Truck drivers must shoulder a tremendous amount of responsibility whenever they get behind the wheel, and the reason should be obvious. They are taking one of the heaviest, biggest, and most unmaneuverable vehicles ever created under their control. Most commercial trucks have the potential to barrel through smaller passenger vehicles as if they did not even exist. Often, truckers strike pedestrians and motorcyclists without even noticing. Because of these factors, the potential for danger goes up exponentially when truckers decide to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. Drunk driving accidents are already dangerous enough with your average motorist, but when the driver is operating a vehicle capable of such catastrophe, it’s an even greater concern. Unfortunately, this is actually far more common than anyone truly realizes, and intoxicated truck drivers cause crashes in Illinois all the time.
The real question is simple: What can you do if you have been injured by one of these negligent truckers? The answer is quite straightforward: Get in touch with a lawyer right away. When you take this first step towards justice, many other questions may arise: How can you recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, PTSD, and any other damages you might have suffered? How much money can you receive if you sue a trucking company for allowing these drunk truckers to get behind the wheel? How do you prove that a trucker was actually drunk? Let’s find out:
Recent studies show that truckers have a high chance of engaging in “binge drinking” or “everyday drinking.” Alcohol-induced impairment generally causes 22% of deaths related to workplace accidents in the United States. About 6% of all deaths across the entire planet can be attributed to alcohol in some way. The prevalence of binge drinking among truckers is especially concerning because this type of alcohol consumption can affect truckers hours or even days after the “binge.” Cognitive centers of the brain – essential for trucking – are impaired by heavy alcohol consumption. Statistics show that even one “binge” per month can increase the chances of being involved in a crash by 1000%. Everyday drinking is even more concerning, as this suggests that truckers are either intoxicated or hung over while driving – with little time to actually sober up.
In the United States, the percentage of fatal truck crashes attributed to drunk drivers is quite low – usually under 5% each year. However, you have to remember that although this might seem like a low number, it actually represents about 10,000 deaths each year. For the family members who have lost loved ones to intoxicated truckers, this certainly does not seem like a minor footnote on the statistical charts. This also does not take into account the fact that some truckers may have been slightly intoxicated but under the legal limit. For example, they might have had a few beers while staying under the 0.08 BAC level due to their abnormally high tolerance to alcohol.
Another important issue is drug consumption. Technically speaking, anything that impairs your ability to drive is illegal in Illinois – whether that is alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, or prescription pills. Even if the drugs are legal, driving under the influence is not. Recent statistics show that about 27% of all truckers consume drugs. By far the top choice for truckers is amphetamines. Of the 27% who take drugs, about 1 in 5 of these truckers use amphetamines. Only about 2% of drug-using truckers use cocaine.
The reason for this is obvious – amphetamines help truckers stay awake and alert for long periods of time – allowing them to complete more journeys and earn more money. However, amphetamines are not without their side effects. These drugs may affect a trucker’s mental state, causing them to become aggressive or distracted. Amphetamines may also affect judgment.
By far one of the least popular drugs among truckers is marijuana – for equally obvious reasons. This drug typically makes you sleepy, making truckers more likely to simply pull over, get a bite to eat, and take a nap. Recent statistics show that positive drug tests rose by almost 20% in 2022, highlighting the very real drug problem in the trucking industry.
One of the best ways to avoid a fatal crash with an intoxicated motor vehicle driver is to practice “defensive driving.” If you see a trucker who seems like they may be drunk, give them plenty of space. Watch them carefully at a safe distance and try to spot further signs of intoxication. This might include swerving wildly, not being able to stay inside their own lane, putting their turn signals on for no apparent reason, sudden stops, and so on. If you feel like it is safe to pass, spend as little time as possible in their blind spots and accelerate to pass by them.
As far as the trucking industry is concerned, little is being done to prevent drunk truckers from getting behind the wheel. The trucking industry does not control whether drivers get DUIs or have their licenses suspended – and they often do not care in any case. Some trucking companies have hired drivers with a long history of DUIs, while others fail to do background checks to find out if they have any traffic violations.
One thing the trucking industry may do at some point in the future is install anti-drunk driving technology on all new vehicles, as this may be forced upon them by the government. Basically, this would consist of a built-in ignition interlock system that would require truckers to input their BAC level before starting the engine. Although this certainly seems promising, many experts believe that it will never actually happen.
It is also worth pointing out that the standards for a CDL (commercial driver’s license) are much higher than those of an average driver. Even a relatively low BAC level can be enough to suspend a trucker’s license and effectively end their career. But in taking steps to improve trucker safety, it has already made changes that have arguably made the industry even more dangerous. An obvious example is lowering the minimum age for new truckers to 18. It is a well-known fact that teens are more likely to crash when they drink and drive – even if they are technically less likely to engage in this behavior than adults. They are less experienced, more likely to make mistakes, and more likely to engage in risky behavior.
What Should Victims Do?
Victims of drunk driver accidents should immediately get medical assistance for their injuries. There is no sense in delaying a trip to the hospital, and doing so can make your injuries worse. Even if you believe that you have a relatively light injury – such as whiplash – it is always worth getting checked out. Your health should be your top priority – even if healthcare is quite expensive in the United States these days.
You also need to consider the fact that a settlement from a personal injury claim can pay for any medical bills you incur as a result of your crash. Furthermore, it will be almost impossible to take legal action if you do not get medical attention. This is because you will need your medical records to prove that your injuries actually happened.
Your next step should be to get in touch with a qualified personal injury attorney who has experience with truck accidents. These legal professionals can investigate your situation, help you gather important evidence, and negotiate on your behalf with trucking companies and their insurance companies. The latter step is especially important, as solid negotiation skills can make all the difference as you pursue a fair settlement.
Remember, insurance companies will try to offer you the lowest possible settlement they think they can get away with. Without an attorney by your side, it is all too tempting to accept a “lowball” offer without fully thinking things through. Your lawyer can help you fight for the settlement you deserve and need.
Although most motor vehicle accident lawsuits caused by trucks are settled out of court, there is a slight chance your case could go to trial. If this happens, you can rely on your lawyer to present evidence, make arguments, and fight for your best interests in court.
Where Can I Find a Truck Accident Attorney in Illinois?
If you are an accident victim who has been searching for an experienced truck accident lawyer in Illinois for legal advice, look no further than the law firm of Palermo Law Group. Over the years, we have helped numerous injured plaintiffs – including those harmed by negligent truckers. We know that intoxication is a real issue among truckers today, and the problem does not seem to be getting any better. While the trucking industry is slow to make real changes, and the government seems to be equally inactive, you can still pursue justice.
Nothing can take back the injuries and psychological trauma that you have sustained. But at the very least, you can pursue compensation for your medical expenses, missed wages, emotional distress, and any other damages you suffered. A personal injury lawsuit provides more than just money – it may also give you a sense of justice and closure. Book a consultation with us today, and we can assess your unique situation while guiding you toward the best possible outcome. Remember, internet research can only get you so far – so reach out today to a personal injury lawyer for a free consultation.