If you get into a truck accident, your injuries and losses might be severe. If you were not at fault for the accident, you should not have to pay for your own medical bills or property repairs. New Mexico is a tort-based insurance state, meaning the party guilty of a tort, or wrongdoing, in connection to your accident pays. Truck accident claims in New Mexico, however, are a little different than typical car accident cases.
Truck Accidents and Vicarious Liability
Liability, or financial responsibility, can be difficult to determine in a truck accident case. Most truck accident claims involve the legal doctrine of respondeat superior. This is Latin for “let the master answer.” It means that in some scenarios, a person or party is legally responsible for the actions of someone who acts under them. This is also known as vicarious liability. This doctrine applies to employers for the actions of their employees, for example, and to parents for their minor children.
In an accident case involving a commercial truck, the doctrine of respondeat superior can hold the trucking company vicariously liable for the mistakes of its truck driver or another worker. This can hold true even if the truck driver is classified as an independent contractor and not an employee. If your truck accident was caused by a distracted truck driver, drowsy truck driver, speeding or another violated roadway rule by the trucker, therefore, you can bring a claim against the trucking company, in most cases.
What Are the Responsibilities of Trucking Companies in New Mexico?
It may also be possible to file an insurance claim against the trucking company for its own mistakes or errors. Trucking companies have a responsibility to do what they reasonably can to prevent truck accidents and ensure safe transports. This responsibility means the trucking company should conduct thorough background checks before hiring new drivers, only take on reliable drivers, maintain proper care of their fleets and take other steps to reduce the risk of accidents.
Unfortunately, trucking companies go against federal and state laws often. They may cut corners by hiring unqualified drivers or failing to properly train them, for example, in an effort to save time or money. Broken federal laws, including driver hiring protocols, truck maintenance requirements, driver hours-of-service regulations and cargo securement rules can increase the risk of truck accidents in New Mexico. If a truck accident does take place because of a trucking company’s failure to use proper care (negligence), you can hold the company directly liable.
Determining Negligence in a Commercial Truck Accident Case
Understanding who is liable for your truck accident typically requires an in-depth crash investigation. Accident reconstruction experts may be necessary to determine which driver broke a rule and caused the accident, for example. An investigation will search for negligence or recklessness in connection to the crash. Most truck accident lawsuits are filed against the trucking company involved. However, negligence may also exist on the part of a cargo company, truck part manufacturer, the government, a third-party driver or a combination of other parties, depending on the circumstances. Holding more than one person liable can increase the odds of obtaining fair compensation.
How to Hold Someone Liable for Your Truck Accident
Trucking companies are notorious for doing whatever they can to avoid liability for accidents and pay as little as possible to victims. It may take assistance from a truck accident lawyer to hold a trucking company or another party liable for your accident. A lawyer can investigate your accident, determine fault, identify the defendant(s), collect evidence of negligence and take other actions in the pursuit of financial compensation on your behalf. A lawyer will search for all insurance policies and sources of compensation available for you. To speak to an attorney after a truck accident in New Mexico, contact The Fine Law Firm for a free consultation.