Even without a full load of cargo, commercial tractor trailers can weigh tens of thousands of pounds and cause immense damage to any other vehicle with which they collide. For this reason and many others, commercial truck drivers are subject to even stricter standards than operators of commuter cars, and their employers may bear liability for significant financial compensation if one of their employers causes a wreck while driving drunk.
Intoxicated truck driver accidents in State College can make for complicated legal cases in spite of the seemingly obvious negligence involved. Therefore, working with a qualified State College truck collision attorney with experience handling these kinds of cases could ensure you put the best foot forward in seeking the financial restitution you deserve.
Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules, commercial truck drivers are considered under the influence of alcohol if they get behind the wheel with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 or higher. For commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders operating a commercial vehicle within the state of Pennsylvania, the standards are even stricter—a 0.02 BAC is considered High Impairment and grounds for a DUI charge.
In addition to random screenings and potentially conditions of returning to work after an alcohol-related incident, any truck driver involved in a State College crash is required to submit to BAC testing to ensure he or she was not operating his or her vehicle while intoxicated. A well-practiced local attorney could provide critical help tracking down these test results, determining whether they indicate a violation of federal or state law, and incorporating them into an ensuing settlement demand or lawsuit.
As part of the duty they owe to every other person on the road with them, commercial truck drivers are expected to follow every applicable state and federal law regarding the safe operation of their vehicles, especially those pertaining to DUI. Accordingly, a truck driver who drives with an unlawful BAC—or who is impaired by any controlled or medicinal substance—has breached his or her duty, and therefore could be considered legally negligent if his or her behavior directly leads to a collision.
However, while an intoxicated truck driver may be the party directly at fault for an accident in State College, he or she is rarely the only party to name as defendant in an ensuing civil claim. In most situations, the companies that employ commercial truck drivers can be held vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees, especially if they irresponsibly hire someone with a history of commercial or non-commercial DUIs.
Alternatively, if an intoxicated truck driver operates as an independent contractor, it may be possible to pursue a recovery from his or her insurance provider accountable for ensuing losses. Seasoned legal counsel could go over potential recovery option on a case-by-case basis during a private consultation.
Whether you seek restitution for your accident-related injuries through an insurance claim, a private settlement demand, or a lawsuit in civil court, you should think twice before starting this process alone. Legal representation can be key to ensuring comprehensive recovery for all available damages.