Truck Accidents and Drug Testing in New York

a drunk driver holding a bottle

If you were severely injured in a truck accident caused by an intoxicated truck driver, you could be entitled to compensation. However, to bring a successful claim, you will need to provide evidence that the truck driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of the wreck, and this evidence can be challenging to obtain. As a result, you will most likely need to hire a truck accident lawyer to handle your case.  

The New York truck accident lawyers at Finz & Finz, P.C. have advocated for victims of truck accidents in Manhattan and Long Island for more than 35 years. We have the necessary resources to quickly gather and preserve the evidence you need to prove your case. Contact us today to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys. 

Accidents Caused by Drunk or Drugged Truck Drivers

Commercial vehicles can cause life-altering injuries and devastating property damage when they collide with passenger vehicles. When fully loaded with cargo, large commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. By contrast, most passenger vehicles weigh 4,000 pounds on average. 

The vast majority of truck accident injuries and fatalities involve occupants of passenger vehicles. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 67 percent of truck accident fatalities in 2019 were occupants of passenger vehicles, while just sixteen percent were truck drivers. 

It is well-known that driving while intoxicated impairs a driver’s ability to judge traffic situations, react to road hazards, and concentrate on the task of driving. When truck drivers get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or consuming drugs, including some types of sedating prescription drugs like opioids, they are much more likely to cause a terrible accident. 

Drug and Alcohol Testing Requirements for Truck Drivers in New York

If you’ve been involved in a collision with a large truck, the law enforcement officers who are dispatched to the accident will most likely be responsible for collecting evidence at the scene, which may include administering a drug test. If the test results are positive, this can be used as proof of liability. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires CDL drivers to be drug tested before a trucking company hires them. They must test negative, or the trucking company cannot hire them. 

Any driver who has a commercial license, including truck drivers, must also submit to random drug testing throughout the year, per FMCSA regulations. Employers can also test drivers if they have a reasonable suspicion that the driver may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If a trained supervisor has “specific, contemporaneous, articulable appearance, speech, body odor, or behavior indicators of alcohol use,” they can order a truck driver to take a drug test. 

The FMCSA also requires trucking companies to test truck drivers if they have been involved in a truck accident. According to FMCSA rules, trucking companies must test drivers if the accident involved a human fatality, whether or not the driver received a citation, or if the accident caused bodily injury with immediate medical treatment away from the scene. Employers must also perform a drug test if any vehicle was damaged to the point that it had to be towed from the scene, but only if the truck driver was issued a citation in that case. 

Furthermore, any truck driver that tested positive after receiving a drug test must meet with a substance abuse professional and go through the return-to-duty process to resume their driving duties. During this process, the truck driver will be drug tested again. They will not be allowed back on the road unless they test negative. 

Drivers who tested positive and successfully returned to duty after a negative test are also required to undergo follow-up testing at least six times annually for one year. However, this can be extended to four years. 

Department of Transportation (DOT) drug tests are intended to test for several different types of drugs: 

  • Marijuana
  • Opiates
  • Cocaine
  • PCP, or phencyclidine
  • Amphetamines

According to the FMCSA, trucking companies are allowed to institute their non-DOT drug testing programs if they desire, in addition to DOT tests. They can test for other drugs that are not covered by DOT drug tests. For more information on drug testing procedures for commercially-licensed drivers, visit the DOT Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy Compliance (ODAPC) website

Who Can Be Liable for a Truck Accident Caused by Impaired Driving?

New York is a no-fault auto insurance state, which means that most people injured in auto accidents will turn to their own insurance policy for coverage, regardless of fault. All New Yorkers are required to carry personal injury protection insurance. 

However, truck accidents commonly cause serious harm. Suppose you were severely injured in a truck accident. In that case, you might be able to step outside the no-fault system and pursue a third-party insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party or parties. 

Determining liability for a truck accident caused by drunk or drugged driving can be challenging. While the truck driver can certainly be held responsible, there might be other parties who indirectly contributed to the accident as well. For example, if the trucking company failed to abide by FMCSA drug testing regulations, they might be partly liable for the accident. 

Trucking companies are obligated to perform pre-employment and post-accident drug testing and random drug tests throughout the year. They must also ensure that any drivers who failed or refused to take a drug test receive a negative test before being allowed back on the road. 

If the trucking company was negligent in enforcing the FMCSA’s drug testing policies, you might be able to bring a claim against them or name them as a co-defendant in a lawsuit. Because it can be challenging to determine liability after a truck accident, you should speak to an attorney about your case. A skilled truck accident lawyer can help you identify all possible sources of compensation. 

Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer at Finz & Finz, P.C. Today

Were you severely hurt in a truck accident in New York? Contact Finz & Finz, P.C. today to discuss your case and legal options. We are committed to helping victims of truck accidents like you recover the financial relief they need to get their lives back on track. Call us at 855-TOP-FIRM today for a free consultation. You can also fill out our online contact form to get in touch with one of our New York truck accident attorneys

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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.