Truck Accident Attorneys in New Mexico
Holding Dangerous Trucking Companies Accountable for Negligent Decisions that Cause Harm and Death
Drivers of semi-trucks, and the companies that put those drivers on the road, are required to use extra care and follow specific rules to prevent crashes. Because semi-trucks are many times heavier than passenger cars, crashes involving them are almost always more destructive than crashes between passenger vehicles. Trucking companies that cut corners on driver hiring and training, enforcing safety rules, and maintaining their vehicles are a deadly threat to people traveling on New Mexico roads.
Truck accidents devastate lives by killing people or causing lifelong injuries. Companies that make bad decisions leading to these life-changing or life-ending disasters can be held accountable by those who were forced to suffer the consequences, with the assistance of a dedicated and knowledgeable legal team.
Legal cases involving truck crashes are different from other auto accident cases. They require specialized legal knowledge and skill, quick action to preserve evidence, and knowledge of the trucking industry and the insurance companies that defend trucking companies. At McGinn, Montoya, Love & Curry, we know the rules and standards trucking companies and the drivers they hire are required to follow. We are ready to fight for justice when trucking companies’ dangerous practices cause catastrophic harm on New Mexico highways. If you or someone you love has been harmed in a truck-related accident, please contact us for a free consultation with our attorneys.
Our New Mexico team is available at (505) 405-4441 to speak to you after a serious trucking accident. Work with our award-winning litigators to see justice done.
Understanding Liability in Truck Accidents
When it comes to trucking accidents, the claims process is more complex than with a typical car crash. In most cases, a truck accident victim will not make a claim only against the at-fault driver. The trucking company that put the truck driver on the road is, in most cases, responsible for their actions. This means truck crash victims are likely to find themselves taking on a commercial insurance company or a large, self-insured trucking company.
Trucking companies’ insurers actively defend against claims for injuries caused by truck crashes, knowing it can be expensive to pay for the harm caused by these collisions. Many insurance companies immediately send their own investigators to crash scenes to gain an advantage over crash victims by collecting evidence they will use to try to avoid liability. Whether these insurers try to pin the blame on you, another driver they do not employ, or a different third party, you need someone to make sure your interests are represented. The longer you wait after an accident, the more evidence can disappear, so contacting a skilled attorney quickly to preserve the evidence can make all the difference.
Parties in Truck Accident Claims
A truck accident claim may involve:
- A trucking company that pushes its drivers to keep unsafe schedules with too many hours on the road and not enough sleep
- A trucking company that does not use safe practices in hiring, training, or supervising its drivers
- A trucking company that does not properly maintain its trucks or trailers or a maintenance team that failed to spot signs of dangerous mechanical failures
- A shipper or broker that hired a dangerous trucking company to save money
- A manufacturer that made faulty parts (such as tires or brakes) that failed, causing the truck driver to lose control or making the crash worse than it should have been
These companies may blame each other, leaving you wondering where to even start with your claim. Our attorneys will advocate for you and take on at-fault companies to obtain justice.
How a Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
Along with investigating your accident and handling discussions with the other parties’ insurers and legal representatives, our skilled attorneys will be ready to go to trial to get the compensation that you are owed. Crashes with heavy trucks may cause serious injuries that require long-term care and can lead to lifelong disabilities. We can help you identify and present, to the trucking companies’ insurers and a jury, all your damages, including:
- Medical bills
- Future medical care
- Accommodations or assistive devices
- Home renovations for accessibility
- Lost wages
- Loss of household services
- Loss of companionship
- Pain & suffering and emotional distress
Sadly, most insurers will not offer to pay all these damages in a settlement. They may try to persuade you to accept a much smaller amount that covers only a fraction of your costs or losses. Having a skilled legal team will ensure that the trucking company and its insurers do not get a discount on what they owe for their negligence. We will help you understand what a fair settlement should look like and take the lead on negotiations.
