Hobbs Truck Accident Attorney
As an experienced Hobbs truck accident lawyer, W. Shane Jennings knows that accidents involving large commercial vehicles, such as trucks, can often lead to severe — sometimes fatal — consequences due to their size and heavy loads. In Hobbs, New Mexico, and the surrounding areas, these risks get amplified due to the significant presence of the trucking and oil and gas industries.
The trucking industry plays a vital role in New Mexico’s economy, with thousands of large trucks traveling daily on the state’s roads, transporting goods across the region and country. In the state, the industry is a significant employer, offering many residents jobs integral to the local and national economy.
Hobbs is a city deeply rooted in the oil and gas industry. It lies in the heart of the Permian Basin in Lea County, one of the wealthiest petroleum areas in the world. This wealth of resources means that much of the petroleum extracted in this region is transported via trucks, making highways like the New Mexico State Road 18, U.S. Route 62, U.S. Highway 380, and NM Highway 206 and 128 particularly busy with truck traffic.
While the presence of these industries is vital to the local and state economy, it also increases the potential for accidents involving large commercial trucks. For those affected by such incidents, seeking legal representation from a Hobbs truck accident lawyer experienced in handling the complexities of truck accident claims is crucial.
Do Truck Accidents Happen Often in New Mexico?
Truck accidents, unfortunately, are not uncommon in New Mexico. According to a report from the University of New Mexico’s Geospatial and Population Studies, during the years 2014-2018, the state witnessed 12,024 accidents involving heavy trucks and 1,861 fatalities from these accidents. Roughly 12% of these accidents were with alcohol-impaired drivers, and driver inattention also played a role. The study also found that more truck accidents happened in October, December, and Wednesdays.
These statistics reflect the risk inherent in sharing the roads with large commercial vehicles and underscore the need for all motorists to exercise caution when driving near them. Despite the best efforts of regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies, these accidents happen, often with devastating consequences.
What Are Some of the Causes of These Crashes?
Truck accidents can occur due to various factors that involve the driver, the vehicle, or the environment. Here are some of the significant causes:
- Non-Performance. Sometimes, accidents occur because of a driver’s physical condition, like falling asleep at the wheel, suffering a heart attack, or other physical impairments that lead to loss of control of the vehicle.
- Recognition. Accidents can happen if a driver is not attentive or is distracted. This could be due to inadequate surveillance, distracted driving, or failure to recognize potential hazards in time to react appropriately.
- Decision-Making. Poor decision-making also contributes to accidents. This could involve driving too fast for the conditions, misjudging the speed of other vehicles, or making incorrect assumptions about other drivers’ actions.
- Performance. Accidents can occur if the driver panics, overcompensates, or exercises poor directional control.
- Brake Problems. If a truck has brake problems, it increases the risk of an accident since the driver might be unable to slow down or stop the vehicle in time.
- Traffic Flow Interruption. This includes situations where congestion or a previous crash has disrupted the normal flow of traffic.
- Roadway Problems. These could involve inadequate signage, potholes, or other issues with the road itself.
- Required to Stop Before Crash. In cases where the truck must stop before a crash due to a traffic control device or crosswalk, accidents can occur if the driver fails to stop in time.
- Prescription Drug Use. If a driver is under the influence of prescription drugs, it can impair their ability to drive safely.
- Over-the-Counter Drug Use. Similar to prescription drugs, over-the-counter medication can also affect a driver’s performance, leading to accidents.
- Fatigue. Tired drivers can make mistakes, react slowly, or even fall asleep at the wheel, leading to crashes.
- Unfamiliarity with Roadway. If a driver is not familiar with the road they are driving on, they may not be prepared for certain road features, which can cause accidents.
These are just a few examples of what can cause a truck accident, and it’s usually a combination of these factors. Understanding these causes can be vital in preventing future accidents and ensuring the safety of everyone on the road.
Who Is Liable in a Trucking Accident in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, determining liability in a truck accident can be complex due to the various entities involved in the trucking industry. It’s not always as straightforward as other vehicle accidents. Here are some potential parties that could be held liable:
- Cargo Loaders. If improperly loaded or secured cargo caused the accident, the party responsible for loading the truck could be held accountable.
