Drunk Driving Auto and Truck Accidents
Truck drivers are professionals, and one would expect them to perform their duties safely and competently, particularly given that the lives of fellow drivers are at stake. While it would seem inconceivable that a trained truck driver, who conceivably knows the destructive potential of the 80,000-pound machine he is operating, would risk getting behind the wheel of a truck while under the influence of alcohol, court records show that drunk truck driving is far from an isolated occurrence. What is more, there is evidence that drunk truck driving is on the rise. Fortunately, Texas judges have made sure to both discourage drunk truck driving and provide compensation for its victims through large court judgments.
In Minter v. Great Am. Ins. Co., a driver of an 18-wheeler decided to get behind the wheel of his truck while drunk. He pulled out of a driveway in a truck owned by his employer, Hammer Trucking Company, and hit another vehicle. In the ensuing court case, the Court awarded $2.67 million in normal damages against the driver (stuff like medical bills, pain and suffering, and that sort of thing). The Court also awarded $1.6 million in €, which are damages that a Court can award to punish the driver for very bad behavior. Punitive damages can potentially double, or even triple, the award that a victim can obtain at trial. Drunk driving is a prime example of behavior that will lead to an award of punitive damages being assessed against a truck driver. So, if a victim is hit by a truck driver, they should keep in mind the fact that if the driver was drunk, they may be able to recover an award in punitive damages.
What is more, in many cases the driver of the 18-wheeler in a drunk truck driving case has clearly had a history of problems with alcohol. In Minter v. Great Am. Ins. Co., the accident was the third time the truck driver had landed in legal trouble for driving while intoxicated. Companies that hire drivers with DWIs on their record are taking an awful risk. If the driver should get into some kind of an accident and it comes to light that the driver was intoxicated, the company may be hauled to court. The company may be liable to the victim for negligent hiring if the driver had several previous DWIs on their record and the company knew about it, but hired the driver anyways. What is more, the company may be liable to a victim for negligent retention if the driver started having incidents involving alcohol after being hired, and the company failed to fire the driver.
Drunk driving is a serious problem in general, and nowhere is it more dangerous than when it affects the drivers of large trucks. Nevertheless, Texas courts have taken a strong stand against drunk driving. Victims of drunk truck driving may gain extra compensation by pursuing punitive damages or by pursuing employers under theories of negligent hiring and/or negligent retention.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident in San Antonio or anywhere in Texas, we can help… Call Carabin Shaw @ 1.800.862.1260