Seeing Justice Done
Because trucking companies are likely to fight back against injury claims, resolving these cases takes determination. Our attorneys’ strength and reputation as excellent trial lawyers have been key to helping clients recover compensation after serious accidents. No matter how complex a case or how big an opponent, we do everything we can to help our clients achieve justice. Here are some of the families we have helped after life-changing accidents.
Hein v. Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company, New Mexico First Judicial District Court, No. D-101-CV-2016-01541
By 1970, it was common knowledge in the semi-trailer manufacturing industry that the mismatch in size between tractor-trailers and passenger cars was a deadly problem. In a collision between a passenger car and a semi-trailer, that height difference creates the danger of underride, where a portion of the smaller vehicle goes into one of the open spaces under the trailer. When underrides happen, the built-in safety features in the car, like airbags, seatbelts, and crumple zones, are likely to become useless as the larger vehicle can crash through the windshield, deform the A-frame of the car, decapitate people in the car, or trap the smaller car underneath while the big rig is still moving.
As the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) worked on developing improved regulations to require stronger and more effective rear guards on semi-trailers, the agency also issued a notice in the Federal Register in 1970 encouraging trailer manufacturers to develop underride guards for the sides of their vehicles. However, like its competitors, Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company continued to build and sell its trailers without any features intended to prevent underride in side collisions.
Inventors outside the industry, even without the benefit of the vast resources for research and development that top trailer manufacturers have at their disposal, have come up with varying designs for side underride guards. Still, trailer manufacturers have not made any move to adopt side underride guards. Utility Trailer never made any independent attempt to research a workable solution, develop its own design, or improve on the designs independent inventors came up with.
Forty-five years after the federal government encouraged trailer manufacturers to develop side underride protection, a side underride crash claimed the life of one of New Mexico’s brightest young stars. Riley Hein, age 16, was nearing the midpoint of his junior year at Albuquerque’s Manzano High School where he played trombone in the marching band, ran cross country, maintained high grades, and made friends with everyone from the popular kids to the awkward new kids in school. Passionate. Kind. Funny. These were the words his sister, mother, and father chose as best portraying Riley’s spirit. He was interested in joining the Coast Guard but had not made up his mind yet. He had limitless potential.
On November 13, 2015, a truck driver hauling a Utility Trailer 3000R refrigerated trailer was headed west to Albuquerque on Interstate 40, driving through the mountain village of Tijeras, New Mexico, where Riley’s family lived. Riley was driving to early morning band practice. He left his house in Tijeras, got onto I-40 in his Honda Civic, and stayed in the rightmost of the 3 westbound lanes. He was probably listening to NPR, his favorite station.
As the Civic and the tractor-trailer approached a curve in the road, with the truck overtaking the slower-moving Civic, the truck began moving into Riley’s lane. Riley swerved to the right to avoid a crash but was immediately confronted by the end of a concrete Jersey barrier running along the shoulder. He swerved back to his left to avoid the barrier and re-entered the roadway, colliding with the tractor at a shallow, glancing angle. The collision redirected the Civic back onto the shoulder, where it hit the barrier and bounced back onto the roadway. Now the Civic was next to the semi-trailer, which Utility Trailer had chosen not to equip with any kind of side underride protection.
The Civic went under the trailer at a shallow angle and at such a speed that the incident would have been prevented by existing designs of side underride guards. However, because the trailer did not have side underride guards, the Civic was pinned underneath it. The truck driver did not even notice; he only stopped when, according to his statement to police, he saw a fire in his right-side mirror. Believing a tire had caught fire, the truck driver slowly lowered his speed and pulled onto the shoulder. The Civic scraped against and rode up along the concrete barrier as the tractor-trailer came to a stop. It was fully engulfed in flames, and Riley died before anyone could get to him.
