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Truck Drivers and Sleep Apnea

Our Cincinnati Truck Accident Lawyers at Wolterman Law Office Represent Victims of Drowsy Driving Truck Accidents

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that causes brief breathing interruptions during sleep. These breathing interruptions can last 10 seconds or more and occur up to 400 times a night. If the condition is not correctly diagnosed and treated, it can become a life-threatening condition. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the American Transportation Research Institute, nearly one out of every three commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea. In addition to headaches and difficulty concentrating throughout the day, sleep apnea can cause extreme drowsiness. This can increase the risk of a devastating yet preventable drowsy driving truck accident.

What Are the Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can occur in people of all ages and impacts both men and women. However, the following factors can put you at an increased risk of developing sleep apnea:

  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • A body mass index (BMI) of 28 or more
  • Small upper airway
  • Recessed chin, small jaw, or a large overbite
  • A neck size of 17 inches or more for men and 15 inches or more for women
  • Smoking and regular alcohol use
  • Age 40 or older
  • Ethnicity

What Are the Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Treatment options are available for sleep apnea, including using a CPAP machine. However, to diagnose sleep apnea and determine the most effective treatment plan, it is important to know the common symptoms, which include the following:

  • Loud snoring
  • Headaches and nausea in the morning
  • Gasping or choking while sleeping
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Loss of sex drive/impotence
  • Irritability and feelings of depression
  • Concentration and memory problems

Does Sleep Apnea Disqualify a Truck Driver From Operating a Truck?

According to FMCSA regulations, if a truck driver has been diagnosed with a condition that could interfere with their ability to safely operate a commercial truck, they may be medically disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle. However, once the truck driver has been successfully treated, they can regain their “medically qualified-to-drive” status.

Mild cases of sleep apnea generally do not disqualify a truck driver from maintaining their license. Moderate to severe sleep apnea can interfere with a truck driver’s ability to concentrate on safely operating the truck, paying attention to other motorists on the road, and reacting quickly and safely to unexpected hazards. If a truck driver has been diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea and has been disqualified from driving, a medical examiner must determine whether they are treating the condition and are medically fit for duty.

Does the FMCSA Require Sleep Apnea Testing?

Currently, no laws require a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical for sleep apnea. However, truck drivers must have a medical examination to obtain and maintain a CDL license and a DOT medical card. The healthcare provider may determine whether a truck driver should be tested for sleep apnea during the medical examination. According to the DOT, it is up to the medical practitioner to decide whether the sleep apnea will likely interfere with the truck driver’s ability to operate a commercial truck safely.  

What Should I Do If I Am Injured in a Drowsy Driving Truck Accident?

If you suffered a devastating injury in a drowsy driving truck accident, and the truck driver had been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you may be entitled to financial compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit. To recover the maximum damages, you must prove that the truck driver was negligent and that their negligence caused your injuries. If you are physically able to take the following steps following the accident, you are more likely to recover the damages to which you are entitled:

  • Call 911. If you can move, call 911 as soon as possible to report the accident to the police and notify dispatch of injuries so they can send emergency medical technicians to the scene. The responding officer will fill out a police report, which may include information about who caused the accident.
  • Seek immediate medical attention. Truck accident injuries tend to be severe and even life-threatening, so it is crucial that you get medical attention as soon as possible. However, even if your injuries seem relatively minor, it is important that you are examined by a medical professional so that any underlying injuries can be properly diagnosed and treated. Often, the shock of the accident can cause adrenaline to course through the body, which can mask pain and other symptoms associated with an injury. If you fail to seek medical attention, an undiagnosed injury can become more serious. In addition, the insurance company will argue that your injuries must not be severe if you do not find it necessary to get treated. This will likely hurt the outcome of your claim.
  • Collect evidence. The more evidence you can collect, the more likely you will be able to prove that the truck driver was negligent. Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle, your injuries, the position of the truck, skid marks or debris on the road, and the current weather conditions. If witnesses saw the accident happen, ask if they would be willing to provide a statement and ask for their contact information.
  • Contact a truck accident lawyer. Truck accident claims are much more complicated than car accident claims since multiple parties may be liable, and truck companies have a team of lawyers who will work tirelessly to avoid paying a large settlement. A dedicated truck accident lawyer will assist you with the claims process and protect your legal rights.

Our Cincinnati Truck Accident Lawyers at Wolterman Law Office Represent Victims of Drowsy Driving Truck Accidents

If you or a loved one was severely injured in a drowsy driving truck accident, do not hesitate to contact our Cincinnati truck accident lawyers at Wolterman Law Office. We will examine the evidence, determine whether the truck driver was negligent, and help you navigate every step of the claims process. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 513-488-1135 or contact us online. Our office is located in Loveland, Ohio, where we serve clients in Hamilton County, Fairfield, Norwood, and Forest Park.