When Truck Drivers Under the Influence Cause Accidents

February 13, 2024 | Ed Bernstein
When Truck Drivers Under the Influence Cause Accidents

Most of us encounter large commercial trucks daily when we commute to the office. We assume that the drivers of those vehicles are qualified to handle these complicated machines with attention to the road. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. When truck drivers under the influence cause accidents, the consequences can be horrible.

If you've suffered an injury or the tragic loss of a loved one due to an impaired truck driver, you must hire an attorney to get the justice you seek. The following explores the scope of the issue of truck drivers impaired by drug or alcohol use and details how a truck accident lawyer can assist in securing the compensation you rightfully deserve.

Alarming Statistics

When Truck Drivers Under the Influence Cause Accidents

Accidents involving impaired truck drivers are more pervasive than most people realize. There were 52,000 large truck accidents resulting in injuries. Impaired drivers caused nearly seven percent of them, or about 3,640.

The frequency of such incidents raises red flags about the safety of our roads. These aren't just numbers. These statistics represent lives disrupted and families shattered. Recognizing the prevalence is the first step toward acknowledging the urgency of addressing this critical issue.

Substances Fueling the Problem

You might typically associate driver impairment with alcohol use, and with good reason. Researchers found that 19 percent of truck drivers reported a recent episode of binge drinking or consuming five or more drinks within two hours.

But many drivers also choose to get behind the wheel of commercial trucks after using drugs. Of the 4,778 commercial truck drivers involved in fatal crashes, six percent of them (299) tested positive for one or more drugs. That number is probably much higher since 57 percent of drivers didn't undergo drug tests.

Why Do Truckers Drive Drunk?

Several factors contribute to impaired driving among truckers. These include the demanding nature of their job, fatigue, pressure, a lack of trucking company screening measures, and coping mechanisms. Here's a look at each.

The Demanding Nature of the Trucking Industry

With its demands for efficiency and timely deliveries, the trucking industry creates an environment where the pressure to meet deadlines can contribute to impaired driving. The demanding nature of the job requires drivers to navigate challenging conditions, often pushing them to the limits.

Extended Hours on the Road

Extended hours on the road expose truck drivers to fatigue, which affects not only physical well-being but also impairs judgment and reaction times. The combination of long hours and the demanding nature of the job creates a high-risk environment for accidents caused by impaired driving.

Tight Schedules and Delivery Deadlines

The relentless pressure and stress stemming from tight schedules and looming delivery deadlines add complexity. Drivers often must leave their families for weeks, adding even more stress. As they strive to meet stringent demands, stress becomes a potential excuse for using substances as a means of coping.

Some truck drivers may resort to substances to relieve or escape their pressures. Substance use not only jeopardizes their well-being but endangers the safety of everyone on the road.

Lack of Proper Screening and Monitoring Mechanisms

Without stringent measures, drivers with a history of impairment on the job can slip through the cracks. Implementing robust screening and monitoring protocols is not just about catching offenders; it's about creating a culture of accountability and safety within the industry.

The Profound Effects of Truck Drivers Under the Influence

When truck drivers under the influence cause accidents, the impacts on victims can last a lifetime. These impacts include immediate injuries, deaths, and other long-term consequences. These are just a few.

Physical Injuries and Fatalities

Physical Injuries and Fatalities I Truck Driver Under Influence

The aftermath of an accident involving an impaired truck driver includes immediate and severe consequences. Victims endure physical injuries that are often debilitating.

Tragically, accidents often result in fatalities, leaving families shattered and communities mourning. Two percent of truckers involved in fatal accidents had a blood alcohol content level of at least .08 percent, the legal limit in most states.

The Emotional and Psychological Tolls of a Truck Accident

Beyond the physical consequences, there is a lingering trauma that survivors and their families endure. The emotional and psychological toll of being involved in a traumatic incident can have profound and lasting effects on mental well-being.

Injury victims may experience severe mental and emotional issues. Some people, for example, can develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after an accident. PTSD often involves flashbacks that can strike any time of the day or night.

Others may experience severe anxiety and depression because they can no longer take part in their favorite activities. They can get depressed because they can't play their favorite sport or even walk around the neighborhood.

Significant Financial Burdens

The aftermath when truck drivers under the influence cause accidents often bring a cascade of financial burdens for victims. Medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and the loss of income due to injuries sustained in the accident create a complex web of challenges. Property damage adds another layer of financial strain.

All of these financial burdens can make an already stressful situation unbearable. Accident victims must get legal representation as soon as possible to obtain the money they deserve.

How a Truck Accident Attorney Can Help

Seeking legal assistance immediately is essential for truck accident victims and families. A truck accident attorney will be a critical ally, offering guidance and advocacy during a challenging time.

The following explores the scope of the issue of truck drivers impaired by drug or alcohol use and details how a truck accident lawyer can assist in securing the compensation you rightfully deserve.

Investigating the Accident

One of the primary roles of a truck accident attorney is to investigate the accident thoroughly. This involves gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and examining the accident's circumstances to determine liability. Identifying all responsible parties is crucial for pursuing compensation.

