Drinking & Driving Truck Drivers

Drinking & Driving Truck Drivers

Tractor-trailers are critical to the United States economy, moving raw materials and consumer goods over hundreds and thousands of miles. Unfortunately, commercial trucks are larger and heavier than most vehicles and pose a more serious risk to other motorists. This is especially true when a truck driver is intoxicated. Truckers have a commercial driver’s license and must drive with a higher duty of care than other drivers. If the truck driver operates their rig while drunk, a serious or fatal truck accident can happen.

If an intoxicated truck driver has injured you, you should take legal action. With the help of a Bakersfield truck accident attorney, you can receive fair compensation for your injuries and other damages.

How Common Are Drinking And Driving Truck Accidents?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) studied factors contributing to tractor-trailer accidents, known as the Large Truck Crash Causation Study. The FMCSA states the factors related to large truck crashes, how important each is, and the number of crashes related to each factor. The study shows that truck driver intoxication is a major factor in crashes:

  • OTC truck drivers were involved in 25,000 crashes due to drug use.
  • Illicit drug use by truckers played a major role in 3,000 truck accidents.
  • Drunk truck drivers contributed to 1,000 large truck accidents in the study.

A study also shows that drug and alcohol use among truck drivers is a serious, chronic problem. Truckers often rely on drugs and alcohol on the road to relieve stress and boredom. They spend many lonely hours on the road, and the temptation of illegal drug and alcohol use may be too much. Another study shows that trucking deaths in eight US states over a year found that 65 percent of fatally injured truck drivers had at least one drug in their system. About 32 percent had traces of alcohol or drugs in their bloodstream.

Commercial DUI Laws In The United States

Drinking And DrivingCommercial truck drivers in the US must follow the Department of Transportation (DOT) guidelines for commercial drivers, which include regular drug and alcohol screening tests. Screening tests are required before the trucker is hired and randomly during employment. Truckers are also subject to the following drug and alcohol checks:

  • When they apply for a commercial trucking job.
  • An experienced truck accident attorney may secure full compensation for your medical bills and other losses if an intoxicated truck driver hits you.
  • Truckers undergo unannounced random drug and alcohol checks. Upon selection for testing, they must proceed to the testing location immediately. Delaying a test is the same as refusing or testing positive.
  • Trained supervisors can order the truck driver to be tested for drugs or alcohol if they exhibit signs of being under the influence.
  • After completing the ”return-to-duty” steps following suspension, drivers can undergo a drug or alcohol test.

Truck drivers have more stringent rules governing alcohol consumption while driving their trucks. The blood alcohol content (BAC) that is legal for commercial truckers is just .04 percent, which is half of the .08 percent limit for other drivers. If a commercial truck driver’s driver’s BAC is .04 percent or higher, they can face arrest for DUI. Truck drivers cannot drink alcohol within four hours of operating their rigs. They also are not allowed to be under the influence of alcohol when they are working.

If convicted of commercial DUI, the driver can lose their CDL for at least a year. Commercial truck drivers can also face removal from the road for failing a chemical test. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that if a trucker refuses to submit a drug or alcohol test, it’s the same as testing positive.

After being arrested for DUI, a commercial truck driver must attend an administrative hearing regarding their CDL. The administrative process can result in a suspended license even if the trucker is never found guilty of DUI. Even if the truck driver is found guilty of DUI in their vehicle, their commercial driver’s driver’s license can face suspension.

A truck driver can face criminal and civil penalties for causing an intoxicated accident. If the accident caused injuries, they can face jail time and fines. Also, you may be eligible to file a civil lawsuit against the driver and, potentially, their employer.

Who Is Liable For A Drunk Truck Driver Crash?

You can have severe damages and injuries after a truck crash with your passenger vehicle. A truck crash can cause permanent injuries, disability, and disfigurement. Such a devastating experience may make you wonder if you can sue for damages. Absolutely:

The Truck Driver

Truckers are usually the major liable parties in drunk driving crashes. They are the ones who choose to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel. Alcohol and driving never mix, but this is especially true with huge tractor-trailers weighing up to 80,000 pounds. Alcohol lowers brain function, coordination, judgment, and reasoning. It also affects the driver’s driver’s muscle coordination and makes driving a large truck safely harder. Your attorney will attempt to prove with documented and eyewitness evidence that the trucker was legally intoxicated and injured you.

Trucking Carrier

Truck accidentIn many drunk truck driving accidents, you may be allowed to sue the carrier for your losses. The respondeat superior legal doctrine may be important in an intoxicated truck driver case. In many cases, the truck driver’s employer can be liable for the actions of its drivers during the scope of their work. If the truck driver is an employee of the carrier and injures you while performing their duties, the carrier can be responsible for paying you damages.

Determining whether the trucker was working when the crash happened in an intoxicated truck driver case. The employer is likely liable if the driver was engaged in their duties during the DUI accident.

However, the employer may not be responsible if the trucker leaves work early and is off the clock when the crash happens. In this case, you can file a truck accident lawsuit against the trucker. An experienced truck accident attorney can review the case to determine whether the trucker was within or outside the scope of work when the crash happened.

