Truck Accident Damages
New Mexico and Texas truck accident laws might entitle you to compensation for your physical, psychological, and financial injuries, which also are known as damages.
Economic damages are those that are easily quantified by monetary loss. You can demand compensation for your injury-related expenses and losses, including:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Medical supplies for at home
- Transportation costs to and from medical appointments
- Mental health care, such as therapy
Not all injuries after a truck crash are tangible and easily valued. We demand you receive compensation for the following:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- New physical limitations.
Under both Texas and New Mexico, punitive damages are available only in certain circumstances. We must establish the defendant acted recklessly, maliciously, or fraudulently.
New Mexico does not cap the amount of punitive damages you can receive. Texas caps punitive damages at the greater of two times the amount of economic damages plus an amount equal to any non-economic damages up to $750,000 or $200,000.
Commercial Vehicle Insurance Requirements
Federal law requires commercial trucks to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance based on the size of the truck and the type of cargo it carries.
- For-Hire Interstate General Freight Carriers: $750,000
- For-Hire and Private Carriers of Oil and Certain Types of Hazardous Waste: $1,000,000
- For-Hire and Private Carriers of Other Hazardous Substances: $5,000,000
- For-Hire Passenger Carriers (Seating Capacity ≤15): $1,500,000
- For-Hire Passenger Carriers (Seating Capacity >15): $5,000,000
Commercial trucks that operate purely in Texas or New Mexico must meet the state’s minimum liability insurance requirements, which may differ from the FMCSA regulations.
After you are injured in a crash with a truck, we will investigate the truck driver and trucking company’s insurance coverage. Because most commercial trucks and drivers are covered by liability policies with minimums higher than personal auto coverage, you may have a better chance of receiving a fair settlement.
However, we can never guarantee that you will receive a settlement, which is why we recommend working with an experienced trial attorney who is comfortable and capable in the courtroom.
Truck Accident Claims Process
When you have been hurt or lost a loved one in a truck wreck, we recommend you retain an experienced personal injury law firm right away. There are many steps in the truck accident lawsuit process, including:
Investigating What Happened
Before we file a lawsuit, we take steps to preserve and collect any evidence available. We obtain a copy of the police accident report. We gather any video footage of the crash or photos of the aftermath. We will contact eyewitnesses and ask for their oral or written statements.
We will use public records to investigate the truck driver and trucking company’s backgrounds.
Sending a Preservation Letter
We will send a letter to the trucker, trucking company, and any other party relevant to the crash stating you have a legal claim and that they must preserve any potentially relevant evidence. Without a letter like this, trucking accident evidence tends to disappear quickly. The trucking company may destroy records or the black box that is on many semi-trucks to record what happened before, during, and after a crash.
Depending on the facts of your case, we may hire one or more experts right away, including a medical, vocational, financial, economic, accident reconstruction, or trucking expert. An expert’s objective review and analysis of the evidence can provide us with additional support for your claim for compensation.
Documenting and Valuing Damages
From the very beginning, we will work with you to document your physical, psychological, and financial injuries. To accurately calculate the value of your claim, we need as much evidence as possible regarding the harm you have suffered.
Filing a Lawsuit
Once we have prepared as thoroughly as possible, we will file the personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. This enables us to use discovery to gather more evidence, which helps us prepare for settlement negotiations or trial.
Negotiating an Insurance Settlement
Most truck accident claims are resolved with an insurance settlement prior to trial. All the previous steps in the claims process are necessary to be prepared for these negotiations. By this point, we have a thorough understanding of what happened, who is responsible, and how much your damages are worth.
We take an aggressive approach to negotiations, and we do not settle for less than your claim is really worth.
Truck Accident Lawsuits and Trial Preparation
Kemmy Law Firm has over five decades of combined experience handling serious personal injury lawsuits, such as truck wreck cases. And we routinely file lawsuits on our clients’ behalf. This is for several reasons.
Benefit from the Discovery Phase
Before we enter settlement negotiations, we need to collect and review all available evidence. Much of this evidence is under the truck driver or trucking company’s control. The only way to gain access to it is through the discovery process.
Without filing a lawsuit and going through discovery, we could not depose the truck driver, obtain copies of the trucking company’s inspection and maintenance records, or obtain a copy of the truck’s electronic data – all of which can be vital to our case.
Expert Truck Accident Testimony
In addition to discovery, other important trial preparation steps are hiring experts, like an accident reconstructionist. An objective third-party opinion can be very persuasive if we need to go before a jury.
We also believe in an aggressive motion practice. We utilize pre-trial motions to ask the judge to make important substantive and procedural decisions.
Filing a Lawsuit Shows We Are Serious
Additionally, filing a truck accident lawsuit shows the insurer we are serious. It proves to the insurer that we are not willing to accept just any low settlement offer. Instead, we are willing to put the defendants and the insurer through the paces to get the best possible outcome for our client.
Physical & Psychological Effects of Truck Accidents
When you or a loved one are involved in a semi or oil truck accident, you may be diagnosed with moderate, serious, or catastrophic injuries. At Kemmy Law Firm, we understand that you may be in pain, angry, and frustrated.
