While the trucking industry distributes goods and services all across the country, negligent truckers are the cause of thousands of accidents just in New Mexico every year. If you’ve been injured in a crash and are looking to recover from what you were wrongfully put through, our Albuquerque truck accident lawyers can help you take legal action.
It’s not always easy to stand up for yourself, especially when it involves litigation. Fortunately, our attorneys have years of experience representing all types of accident victims. We’ll provide the same representation and guidance for you. In order to file a successful claim, you first need to understand how truck accidents are unique from other common types of auto crashes.
Understanding How Tractor-Trailer Crashes Are Different
When two passenger vehicles are involved in a crash, there’s always the chance for injuries or fatalities; however, it’s more likely that property damage will have the most severe consequences. This is typically because accidents between two cars are more likely to happen at slower speeds and the vehicles are similar in size. But, when a large commercial vehicle is involved in a crash with a passenger car, the end result is generally more serious.
18-wheelers surpass most motor vehicles in size and weight. While the average car is approximately seven feet long, semi-trucks can be 45 to 65 feet long. Because of the added area, there is an increased risk of getting into an accident. Even smaller commercial trucks, like delivery vehicles, are more at risk to cause an accident due to their larger size and frequent stops.
In regard to weight, the average car weighs between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds. Tractor-trailers are separated according to gross vehicle weight ratings, the highest of which exceeds 33,000 pounds. When a truck weighs ten times more than the other vehicle involved in the accident, it’s likely the occupants in the smaller car will sustain significant injuries.
There are also types of accidents that are unique to trucks. For example, a tractor-trailer can cause an underride or override accident—both of which are likely to be deadly. An underride crash happens when a smaller vehicle gets trapped underneath the back of the truck. While there are usually safety bars in place to prevent these kinds of wrecks, they don’t always work. An override wreck occurs when a semi drives over top of the leading vehicle. Trucks are also at risk of jackknifing, which is when the trailer swings forward and extends past the cab, usually forming an L or V shape.
Semi Collisions and Catastrophic Injuries
According to the New Mexico Department of Transportation, heavy trucks were involved in 5.5% of all crashes in 2017; however, those accidents accounted for 18.7% of all traffic-related fatalities. In total, there were 45,906 truck accidents. The majority resulted in serious and catastrophic injuries.
Auto accident injuries vary depending on a number of factors including the types of vehicles involved, the speed at which the crash happened, the type of wreck, and the age and health status of those involved. Common injuries include broken bones, contusions, lacerations, and whiplash.
When injuries affect a person’s ability to be gainfully employed, they’re considered catastrophic. They generally have permanent, disability effects. The most common catastrophic injuries we see include the following:
- Spinal cord injury. The spinal cord is a delicate structure. Even minor damage can result in lifelong consequences. Severe nerve damage and paralysis are possible. Depending on the severity, victims could be left with partial or no use of their limbs. Breathing assistance and 24-hour care may also be necessary.
- Traumatic brain injury. Anytime the skull sustains major trauma a TBI is possible. Injuries to the brain can impair speech and motor skills. Emotional functions and memory may also be impacted. While some functions can be recovered through rehabilitation, others may never return.
- Amputations. It’s not uncommon for a truck accident victim to end up with a crushed limb. When this happens, amputation may be necessary. The recovery process from surgery like that is challenging and the patient will need to learn to use prosthetic limbs in order to recover as much mobility as possible.
- Burns. Fires and explosions are possible when trucks carry hazardous or flammable materials. When a truck accident victim sustains burns, they’re likely to be in the hospital for an extended period of time. Multiple surgeries and skin grafts can aid in the healing process, but severe scarring and pain are common.
Recovering from any degree of injury takes time. When you’ve sustained injuries defined as catastrophic, you may feel like you’ll never get your life back in order. Fortunately, our truck accident attorneys will fight for the compensation you need, so you can ensure the care you’re receiving maximizes your chances of recovering.
Investigating a Truck Accident in Albuquerque
There are a number of elements involved in a truck accident investigation. To start, your lawyer will want to collect as much information possible from the scene. This is likely to include police reports, eyewitness statements, and photographs. After that’s been collected, they may bring in an accident reconstructionist to recreate the crash from beginning to end. That will give you a better idea of what happened and why.
In many semi crashes, fatigue, distracted driving, substance abuse, and distracted driving are involved. In others, the trucking company may be at fault for pushing their drivers to work long hours or overload a trailer’s cargo so it becomes too heavy or unstable. Overloaded trucks can easily roll over during a crash, which can cause a rollover accident as well as devastation to all nearby vehicles. The truck’s black box, which contains information like the truck’s speed when the brakes were applied, velocity changes, gear shifts, and more, can produce information that shows the vehicle’s precise location and speed.
In order to prove liability, you’ll need to show how the trucker was negligent. The four legal elements of negligence include duty, breach, causation, and damages. Duty refers to the trucker’s legal obligation to drive responsibly and within the law. If they fail to do so, they’ve breached their duty. Causation refers to the truck driver’s actions that caused your injuries. When those injuries are totaled, they’re considered damages.
Maximizing Recovery After a Crash
There are steps you can take to improve your settlement offer from the moment the truck accident happens. Immediately following the crash, refrain from moving your car. Leave the accident scene as it is. If you can, take photographs to document what happened.
It’s likely you’ve been injured, so it’s crucial to seek medical attention immediately. If you can, call 911 and request emergency medical services. In addition to the arrival of medical professionals, police officers will arrive at the scene to take a statement from you and conduct their own investigation. Even if you feel okay, it’s important to get looked over. Not all injuries are visible, and others take time to develop. Additionally, having an accurate record of your injuries will ensure your compensation amount takes all your losses into consideration.
After you’ve had time to ground yourself, get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible. Doing so will ensure the evidence collected on your behalf is still viable. As time passes, evidence ages and becomes less convincing. Additionally, your lawyer will be able to handle the difficult conversations with insurance adjusters, so you don’t accidentally say something that could jeopardize your claim.
When filing a personal injury claim isn’t enough, you may consider filing a lawsuit against the person or entity that caused your accident. It’s important to note, however, that you’ll be subjected to the state’s statute of limitations. This is the timeframe you have to file a lawsuit. In New Mexico, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a case in court. If you do not file within that time frame, you’ll lose your chance of recovering any amount of compensation.
The Benefits of Working with Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm
If you’ve been injured by a negligent trucker, you deserve compensation for your injuries and losses. As you can see, however, the claims process isn’t always easy. Pursuing a successful case involves representation from an experienced law firm. At Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm, our Albuquerque truck accident lawyers have access to the resources and knowledge needed to help you recover full and fair compensation.
The sooner you get started on your claim, the better your chances are of receiving the settlement you deserve. We understand how overwhelming the legal process can seem, especially when you’re trying to focus on recovering physically and emotionally. Without that settlement, however, your recovery could be delayed.
We pride ourselves on ensuring our clients receive the best representation possible. While most truck accident claims settle outside of court through negotiation, we’re not afraid to bring your case in front of a judge if that’s the only way the negligent party will be held accountable.
To learn more about the litigation process and your legal rights and options, or to get the filing process started, contact our law firm today.