When a passenger vehicle and a big rig collide, the damages can be catastrophic for the occupants of the smaller vehicle. From extensive medical bills to ongoing psychological trauma to death, the physical, emotional and financial toll of an accident can weight heavy on victims and their families. Fortunately, the law allows injured parties and their loved ones to pursue justice in the form of compensation via a personal injury claim.
If you or a loved one sustained serious, life-threatening and/or fatal injuries in a trucking accident, you may hope to hold the at-fault party accountable. When you partner with Hinkle Law Offices, LLC, we will help you understand your rights and options and take the steps necessary to recover the maximum amount of compensation on your behalf.
The Role of Negligence in Your Pursuit of Compensation
All personal injury cases, regardless of whom or what they involve, hinge on negligence. Negligence, in an auto accident case, refers to a driver’s failure to exercise duty of care as spelled out by the law. Without negligence, you cannot have a personal injury claim.
In most states, you must prove that you were less negligent than the other party in order to recover compensation. In New Mexico, however, you must only prove that the other party’s actions were careless, reckless or otherwise negligent, period, even if your actions were more so. This is due to the theory of pure comparative fault, which bars plaintiffs from recovering compensation only if they assume 100% fault for an accident. Though proving fault in a truck accident case can be challenging in most other states, in New Mexico, you need only prove that the trucker or the company for which he or she works violated just one law, rule of the road or trucking regulation.
Common Violations That Cause Trucking Accidents
There are dozens of rules, laws and regulations that a trucker and/or his or her company can violate that can contribute to a trucking accident. However, some violations are more dangerous — and common — than others. Those include the following:
- Distracted driving
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving while tired
- Driving through required break/rest periods
- Driving beyond the allowable drive time
- Failing to abide by the posted signs and rules of the road
- Driving without a valid CDL
If you can prove that the trucker committed any of these violations, or any violation not listed here, you have a case.
Recovering Damages When You Are Partially At Fault
It is rare that a driver will assume 100% responsibility for an accident, especially in trucking accident cases. If the courts do assign a percentage of fault to you, you may wonder how this affects your monetary recovery. Assuming you do not assume full liability for the accident, the courts will simply reduce your award or settlement by the percentage of fault they assign to you. Below are examples of what this might look like for, say, a $250,000 award:
- The courts assign you 10% fault for the accident. They will reduce your award by $25,000, or 10% of $250,000, leaving you with $225,000.
- You assume 30% fault for the accident. The courts will reduce your award by 30%, leaving you with $175,000.
- You assume 80% fault for the accident. Your take-home settlement will amount to $50,000.
The larger your percentage of fault, the less compensation you stand to recover. However, depending on the extent of your damages, it may be worth your while to pursue a claim against the trucker regardless of who is to blame.
Getting the Most Out of Your Trucking Accident Claim
If you were involved in a trucking accident in New Mexico, you likely live with costly and life-changing damages. If this is a case, you should not take a risk with your claim. Entrust it to a legal team that understands the law and how to use it to maximize recoveries for victims and their families. Hinkle Law Offices, LLC, is that legal team.