Why Semi Accidents Are So Different
There are few things that are more devastating than a collision with a large truck such as a big rig, tractor trailer, 18 wheeler or other commercial truck. Impacts are explosive and the damage to smaller, passenger vehicles can be catastrophic. This means that injuries to victims can also be catastrophic, debilitating, and life-threatening. Serious personal injuries are likely even in low-speed collisions, whereas high-speed crashes usually result in a wrongful death. Victims can face suffocating medical bills, life-changing injuries, and years of lost wages. Trucking accidents are significantly different than other motor vehicle accidents.
Here are some common reasons why tractor trailer crash cases are so different than other motor vehicle crashes:
Injuries and Damages in Trucking Accidents are Often More Severe and Deadlier
Large commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds while most cars weigh only 4,000 pounds. When a passenger vehicle is hit by a tractor trailer it is like a battering ram going through a pane of glass. Factor in the high speeds permitted on interstates like I-40, I-10, or I-25, and a commercial truck will have such force and momentum that make it impossible for a passenger car to protect its occupants from harm.
This is why trucking crashes often cause injuries such as the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs);
- Paralysis (paraplegia or quadriplegia);
- Significant disfigurement;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Broken bones or fractured bones;
- Burn injuries;
- Wrongful death; and
- Other very serious personal injuries.
Since trucking accident injuries are usually more severe, they lead to higher medical bills, longer recovery, and more time lost from work. Some victims may never be able to return to the same career, while other victims may never work again and require long-term care. Because these damages can become significant, victims of trucking accidents will need to prove these injuries, lost wages, and future care through qualified experts and treating physicians are a much higher level than victims of car accidents. Some common experts include an economist, life-care planner, and an independent medical examiner (physician).
Liability in Trucking Accidents Can be More Complex and Difficult with Multiple Parties
If you are injured in a car accident, the other driver and the owner of the vehicle are usually the only liable parties for your damages. However, in trucking accidents with large commercial vehicles there will be several liable parties who you may not even be aware of.
The most obvious liable party is the truck driver who caused the semi truck wreck. But even if the truck driver is entirely at fault for the crash, the trucking company may also be liable for the entire crash and all of your injuries caused by the crash. This is because an employer is liable for the negligent acts or omissions of its employees caused within the scope of employment. This is known as the doctrine of respondeat superior and is a type of vicarious liability.
While a trucking company may also be negligent for faulty equipment or negligent maintenance of the commercial truck, the truck manufacturer or a mechanic who services the trucking company’s fleet may also be negligent if your injuries are caused by a mechanical failure. This includes failed air brakes, steering wheel, tire blowouts, cargo straps, and other equipment used on a truck.
In addition, the municipality, county, or State of New Mexico may also be liable for your injuries caused by an 18 wheeler wreck if the roadway was damaged, defective, or improperly designed for the use and operation of large commercial trucks on it. This typically occurs with blind spots, signage, or roads/lanes that are too narrow to accommodate large commercial trucks but the municipality, county, or State permit such vehicles on the roads anyway.
The Applicable Law is Different and the Evidence Process is Unique to Trucking Accidents
While both trucking accidents and car accidents use New Mexico statutes, truck drivers and trucking companies are also bound by a very complex matrix of federal regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Unless an attorney regularly handles these rules and regulations on a constant and regular basis, it is very likely that there will be errors or omissions in prosecuting a truck accident case for a victim.
This is particularly true because the majority of the evidence that you need to prove a trucking accident case is within the sole possession of the trucking company. This could further be guarded by the trucking company’s insurance carrier. Some of the essential data includes the hours of service log, electronic data from the commercial truck’s onboard computer (ECM), the truck driver’s training and personnel file, the truck’s maintenance records, and the big rig itself. Having an experienced New Mexico trucking accident lawyer on your side is imperative to be successful in your personal injury action.
Hire an Experienced Trucking Accident Lawyer, Not a Car Accident Lawyer
Motor vehicle accidents are much different than trucking accidents. Here at the Caruso Law Offices, P.C., our experienced Rio Rancho, New Mexico trucking accident lawyers have a proven track record of success in litigating serious and catastrophic 18 wheeler wreck cases against some of the largest trucking companies in the United States. Our staff is knowledge in both the applicable law and medicine to help establish liability and prove your injuries. This is what we focus on.
Don’t just call another car accident lawyer, call us for a free consultation to learn how we can help you by dialing 505-369-1495. Together we can get through this, and we will make sure your rights are protected the entire time.