The legal team at McGinn, Montoya, Love & Curry filed suit on behalf of Riley Hein’s estate and his parents against the truck driver and his employer, as well as Utility Trailer. The plaintiffs settled with the truck driver and trucking company and fought the case against Utility Trailer in a 2 week trial in Santa Fe. The jury found Utility Trailer was negligent and had contributed to Riley’s death. It attributed 55% of the fault to the driver and 45% to Utility Trailer. Riley Hein was completely innocent.
The total damages awarded added up to $38 million. Loss of society damages equaled $2 million for each of Riley’s parents.
Chischilly v. Central Trucking, Inc. at al., New Mexico First Judicial District Court, No. D-101-CV-2017-01911
A semi-truck driver is required to pay attention, drive without distractions, and look at the road ahead. When a trucking company hires an inexperienced young driver to operate a fully loaded tractor-trailer, it has a responsibility to properly supervise him to ensure he does these things. On the afternoon of Saturday, December 17, 2016, a young and inexperienced CTI driver took the life of an innocent motorist, Leo Chischilly, on Interstate 40 in Gallup, New Mexico.
Traffic was heavy due to construction taking place 12 miles east of the Arizona-New Mexico line. Traveling through Gallup on I-40, attentive drivers saw a long line of semi-trucks and other vehicles backed up all the way to the horizon, so they slowed down. CTI’s driver, with a fully loaded tractor-trailer, barreled toward this line of vehicles at 66 mph, with cruise control on. Had he been paying attention, he would have seen the brake lights on a GMC Sierra pickup truck being driven by Mr. Chischilly, who was on his way home with a load of gifts and food for the upcoming Christmas holiday.
We obtained video footage showing the driver of the semi-truck was not paying attention. He was looking down at something as he drove—likely his phone—and, by the time he looked up, he was too close to the GMC pickup truck to stop in time. He crashed into it at 66 mph. Mr. Chischilly died as a result of the crash.
Because of a diligent early investigation, we were able to secure evidence that showed how the trucking company was liable, and we successfully resolved the case before trial.
Gamboa v. J.V. Transportation, First Judicial District Court, No. D-101-CV-2014-00515
Trucking companies must take steps to ensure their drivers are safe through job training and by creating and enforcing appropriate policies and procedures. They must train their drivers to keep a proper lookout, adjust their speed according to the conditions on the roadway, and use due care to avoid collisions.
On April 14, 2013, Roberto Gamboa was driving from his home near Laguna, New Mexico. His car was traveling eastbound on Interstate 40 toward Albuquerque, with his wife in the passenger seat and four children in the backseat. Near the exit to the Route 66 Casino, eastbound traffic slowed because of a collision caused by a driver who had rear-ended a semi tractor-trailer. The car from the first crash was on the shoulder, so traffic was slowly moving forward in both eastbound lanes of I-40.
As Mr. Gamboa approached the site of the first collision, he slowed down with the flow of traffic to safely pass the disabled vehicle on the shoulder. Behind him, the driver of a heavily loaded tractor-trailer chose to disregard the conditions of the roadway and did not slow down as he approached the crash site. The semi crashed into the rear of Mr. Gamboa’s car at a high speed.
The impact hurled Mr. Gamboa’s vehicle off the roadway, and it finally came to a complete stop in the dirt off the right side of the road. The collision killed one of the Gamboa children and caused serious bodily injuries to all other occupants of the vehicle.
Our legal team at McGinn, Montoya, Love & Curry filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Gamboa family against the truck driver, his company and its insurance provider, and several other defendants. We successfully navigated the complex claims and the case was resolved.
Zamora (for Jordan) v. Sunland Construction Inc., et al., New Mexico First Judicial District Court, D-101-CV-2014-02203
When large trucks take to the road, their drivers have an affirmative responsibility to not create hazards for others on the road. The companies that send these vehicles onto our roads have a duty to plan ahead to avoid all risks to other travelers.
