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SLEEP APNEA AND TRUCKERS: LACK OF DISCLOSURE LEADS TO DRIVER FATIGUE


Posted on behalf of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Nov 09, 2014 in Truck Accidents

A variety of problems can lead to truck accidents with smaller vehicles, from unbalanced loads to poor maintenance or faulty brakes. Regardless of whether any mechanical causes of a truck accident are detected, a personal injury attorney must also consider whether the driver's actions or condition played a role in the crash.

A recent study looked at one troubling cause of driver fatigue: failing to report symptoms of sleep apnea because truckers are worried about losing their jobs. While truck drivers face strict hours-of-service rules and other trucking safety regulations to allow them proper rest, those measures are meaningless if drivers are not actually getting adequate sleep during down time.

The study, authored on behalf of a European group dedicated to respiratory medicine advocacy, found that truck and bus drivers with sleep apnea who participated in a controlled study vastly underreported their level of daytime sleepiness when compared to other participants. The reason, according to lead author Dr. Werner Strobel: "Commercial drivers are playing down their levels of sleepiness for fear of losing their jobs."

People who suffer from sleep apnea wake up frequently because of breathing disruptions, and the resulting sleep loss can lead to daytime headaches and drowsiness. When a fatigued driver is hauling more than 20 tons of freight behind a powerful semi tractor, the margin for error is slim and the risks to other drivers are enormous.

Trucking companies must implement proper medical and drug screening procedures and other guidelines to ensure that their drivers do not pose unacceptable dangers on the road. When they fail to do so, their actions or inaction can amount to negligence for which they can be held accountable in a truck accident lawsuit.

The key to effective representation of clients who are injured in truck crashes is a thorough review of the accident to identify regulatory infractions and anything else that potentially went wrong. By doing so, a truck accident lawyer can help injury victims and wrongful death survivors expose all potentially liable parties and maximize the sources of damages and the amount of compensation.

Personal injury lawyers also often advocate for changes to state and federal law to enhance highway safety. Mike D'Amico, a Waterbury personal injury lawyer at partner at D'Amico & Pettinicchi, is a member of the national advisory board of The Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America. APITLA is dedicated to using education, litigation and legislation to eliminate illegal and unsafe practices in the trucking industry.