Drivers in Santa Fe and Albuquerque encounter 18-wheelers on a regular basis. These can be as much as 20 times heavier than the average passenger vehicle. Therefore, getting into an accident with a semi-truck often results in catastrophic injuries or death. Below are the five most common causes of accidents between large trucks and passenger vehicles.

The first is driver error, but this largely means error on the part of passenger vehicle drivers. One study found that only in 22% of cases is the trucker at fault. Errors include driving drowsy, distracted, drunk and drugged. Motorists should keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front and never assume that other drivers are watching out for their safety.

The next two factors are poor vehicle maintenance and equipment failure. The latter is usually not the trucker’s fault but rather the manufacturer’s or the installer’s. As for the former, this results from truck driver negligence. Truckers are supposed to inspect their rig at the beginning of each shift.

Fourth, inclement weather plays a large role in truck accidents. It’s more dangerous for truckers to speed on wet or snowy roads because of their weight and longer stopping distances. Lastly, tip-overs from improperly loaded cargo are all too common in large truck accidents. Cargo may even spill out, endangering drivers behind it.

Even when a truck collision was clearly the fault of the trucker, a victim may find it difficult to file a claim and be compensated for their medical expenses, lost wages and other losses. Trucking companies usually have a team of lawyers to fight claims or get victims to settle for less than they deserve. It may be wise, then, for a victim to have legal representation of their own. Crash investigators may come in to prove the trucker’s negligence or recklessness.