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Taillight Lamps and a Trucking Accident in New Mexico

Understanding Liability Regarding Taillight Lamps and a Trucking Accident in New Mexico

We recently wrote about headlight defects and trucking accident, explaining how dangerous this defect can be.  Essentially, it can turn a large truck in to an invisible battering ram at night.  Many headlight defects prevent other vehicles and pedestrians from seeing the oncoming truck in order to be able to avoid it.  Many of the reasons were due to a failure to perform proper maintenance, manufacturer defects, and inspection issues.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has specific regulations regarding headlights and ensuring they work, as does New Mexico statutory law.  But another serious issue other than headlights are taillight lamps and a trucking accident in New Mexico.

This issue was recently addressed in a New Mexico Supreme Court decision which reviewed a criminal matter and a ticket for an allegedly defective taillight.  The decision has ramifications for plaintiff’s and victims of motor vehicle accidents too because of the doctrine of negligence per se, which allows a victim to hold a defendant liable for a statutory violation which was meant to protect the class of victim from a certain class of harms.  

The decision found that taillights do not need to be in “perfect condition” in order for them to be compliant with the New Mexico statute.  This means that the headlights do not need to be working 100% or fully functioning, only that they satisfy the statute’s requirement that they be in “good working order” and emit light that is visible from at least 500 feet away.

What Does this Mean for Taillight Lamps and a Trucking Accident Victim?

This decision makes it easier for a defendant in a criminal matter to skirt a ticket, but it does not work to make our roadways safer.  In fact, it allows defendants in motor vehicle accidents such as large commercial truck drivers another way to get out of liability.  This makes it much more dangerous because, even if a dim glow is visible from 500 feet away, a truck driver may be able to avoid a negligence per se approach.

Negligence per se is an important legal doctrine because it allows an injured victim to automatically prove liability by virtue of a statutory violation occurring.  That is a huge step to protecting rights for a victim and helping him or her obtain compensation.

By defeating a negligence per se argument, a defendant can now force a victim to argue pure negligence.  That is, whether a truck driver’s actions were reasonable under the circumstances in having a defective taillight.  That can make it harder for a victim to prove a case.  It also forces a victim to go to court to prove the case.  This makes it more expensive and difficult for an injured victim, and the defect does not necessarily comply with the spirit of the statute.

Hurt in a Crash Involving Taillight Lamps and a Trucking Accident?  We Can Help

If you or a loved one were seriously injured or if a loved one was wrongfully killed in a crash involving taillight lamps and a trucking accident in New Mexico, call the experienced Albuquerque trucking accident lawyer at the Caruso Law Offices, P.C. to learn how we can help you during a FREE consultation by dialing (505) 883-5000.  

We handle causes throughout New Mexico, including Las Cruces, Santa Fe, Roswell, Cuervo, Rio Rancho, Clovis, Farmington, Hobbs, Albuquerque where our office is located, and anywhere else throughout New Mexico.  Please call to schedule for FREE appointment by dialing (505) 883-5000 or contact us through our website’s easy to use and convenient contact box available here.