By: Ken Nunn, The Ken Nunn Law Office
Accidents on the road happen. However, there is no excuse for commercial truck drivers, or any drivers for that matter, that decide to operate their vehicles while intoxicated. Accidents involving semi-trucks tend to have even more catastrophic results, such as severe injuries or death, due to their large size and weight. Driving a truck is a difficult job that requires stamina, attention to detail, and an ability to remain calm behind the wheel. When a semi-truck driver chooses to drive drunk, these skills become impaired, creating dangerous repercussions.
If you have been injured or had a loved one killed at the hands of an intoxicated semi-truck driver, you will need an experienced truck accident attorney by your side. Truck accident lawsuits can be complex and difficult to win. That’s why consulting an attorney who has a proven track record in truck accident cases is always in your best interest. Attorney Robert White at Childs, Bishop & White, PC understands the specific challenges that victims of trucking accidents face and can evaluate your specific case to help you know how to proceed.
Identifying Holes in the Trucker Alcohol Testing System
Semi truck drivers are required to hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), which requires one to have knowledge and ability to safely maneuver large vehicles. CDL holders have to abide by a stricter set of safety standards and regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
For instance, semi-truck drivers are subject to federal regulations governing alcohol and substance abuse that prohibit any CDL holder from operating a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .04 percent or greater, which is half the legal limit for normal license holders.
The FMCSA also requires regular and random drug and alcohol testing of truck drivers, however, the system is flawed in that truckers who have been drinking can potentially avoid the tests. The FMCSA has identified two types of truck drivers that tend to bypass this safety system. The first group, known as “job-hoppers,” might fail a test and get fired, but simply go to a new trucking company without reporting their previous employment and why they were dismissed. This can become a vicious cycle that might not stop until someone gets hurt.
The second group consists of truck drivers who aren’t considered an employee of a trucking company. These ‘independent contractors’ are typically required to join a consortium that administers their random alcohol and drug tests. However, if the trucker simply refuses to take the test, the consortium might not always report it to the FMCSA or state officials.
Holding Intoxicated Semi-Truck Drivers Liable
If you have been injured in an accident involving a truck driver who was charged with a DUI, you might consider filing a lawsuit against the driver or trucking company. The damages following a semi-truck accident can be substantial, and victims deserve to be compensated for the trauma they’ve endured. However, it can be difficult to know who is liable and how to hold them legally and financially responsible. This is where a knowledgeable truck accident attorney comes in.
In most truck accident cases, the lawsuit will be brought against the trucking company instead of the driver themselves, since the company is technically responsible for the actions of their employees. In some cases, however, the intoxicated truck driver may be an independent contractor, in which case you could not file against the trucking company. The nature of an independent contractor varies from state to state, but generally, truck drivers who are independent contractors have more control when it comes to how they conduct their job. For instance, if the driver owns the truck, pays for its maintenance, insurance, and fuel, they would be considered an independent contractor.
Either way, any of the possible responsible parties are likely to have their own insurance carrier, none of which will want to pay your claim. Trucking companies and their insurance carriers are masters of manipulation when it comes to trucking accidents, frequently using tactics like claiming the intoxicated driver was an independent contractor, even if their company’s name is on the vehicle. Even worse, many will attempt to somehow blame you for the accident or trivialize your injuries so they can get out of paying.
An aggressive truck accident attorney, like Robert White, knows all these tricks and will not let the trucking or insurance company get away with offering you an unfair settlement. At Childs, Bishop & White, PC, we believe that accident victims can help make the roads a safer place by pursuing their legal rights and holding intoxicated semi-truck drivers and trucking companies liable for their reckless actions.
Speak With A Compassionate Truck Accident Attorney Today
Trucking accidents are serious, especially when the driver was under the influence of alcohol. After an accident of this scale, you need a skilled truck accident lawyer in your corner that can ensure your rights are being protected. There are numerous complex factors that go into proving fault in a trucking accident. Attorney Robert White and his team will evaluate the facts of your accident, and present a strong front to trucking companies and insurance carriers that might try to take advantage of your injuries. Help us hold intoxicated semi-truck drivers accountable for their dangerous decisions. Call our office today at (432) 580-5421 to speak with a truck accident attorney who cares.
About The Author
Ken Nunn is a truck accident lawyer in Bloomington, Indiana. He has been fighting for the injured people of Indiana for over 50 years and is a member of the American Association for Justice, the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, and Indiana State Bar Association.