The fact of the matter is that 35% of fatal truck accidents are caused by drug use, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (also known as the NTSB). While this may be less than half of fatal truck accidents, you still must consider that this doesn’t include truck accidents that are caused by drinking and driving. In another survey by the NTSB, 85% of the truck drivers surveyed reported that methamphetamines are easily accessible at truck stops.
When you combine the weight of semi-trucks and the loads that they carry with the abuse of illegal substances, there is no doubt that this can lead to the most dangerous situations of all. Most truck accidents don’t involve injuries to the truck driver themselves (even though this does happen), but most of the fatalities and injuries that occur in truck accidents are in the other vehicles.
This guide will provide you with everything you need to know about truck accidents caused by drug use as well as uncover the facts of this unfortunate risk. Just remember, that if you find yourself in a truck accident, you should reach out to an experienced truck accident attorney to ensure that you do everything that you can to receive fair compensation instead of having to deal with expenses that you shouldn’t be held responsible for in the first place.
Truck Accidents Caused by Drug Use vs Car Accidents Caused by Drug Use
First of all, the weight and size of semi-trucks can make accidents a lot worse than basic car accidents when it comes to the injuries that they cause as well as the damage that they can cause to the other vehicles involved in the accident. For this reason, truck drivers must undergo continuous training and are held to a much higher standard than drivers who don’t hold a Commercial Driver’s License.
As far as the investigation is concerned, the facts that are uncovered are essential to proving who the liability falls on when in a truck accident. It’s important to keep in mind that trucking companies and insurance companies who cover semi-trucks will do everything that they can to prevent having to accept the liability and come to a settlement offer. A seasoned truck accident lawyer will be able to find the witnesses who were present, reconstruct the accident, and know what the damages can reveal about the moments of the truck crash.
In the case where there is a truck accident caused by drug use, police will require a drug test immediately if there are any signs that the truck driver may have been impaired. However, if there is no suspicion, a drug test isn’t required to be administered unless there was a fatality involved. Other government agencies are also notified of truck accidents, which means that there will be a lot more findings during the investigation than there usually is with your basic car accident.
As far as liability is concerned, it’s usually the truck driver that is held responsible unless actions of the trucking company did not serve as preventive measures when it comes to their drivers operating their trucks under the influence of drugs. It’s important to keep in mind that this is one of the most serious types of accidents, and this can lead to the settlement process taking a little bit longer.
Since we’re on the topic of truck accident settlements, it’s safe to say that most cases are settled before they even have a chance to be taken to court. The reason for this is that it can help protect a trucking company’s reputation and allow insurance companies to eliminate the matter at hand quicker than having to take it to trial and pay legal expenses (which can easily take 2 years).
Why are drugs used when driving an 18-wheeler?
There are many different reasons that drug abuse has become a problem with professional truck drivers, but it seems that the high demands of the job coupled with increased availability are the main reasons for it. With that said, we decided to dig in a little deeper to better understand this growing concern among government officials and the trucking industry itself.
Commonly Used Drugs Among Truck Drivers Today
It’s no secret that drug usage has become an issue within the trucking industry, and today we face a little bit of a different situation as the types of drugs used have changed. Below you will see the top 3 drugs that have been found to be abused by truck drivers, based on drug test results administered to drivers of commercial motor vehicles that have been made public.
The cause for this is most likely the legalization of marijuana in many states, but the effect that it has on one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely can lead to dangerous situations. It’s because marijuana is known to produce effects similar to alcohol. Specifically, it can take away from the driver’s ability to concentrate and cause them to feel drowsy/tired.
For as long as the trucking industry has existed, it seems that the demanding requirements of the job have led many drivers to resort to illegal drugs such as amphetamines to keep them awake. Not to mention, the nature of the job puts them in desolate locations on a regular basis which also makes it more tempting. With the ability to cause hallucinations and slow down reaction time, it’s no stranger when it comes to being the cause of some truck accidents.
This is an illegal drug that has began to see itself gain its popularity back after seeing it decline over many years. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) claims that this is due to an increase in the availability of cocaine due to the fact that Colombia is experiencing an increase in the production of coca and cocaine. While it might not be as popular as amphetamines as a stimulant, this increased demand has spilled over into the trucking industry itself.
Laws Regarding Drug Use That Governs Truckers & Trucking Companies
Since 18-wheelers have the potential to cause a lot more damage when they’re involved in an accident, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has set strict guidelines for both truck drivers as well as the trucking companies that employ them. Among these guidelines is the requirement that all truck drivers have to agree to do an alcohol/drug test prior to employment.
