Trucks and Alcohol Are a Lethal Combination
The law is clear: it is illegal for anyone in Nebraska to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated. The state punishes drinking and driving much harsher than the average traffic infraction; it is a crime punishable by a driver’s license suspension, fines, and even jail time. If you were involved in an alcohol-related accident with a truck that was not your fault, the police likely arrested the trucker who caused your accident at the scene. If convicted, he or she may be subject to harsh criminal penalties. However, a criminal conviction does not guarantee that you will receive financial compensation for your injuries; in fact, you may receive nothing at all. If you’re serious about recovering compensation for the full cost of your injuries, you need an experienced attorney on your side to represent you during negotiations and in court.
The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) for a driver of a passenger vehicle in Nebraska is 0.08 percent; however commercial truck drivers—those holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL)—are held to a higher standard. Nebraska law considers a licensed truck driver impaired if his or her BAC is greater than 0.04 percent. Truckers face this stricter standard because of the disparity in size and weight between a large truck (which can weigh up to 80,000 lb) and a passenger vehicle (which generally weigh around 3,000 lb). The greater risk associated with large trucks has caused federal regulatory agencies to set lower blood alcohol limits for commercial drivers. Furthermore, unsecured loads and hazardous cargo can have catastrophic consequences well beyond those associated with passenger vehicles.
Truck drivers don’t have to be above the legal limit for their driving ability to be considered impaired. Even with a low-level BAC, alcohol can still slow a driver’s reaction times and affect his or her reflexes and motor skills. Because the federal government recognizes that negligently driven trucks pose a serious threat to the wellbeing of others, federal regulations prohibit commercial truck drivers from operating their vehicles with a BAC above .04 percent, which amounts to half of the legal limit for ordinary drivers.
Alcohol potentially damages a driver’s:
- Reaction time
- Visual acuity and color perception
- Depth perception
- Spatial abilities
At the Robert Pahlke Law Group, our legal team is dedicated to helping accident victims seek justice. We understand the tremendous pain and confusion often associated with trucking accidents. Because our lawyers have earned the prestigious AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and inclusion in the Nebraska Super Lawyers list—a distinction achieved by only 5 percent of lawyers statewide, you can feel confident when retaining our firm. We bring more than 85 years of combined legal experience to your side of the table. While we cannot guarantee a favorable result in your case, we work hard to fight for the rights of accident victims and their families. We are dedicated to making the roads safer for everyone by holding negligent truckers accountable for their reckless actions.
Truckers Under the Influence of Drugs
Alcohol is not the only cause of impaired driving among truckers. Many truck drivers are under heavy pressure from their employers to make deliveries according to tight deadlines; as a result, they will often drive for longer periods of time than legally allowed. To combat fatigue, these drivers frequently use a number of different stimulant drugs, including amphetamines. While these drugs may successfully keep a driver awake, they also have many adverse side effects that influence a driver’s judgment and reaction time.
The trucking industry is vital to the nation’s economic development. Transporting goods across our seemingly endless network of highways often means a lonely life on the road for America’s truckers, and there is no doubt that trucking can be a stressful lifestyle. In some cases, drivers may use drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with situational stress that is exacerbated by demanding and erratic work hours, unrealistic deadlines, and unreasonable demands. Although statistically difficult to prove, it is generally accepted that commercial truck drivers suffer from a high prevalence of substance abuse. Drivers may illegally use stimulants to counteract the fatigue associated with long-haul driving, and these substances often result in erratic and dangerous driving.
Nebraska Named One of the Seven Most Treacherous Places to Drive in the U.S.
Along with Colorado, Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and North Dakota, Nebraska was named as one of the most dangerous states for truckers by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency’s most recent data reveals that Nebraska’s commercial drivers are exponentially more likely to die in a roadway accident than in other states.
