A truck driver accused of killing a teenager and seriously injuring her passenger in May was in court on Oct. 6 for a preliminary hearing in Virginia Beach.
Jerode Johnson, 31, is facing several criminal charges stemming from the accident, including involuntary manslaughter, DUI and felony hit and run. Virginia Beach police report that Johnson killed Kaitlyn Duffy and injured her friend Sabrina Mundorff in the May 2017 crash on Indian River Road.
Police say that Johson lost control of his delivery truck, overcorrected and crossed the center line. He slammed into Duffy’s small SUV, killing her at the scene.
Mundorff was taken by life flight to a local hospital in critical condition. Duffy was a senior at Great Bridge High School and would have graduated in June 2017. She was going to attend Virginia Tech.
Our sympathies as Virginia personal injury attorneys go out to the families of the dead and injured in this tragic drunk driving case. Truck and bus drivers who possess a commercial driver’s license or CDL are held to a high standard in regards to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is for a very good reason. Whether the cargo of a bus or truck is people or products, the stakes are far higher than for a typical car or SUV. A drunk or high truck driver is a threat to public safety and also a major liability for their employer.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA has strict regulations for drivers and employers that use commercial vehicles. Most states have adopted FMCSA rules for CDL holders for alcohol. The legal limit is 0.04% blood alcohol concentration or BAC. This is 1/2 of the BAC limit for most regular, non-commercial drivers in the US. The FMCSA rules also stipulate that commercial drivers may not drive a commercial vehicle within four hours of drinking alcohol at all.
CDL holders may have to submit to random alcohol testing, but unfortunately, these tests do not always catch drivers who drink every time. In this tragic case, lives were ended and changed forever by the alleged actions of a drunk truck driver.
When a family loses a loved one or has one injured by a drunk and negligent truck driver, there are legal options. The injured and the families of the injured or dead may be entitled to compensation for their injuries, pain and suffering and ongoing costs.
A loss like this is an incomprehensible one for family members. The civil justice system can never bring back a loved one, but it can provide some sense of justice to a family because often there is no actual trial in a criminal case involving the traffic event that caused the death, because many such cases end with a plea agreement and a guilty plea and no trial.
On the other hand, in a civil personal injury or wrongful death case, the right to depose the negligent driver is always permitted.