Alcohol and drug abuse is a problem on our roads regardless of whether the driver is operating a compact car or a large commercial semi-tractor trailer but the ramifications of driving a truck under the influence can be much more severe. The size and weight of trucks made them capable of doing catastrophic amounts of damage to other vehicles on the road during collisions and accidents, and because truck drivers travel in congested fast-moving traffic, these crashes can involve multiple vehicles and victims. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system and the process through which truck companies are screening drivers both fail to provide the justice and compensation victims and their families deserve following a drunken driving truck accident.
Drug and Alcohol Use by Truck Drivers is a Substantial Factor in Serious Accidents
While it is considered to be a criminal offense to operate a commercial vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, many truck drivers can find legal loopholes that allow them to operate a commercial vehicle again. It is up to trucking companies to screen their employees and avoid the hire of drivers who have histories of driving while under the influence. Currently, almost five percent of truck accidents involve a driver under the influence of banned or controlled substances, and an additional four percent include drivers with blood alcohol concentrations over .08% percent.
Even the consumption of alcohol in smaller amounts has a marked effect on the ability of a driver to react quickly and to make good decisions. Even at a blood alcohol content of .04%— half of the legal limit in Illinois— drivers have shown delayed reaction times and an increase in erratic and reckless behaviors (look here for discussion on drunk driving accidents). Trucking companies could drastically reduce the number of incidents on the road involving drugs and alcohol by refusing to hire drivers who have had prior offenses and to perform random drug and alcohol screenings in order to remove irresponsible drivers from our roads.
Liability in a Truck Accident Involving an Impaired Driver
While it is the responsibility of the driver to abide by the law and operate his or her vehicle in a safe manner that does not endanger others, it is also the responsibility of the employer to take preventive actions to ensure drivers are not operating under the influence. Criminal charges often fall short of offering the victims and their families justice due to the fact that drivers are often able to seek probation or operate commercial vehicles following a brief suspension.
Therefore, many victims and their families seek financial restitution not only as a means of being compensated for the cost of medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering; but also as a means of punishing the driver for his or her reckless and negligent actions.
In addition, trucking companies themselves may be held liable for the actions of their drivers and for knowingly employing drivers who have histories of involvement in accidents where drugs or alcohol are a factor. If the driver has been caught operating under the influence in the past, there is an even stronger case to be made for holding his or her employer accountable for his or her actions when drinking or drug abuse results in debilitating injuries or the loss of life.
The Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represent clients who have been injured due to the negligent and irresponsible acts of other individuals and corporations in commercial trucking accident lawsuits. If you have been injured in a truck accident and learned that the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our qualified truck accident attorneys and we will be happy to evaluate the details of your case with you, answer any questions that you have about your legal options and the process of litigation and perform our own investigation into the matter to determine whether you have a case against the driver responsible for your injuries as well as his or her employer.
We understand that you have plenty to worry about already and do not wish to impose any additional financial burdens on you or your family, so we will never require payment upfront, or at all, until we are able to secure compensation on your behalf.