When commercial vehicle drivers get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the resulting damages can be devastating. Truck driver intoxication accidents in Johnstown are some of the most devastating and deadly vehicle collisions that occur.
If you or a loved one were harmed in a collision with a semi-truck driver and believe he or she was intoxicated at the time of the wreck, you could have grounds for a legal claim. Consider speaking with a skilled Johnstown truck crash attorney about filing a claim for damages.
Although alcohol is the most common cause of driver intoxication, other substances can also result in impairment. While medicinal marijuana is not illegal to take, a truck driver is not allowed to operate a semi while under the influence of those substances as it too can impact a driver’s reaction time. Furthermore, illegal drugs, such as cocaine, recreational marijuana, or heroin are also known to cause driver intoxication and should not be taken by commercial vehicle drivers while they are behind the wheel.
A significant issue that is becoming more common is intoxication by prescription pain medications such as Suboxone or Oxytocin. These are taken for narcotic pain but can result in driver impairment. Medical providers can also potentially be liable for dispensing these medications to a person who should not have them.
In Pennsylvania, a person can be intoxicated by alcohol or other controlled substances such as drug or prescription medications, even those lawfully prescribed. The key element is whether the substance impairs the person’s ability to drive.
For alcohol, if a truck driver has a blood alcohol level of over 0.08 percent, he or she is automatically considered impaired and would be cited for driving under the influence. In addition to criminal liability, a truck driver could face civil liability in Johnstown if he or she caused a collision with another motorist.
However, unlike alcohol, there is no strict guidance that deems a driver is impaired by a legal drug. These claims involve an analysis of the actual impairment caused by the substance. For instance, if the substances slows a driver’s reaction time or makes him or her unable to maintain his or her lane, the truck driver could be considered intoxicated.
Even if a truck driver is lawfully prescribed a medication, he or she could be considered intoxicated if the medicine impairs his or her ability to operate a commercial vehicle. This also applies to illegal substances.
Trucking companies are required to ensure that drivers are not operating large semis while impaired. These companies must conduct screenings of truck drivers to make sure they have not used reactional drugs in the past as a prerequisite to receiving a commercial driver’s license. Failure to uphold these regulations by either the driver or the company could result in a collision for which both parties can be held liable in Johnstown.
However, in addition to the negligent truck driver and his or her employer, the facility that served the alcohol could be held liable under the dram shop theory. Under this theory, if a bar or licensed establishment serves alcohol to a person who is visibly intoxicated at the time he or she is served, the facility could be legally liable for any harm that individual then causes as a result of intoxication. This can be proven through video surveillance showing the truck driver being served in a bar after demonstrating signs of intoxication, as well as witness testimony.
Due to the severity of these wrecks, the recoverable damages could be substantial. Additionally, since there is an egregious nature to this conduct, a claimant could potentially seek punitive damages in addition to the regular compensable damages.