Newspapers carry all too familiar messages: A mother of three was driving home from work one evening in October when she hit and killed a man with her car. The woman, who considers herself a safe driver, was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol when she struck a 47-year-old man with her car while he was walking across the street. With all of the distractions today with cell phones, iPods, texting while driving, this could happen to anyone, on any day, at any time. Although the woman was not found to be at fault, she was still left with the guilt of this death.
The key is to be as defensive of a driver as possible. Remember, 68% of pedestrian accidents happen when someone is crossing between intersections. Expect pedestrians to appear when you may least expect them.
• Stay focused! Put your cell phone away so you are not tempted to play with it. Looking away for even a couple of seconds could be fatal.
• Stay alert. Make sure you are not driving tired, distracted, or under the influence of any medications.
• Pay attention to your surroundings, where someone could be trying to cross the road.
• Keep your speed down.
Every year, over 3,500 pedestrians are hurt or injured in the state of Texas alone.
If you or someone you know has been hurt as a pedestrian, contact our office for your free consultation.
No matter how safely you ride, there will always be other drivers and riders sharing the road with you. It is for this reason that you need to know your rights and responsibilities as a bicyclist.
Regarding Important Steps to Take After a Pedestrian Accident, we highlight a step that will most likely involve the help of a family member. That step is Take Photos of the Accident Scene As Soon As Possible.
We understand that your health and well-being is top priority after you have been struck by a car or otherwise injured as a pedestrian. But it is also important for the scene of the accident to be photographed and to obtain statements from anyone who might have witnessed what happened. If it is not possible for photos to be taken immediately (and usually due to the devastating injuries that these types of accidents cause, this is the case), have a loved one go back and photograph the scene as soon as possible. Make sure to capture images of the surrounding landscape (trees, bushes, etc.), the exact place of impact, closest street signs, as well as any speed limit signs near the scene.
When obtaining witness statements, make sure to gather the person’s name, phone number, address, and even email address, in case they need to be contacted at a later date. Have them give a description of what happened, including their estimate of how fast the vehicle was moving, where the injured pedestrian was at the time he or she was hit, and the actions of both parties after the accident. It may seem tedious now, especially if you are facing severe injuries, but it could make all the difference later on down the road.
Many of the semi-truck crashes that occur are due to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and happen along major highways, such as I-10, I-35, I-37, US 281, Loops 1604 and 410. Drug use and alcohol use on the part of truck drivers is always a crime, but it is especially dangerous when those truckers are driving on busy roads or highways. Although alcoholism and drug addiction are considered an illness in our society and should be treated as such, drug addicts and alcoholics have no business driving a truck or any other vehicle in the first place.
For a truck driver to get behind the wheel inebriated or under the influence of drugs is not only a crime, but it could also lead to a civil suit. In some states, an award of punitive or exemplary damages can and should be made by a jury if the defendant is found to have been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These damages should be awarded by a jury in any truck accident case where malice, expressly or impliedly, is involved, such as driving under the influence case.
Drunk Driving Statistics for The State of Texas
According to the TxDOT, the DUI statistics for 2017 are:
910 Fatal DUI Crashes resulting in 1,024 DUI fatalities
1,594 Suspected Serious DUI Crashes resulted in 2,169 suspected serious injuries
3,530 Possible Injury DUI Crashes resulting in 5,841 possible DUI injuries
3,914 Non-Incapacitating DUI Crashes resulting in 5,666 non-incapacitating DUI injuries
Harris, Bexar, and Dallas Counties had the highest number of DUI fatalities in 2017.
A truck driver who is a drug addict or alcoholic is under extreme mental and physical stress. On the one hand, he has to make money to pay the bills for his family, and on the other hand he knows that driving under the influence is unsafe and illegal. The trucker’s failure to drive safely in some cases can be extremely dangerous for fellow motorists on highways and roads. Truck drivers addicted to drugs or alcohol should not be on the road at all and should seek treatment. The truck driver will be found to be criminally negligent if he is under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. There are many drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers that may help the addicted truck driver.
