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How Do Lawsuits Against Intoxicated Drivers 18-Wheeler Drivers Work?

By: Mike Grossman, Texas Injury Attorney

Holding Drunk Truckers Responsible Isn't Impossible

Truck drivers are like many other jobs out there. They have long hours, they're stressful, driver's spend long periods away from their families, and they have deadlines and time crunches to meet. So like many other people, they like to blow off steam when they get off work, and sometimes this stress relief involves becoming intoxicated. While many truck drivers out there wouldn't dream of operating their big rig under the influence, there are plenty of bad apples in the bushel that give the upstanding ones a bad name. These trucks are difficult enough to drive on their own - which is why it requires extensive training - but driving them under the influence of drugs or alcohol makes them even more unwieldy and dangerous.

In this article, we'll talk about how an attorney can prove that the 18-wheeler driver was intoxicated and who then should be held accountable. Right now, we're going to answer:

  • What happens if I've been hurt by a drunk or intoxicated truck driver?
  • How do I prove the truck driver that hit me was drunk or under the influence?
  • Is the trucking company responsible for the actions of a DUI truck driver?

Getting to the Bottom of Drunk Truck Drivers Accidents

In all the years we've been litigating truck accidents where truck drivers were clearly under the influence or intoxicated, we've yet to see a single one admit to it outright - no matter how much simpler their admission would make things.

This kind denial puts us in the position of proving that the truck driver was intoxicated through other methods. Right off the bat, an experienced attorney will need to dig deep into the evidence surrounding the driver, if the trucking company or law enforcement administered a drug test or toxicology screening after the accident, or even during the course of employment. There are two hurdles to overcome with obtaining a drug of toxicology screening:

  • Getting them: The defendant driver won't simply mail us a copy of his drug test. Your attorney will need to use the legal system to do that---usually by having a court issue a subpoena. Further, if the state police took a tox screen, then your attorney will need to go through the proper channels to make sure it's the official test.
  • Interpreting them: These tests surprisingly don't have "he was drunk" or "she was high" conclusions on them. Instead, they have readings of what percentage of the driver's blood was made up of the intoxicant. Your attorney will almost always need to hire a toxicologist---an expert in interpreting what these numbers mean, and how a person at X percentage would have been impacted by the substance.

Eventually, your lawyer must be able to place the drunk driver under oath and have him answer questions about alcohol and drug use. Because of the 5th Amendment right to silence, this could be difficult. This is why a thorough attorney will get as many witness statements as possible from those at the scene, investigating police officers, and medical personnel who attended to the driver after the accident.

The other way to go about things is to see if the truck driver had any other kind of drug or alcohol related issues with the company, or the law in the past. We've seen many situations where a trucking company turned a blind eye to a driver with a substance abuse history because they could get away with paying them a lower wage. Furthermore, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandates alcohol testing. Nearly every major trucking company is required to test a minimum of ten percent of it's drivers at random for alcohol. If the company behind the driver failed to comply with these FMCSA mandated tests, it could go a long way to show that the trucking company as a whole has a culture of negligence - and could show a jury that the company didn't actually care about safe drivers, just getting a job done.

Further, any bar or restaurant that served the trucker alcohol could also be required to compensate you. Texas law allows your attorneys to sue bars for over-serving patrons under what are known as the Dram Shop Act. To read more about how these cases work, click over to our Comprehensive Guide on Dram Shop Cases.

Time is crucial in Accidents Where Impairment is Suspected

All things considered, drunk driving accidents that involve semi-truckers are invariably complex. Your lawyer will need to sue the driver, his company, and potentially an establishment that sold him alcohol. The attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have been helping accident victims for 25 years, and we can help you.

Want to find out more? Call us at (855) 326-0000 for free advice, and get the relief that you are due.

These sections may also relate to accidents where alcohol is a factor:

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