Commercial truck drivers are required to be responsible on the road — and that includes not driving drunk. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration considers a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or above while operating a commercial vehicle to be drunk driving. This is stricter than the legal limit of 0.08 percent for non-commercial drivers in most states.
A truck driver found driving with this amount of alcohol in their system (whether or not they caused an accident) may lose their license and their right to drive a commercial vehicle. They may also face criminal charges, fines and penalties, and the loss of their job. Even with all this at stake, many truckers still choose to drink and drive.
Unfortunately, drunk driving accidents with truck drivers do occur. Whether they stopped at a bar after a shift or were drinking on the road, a driver who gets into an accident while drunk can be held liable for any damages caused to you or your vehicle. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may also be able to sue the trucking company — and even the bar where drinks were served.
If you were hit by a drunk truck driver, a truck accident lawyer will go after all the responsible parties to make sure you recover the damages you deserve.
Who You Can Sue When Hit by a Drunk Truck Driver
When you get into an accident with a drunk truck driver, the damages are likely to be extensive. The accident may even lead to permanent disfigurement or death. Because of this, you’ll want to pursue every responsible party so you can get all the compensation you’re entitled to.
Depending on the details surrounding your accident, there are several parties you may be able to hold accountable for any damage:
- Truck driver. As the one drinking and driving, the truck driver is the primary party you can sue in the event of an accident. Because driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal everywhere in the country, causing a drunk driving accident means severe penalties no matter where the accident occurred. When you or a loved one has been injured by a truck driver’s negligence, you’ll need to show that the driver’s blood alcohol content was above the legal limit. If the truck driver was killed in the accident, you may have a right to pursue damages from surviving family members.
- Trucking company. In some cases, the trucking company can be held liable for a drunk driving accident. If the truck driver was on duty when the accident occurred, the trucking company may be held vicariously liable for any damages. That’s because when an employee’s accident occurs during the regular course of business (such as when the driver is on the road for a delivery), it’s considered a company accident.
If the accident occured after the employee’s shift was over, the company may not be liable. Trucking companies may also be held responsible if company practices contributed to the accident. If the company employs or keeps a driver on staff who has a history of accidents or driving drunk, the company could be responsible for the actions of the driver.
- Insurance company. You may have the option of suing the insurance company that represents the truck driver or the trucking company. You may be able to get compensation from the insurance company based on the dollar amount of the damages, how severe your injuries are, or if the accident was fatal.
- Business that sold alcohol to the truck driver. Texas is one state that permits dram shop liability lawsuits, which lets victims of a drunk driving accident pursue a legal claim against the restaurant, bar, liquor store, or other business that sold alcohol to the driver. A business may be held liable for property damage, physical injuries, or wrongful death caused by a drunk driver if they served alcohol when the driver was clearly drunk, or served alcohol to a minor who then caused a drunk driving accident.
On the other hand, if they only served one or two drinks to someone and with no clear indications of intoxication, they may not have any responsibility for the accident.
A tractor-trailer accident lawyer can help determine which parties are appropriate to sue in your case and what type of damages you may be able to recover from each.
What Type of Damages Can I Recover?
If you were severely injured in an accident with a drunk truck driver, you may be able to recover a variety of damages. These include:
- Medical expenses, including future medical care and mental health care
- Lost wages or earnings
- Lost future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Funeral and burial expenses
You may also be able to recover punitive damages against the drunk driver. Punitive damages are often awarded both to further punish the drunk driver for bad decisions and to serve as a warning to others to not drink and get behind the wheel.
Why Work with a Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyer?
After an accident, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Between getting needed medical attention, gathering necessary documentation, and contacting insurance companies, it’s a lot to take on. A truck accident lawyer near you can help manage your case so you can focus on your recovery.
A tractor trailer accident lawyer will gather all the necessary medical documentation and police reports, talk to witnesses, and establish that the truck driver was in fact drunk at the time of the crash. This will all be valuable information when it comes to proving that the other driver’s negligence caused your accident.
While it may be tempting to accept a settlement offer and move on from your accident, always talk to a big truck accident lawyer before taking payment from a truck driver, trucking company, or insurance company. Your attorney will make sure that you don’t take a lowball offer and lose out on the full amount of compensation to which you’re entitled.
Because there are time limits for filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, it’s important to contact an attorney soon after your accident to give you as much time as possible to bring your case to court.
How FVF Can Help
Our FVF Austin truck accident lawyers understand how traumatic an accident with a drunk driver can be. Our compassionate team of attorneys is here to support you in the process of seeking recovery for any damages you incurred, whether that’s working out a settlement or bringing your case to court. We offer free, remote consultations so you can decide which option you want to pursue. To schedule your consultation, contact us today.