Truck drivers are already dangerous enough. Like others on the road, they can be distracted by texting on their phones or fiddling with their radio controls. Truckers are also notorious for staying behind the wheel even though they’re too exhausted to do so safely. But when they’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they pose an even higher risk to everyone around them. Alcohol and drug use affects semi-truck drivers in a variety of different ways and can easily cause an accident. This is the case whether the roads are in perfect condition or they’re wet, snowy, or icy.
If you’ve been severely injured or suffered the tragic loss of a loved one due to an intoxicated or high truck driver, getting legal help will be critically important. The law firm of Penn Kestner & McEwen will fight passionately on your behalf to hold that truck driver – and any other parties that played a role in causing the accident – accountable for the suffering you’ve had to endure.
Please get in touch with us as soon as you can to learn more about how we may be of assistance. You can use our online contact form, or you can call (800) 732-3070.
To say the prevalence of drug and alcohol use among truckers is scary is probably an understatement. According to one study, an astounding 30% of them admitted to having abused amphetamines while behind the wheel. It’s not at all a stretch to imagine the real numbers are much, much higher.
Alcohol use is just as concerning, with about 20% of drivers saying they sometimes binge drink, while about 10% say they drink every day. Again, these are just drivers who admit they use alcohol on a regular basis. But if “only” 20% binge drink, that means if you’re on a highway with five semi-trucks, there’s a better than zero chance that one of the drivers is either in the middle of a binge or just coming off of one.
Of course, there are strict governmental regulations in place that forbid the use of drugs or alcohol when a driver is on duty. The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has had them in place for more than 30 years. Drivers are subjected to random testing on a regular basis.
Specifically, according to FMCSA regulation 49 CFR 382.107, drivers must not consume alcohol or be under the influence within four hours of operating a truck or going on duty. They are also forbidden from having any alcohol in their system while they’re behind the wheel.
But drivers continue to flaunt that and other rules, choosing to not only risk the lives of other motorists but risk their own lives as well. These are just a few of the ways alcohol and drug use affects semi-truck drivers.
The obvious answer to this, of course, is the truck driver. But the trucking company that employs that driver could also be held liable. They might not have done a good job of vetting the driver before hiring them. Or, they simply overlooked the fact that the driver had a history of DUI arrests.
Even if the company did nothing wrong, you could still sue them due to the legal theory of “indirect liability.” This means that employers can sometimes be held accountable for the careless actions of their employees.
Alcohol and drug use affects semi-truck drivers and victims (of course). Its involvement can also have an effect on your case’s value. It could have a profound impact on the amount of compensation you could receive. Victims often require extensive medical treatment and also incur lost wages because they can no longer work. These financial losses are known as “damages” in legal terms. If you’re filing a lawsuit, you’ll be doing so in an effort to recover your damages.
But in instances of so-called “gross negligence,” a victim may be able to claim punitive damages. These are damages that are sometimes awarded by a judge or jury for behavior to further punish the at-fault party. Drunk driving will sometimes fall into this category. The amount of compensation available through punitive damages is almost always much higher than through other forms of damages.
It’s very important, however, to know punitive damages are rarely awarded.
A truck accident case can be incredibly complex, so you’ll need to speak with an attorney as soon as you can because your legal representative is going to have to conduct an investigation as quickly as possible.
There are two reasons why time will be of the essence. First, the investigation will help your attorney gather the evidence needed to make your case as strong as possible and to determine all potentially liable parties. Second, this evidence can quickly disappear due to weather, changing road conditions, and other factors.
Again, time is of the essence. Contact Penn Kestner & McEwen online or call (800) 732-3070 for a free consultation.s