Truck Owner

The truck owner can be a different person than the driver. For example, some truckers are independent contractors and drive a truck belonging to another party. If the driver was drunk, it might be possible to sue the truck owner for negligence.

Cargo Loading Company

The truck driver may be drunk, but the contracting company perhaps improperly loaded the cargo. There can be more than one reason a truck crash occurs. Your attorney will review the accident circumstances to determine all factors contributing to the crash.

Truck Maintenance Company

Your attorney will determine negligent maintenance and drunk driving. Trucking companies and drivers are required to maintain their trucks regularly. But many fail to do so to save on the bottom line.

Recovering Compensation In A Drunk Truck Driving Crash

If an intoxicated truck driver hits you, an experienced truck accident lawyer can secure full compensation for your medical bills and other losses. Your attorney will immediately investigate the accident by obtaining important documentation, such as police reports, tickets issued, and results from drug and alcohol tests given by the police or employer.

Collecting other important evidence can help prove that the truck driver was intoxicated. There can be surveillance, security, or cell phone footage of the accident. Your attorney may also subpoena the truck’s black box data on the rig’s Event Data Recorder. The lawyer will also obtain sworn statements from you and eyewitnesses.

A key issue involved in many intoxicated truck driver cases is the driver’s driver’s history. If the carrier employed a driver with a history of drunk driving, they can be held liable for negligence. Obtaining a settlement or jury award for a drunk truck driver accident involves showing these factors:

  • The truck driver and/or employer are responsible for the truck accident. For example, if the truck driver was drunk and ran you off the road, both the trucker and employer can be liable for the accident.
  • The truck accident caused your injuries.
  • Your truck accident injuries entitle you to compensation for the damages they caused.

Truck Accident Compensation Importantly, the truck driver does not have to be convicted of drunk driving for you to obtain compensation. However, a commercial DUI will certainly aid your cause. Usually, the truck accident attorney will demonstrate evidence that the driver caused the truck crash because they were intoxicated and violated other traffic rules. Showing that the driver got a DUI will be strong evidence that their negligence caused your injuries.

Your attorney may also work with accident reconstruction specialists to explain how the crash happened. They may also work with life care planners and actuaries to show you the full compensation you can be due as a seriously injured truck accident victim.

What To Do After A Drunk Truck Driver Accident

After a crash you suspect was caused by a drunk truck driver, time is of the essence. The trucking company and its insurance company will probably send a representative to investigate and gather evidence. Your chances of a substantial recovery rise dramatically by taking the following actions:

Do Not Speak To Trucker’s Trucker’s Insurance Company

The trucking company’s insurance provider will look for any reason to shortchange you on a claim. It will try to use what you say against you. If the insurance company for the trucking carrier calls you, don’t talk to them.

Get Medical Attention

You need to prove your injuries, and the truck driver’s driver’s negligence caused them. Getting quick medical attention is critical to prove your case. Showing that you have serious injuries in a drunk truck driver claim may encourage the insurance company to offer a fair financial settlement.

Retain An Attorney Immediately

Any plaintiff with serious accident injuries should retain a truck accident attorney. This is even more important when the defendant is an intoxicated truck driver. The trucking company has a commercial insurance carrier that will work tirelessly to reduce or eliminate their potential liability for the accident. Your attorney will issue subpoenas to preserve evidence and uncover the cause of the accident.

Also, your attorney will negotiate aggressively with the insurance company for the best settlement. The insurance company knows that their driver was intoxicated and you have serious injuries. They will be more willing to offer a fair financial settlement if you have an aggressive attorney representing you from the start of the case.

Potential Compensation In A Drunk Truck Driver Case

Truck accidents often lead to horrific injuries, so settlements and jury verdicts tend to be on the higher end. However, cases vary widely based on the severity of injuries. Some of the compensation you can qualify for in your drunk truck driver claim are:

  • Medical bills: You may be entitled to compensation for all reasonable medical expenses in the past, present, and future. This includes hospital stays, surgeries, prescription drugs, rehabilitation, and other future medical needs until you reach maximum medical improvement.
  • Lost earnings: If the truck crash has caused you to miss work, you can receive compensation for lost work time. If your injuries are long-term or permanent, you can receive money for lost earning potential. Some injuries are so serious that the plaintiff cannot work in their previous job.
  • Property damage: You may receive compensation to replace your extensively wrecked car.
  • You also may be entitled to non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish. The severity of truck crash injuries can result in considerable physical pain and emotional distress.

Your attorney will fully understand the value of your case in terms of economic and non-economic damages. Then, they will pursue the most compensation in a settlement or lawsuit. The trucker’s intoxication can expedite and increase your compensation.

Speak To A Truck Accident Attorney Today

Car Accident Attorney, Mickey Fine

Mickey Fine, Truck Accident Lawyer

Did an intoxicated truck driver injure you? There is no excuse for a commercial truck driver to drink and drive. Truckers are supposed to drive more carefully and cautiously than other drivers, so speak to a truck accident attorney to pursue legal

action. You can receive compensation for your medical bills, rehabilitation, lost income, pain and suffering, and property damages. Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer today for more information.

Truck Accident
by Mickey Fine Law
Last updated on - Originally published on