Alcohol Related Settlement Sends Message to DPS
AW Trucking and Jet Maintenance recently agreed to a $9.5 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by a man injured when one of their drivers rear-ended him at an intersection. Court documents show that Johnny Raymond Rodriguez, the truck driver, had a blood alcohol content of between 0.071 and 0.065 three hours after the crash. A commercial driver in Texas may be arrested for drunk driving if their blood alcohol content is 0.08 or higher, or if they do not have normal use of mental or physical faculties due to the alcohol level in their system. In addition, a blood alcohol content of 0.04 in a commercial driver could lead to a citation and the temporary suspension of their CDL.
Long Hours Plus Alcohol
In addition to the presence of alcohol in Rodriguez's system, records show that he worked more than 97 hours in the eight days prior to the accident, 27 more than permitted in regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The law normally requires that driving hours be tracked in logbooks, unless the driver operates within 100 miles of their fleet's home base. However, the Department of Transportation may still audit and fine companies that do not provide Hours of Service documentation.
Previous DUI Offenses
The lawsuit, filed by Calvin Stovall, also claims that Rodriguez had previous DUI offenses, which indicates he should not have been issued a CDL or been driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the crash. Court records show that Rodriguez had five previous convictions for driving under the influence. Both AW Trucking and Jet Maintenance claim that a background check on Rodriguez prior to his hiring did not reveal a 2006 drunk driving conviction, which was his latest. Armando and Maria Olachia, along with their children, were also injured in the crash, were added to the lawsuit later.
Message to Department of Public Safety
Lawyers for Stovall hope that the settlement will send a message to the Department of Public Safety to monitor driver qualifications more closely. In research for the case, lawyers found that in Karnes, LaSalle and Dimmitt counties, crashes involving commercial vehicles increased by 470 percent between 2009 and 2011. This may be tied to increased commercial vehicles due to the Eagle Ford Shale located in that area. Rodriguez was delivering gravel for an oil-field pad under construction, and traveling about 70 miles per hour when he struck the two vehicles. Stovall will receive $5.4 million in payments throughout his life in compensation for the numerous back surgeries and treatment for a head injury he received. The Olachia family will receive $4.1 million.
When the negligence of another driver is suspected as the cause or contributing factor in a car accident that causes injury or death, a personal injury claim may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding an auto accident where injuries may have been caused or worsened by driver negligence.