Drunk drivers cause accidents on roads across the United States daily. According to national statistics, more than 30 people die every day because of drunk drivers. It is estimated that about 300 people die every year in Virginia drunk driving accidents. The devastation of a car accident caused by a drunk driver can be compounded if the driver is operating a tractor-trailer or semi-truck. The massive size of these vehicles increases the likelihood of death and catastrophic injuries if they are involved in a truck accident with a small passenger vehicle.
Virginia law seeks to protect motorists who share the road with commercial trucks by decreasing the legal level of blood alcohol content (BAC) a commercial truck driver is allowed to have in their system. A BAC level of 0.04 percent or higher is considered driving under the influence for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder. This is half the legal limit for a non-commercial driver.
Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the government agency that regulates the trucking industry. The FMCSA requires trucking companies to take certain steps for testing drivers for alcohol and drugs to ensure they are driving safe and sober. The federal requirements also require the employer to have policies addressing the misuse of alcohol by its drivers. Failure to abide by the law subjects the employers to civil and criminal penalties.
One way the FMCSA works to combat the number of DUI truck accidents is through the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The online database contains information about alcohol and drug violations for all CDL holders and commercial learner permit (CLP) holders. All failed tests are entered into the database, providing a way for companies to identify drivers who commit violations while working for one employer, but who fail to subsequently inform another employer (as required by current regulations). Since January 2020, there have been more than four million inquiries to the database and 141,527 test results reported to the Clearinghouse with violations.
The FMCSA releases a new report every month. The most recent report issued was for May 2022. According to the report, there have been more than 28,000 test results with violations from January through May of this year; 6,500 of those violations were reported in May.
Filing a Virginia Truck Accident Lawsuit
If a truck driver who was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs causes a truck accident, injured people can pursue damages for the losses their injuries have caused. Typically, our clients incur considerable medical bills, have lost wages, and are concerned about the losses that will continue in the months and years ahead. Many times clients don’t have a regular W-2 type wage loss, that is their wages vary because of the new world gig economy or they have a job with commissions. In these situations, we sometimes obtain economists to evaluate future lost earnings as one example of the experts that we seek out for our clients in order to prove their personal injury damages and losses. If the victim died from their injuries, their families may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
In truck accident cases, there is often more than one liable party. If the truck driver worked for a trucking company, then under the law, the company would be liable for their employee’s negligent or reckless acts.
Some of the evidence a Virginia truck accident attorney will look for to help prove the company’s liability includes:
- If the truck driver had any history of DUI arrests
- If the company was aware of any alcohol or drug abuse
- If the company failed to properly supervise the truck driver, including random drug testing for their drivers
Contact a Virginia Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, contact a Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have against the responsible party or parties. The legal team from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp has successfully advocated for many truck accident victims and their families, including a $2.4 million wrongful death settlement for one family whose loved one died in a rear-end collision caused by a tractor-trailer operator.
Our attorneys are available to meet and discuss the details of your case and how we may be able to help. Call our office today to set up a free and confidential case evaluation.
For more information about truck accidents in Virginia, please download our free guide.