While you must do your due diligence when hiring a lawyer, time will be of the essence. Your attorney must investigate as quickly as possible before critical evidence disappears. Rain, for instance, can wash away fresh skid marks. Road crews can repair or replace damaged signs or guardrails.

A truck accident lawyer can obtain other evidence as well, evidence non-lawyers can't access. For example, your attorney can request footage from surveillance cameras to show how the accident happened. They can also get EDR (event data recorder) data from the truck. The EDR data can show how fast the truck traveled, how the brakes and other components worked, and other critical information.

Pursuing Compensation for Injury-Related Losses

Your truck accident attorney's next step after the investigation will be to pursue compensation from those responsible for the accident. These parties can include the impaired truck driver, the trucking company, and other entities.

When truck drivers under the influence cause accidents, they're the most obvious liable parties. But other factors can have contributed to the accident resulting in your injury. Your attorney will also work to hold them accountable to maximize your potential compensation.

Some of the potential parties that may be held liable for playing a role in your accident can include, but are not limited to:

  • The trucking company – The company that owns the truck may have failed to maintain the vehicle properly. They might have ignored worn-out brakes or tires. You can sue the trucking company if that contributed to the wreck.
  • The loading company – Many trucking companies will outsource the loading of their vehicles to third-party businesses. If the company responsible for loading the cargo does a negligent job, that can cause a sudden shift. This shift can cause the truck to roll over during transit.
  • A manufacturer – If the brakes fail because of a defect or some other critical component fails, your truck accident lawyer can take action against the manufacturer.

Dealing with the Trucking Company's Insurance Provider

Trucking company insurance policies are typically one million dollars or more. The stakes are incredibly high when truck drivers under the influence cause accidents. The reason is the injuries associated with truck accidents are usually severe and cost significant money to treat.

So, if you file a lawsuit, you'll be doing so to recover your medical and other accident-related expenses. But you'll go up against extremely formidable opposition when you take legal action. Insurance companies fight fiercely to protect truck policies because so much money is on the line.

How do you fight that opposition? By hiring a skilled truck accident lawyer immediately. They'll counter whatever tactics the insurer tries to deny the compensation you deserve. These are just some of those tactics:

  • Delaying compensation – Insurers care only about protecting their profits. The trucking company's insurance provider might delay paying what you deserve, hoping you'll get desperate and accept less than you deserve. The insurer will probably make a low-ball settlement offer, one that doesn't come close to covering all of your damages.
  • Deflecting blame – The insurance company might try to claim you were responsible for the accident. But if you hire an attorney immediately, they can investigate to gather the evidence needed to show you weren't at fault.
  • Trying to minimize your claim – Insurers routinely attempt to reduce compensation by arguing a victim's injuries didn't occur due to an accident. They also often claim those injuries aren't as severe as the victim says. Your truck accident lawyer can call on medical professionals to show the extent of your injury and how it occurred; when you seek medical help and stick with your doctor's treatment plan, that will go a long way toward defeating this tactic.

Negotiating the Settlement

Navigating the complexities of dealing with the trucking company's insurance provider requires legal experience. Your truck accident attorney will become your voice, communicating with the insurance company on your behalf. They'll protect your rights and pursue a fair settlement.

Settlement talks with insurance companies can be complicated and emotionally charged. You want someone on your side who knows how to deal with those complications and will calmly state your case – and back it with hard evidence.

Will Your Case Go to Trial?

There's a very good chance your attorney and the insurer will reach a middle ground. Only about five percent of personal injury cases go to trial because no one wants to step foot in a courtroom. Insurers usually hate trials because they're so expensive. There's a good chance they'll lose and have to spend even more money.

But if your case happens to be in the minority, your truck accident lawyer will be well prepared to argue on your behalf. They'll use all the collected evidence to prove the wreck wasn't your fault, and you deserve every dollar you demand.

In addition to utilizing expert witnesses to bolster your case, your attorney may summon various professionals to testify. The subsequent exploration delves into a selection of professionals who might provide testimony to enhance the strength of your case:

  • Medical professionals – A medical professional can illustrate the severity of your injury and outline the necessary treatment to aid your recovery. They'll also show how much that treatment will cost, proving your medical damages.
  • Accident reconstructionist – These specialists know how to explain the circumstances of an accident in an easy-to-understand manner. 
  • Financier – If you can't work due to your injury, a financier can show not only your current lost income but also your future lost income. They can explain what you will likely make in salary, bonuses, raises, etc.

Please Speak With a Truck Accident Attorney as Soon as You Can

As you can see, the consequences can be horrific when truck drivers under the influence cause accidents. But if you act quickly to hire a personal injury law firm in Las Vegas, you can rest easy knowing they'll fight for the compensation you have coming.

Even though you're not feeling well physically or emotionally, you must take the time to find the right truck accident attorney. When you do, you'll take the critical steps to secure your financial future. The faster you do so, the better your chances of obtaining equitable compensation.


Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.