- Other Drivers. If another driver’s negligence contributed to the accident, that driver could also be held liable.
- Truck Driver. If the truck driver was negligent, such as driving while impaired, speeding, or violating other traffic laws, they could be liable for the accident.
- Trucking Company. Often, the trucking company can be held responsible for the actions of its drivers under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, which holds employers liable for the actions of their employees performed within the scope of their employment. The court can also hold them liable if they fail to maintain their vehicles properly, train their drivers, or violate federal trucking regulations.
- Truck Manufacturer. If a defect in the truck or one of its parts contributed to the accident, the truck manufacturer or the manufacturer of the faulty part could be held liable.
- Truck Owner. If the truck’s owner is different from the driver or the trucking company, the owner could be held liable, especially if a defect or maintenance issue contributed to the accident.
What Makes Truck Accident Cases More Complicated than Other Cases?
Truck accident cases can be more complicated than other types of motor vehicle accident cases for several reasons:
Multiple Parties Involved
As mentioned earlier, multiple parties can be involved in a truck accident, each with their own insurance policies. This can make determining and negotiating liability complex.
Federal and State Regulations
Truck drivers and trucking companies are subject to various federal and state regulations. In New Mexico, truck drivers must comply with specific licensing, operation, and vehicle maintenance requirements. One such federal regulation is Part 391, which establishes minimum qualifications for individuals to drive commercial motor vehicles. Failure to comply with these regulations can play a significant role in proving negligence. Other regulations include:
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Regulations
The FMCSA is the federal body that regulates commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in the United States. Its regulations can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 49, Subtitle B, Chapter III. For instance, CFR 49 Part 391 specifically addresses the qualifications and disqualifications for CMV drivers. Non-compliance can lead to penalties and prove instrumental in negligence cases.
New Mexico State Regulations
State-specific regulations for New Mexico can be found in the New Mexico Administrative Code, Title 18, Chapter 3, which covers the Transportation and Highways Department. NMAC 18.3 offers a detailed overview of the rules and regulations for commercial vehicles in New Mexico, including rules for specific highways and areas, weight limits, and safety measures.
Hours of Service Regulations
Both the federal government and the state of New Mexico regulate how many hours truck drivers can operate their vehicles before taking a rest. The FMCSA’s Hours of Service regulations help prevent driver fatigue, a significant cause of accidents involving commercial trucks.
Vehicle Maintenance and Inspection Requirements
Regular maintenance and inspection of CMVs are critical for safety. In addition to the federal rules, New Mexico has its own vehicle inspection and maintenance requirements. Information about New Mexico’s specific vehicle safety inspection requirements can be found here.
Severe Injuries and High Damages
The size and weight of commercial trucks often result in more severe injuries and higher damages than car accidents. This can escalate the stakes and increase contention in such cases.
Truck accidents often involve complex evidence, such as electronic logging devices, GPS data, and other types of digital evidence. Understanding this evidence and using it effectively requires specialized knowledge and expertise.
Truck Industry Tactics
Trucking companies and insurers often have legal teams dedicated to minimizing their liability in accident cases. They may employ various tactics, such as quickly sending investigators to the scene, to try to reduce their potential payout.
Why Evidence Is Crucial and How an Attorney Can Help
We can’t emphasize enough how crucial evidence is in a truck accident case. Evidence is fundamental in establishing fault, determining the cause of the accident, and substantiating the damages you claim. Crucial evidence can include the truck driver’s log, the truck’s black box data, maintenance records, eyewitness testimonies, accident scene photographs, police reports, and medical records.
However, preserving and obtaining this evidence can be challenging. For instance, trucking companies might try to repair or dispose of damaged vehicles quickly, potentially destroying crucial evidence. They might also have electronic logging devices that automatically overwrite data after a certain period, meaning important information could be lost if not retrieved promptly.
