Alcohol and Drug Use in Truck Accidents

Tractor-Trailer Crash Attorney Assisting Victims in Knoxville and East Tennessee

A commercial vehicle driven by someone who is impaired by alcohol or drugs becomes a potentially deadly weapon. Due to the devastation that alcohol and drug use may cause, truck drivers who violate federal and state laws should be held accountable. While a criminal case against a driver may have some deterrence value, a trucking company may not feel any sort of deterrent effect unless punitive damages are awarded against it. At the Hartsoe Law Firm, Knoxville truck accident lawyer Mark C. Hartsoe understands how to bring these challenging cases against reckless truck drivers and the corporations that employ them.

Alcohol and Drug Use in Truck Accidents

If a driver of a commercial vehicle has a blood alcohol concentration of .04 or higher in Tennessee, they are considered legally drunk. A commercial driver who commits a first DUI while driving a commercial vehicle is disqualified from driving commercial trucks for at least a year, or three years if the driving involved hazardous materials. People who receive a second DUI while driving a commercial vehicle are technically disqualified from driving commercial vehicles for life, but this period may be reduced to 10 years.

Under FMCSA regulations, trucking companies are supposed to conduct background checks of the truck drivers whom they employ. A DUI or drug-related arrest or conviction should raise a red flag for an employer. However, some trucking companies look the other way and hire drivers who are not fit to operate a heavy truck or who have lost their commercial license.

If a drunk or drugged truck driver causes an accident, their employer may be held directly liable under a theory of negligent hiring, negligent training, or negligent supervision. These theories hold a company responsible for failing to observe standards of reasonable care in choosing its drivers, training them, and supervising them. We can request employment records, including hiring, training, supervision, and retention policies, during the discovery process. The FMCSA strictly requires trucking companies to keep detailed records about their drivers.

In most truck accident cases, victims may receive compensatory damages. These are damages intended to make the victim whole, such as compensation for wage loss, household services, medical bills, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering. However, in a truck accident case that involves alcohol and drug use, a victim may be able to ask for and receive punitive damages. These are damages that are awarded to punish and deter defendants for engaging in egregious conduct. The amount awarded varies from case to case, depending on how serious the misconduct involved was and how wealthy the defendant is.

Retain Knoxville Truck Accident Lawyer Mark C. Hartsoe

There may be both criminal and civil consequences for alcohol and drug use by commercial drivers. You may be able to recover compensation in a civil case even if a truck driver was not convicted of a DUI. If you were hurt by a truck driver's alcohol or drug use, you should consult a Knoxville truck accident attorney who knows the special rules that commercial drivers must follow. Call the Hartsoe Law Firm at (865) 524-5657 or contact us via our online form for a free appointment with a motor vehicle collision lawyer. We represent people throughout East Tennessee, including in Knox, Blount, Monroe, Loudon, Jefferson, Grainger, Cocke, Campbell, Hamblen, Greene, Anderson, Cumberland, and Fentress Counties.

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