America has been battling the opioid epidemic for more than a decade. People of all walks of life are falling victim to addiction and truckers are no exception. Trucking takes a physical toll on drivers, who may turn to pain medication to cope. These powerful drugs can affect drivers in ways that make them a dangerous presence behind the wheel of their 80,000-pound trucks.
Opioid drugs can cause slower reaction times, reduced coordination, blurred vision and tiredness, any of which can lead to accidents. Federal regulations place stiff restrictions on truck drivers’ use of opioids, but the regulations are not always effectively enforced. Similarly, the screening process for hiring drivers is flawed due to a combination of bureaucratic hurdles and disregard of red flags by trucking companies.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, an online database of information about drug and alcohol violations by people who hold commercial driver licenses (CDLs). According to its May 2023 report, there were 68,639 positive drug tests among CDL holders in 2022, up 28 percent from 2020. Given the weaknesses in the industry’s screening process, drug use may be even more prevalent than these results show.
In the aftermath of a truck accident, it’s not always easy to determine if the driver was using opioids. If the driver is visibly impaired, the police can make an arrest for driving under the influence. However, opioids don’t show up in conventional urine tests or Breathalyzer tests. There is a specialized breath test capable of detecting opioids, but it is not yet in widespread use.
An injured person seeking financial compensation will need to rely on their lawyer to investigate and try to find out whether opioids played a role in the crash. A plaintiff’s lawyer can demand the driver’s employment records, including the results of mandatory physical exams. Additional evidence can include the driver’s post-accident medical exam and his or her workers’ compensation documents, hospital records and doctor’s records. These documents may contain indications of the driver’s use of opioids or other substances.
Achieving success in truck accident cases requires a skilled attorney because of the complexity involved. There are often multiple entities, including the trucking company that hired the driver and multiple insurance companies fighting to keep your compensation to a minimum. Depending on the circumstances, you could recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages.
At Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. in Hamden or East Haven, we have decades of experience litigating complex truck accident claims. If you’ve been hurt in a truck crash, please call our offices at 203-745-0942 or contact us online.
Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. is located in Hamden, CT and serves clients in and around North Haven, Hamden, Waterbury, Bethany, Milford, Wallingford, Prospect, Woodbridge, Northford, Madison, Beacon Falls, Branford, Cheshire, North Branford, East Haven, Naugatuck, Meriden, Ansonia and New Haven County.
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