On September 3, 2013, a Sunland Construction, Inc. truck traveling north in 70 mph highway traffic attempted a sharp right-hand turn onto a small dirt access road. To accomplish this ill-advised turn, the truck driver swung wide into the left lane, blocking both lanes of traffic and leaving motorists behind him with nowhere to go—except into his semi-trailer. If the trucker had simply approached the turn-off road from the other direction, he would have been able to safely utilize a turn bay rather than create the roadblock/death trap that ensued.
Marc Jordan, who was traveling the speed limit, braked when he saw the tractor-trailer blocking the road but was unable to stop in time. His sedan impacted the back of the truck’s trailer along the center line of the highway. Evidence showed the truck was blocking all northbound traffic as it made its turn. Other vehicles behind Mr. Jordan had to drive into the median and toward oncoming traffic to avoid the same fate. Mr. Jordan died at the scene, a great loss to his wife, family, and many grandchildren.
Despite challenges in the case due to a failure by law enforcement to obtain the names of all witnesses to the crash, a thorough investigation and aggressive prosecution of the claims ultimately led to the successful resolution of the lawsuit.
Martinez v. M&M and Sons, et al., U.S. District Ct., New Mexico, No. 1:12-cv-00811 (MCA/CG)
Multi-ton tractor-trailers have an obligation to be especially careful when transitioning from highway off-ramps into city traffic. On February 1, 2012, an M&M and Sons driver violated this rule. Our client, Jose Martinez, was lawfully traveling northbound on 2nd St. NW when the M&M driver ran a red light and crashed into Mr. Martinez’s vehicle.
Mr. Martinez was lucky to escape with his life but experienced severe injuries, including a broken neck that required fusion with metal hardware. Because of this reckless trucker, he now faces a life of increased medical needs and other challenges. The original settlement offer he received did not account for the scope of the damages. Further, the defendant took the same adversarial approach many insurers do, refusing to consider resolving the case fairly until they knew our attorneys had what it took to litigate. Following expeditious prosecution of Mr. Martinez’s claims, the case was successfully resolved before the trial.
Medical Malpractice $67.3 Million
Wrongful Death $52 Million
Trucking Accident $18.9 Million
Medical Malpractice $9 Million
Medical Malpractice $7.8 Million
Wrongful Death $6 Million
Wrongful death $3.7 Million
Medical Device Defect $2 Million
Wrongful Death Amount is Confidential
We have helped multiple clients find justice after severe truck accidents since our firm was founded in 1985. Our goal is to continue making a real difference in the lives of injury victims and their families. Our attorneys are also skilled investigators, and we have connections to top accident reconstruction experts and medical experts nationwide. Between our promise to give each case the attention it needs and our network of professional consultants, you can be confident we will do what it takes to build a strong case for you.
Perhaps the most tragic thing about most trucking accidents is that they are preventable when companies and drivers dedicate themselves to safe practices. McGinn, Montoya, Love & Curry is dedicated to doing what we can not only to help our victims find justice but also to protect other drivers from suffering similar accidents. Holding a company responsible for bending rules and cutting corners can pressure it to do better in the future, saving lives. We are here to take on these cases that can make a real difference for our state.
Let McGinn, Montoya, Love & Curry help you after a serious truck accident. Call our attorneys at (505) 405-4441 for a free consultation, no matter where you are in New Mexico.
It's All About the Mission
Our goal is to use the law as a force for good. We not only want to achieve the best possible results for our clients, but we strive to create lasting change that makes our world a safer place.
Prepare Every Case for Trial
We believe when you lead with confidence, you've won before you started; therefore, by fighting from a position of strength, we know that cases are more likely to settle for a fair amount.
Because every case is unique, we never apply a one-size-fits-all approach. We take the time to know our clients and prepare personalized strategies that yield the greatest success.
35 Years of Experience
Since 1985, we have been helping ordinary citizens hold insurance companies and corporate wrongdoers accountable, while securing the compensation our clients deserve.