Commercial truck drivers have a wide range of rules that govern what they can and can’t do, both behind the wheel and off the road. Some of these rules deal with the truck itself or with the number of hours they can work, but many deal with the trucker’s fitness to drive. If you were injured in a truck accident, it is important for your attorney to investigate the truck driver, and see whether or not they complied with these rules. If the driver was taking illegal drugs or suffering from a condition that requires certain medications, it may have been illegal for the driver to get behind the wheel. This may ultimately help your personal injury case against the truck driver and the negligent trucking company that allowed them to drive. For a consultation on your truck accident case, call the truck accident injury lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm’s The Truck Accident Team today.
Trucking Regulations for Drugs
First off, truck drivers are never allowed to drive under the influence of illicit drugs. Illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, and even marijuana (which may be legal in some states, but is illegal under federal law) go against federal trucking regulations. Not only that, but accidents caused by driving under the influence of these drugs usually qualify as a state DUI or DWI crime. If the commercial vehicle driver that hit you was high when the accident happened, that is a severe infraction that could help prove the truck driver was at-fault for the crash.
Second, truck drivers are never allowed to use prescription drugs without a valid prescription. Many drugs like Adderall are abused to help people stay awake and alert while working long shifts on the road. Some of these drugs are illegal without a prescription, violate federal regulations, and also violate many state DUI or DWI crimes.
Other medications, prescriptions, and pharmaceutical drugs are a bit more complicated. As part of qualifying to be a truck driver, applicants must get a commercial drivers’ license (CDL). They must also pass a medical examination that certifies they don’t have conditions that will make them unsafe drivers. Problems with eyesight, hearing, limb control, and even diabetes may disqualify a trucker outright. If a trucker who is medically disqualified gets behind the wheel, the trucker and their employer trucking company may both be on the hook for any accidents the driver causes.
Truck Driver Prohibited Medication
Truckers may not qualify for their medical exam if they are currently taking certain medications. The federal government divides drugs into different “Schedules,” where Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs with the lowest medicinal function and highest risk of addiction and abuse. Use of any Schedule I drugs, amphetamines (such as Adderall), narcotics (drugs derived from poppy or coca), and any other habit-forming drug (i.e. drugs with a risk of addiction) disqualifies a truck driver. This may include may include drugs, such as:
- ADD medication,
- Anti-diarrhea medication, and
- Other powerful meds.
Anti-seizure medication is also disqualifying, if it is used to treat seizures. These medications may be used for other purposes, such as to treat depression – but if they are used to treat or prevent seizures, the driver is disqualified.
Commercial truck drivers do have some potential loopholes, though. If the drug in question is prescribed by a doctor, the trucker may still be qualified to use the drug while on the job if the prescribing doctor says it is okay. Still, medical examiners that qualify drivers may still reject the prescribing doctor’s opinion if they find the drug too unsafe for the driver to use.
How do Trucking Regulations Help Injured Accident Victims?
The rules discussed in this article exist to help protect other drivers on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) passed these and other trucking regulations to combat unsafe practices by trucking companies and truck drivers themselves. If the driver or the trucking company violates federal regulations, they may be punished by the government. However, if these violations cause an accident, it may be easier to prove your case against them and seek compensation for your injuries.
When you are injured by someone else, such as another driver, you must prove that they were “negligent” in causing your injuries. In a car accident, negligence may typically involve speeding or failing to use a turn signal – or any other violation of traffic laws. For the trucking industry, the driver or trucking company may automatically be considered negligent if they violated trucking regulations, like the restrictions on medication.
Additionally, if the trucking company has a history of violation, or severely disobeyed the FMCSA’s rules, you may be entitled to additional damages. Courts sometimes award victims “punitive” or “exemplary” damages to punish exceptionally bad trucking companies and drivers. Talk to an attorney today about what damages you may be entitled to on your case, and which trucking regulations may help you win your case.
National Truck Accident Injury Lawyers
The truck accident lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm’s The Truck Accident Team offer free consultations on truck accident injury cases. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling truck accident and personal injury claims, and may be able to help you with your case. Call today for your free consultation at (215) 709-6940.