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Auto Accident with impaired Commercial Truck Driver

Each year in Arizona, many accidents are attributed to commercial truck drivers operating their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Because the trucks these impaired drivers are operating are so large compared to the cars they hit, these semi truck accidents are often quite severe. People who survive these accidents when their vehicles are hit by impaired truck drivers can recover damages for the injuries they suffered.

The term “impairment” in these situations means that the truck driver is unable to fully utilize their mental abilities, judgment or reasoning skills. They are not able to operate heavy machinery, an 18 wheeled vehicle or semi truck normally or safely. Quite often, this impairment is due to the truck driver’s consumption of alcohol, prescription medication or illicit drugs either before driving or while behind the wheel.

It is unsettling to consider that truck drivers beside you on the road may be driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. But it is a reality that some truckers are abusing these substances while on the road. Because of the dangers associated with this problem, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented stringent substance testing guidelines for drivers.

It is a requirement that transportation companies enforce drug and alcohol testing prior to employment of new truck drivers. These companies must also randomly test their employees for these substances. After a driver is in an accident, that trucker is required to submit to drug and alcohol testing, as well.

How Drugs and Alcohol Affect Semi-Truck Drivers

Judgment, response time, reflexes and other abilities are impaired by alcohol. As a result, truck drivers are not able to safely drive, quickly respond to hazards or appropriately maneuver to avoid getting into an accident. There is also a higher likelihood of the driver falling asleep when behind the wheel, if they have been drinking. An impaired trucker is more likely to make major mistakes, such as driving on the wrong side of the freeway.

Prescription drugs can also seriously impair driving. Some truckers may use these medications to try to remain alert for longer drive times. But when the efficacy of the drug starts to diminish, extreme fatigue can set in and cause the driver to fall asleep.

Effect of Sleep Deprivation on Truckers

Sleep deprivation can be a big problem for truck drivers. Those who are driving for many hours without a break or sleep may start to suffer the effects of sleep deprivation. This can cause their driving abilities to become impaired, increasing chances of getting into an accident. There are hours-of-service rules mandated by the FMCSA obligating drivers to take breaks after a certain period of time on the road. This is the FMCSA’s attempt to keep impaired drivers from operating their vehicles.

Filing a Claim After a Truck Accident

If you or your family member have been the victim of a truck accident in Arizona, speaking with a Phoenix truck accident lawyer and filing a claim may be the right recourse. Such a claim can help you recover injury compensation if a truck driver was at fault or contributed to the accident due to impairment.

There are some types of impairment that can be more easily proven in such cases. Sleeping behind the wheel is more difficult to prove than the driver being impaired due to alcohol or drug use, for example.

Drug and alcohol testing completed after the accident can indicate the driver being under the influence of substances while driving. Such substances that can be detected include:

  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamine

While it is more difficult to prove that the truck driver was fatigued while behind the wheel, that can be indicated by hours-of-service records or statements of eyewitnesses.

For this type of case, our trucking accident attorneys will thoroughly investigate the facts and evidence of the case to determine whether the driver was impaired. Your attorney will request drug and alcohol screening results, the driver’s log books and other evidentiary materials to determine if the trucker had been driving over his permitted number of hours. This may involve your attorney preventing the transportation company’s destruction of evidence through spoliation letter correspondence.

Many damages may be covered by your trucking accident claim, if successful. Those include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future income
  • Disability

To learn more about how you can recover damage compensation due to an accident caused by an impaired truck driver, contact Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law at 602-691-7278 or fill out our Free Consultation Form.


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