The July 5, 2018 issue of Business Insider includes interviews with drivers from all seven of the most dangerous states for truckers. One trucker stated that the most dangerous situation in Nebraska is the weather. He commented that high winds in open spaces—particularly on Interstate 80 from Omaha, NE to Denver, CO—are especially dangerous. The same trucker also commented that Nebraska’s weather made the drive “a fabulous adventure.”
At the Robert Pahlke Law Group, we want all motorists to have a fabulous adventure on our roadways; however, we also want everyone to stay safe. When we represent a truck accident victim, we investigate the case for any signs of substance abuse that may have contributed to the accident, as such evidence can be invaluable in establishing a trucker’s negligence. Our legal team has represented victims and their families who were hurt in truck accidents throughout Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, and South Dakota, and we handle claims for accidents on I-90, I-80, I-76, and I-25.
Holding Those Responsible Accountable
Whether driving cross-state or cross-country, the combination of boredom and long hours on the road may be the reason some drivers are tempted to stop for a few drinks. Individuals who make the choice to operate commercial vehicles while intoxicated increase the odds of causing serious accidents, many of which result in permanent injuries and even fatalities. Driving a truck while intoxicated is irresponsible, and the driver who causes harm to others is liable for any damages caused by his or her irresponsibility. However, the truck driver who caused the accident may only be one of several parties who can be held responsible.
If you were injured by an impaired truck driver, any of the following parties may be partially liable for your injuries:
- The truck driver
- The truck driver’s supervisor
- The trucking company/employer
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), no driver shall use alcohol while performing safety-sensitive functions, and no employer having actual knowledge that a driver is using alcohol while performing such functions shall permit the driver to perform or continue to perform them. Furthermore, federal regulations prohibit drivers from performing safety-sensitive functions within four hours after using alcohol and prohibit employers who have actual knowledge that a driver has used alcohol within four hours from permitting a driver to perform such functions.
Commercial trucking companies are both morally and legally obligated to ensure public safety by refraining from hiring drivers with alcohol or drug problems. Additionally, FMCSA regulations mandate that employers monitor a driver’s health status by conducting periodic physical exams, drug tests, and alcohol tests. Untreated alcoholism is a disqualifying medical condition for commercial truck drivers. Furthermore, failure to keep current with federal guidelines or to remove impaired drivers from the road may leave employers complicit under the legal theory of vicarious liability, and thus they may be held responsible for all or part of the economic and/or non-economic damages caused by their employee’s negligence. These damages may include:
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Funeral costs
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
If you or a family member has sustained an injury in a commercial trucking accident, you should contact an experienced Nebraska trucking accident lawyer as soon as possible. At the Robert Pahlke Law Group, our attorneys have the experience and resources needed to investigate every detail of your case, from the background of the truck driver involved to what other parties may be partially liable. We also have the ability and expertise to review and evaluate trucking companies’ hiring practices, qualification standards, and training manuals. We are ready to help you obtain compensation for the full cost of your injuries.
Help When You Need It The Most
Dealing with big trucking companies and insurance carriers may seem overwhelming in the aftermath of an accident. The attorneys for these large conglomerates often provide victims with an initial offer that fails to fully compensate them for their physical injuries and emotional trauma. Common injuries that result from being involved in a truck accident include:
- Head trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
- Vision loss
- Torn ligaments
We are committed to helping victims whose lives have been changed because a reckless truck driver got behind the wheel after drinking. We also represent the families of deceased victims who must live with the emotional pain and financial loss of a fatal accident for the rest of their lives. We have significant experience proving that a driver was intoxicated and thus caused the accident. Personal injury cases that involve commercial trucks are complicated, and they require detailed investigative work and a thorough understanding of the law. At the Robert Pahlke Law Group, we are up to the task.
Were You Injured by a Drunk Truck Driver in Nebraska? Contact Us Today
If you or a loved one has sustained a serious injury in a trucking accident, contact the Robert Pahlke Law Group today. We have been helping accident victims and their families seek compensation for over 30 years, and we are ready to begin working on your case. Call the Robert Pahlke Law Group today at (308) 633-4444, or contact us online, to find out how our team can help you and your family pursue justice.