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Liability and Negligence in Commercial Truck Accidents

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Some of the most catastrophic collisions on the road involve commercial trucks. Their vast size and weight make them deadly to smaller passenger vehicles and their occupants. In 2017, over 4,600 fatal traffic accidents involved big rigs in the U.S. The majority of fatalities in commercial truck accidents are people in other vehicles. Victims must determine liability and prove negligence in New Mexico to receive compensation for their truck-accident related losses.

Liability and negligence in commercial truck accidents

Common Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents

Most catastrophic truck accidents are preventable. They happen when the truck company, one of its staff members or the truck driver are negligent. Negligence can refer to breaking federal safety regulations, traffic laws or commercial trucking best practices. Anything a prudent party would not have done, resulting in a truck accident, can constitute negligence. Truck accidents in New Mexico can arise from many different acts of negligence.

  • Speeding
  • Unsafe braking techniques
  • Reckless driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Driving under the influence
  • Failing to maintain trucks (equipment breakdowns)
  • Manufacturing defective truck parts
  • Distributing cargo weight unevenly
  • Securing cargo improperly
  • Ignoring known roadway defects

A truck accident survivor or the loved one of someone who died in a truck accident will have the task of proving negligence to obtain compensation from the trucking company or another defendant. New Mexico is a fault state, meaning the insurance company of the at-fault party will have to pay for damages. The insurance company will require proof of negligence or fault, however, before it accepts the client’s claim and offers a fair settlement.

Proving Truck Company Liability

Proving liability for a commercial trucking accident can be difficult. The victim must partake in actions such as crash scene investigation, eyewitness interviews and evidence gathering to piece together a case for the defendant’s liability. Evidence for a truck driver or company’s fault may come in the form of employment records, cellphone records, black box data, photographs or video footage, electronic logging device records, chemical drug or alcohol tests, crash reconstruction, and truck accident expert testimony. A claimant will need this evidence to prove the existence of four elements for a successful claim. An Albuquerque truck accident attorney can help with this burden of proof.

  1. All truck companies owe specific duties of care to the public. These duties include hiring safe drivers, properly training them, testing for drug and alcohol use, and maintaining trucks. Truck drivers also have a duty of care: to reasonably prevent accidents.
  2. A breach of duty of care can refer to any mistake the defendant made that a reasonable and prudent party would not have under similar circumstances. Examples include driving a truck recklessly and investing in low-quality truck repairs.
  3. To receive compensation, the victim must establish a causal link between the defendant’s act of negligence and the truck accident. The defendant’s breach of duty of care must have caused or substantially contributed to the wreck in question.

 

  1. The victim must have suffered compensable losses in the truck accident, such as physical injuries, psychological distress, property damages or lost wages. Without specific damages, the victim will have no grounds on which to bring a claim.

The commercial trucking industry has special regulations all companies and their drivers must obey. Breaking any of these rules to save time or money is negligence. If the crash victim or his or her New Mexico personal injury lawyer can prove the defendant’s liability – whether it is the trucking company, a product manufacturer, the City of Albuquerque or another party – the victim could receive compensation for damages. A compensatory award in New Mexico could pay for medical bills, past and future pain and suffering, lost earnings, property repairs, and punitive damages. Proving negligence and liability are key to recovering compensation after a truck accident.

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