Commercial vehicle operators transport tons of freight, often over great distances. The dangers of drunk or drugged driving apply to all motorists, but they are especially pronounced when it comes to truck drivers.
California makes driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol a crime for all people operating motor vehicles, but the breath or blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.08 that applies to the operators of passenger vehicles is much lower for commercial drivers. Drug use is usually proven through blood or urine tests that may be conducted in some instances.
When a truck accident victim suspects that a truck driver was impaired, they should certainly make sure that law enforcement officials responding to the crash are made aware of their concerns so that officials can conduct the proper investigation. Truck drivers could face criminal charges in addition to any separate civil actions.
If you suffered catastrophic injuries or your loved one was killed in an truck accident caused by an intoxicated driver in Roseville, you will want to retain legal counsel right away. An experienced personal injury attorney can promptly commence an independent investigation to preserve important evidence in your case.
The Sevey Law Firm can help ensure that you do not miss any applicable legal deadlines that may be important to your case and your rights. Call (916) 788-7100 or fill out an online contact form to have our lawyers review your case and help you understand all of your legal options during a free consultation.
Impaired Driving Laws for Truck Drivers
The 2016 Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes Traffic Safety Facts sheet from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that the 83 alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2016 was a 50.9 percent increase from the 55 drivers in 2015, the largest increase of any category. The California Department of Motor Vehicles reported a total of 2,178 commercial driver administrative per se or “on-the-spot” actions taken in 2013.
Both the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and California state law use blood alcohol concentration limits for commercial drivers that are only half the standard limit. A commercial driver can be deemed to be driving under the influence when they have a BAC of only 0.04.
A commercial driver with a BAC of 0.04 or higher is subject to federal regulation disqualification sanctions. The driver could also face criminal charges.
It is important to understand that the criminal case against an impaired truck driver is completely separate from any civil action. In other words, a truck driver who avoids a conviction for DUI, whether it is through pleading guilty to a lesser charge or simply being found not guilty, can still be held civilly liable.
A good example of this dynamic is the infamous case of former pro football star O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted of murder in the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in a 1995 criminal trial. However, a jury found him liable for their wrongful deaths and awarded the families $8.5 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages in a civil trial.
When a truck driver is convicted of DUI, the conviction may be used as evidence of the driver’s negligence in a civil case. Criminal cases are more common in accidents involving drivers impaired by alcohol, as DUI cases involving drugs are often more difficult to prosecute.
Keep in mind that drug use by truck drivers is not limited strictly to the most common illegal drugs, like marijuana. Many legal prescription drugs can also have side effects that may impact a driver’s ability to operate a commercial vehicle safely.
Contacting an attorney as soon as possible after a truck accident caused by an impaired driver is important because the lawyer can make sure that a driver has undergone all necessary testing to determine the cause of their impairment.
Impaired Driving Truck Accident Injuries
If a truck driver is operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they are much more likely to commit a mistake that could lead to several different kinds of accidents. Some cases may involve a delayed response and failure to brake, such as a rear-end collision, while others could involve failure to recognize traffic signs or signals and lead to intersection crashes.
In these types of accidents, occupants of the motor vehicles will often suffer very serious injuries. Most victims require immediate medical care that can involve very lengthy hospital stays.
Medical expenses quickly become overwhelming for people who suffer certain severe injuries that can involve significant rehabilitation and treatment. Some of the most common kinds of injuries that victims suffer in accidents caused by impaired truck drivers include but are not limited to:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Muscle strains
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Burn injuries
- Nerve damage
- Internal organ damage
When a person is killed because of an impaired truck driver, their family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent parties. Trucking companies or their insurers will usually reach out to the families of victims in fatal crashes soon after accidents to offer lump sum settlements, and these are usually lowball offers that are nowhere near what victims are actually entitled.
Accident victims need to be very cautious with all of the actions that they take after a truck crash. Every person involved in a commercial truck accident should always seek immediate medical attention, even when they do not believe that they were hurt.
If an agent for a trucking company or its insurer ask you to sign any documents at the scene of your accident, you should refuse. Similarly, you should avoid speaking to either of these parties until you have legal representation.
Contact an Impaired Driving Truck Accident Attorney Today
Did you sustain serious injuries or was your loved one killed in a truck accident caused by a driver operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the Roseville area? Do not wait to seek legal representation for help getting justice.
The Sevey Law Firm has handled more than 6,000 cases since 2005 and has recovered millions of dollars for our clients. You can have our lawyers provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (916) 788-7100 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.