The risks associated with driving under the influence are well-known. However, many motorists forego the warnings and decide to drive drunk anyways.
Driving a truck requires a high level of accuracy and concentration. When a trucker is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, their ability to operate the vehicle safely is greatly affected. If a truck driver decides to operate their commercial vehicle while intoxicated, they could cause severe, life-threatening harm to others sharing the road.
If you were hurt in a drunk driving truck accident in Columbus, or if a family member was fatally injured in such a collision, you may be eligible to bring a lawsuit against the trucker and their employer. Our truck accident attorneys could help you seek justice against the reckless parties that caused your harm.
Truckers Must Use Utmost Care
Commercial trucks are dangerous vehicles, even in skilled hands. They outweigh most passenger vehicles by as much as 40 to one, have substantial blind spots on all four sides, require considerable time to come to a complete stop, and are prone to rollovers. A trucker must use the utmost care to keep the vehicle under control and protect the safety of others on the road.
Because large trucks are so dangerous, truckers must meet high safety standards. They require extensive training and must comply with strict work rules governing how many hours they may drive in a day, how many days they can drive in a week, and the frequency and duration of breaks.
Stricter standards apply to truckers when it comes to alcohol consumption as well. Although a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the legal limit for most drivers, .04 is the legal limit for a person holding a commercial driver’s license. If you believe that a drunk truck driver caused your accident, our Columbus attorneys could advise you of your legal options.
Testing Over the Limit is Negligence Per Se
An injured person seeking damages after a truck accident must prove negligence, which requires showing that someone acted without the caution a reasonable person would have applied in a similar situation. A trucker driving a rig with a BAC of .04 or more violates a safety law. Doing so is negligence per se, meaning that our attorneys may only need to present proof of driving over the limit to demonstrate that the trucker was negligent.
In many cases, the police investigating a Columbus drunk driving truck accident may test the trucker for alcohol and drugs. If the police do not obtain a sample or the trucker refuses to undergo a chemical test, federal law requires the trucker’s employer to collect a blood sample if:
- Someone was killed in the crash
- Any involved vehicle is undrivable after the wreck, and the truck driver got a ticket for a moving violation
- Someone involved in the accident required emergency transportation to the hospital, and the truck driver received a moving violation
Even if the driver was not over the legal limit for commercial truckers, or if no test was done, a legal professional could investigate to determine whether alcohol use had a role in the accident. They could determine whether the driver had alcohol in the truck or drank while on a break by subpoenaing in-cab video, credit card receipts, and other evidence. Any evidence of alcohol use by a truck driver while or shortly before operating their rig might be evidence of negligence.
Possible Punitive Damages
Trucking companies may be held legally responsible for the negligent acts of their employees. When a truck is involved in a crash, the trucking company’s commercial insurance policy may cover a victim’s damages.
Any costs a truck accident victim incurs due to their injuries could be reimbursed through compensatory damages. Examples include medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, mental health counseling, personal services, home renovations to accommodate a wheelchair or walker, lost wages, and reduced future earning capacity.
An accident victim also could receive compensation for their personal losses. The trucking company may pay damages for an injured person’s disfigurement, disability, emotional anguish, physical pain, lost enjoyment of life, and other reductions in their quality of life.
If a truck driver was drunk when they caused an accident in Columbus, an injured party could seek punitive damages, sometimes called exemplary damages. Punitive damages punish the responsible party for outrageous or intentional conduct. Ohio Revised Statutes §2315.21 allows an injured person to collect punitive damages if their attorney could prove that the trucker acted maliciously.
Generally, punitive damages awards may be no more than twice the injured party’s compensatory damages. If the defendant is a small business, as described in the law, punitive damages cannot exceed ten percent of the business’s net worth.
Discuss Your Drunk Driving Truck Accident in Columbus with an Attorney
Not only is drunk driving highly illegal, but it also has the potential to inflict catastrophic harm. If you were injured in a drunk driving truck accident in Columbus, you could hold the driver and their employer accountable for your harm.
Speak to the lawyers at O’Connor Acciani & Levy CO. today to explore your legal options. You have a limited time to act, so do not delay. Contact our firm today to get started.