Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs is never a good idea. For commercial truck drivers behind the wheel of a massive, 80,000-pound machine, however, the stakes are even higher. Unfortunately, this situation is not as rare as you may believe. All too often, reckless truckers get behind the wheel after using:
- Illegal drugs;
- Prescription narcotics;
- Sleep aids;
- Alertness aids;
- Cough medicine; or
- Other medications that slow reaction time and cause drowsiness.
While some of these medications are legal for the driver to use while not working, any of them can cause problems on the road. If drugs or alcohol played a role in your crash, a truck driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol lawyer in Pittsburgh, PA, can help you hold the responsible party liable for the damages you suffered.
The truck accident lawyers at Berger and Green can review your case and explain your options for getting the compensation you need to cover your accident-related expenses and losses. Call us today at 412-661-1400 for your complimentary initial consultation and case evaluation.
Damages Available After a Pittsburgh Accident With a Drunk or Drugged Trucker
Pennsylvania has a unique auto liability law, known as choice no-fault auto insurance. This system makes it possible to file a claim quickly after an accident to recover compensation to pay for some of your medical care. If you suffer relatively minor injuries, your no-fault policy may pay enough to cover your treatment. In most truck accident cases, though, the injuries are more severe. You might require additional compensation to cover all related expenses.
If your no-fault medical benefits do not cover the full amount of your care, or if you need to file a claim to collect compensation for other economic damages, this is possible no matter if you have full tort or limited tort coverage. You can file an insurance claim against the trucker and their employer and demand they cover your financial losses. You may be eligible for compensation for:
- Any remaining care-related costs;
- Lost wages;
- The repair or replacement of your car; and
- Other out-of-pocket costs related to the crash.
If you carry full tort coverage, you can also claim pain and suffering and other non-economic damages from the liable parties. If you have limited tort insurance, there are also exceptions that often apply in these cases that could give you the same option. You may be able to recover non-economic damages if:
- You suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or permanent impairments; or
- The truck was registered in another state.
If the police arrest the driver and the courts convict them of a drunk or drugged driving offense, this may also qualify as an exception to limited tort. We can help you understand if you meet one of these exceptions during your initial consultation.
Who Is Liable When a Trucker Drives Under the Influence and Causes a Wreck?
- The driver is an employee of the company;
- The driver is working at the time of the accident; and
- The driver is engaging in activities related to their job.
Even when a truck driver gets behind the wheel buzzed, drunk, or under the influence of a drug that affects their judgment or reaction time, the primary liability still falls on their employer. This means we file your insurance claims based on the trucking corporation’s large liability policy.
How Can an Attorney Help Me With the Claims Process?
Our team investigates every case we handle. We will aggressively pursue any and all evidence to prove negligence, liability, and the full value of your damages. When we take on a new case, we:
- Identify and analyze evidence related to the accident;
- Request copies of police reports, medical records, and other documents;
- Send a survey team to the accident site to document the scene;
- Utilize accident reconstruction specialists to understand the circumstances that led to the crash;
- Analyze the criminal trial transcripts, if the driver faced charges and the case went to trial; and
- Collect bills, receipts, and other documentation of your full range of damages.
In addition to conducting our own investigation, we will need to ensure the trucking company follows all proper protocols and preserves any evidence in your case. One of the first things we will do is send a spoliation letter that demands the company protects this evidence. Later on, we will request the opportunity to examine it and document it for our records.
This evidence is key in drunk or drugged driving cases, especially if the police did not arrest the driver. Under federal law, all truck drivers must undergo post-accident testing for drugs or alcohol. These results are in the hands of the trucking company, along with other evidence that includes:
- The driver’s rest logs;
- Digital data from the truck’s onboard computer;
- Dash cam video, in some cases;
- The driver’s personnel records;
- The damages truck and trailer; and
- Other pertinent evidence.
Once we have strong case showing the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, we can file your insurance claim and demand the trucking company pay for your damages. We will also request non-economic damages, when possible.
Usually, the trucking company’s insurer responds to our demand letter with an offer that does not cover all your losses and expenses. We expect this. We reject the offer, beginning the process of settlement negotiations. Because we conducted an investigation and understand the full value of your claim, we know what a fair settlement looks like. We will not settle for less than you deserve.
If the insurance company refuses a fair settlement, we can file a lawsuit against the trucking company and the truck driver. While litigation is relatively rare in these cases, we are not afraid to take any case to court.
Talk to a Truck Driver Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol Lawyer in Pittsburgh.
At Berger and Green, our truck accident team can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. We offer complimentary case reviews and consultations. Call us today at 412-661-1400 to get started.