If you or a loved one have suffered an injury in an accident with a drunk truck driver, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. Drunk drivers operating a semi-truck violate a number of state and federal laws and regulations, and you can hold their employer responsible. Contact a Greenville truck accident lawyer at Dan Pruitt Law Firm to learn more about your legal rights.
Truck drivers can present an extreme danger to everyone else around them when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Even under the best circumstances, trucks are difficult to handle by the most experienced drivers. When a truck is involved in an accident, the injuries will likely be more severe, given how large the truck is.
Signs of an Intoxicated Truck Driver
Although motorists may be unable to avoid an accident with a drunk truck driver, they should know the signs that an operator may be intoxicated, including:
- Unpredictable lane changes
- Tailgating too close to vehicles
- Driving well above or far below the speed limit
- Hugging the centerline
Motorists who see this conduct should immediately contact law enforcement to report the truck driver. This call can save other lives.
There Are Very Strict Rules About Truck Drivers and Alcohol Consumption
Truck drivers have a much lower threshold for DUI than other motorists. Under federal law, truck drivers are considered under the influence if they have a blood alcohol content over .04. For the average male, two drinks are enough to exceed this limit. The penalties for the individual driver who is caught driving drunk are significant. The punishment depends on the state because that is the jurisdiction that grants the CDL. In South Carolina, a truck driver who breaks the law will lose their CDL for one year. The penalty triples if they were transporting hazardous materials when they were under the influence.
The Trucking Company Has Its Own Legal Obligations
The federal government also has its own strict rules that govern what a trucking company must do to prevent drunk truck driving. Under federal law, drivers are not allowed to consume alcohol within four hours of going on duty.
The main preventative obligations are a strong testing program and immediate action that the trucking company must take if a driver’s test for alcohol comes back with an illegal level. If the trucking company learns that a driver has a BAC above the legal limit, it must immediately remove the driver from performing safety-sensitive functions. The trucking company should not wait for a written test result because time is critical.
The truck driver must complete the following before they can return to duty:
- An evaluation by a substance abuse counselor
- Participation in a prescribed treatment program
- Passing an alcohol test with a BAC of less than .02.
The trucking company must have a robust random testing program. If one of its drivers was involved in an accident with bodily injury, the trucking company must test its driver for alcohol within eight hours of the accident. If alcohol were suspected in the crash, a personal injury lawyer will seek information about both the trucking company’s testing program as a whole and the testing record of the particular driver involved in the crash.
You Can Sue the Trucking Company for the Actions of Its Driver
The trucking company can be held legally accountable for the actions of its drivers under a number of theories. First, a business is responsible for the actions of its employees that occurred within the scope of their employment. A truck driver is an agent of the trucking company, and it does not change because the truck driver made their own choice to break the law.
In addition, the trucking company can be liable for its own negligence in hiring and retaining the driver. The trucking company must check the driver’s history before hiring them, including whether they have any alcohol-related convictions. The trucking company is required to have drug and alcohol testing programs with random examinations. If the trucking company learns that its driver broke federal regulations, it must take action against the driver.
Drunk Driving Settlements and Awards Can Be Considerable
Drunk driving accidents involving truckers can result in large settlements or jury awards. The trucking company wants to avoid a jury that may respond harshly to what the driver did. As a seriously injured accident victim or someone who lost a loved one to a drunk driver, you may make a sympathetic plaintiff in the eyes of the jury.
Nonetheless, you will need an experienced lawyer to fight for all the compensation that you deserve after the accident. If you took less than you are owed, the trucking company might get off lightly, especially when they knew about the driver’s history of drinking.
Contact a Greenville Truck Accident Lawyer Today
If you have suffered an injury from an intoxicated truck driver, you need an aggressive and fearless attorney on your side. Your case may be worth a large amount of money, but it takes toughness to get the money that you deserve from the insurance company. At Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm, we are in your corner when the insurance company does not pay you the full amount they owe. You can speak with a truck accident attorney today when you call us at (864) 280-7660 or contact us online.
Truck Accident Case FAQs
Does it matter if the truck driver is criminally charged?
You can still receive financial compensation regardless of whether the truck driver was convicted or not. The two legal processes have different standards of proof necessary to show responsibility.
How will my lawyer obtain testing results and trucking company records?
If you file a lawsuit, you can access these records during the discovery phase of the case.
Can I get punitive damages against the trucking company?
If you can prove that the trucking company knowingly broke the law, you may be in a position to receive punitive damages as ordered by the jury.