To elaborate a little more on this topic, any time that a truck driver is involved in an accident that involves a fatality, they must immediately submit a drug/alcohol test. If they refuse to do so, they may be held for investigation until a court order is given for them to submit to the test. This is to ensure that the use of alcohol or drugs doesn’t continue to pose a safety risk to the public.
These guidelines dig in even deeper, as trucking companies are required to administer alcohol/drug tests any time that there is a suspicion that a driver might be under the influence. Failure to comply with these policies could lead to legal action being taken against the company. Aside from what we have already covered, the FMCSA also requires trucking companies to:
· Assign someone with the task of managing their alcohol/drug program.
· Be fully aware of which employees must submit an alcohol/drug test.
· Establish a contract with an alcohol/drug collection service as well as a medical review officer.
· Establish a drug and alcohol policy that they (and their drivers) must follow.
· Know what must be done if an employee fails an alcohol or drug test.
· Obtain signed permission and release forms that are required.
· Train any supervisors overseeing their drivers to administer testing for reasonable suspicion.
How to Find the Best Truck Accident Lawyer in Houston, Texas
When it comes to truck accidents in the Houston area, you’ll find that you have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a Houston trucking accident attorney. However, you want to make sure that the one who represents you has been able to prove their abilities in court as well as outside of the courtroom when negotiating settlements with insurance companies and trucking companies.
Our Houston truck accident lawyer, Jerome O. Fjeld has done exactly that, as he has handled many truck accident lawsuits ranging from those that involve serious injuries to fatal truck accidents. In fact, his results have led him to be involved with both the Million Dollar Advocates Forum as well as the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum which are two of the most prestigious organizations within the legal industry.
Give him a call today to discuss your truck accident or send over the details via the secure contact form located on this website. You can rest assured that he won’t stop until he sees results that serve you right and covers all of the expenses associated with your truck accident.
Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accidents Caused by Drug Use
Are there lawyers who have experience specifically with truck accidents?
Yes, because truck accidents involve a higher level of complexity than your normal car accident. The trucking companies and insurance companies tend to be more difficult to work with. In the Houston area, lawyers such as Jerome O. Fjeld focus in helping victims of truck accidents and can deliver better results than attorneys who aren’t experienced with this type of accident.
Are trucking companies liable for truck accidents caused by drug use?
This depends on whether the trucking company knowingly employed a driver that had drug use problems and whether they had proper measures in place to prevent their drivers from driving under the influence of drugs. If there was a previous history with the driver when it comes to driving under the influence, the trucking company may be held liable.
Can a truck driver take pain medications?
If the pain medication is a Schedule I drug, this will disqualify a truck driver from holding a CDL. Marijuana is also a disqualified when it comes to driving a commercial motor vehicle. Most of the time, it’s not the medication that disqualifies them, but the medical condition itself.
Can truck drivers take antidepressants?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may not allow a driver to operate a CMV if they have chronic emotional upsets. This means that those that suffer from depression could be disqualified from driving an 18-wheeler.
How do medications affect a trucker’s driving ability?
Some medications can cause drowsiness or hinder one’s ability to maintain concentration. In these cases, one’s medical doctor will advise whether taking the medication might interfere with their ability to operate a semi-truck safely.
How much will it cost to get a truck accident lawyer?
Usually, truck accident lawyers work on a contingency basis. Since truck accidents deal with companies that have some of the best legal counsel available, this makes it easier to retain an experienced lawyer who is just as good. In these cases, payment is not made until a settlement has been reached, and the fees are usually a set percentage of the settlement amount.
Is substance abuse a problem with commercial truck drivers?
Yes, uppers (Amphetamines and Cocaine) are some of the most common drugs used by truck drivers, aside from marijuana which is the most common drug abused by truck drivers. Stricter laws and drug testing requirements have reduced the number of truck drivers abusing drugs, but it still remains a thorn in the side of the trucking industry as a whole.
When are truck drivers given a drug test?
Any time that they have been involved in a fatal accident, a drug test must be submitted immediately and refusal to do so could lead to them being treated just like they would if they were to fail a drug test. A lot of the time, a court order is issued for a drug test if there is a refusal when an accident has been involved to help deliver justice. Also, any time that there is suspicion that a truck driver is under the influence of drugs, the Department of Transportation or their employer could require a drug test.
The personal injury law firm of Jerome O. Fjeld, PLLC has served injury victims in Texas for nearly two decades. Our firm’s primary office is in Houston, TX with offices in Austin and Victoria. Our firm’s focus is personal injury and we help victims when someone is injured by the negligence or carelessness of another in the following types of cases: