Columbus Drunk Truck Driver Accident Attorneys
If you suffered severe injuries or your loved one was killed in a truck accident possibly caused by a truck driver operating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, do not wait to seek legal representation for assistance with your case. Make sure that you contact Rinehardt Law Firm as soon as possible.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established 0.04 percent as the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level at or above which a commercial motor vehicle operator required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and to operate a commercial motor vehicle is deemed to be driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. Violators are subject to the disqualification sanctions in the federal regulations, and Ohio Revised Code § 4511.19 also establishes the crime of operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) of alcohol or drugs when a driver has a BAC of 0.08 or higher.
FMCSA establishes that employers are required to test drivers for alcohol and controlled substances “as soon as practicable” after a truck accident. When a test is not administered within eight hours, or a controlled substance test is not administered within 32 hours of the accident, an employer must cease attempts to administer that test.
Our firm can fight to make sure that negligent truck drivers and the employer who failed to supervise them are held fully accountable. You can have us provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (419) 529-2020 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.
Do I Need A Lawyer?
When an intoxicated truck driver has caused a truck accident, it will usually result in the arrest of that driver. Tests will often be immediately required for any accident resulting in injury or death.
The insurance company representing the truck driver or the truck owner will very well know that the driver’s intoxication is a clear sign of negligence, and will usually want to resolve these types of cases as quickly as possible. You will want to make sure that you let an attorney handle these phone calls for you because one of the ways insurers will try to reduce the value of a claim is by attributing a more significant share of negligence to an accident victim.
Never provide any recorded statement to an insurance company, regardless of how harmless agents may make it seem. A lawyer can handle all phone calls from insurance companies on your behalf and immediately begin working toward a fair and full settlement.
An attorney will be most beneficial to you in that they can investigate your accident and secure all of the evidence needed to prove the driver’s negligence in a court of law. When an adequate settlement amount cannot be negotiated, the lawyer can file a lawsuit to take your case to trial before a jury.
Why Choose Rinehardt Law Firm To Handle My Case?
Rinehardt Law Firm represents truck accident clients on a contingency fee basis. This will allow you to avoid paying anything upfront, and we’ll only collect our fees if we win money for you.
The National Board of Trial Advocacy certified John Rinehardt as a Civil Trial Advocate in 2001. He was rated AV Rated Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell, and also received its Client Distinction Award.
Mr. Rinehardt is a member of both the prestigious Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, to which membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements and only has about 5,000 members throughout the country. He was named one of the Top Attorneys in Ohio by Columbus Monthly in 2012.
Mr. Rinehardt is also a member of the Ohio Association for Justice and American Association for Justice. He received the Clients’ Choice Award from AVVO in 2015.
Types of Cases We Handle
Alcohol is undoubtedly the most common substance involved in many DUI or OVI cases involving commercial truck drivers, but other drugs are also possible. Many truck drivers rely on over-the-counter or illegal drugs as a method of staying awake during long, late-night drives.
Reuters reported in October 2013 that a study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that drug use was high among commercial truck drivers. According to Reuters, about half of drivers admitted to drinking and driving, 30 percent admitted to using amphetamines, 20 percent reported using marijuana, and 3 percent said they used cocaine.
That same month, Science Daily reported that a British Medical Journal study found that 36 relevant studies dating back to 2000 showed that the substances truckers used most frequently on the road were alcohol, amphetamines (speed), marijuana, and cocaine. Five years later, a study of truck drivers published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found a “binge drinking” prevalence of 19.0 percent, an “everyday drinking” pattern rate of 9.4 percent, and an alcohol misuse rate of 22.7 percent.
Truck drivers are required by FMCSA to undergo regular and random drug and alcohol testing, but some drivers avoid the supposedly needed tests. The phrase “job-hoppers” is used to describe truck drivers lose their jobs after failing tests but quickly get hired by another trucking company without disclosing the reason for their unemployment.
Drivers who are classified as independent contractors may also join consortiums that administer alcohol and drug tests, but such drivers could continue to drive even after refusing the tests. Even when a driver fails a test, consortiums do not always report the violations to FMCSA or state agencies.
Rinehardt Law Firm has experience investigating truck accidents involving the use of numerous drugs, and we know how to hold the negligent parties accountable in these cases. Our firm can work to quickly preserve the most critical evidence in your case as soon as possible after a crash.
If the insurance company is offering me a large sum of money without having to make any court appearances, why should I not accept it?
It is common for insurance companies to offer victims lump sum settlements and usually say something about it, allowing you to keep more money for yourself. You need to truly consider what kind of award you are going to need for the full lifetime of care you may require. Is the settlement even going to be enough to cover your existing bills? How many other bills are you going to face in the future? Most settlement offers from insurance companies are lowball amounts that should be insulting, so you should not regret any refusal to accept such an offer. When you hire a lawyer, they can negotiate a far more just settlement to your case.
Can a driver still be held liable if they are not convicted of DWI?
Absolutely. Civil liability is completely independent of the criminal justice system, and more importantly, there are two different standards of proof in these cases. A truck driver’s guilt has to be proven in a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt, the highest possible legal standard. A civil claim, however, only needs to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, which is the equivalent of a feather on the scale of justice as opposed to the rock required by beyond a reasonable doubt. Truck drivers can often avoid criminal convictions for OVI or DUI because of minor technical issues, but they still are held civilly liable.
What kinds of damages may be awarded for an accident caused by a drunk truck driver?
Chances are good that a case involving a drunk truck driver or one who was operating under the influence of drugs will result in a settlement. Insurance companies simply do not want to pay to take any case to trial. There are some cases in which a trial cannot be avoided, and a victim could be awarded numerous kinds of compensatory damages, which is a phrase that describes a combination of economic damages and noneconomic damages. You could be owed compensation for:
- Property damage
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
Another kind of damages that is not as frequently awarded is punitive damages, which must be proven by clear and convincing evidence. Punitive damages are intended more to punish defendants for particularly unforgivable conduct, and drunk driving frequently satisfies the requirement.
Ohio does limit the number of noneconomic damages you can recover to the greater of $250,000 or three times the amount of economic damages, also subject to a maximum (or “cap”) of $350,000 per person and $500,000 per accident. Punitive damages cannot exceed twice the amount of compensatory damages, but a defendant who is a small employer or individual can have punitive damages limited to 10 percent of their net worth up to a maximum of $350,000.
Contact a Drunk/Intoxicated Truck Driver Accident Attorney in Columbus
Did a drunk truck driver cause a collision that’s left you dealing with catastrophic injuries, or was your loved one killed in a truck accident caused by a drunk truck driver in Columbus or a surrounding area of Ohio? You will want to have the Columbus truck accident attorneys of Rinehardt Law Firm by your side so you can have the best chance of recovering everything you need and deserve.
Our firm has a record of success that includes $3.1 million recovered for a 20-year-old victim who suffered severe injuries in a truck accident. Call (419) 529-2020 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.