Truck accidents are a major concern on U.S. roadways from year to year. In fact, the picture created by the statistics is not a pretty one. In 2017, large truck crashes accounted for 4,102 deaths. The weight of a large truck during impact tends to place the most risk for death on the drivers and passengers of the other smaller vehicle involved in the accident.
Long-haul drivers in particular encounter greater risk for crashes due to the long routes and extensive periods of time they are required to drive with minimal rest. In fact, almost 2/3 of trucking accidents occur on trips that span more than 51 miles in length. Though brake problems accounted for most accidents (about 29%), fatigue contributed to 13% all of crashes, and 41% of drivers admit that fatigue, inattention or work pressure played a role in 41% of their accidents.
Truck drivers using drugs to stay awake
Unfortunately, some truck drivers use pharmaceutical stimulants in an attempt to remain awake and fulfill their required mileage and deliveries. However, this is an unsafe practice. Drivers who take certain drugs for the purpose of avoiding the problem of drowsy driving can actually increase the risk of an accident or fatality.
Although these drugs may enable drivers to stay awake on the road for a period of time, the chemical effect of these drugs can negatively impact drivers’ motor and cognitive functions, focus, attention span, decision-making, impulse control, and coordination. In addition, as the quantity of the drug in the body begins to subside, undesirable characteristics can manifest, including drowsiness, delusions, and aggressive behaviors. These are all highly dangerous qualities for someone operating a large, heavy truck or tractor-trailer at highway speeds.
Proving your case
Once you have evidence that the truck driver in your crash tested positive for drugs in his or her system at the time of the incident, it may seem like you have a solid open and shut case. However, at least half of the battle is yet to be won. This evidence must be placed in front of a jury in a manner that convinces the jury of the truck driver’s fault. The trucking company and its insurance carrier will likely have substantial resources to argue strongly in favor of the driver’s innocence.
Therefore, your truck accident attorney must prove three key facts in order to help ensure your case is successful:
- The quantity of drugs in the truck driver’s system must be sufficient to prove liability for the accident. For instance, detection of a minuscule amount of a certain drug may be insufficient evidence to establish the driver’s fault for the crash.
- Sufficient proof must be provided to demonstrate the driver caused the accident. For instance, a truck driver is backed up in traffic in a stationary position, but at the same time is high on cocaine. If another vehicle slams into the side of the stationary rig, that does not make the truck driver responsible for the impact, even though he is taking the illegal substance.
- You must establish that one or more drugs caused the truck driver’s error. Your attorney may utilize a toxicologist as an expert forensic witness to explain to the jury the effect of the drug on the driver’s mind and body at the time of the accident.
In other words, your attorney will have to conduct all of the necessary investigatory work and carefully lay out the evidence to present to the jury in order to have the best shot at winning your case.
If you have suffered an injury in a truck accident that was precipitated by the negligence of another, the Charlotte truck accident attorneys at Warren & Kallianos, PLLC can help you get the compensation you deserve. We have six decades of experience fighting for accident victims in North Carolina. To arrange a free case review, call us today at 704.275.5593 or fill out our contact form.