Seeking Punitive Damages
Texas is one of the states that allows punitive damages awards, and will probably allow them in truck accident cases caused by a driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Some states do not allow punitive damages at all or in driving under the influence situations. It is important to hire a qualified truck accident lawyer to help with your case, so that you can rest assured you will recover the maximum amount of monetary damages and compensation available under the law.
As mentioned above, it is possible to seek punitive damages in addition to damages for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and mental anguish in a truck accident lawsuit where the truck accident was caused by malicious conduct, either express or implied. Depending on the specifics of the case, damages may be sought against the truck driver personally or even against the trucking company as a result of its hiring practices.
Truck Accidents Caused by Drunk Drivers
Texas has a high incidence of drunk driving accidents. The statistics show that of the people that were killed in traffic accidents, a large majority of those were the result of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you have been injured or have suffered the loss of a loved one in, because of a drunk truck driver, you are entitled to special damages called exemplary, or punitive damages. An experienced truck accident lawyer can help you recover your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering in addition to the punitive damages to which you may be entitled.
Under certain circumstances, trucking companies can be held responsible for paying a damages award when a jury finds that you are entitled to monetary compensation for the actions of a truck driver that was “under the influence” at the time of your accident.
Also, the legal basis for holding the company liable for the conduct of their driver is the doctrine of respondeat superior. Respondeat superior: meaning that an employer or principal should be held accountable for the acts of its employee or agent acting within the scope of employment. This can be an intense, fact-specific analysis, and only a knowledgeable trial lawyer knows how to get a jury to understand why they should hold the company liable in your case.
Insurance Policies Can Have Exclusions for Punitive Damages
Although most insurance policies allow claims for personal injury and property damage in truck accident cases where the trucker was either drunk or under the influence, their insurance policies typically exclude punitive damages. However, directly assessed punitive damages are insurable. “An insurer may insure against legal liability for exemplary or punitive damages that do not arise from a wrongful act of the insured committed with the intent to cause injury to another.” Vicariously assessed punitive damages would likely be insurable in because directly assessed punitive damages are insurable.
Commercial Truck Drivers & Alcohol Regulations
Drivers should never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is especially true of persons who hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL), like commercial truck drivers. Both state law and federal law prohibit commercial vehicle drivers from getting behind the wheel when they have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. If a commercial truck driver injures or kills a person and they have alcohol or drugs in their system that may give rise to a finding of malice, and potentially punitive damages.
If a truck driver is legally intoxicated (DUI or DWI), meaning their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 or greater, and they injure or kill another driver, then the victims of the accident may be entitled to seek punitive damages. Evidence of alcohol consumption could be admissible at your personal injury trial even if the driver did not have a BAC as high as 0.08%. Your personal injury attorney will hire a toxicologist to testify on the impact that alcohol had on the truck driver’s ability to safely operate a large commercial vehicle, depending on the amount of alcohol in the driver’s system at the time of the truck accident.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA) sets a lower BAC limit for commercial drivers, making the legal limit 0.04, half the 0.08 BAC limit for non-commercial drivers. Moreover, a commercial truck driver may be tested at random for drug or alcohol use before, during, or after driving a commercial vehicle. The commercial drivers’ license (CDL) may also be suspended if he or she is convicted of violating a state’s drug or alcohol DUI or DWI laws while driving a non-commercial vehicle. This means that if a truck driver gets a DUI while driving his own car, he will probably be in violation of the law if he later drives a commercial truck, 18-wheeler, big rig, or tractor-trailer. As mentioned, a commercial truck driver violates both law and federal law if any trace amount of alcohol is detectable in the driver’s system. The Transportation Code provides:
Revised Statutes 484C.120. Unlawful acts relating to the operation of a commercial motor vehicle; affirmative defense; additional penalty for violation committed in work zone
1. It is unlawful for any person who:
(a) Is under the influence of intoxicating liquor;
(b) Has a concentration of alcohol of 0.04 or more but less than 0.10 in his or her blood or breath; or
(c) Is found by measurement within 2 hours after driving or being in actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle to have a concentration of alcohol of 0.04 or more but less than 0.10 in his or her blood or breath,
to drive or be in actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle on a highway or on-premises to which the public has access.
Don’t let trucker recklessness go unpunished. If you’ve been injured by a trucker driving under the influence, call a Truck Accident Lawyer immediately to discuss your rights.
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