or side axels.
Speed can lead a vehicle to get deeply stuck under the tractor-trailer and dragged. It’s not uncommon for these incidents to shear off the top of a passenger car, leaving occupants vulnerable to becoming decapitated or, at the very least, suffering severe head injuries.
While guards or “wings” exist that truckers can install to minimize the chances of these truck accidents, many truckers do not have them, thus leaving motorists at risk of getting hurt.
Injuries That Result From Hobbs Truck Accidents
Many of the same injuries that passenger car operators face when colliding with one another are the same that drivers have to worry about when involved in a collision with a truck. Some of these include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones
The likelihood of these injuries occurring in a truck accident is greater than in a car one because of the weight and size of the 18-wheeler involved. Truck accidents tend to carry with them a higher fatality rate than other types of crashes too. These deaths are often preventable.
How A Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You
New Mexico is an at-fault insurance state, meaning that you have a right to hold any negligent motorist liable if you can successfully prove they were liable for causing a crash and your residual injuries. Proving liability isn’t always as easy as it may initially seem, which is why you should consult with our truck accident lawyers here at Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm.
You can expect our experienced Hobbs truck accident lawyers to know New Mexico personal injury laws and whether you have a viable case under them. Provided you do, your attorney will advise you of your legal options, including filing an insurance claim or lawsuit. No matter your choice, you can count on your Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm attorney to help you navigate the legal process and advocate for you every step once you hire them.
Your medical bills, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses are likely mounting. New Mexico law only affords you a limited time to pursue legal action in your case. Schedule a free consultation with one of our truck accident attorneys today to get started on protecting your right to compensation.