Kemmy Law Firm has worked on truck accident cases involving:
- Severe lacerations
- Broken bones
- Ligament, muscle, and tendon injuries
- Injuries and disfigurements to the face
- Dental injuries
- Vision loss
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Herniated discs (slipped disc)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Crush injuries
- Nerve damage
- Internal organ damage
- Fire or chemical burns
An unexpected truck crash is a traumatic event. The crash itself, the medical treatment, and your recovery can negatively impact your psychological wellbeing. Depending on the severity of the crash, you may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, which requires medical treatment to manage. You also may develop anxiety, phobia, depression, sleep disorders, and other mental health conditions as a result of the crash and your physical injuries.
Fatal Truck Accident Law
Commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and may travel down a highway at 75 miles per hour or higher. It is no surprise then that colliding with a heavy and fast-moving semi-truck or oil tanker can lead to fatalities.
In some circumstances, truck accident law allows you to pursue wrongful death compensation or carry on your loved one’s case through a survival action.
Only certain people can file wrongful death claims, including:
- New Mexico – The personal representative of a victim’s estate to pursue compensation for the surviving spouse, children, or parents.
- Texas – A spouse, child, parent, or the personal representative of the estate on behalf of surviving relatives.
Survival claims are also available in Texas. While a wrongful death claim focuses on the injuries the surviving relatives have suffered, a survival claim is the legal action the decedent had prior to their death.
It is essentially the truck accident victim’s personal injury claim, which survives their death to be continued by their heirs, estate, or legal representative. The compensation you may receive under a wrongful death claim in Texas differs from survival action compensation.
State and Federal Trucking Regulations
Commercial trucking companies and drivers are highly regulated by federal and state law, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations, the Texas Transportation Code, and the New Mexico Department of Transportation regulations.
FMCSA regulations control all aspects of the trucking industry, including:
- Truck driver licensing and endorsements
- Truck driver drug testing
- Vehicle size and weight restrictions
- Vehicle markings and warnings
- Vehicle inspections and maintenance
- Vehicle safety standards
- Hours of service regulations
State trucking laws overlap a great deal with federal regulations. However, there can be differences that trucking companies and drivers must be aware of. Typically, states are responsible for oversize and overweight truck permits. States also have their own vehicle and bridge restrictions.
The truck accident lawyers at Kemmy Law Firm will scrutinize each piece of evidence to determine if there is any sign that a truck driver, trucking company, or other party violated a federal or state trucking regulation. A regulatory violation may be evidence of negligence, which we can use to establish your claim and pursue compensation.
Hours of Service Rules
Federal regulators want to ensure truck drivers are appropriately rested to reduce the risk of fatigue-related accidents.
According to the HOS rules, property-carrying drivers have an 11-hour driving limit after 10 consecutive hours off duty. They might not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off.
Also, truckers may drive only if fewer than eight hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last 30-minute break. Overall, truckers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in seven to eight consecutive days. A trucker can then restart their seven to eight-day period after at least 34 consecutive hours off.
Truck Accident Liability Law
Under truck accident law, the party liable for a truck accident – and your injuries – is typically the party that was negligent or reckless. Truck drivers and companies are required to act like reasonably prudent people would under the same or similar circumstances and adhere to all applicable federal and state laws. When a driver or company fails to obey the law or to act in a reasonably prudent manner, and as a result, causes a crash, then they are negligent.
Recklessness is also known as gross negligence. Instead of a truck driver or company acting carelessly, they may act in a willful and wanton manner that displays a clear disregard for other people’s safety. If we can establish recklessness during your claim, then truck accident law may entitle you to punitive damages.
When the truck driver’s negligence or recklessness caused the crash and your injuries, you may not focus on receiving compensation from the driver only. Under the legal theory of respondeat superior, an employer is responsible for its employees’ wrongful acts.
When you apply this rule to truck accident law, it means the trucking company is liable for any crashes their employee-trucker causes. This is why we will usually name the trucking company as a defendant in the personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit and will file a claim against the company’s insurance policy.
Liability for Truck Defects
Parties other than the truck driver and their employer may be held legally responsible for causing a crash. For instance, if we determine the cause of your truck wreck was a defective part, then the manufacturer may be liable under strict liability. This means the party is automatically liable without having done anything wrong.
A common issue regarding fault for a trucking accident is comparative negligence. The truck driver may claim you are fully or partly at fault for the crash. When this defense comes up, the insurer or court must investigate whether you were careless or reckless behind the wheel and assign you a percentage of liability.
Texas Comparative Negligence Laws
Texas follows a modified comparative negligence rule, also called “proportionate responsibility.” You can receive compensation if you are less than 51% liable for the crash. However, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
New Mexico Comparative Negligence Laws
New Mexico follows a pure comparative negligence rule. You can receive compensation in New Mexico no matter your percentage of fault – even if it is above 51%. Your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. If you are 80% at fault, you will still receive 20% of your damages.
Truck Accident Statute of Limitations
There is a deadline, called a statute of limitations, within which you must file a truck accident claim or lawsuit. If you miss this deadline, you forfeit your eligibility for compensation.
The statute of limitations usually begins to run the day of the truck accident or the day of your relative’s passing. However, there are some instances in which the start date may be later than the accident or death, or the clock may be paused.
- Texas’ statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death claims is two years.
- New Mexico’s statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death claims is three years.
You should talk with a lawyer about whether any laws alter your time limit for filing a truck accident lawsuit.