Sleep Apnea Could Open Door for Truck Accident Plaintiff’s Attorneys, Companies Urged to Better Manage Potentially Deadly Health Problem
According to a June article published in http://www.truckinginfo.com/, three in ten semi drivers suffer from sleep apnea, a health problem that puts truck drivers at a greater risk of crashing. Some safety experts believe that this truck safety and public health problem could very quickly become a legal problem for the trucking industry.
Anne Ferro, chief of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, (FMCSA) says that sleep apnea causes fatigue which is estimated to be an associated factor in 13 percent of all tractor trailer crashes. Experts are saying that a carrier can now assume that a certain percentage (three out of ten) of their drivers are likely to suffer from sleep apnea. This fact alone can clear the way for plaintiff’s attorneys in fatigue-related truck accident cases. Since health records show symptoms of apnea, plaintiff’s attorneys may now have an effective weapon that indicates truck company management lapses on fatigue issues.
“Driver fatigue is the main cause of trucking accidents,” according to Robert Foss, a trucking attorney from Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman. “Fatigue is a major safety issue and is always looked at during my law firm’s truck crash investigations.”
Hopefully, the prospect of sleep apnea being used against them in court will urge trucking companies to nip this potentially deadly problem in the bud. During a conference hosted by the American Sleep Apnea Association and sponsored by FMCSA and American Trucking Associations, safety experts discussed how sleep apnea could be effectively regulated by trucking companies and by the trucking industry.
In an effort to offer regulatory guidance, the board recommended the screening of every commercial truck driver and listed specific criteria for the denial of medical certification. The FMCSA is also currently drafting a final rule that will establish new standards regarding the detection and correct diagnosis of sleep apnea.