This is where a skilled Hobbs truck accident attorney can make all the difference. Attorneys with experience in truck accident cases understand the critical role of evidence. They can swiftly send a spoliation letter to the trucking company, which requires them to preserve any potential evidence related to the case. They can also obtain and analyze complex pieces of evidence, like the truck’s black box data or GPS information, and hire expert witnesses to testify about the technical aspects of the accident.
Additionally, a truck accident lawyer in Hobbs can manage communication with the trucking company and insurance adjusters, ensuring your rights are protected. They can guide you through the legal process, advise you on your options, and help you pursue the compensation you deserve. In essence, a skilled attorney becomes your advocate, fighting for your interests every step of the way.
Understanding Damages in New Mexico Truck Accident Claims
In the aftermath of a truck accident in New Mexico, victims may suffer significant physical and emotional losses. The law provides a remedy by allowing victims to seek compensation, or damages, for these losses through a legal claim. There are several types of damages a victim may claim in a New Mexico truck accident case:
- Economic Damages. These are quantifiable financial losses resulting from the accident. They include medical expenses, lost wages if you’re unable to work, loss of earning capacity if your ability to work in the future gets impacted, property damage, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
- Non-Economic Damages. These compensate for intangible losses that don’t have a direct monetary value but significantly impact your quality of life. They include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.
- Punitive Damages. These are not tied to your actual losses but are meant to punish the defendant for particularly reckless or malicious behavior and to deter others from similar conduct. In New Mexico, the court will only award punitive damages in cases where they find the defendant’s conduct reckless, willful, or grossly negligent.
Understanding the types of damages available and how to calculate them accurately is crucial to ensuring you receive the total compensation you deserve. An experienced truck accident attorney in Hobbs can help assess your losses, gather necessary evidence, and advocate to ensure you receive fair compensation for your damages.
What Is the Average Truck Accident Settlement Amount?
The financial aftermath of a truck accident can be as challenging as the incident itself, and settlement values can provide some relief. The average settlement amount in truck accident cases varies greatly because there are so many factors in play. Factors that impact the settlement value include:
- Economic Damages. These are actual out-of-pocket costs like medical bills and lost wages. The higher these costs, the higher the potential settlement.
- Injury Severity. Cases involving severe, life-altering injuries like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, or limb loss typically result in higher settlements due to increased medical expenses and significantly impact the victim’s quality of life.
- Legal Representation. Experienced Hobbs truck accident lawyers specializing in these accidents can often secure higher settlements due to their understanding of the law, negotiation skills, and experience with similar cases.
- Liability. If the truck driver or the trucking company’s negligence is clear and indisputable, this could result in a higher settlement value. Cases with shared liability or where fault is difficult to prove might see a reduction in settlement amounts.
- Non-Economic Damages. These are subjective losses like pain and suffering or emotional distress. These damages can significantly increase a settlement, particularly with severe injuries.
For those who’ve unfortunately experienced a truck accident in Hobbs, New Mexico, several vital resources are available to help navigate the aftermath. Covenant Health Hobbs Hospital provides a range of medical services, including immediate emergency care, that can be crucial in the wake of such an incident. To address emotional trauma, Permian Basin Counseling & Guidance offers valuable support, providing mental health services to individuals processing traumatic experiences.
Another noteworthy hospital is the Lea Regional Medical Center, which provides essential emergency care and advanced diagnostic imaging and rehabilitation services. After experiencing a truck accident, recovery may require therapeutic interventions, and Therapy Services Associates, P.C. can help with this. They offer physical, occupational, and speech therapies that can aid recovery and help individuals regain their everyday activities. These resources together make Hobbs a supportive community for those navigating the recovery journey following a truck accident.
Experienced Lawyer in Hobbs, New Mexico
In navigating the complicated and challenging aftermath of a truck accident, having a dedicated and experienced advocate on your side is vital. W. Shane Jennings, an accomplished attorney based in Hobbs, New Mexico, is that advocate.
With a long track record of successful legal representation and a deep understanding of the nuances of New Mexico law, he’s prepared to fight diligently for your rights. Specializing in criminal defense and personal injury, Jennings is committed to delivering top-notch legal assistance, ensuring your best interests are at the forefront. For a dedicated Hobbs truck accident lawyer, contact W. Shane Jennings.