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Truck accidents: can truckers drive when they have sleep apnea?

If you've ever been surrounded by semi-trucks while driving in Massachusetts, then you know just how intimidating they can be. Their sheer size can cause catastrophic damage when a truck accident occurs, and as a result many motorists are helpless to prevent serious injuries. Fortunately, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented rules and regulations to help ensure trucking safety. Yet, truckers and truck companies may not always abide by these rules, which may contribute to an increased likelihood of a truck crash.

One issue that has arisen recently is sleep apnea and how it affects those who operate vehicles, including semi-trucks. Sleep apnea is a medical condition where an individual's breathing is disrupted during sleep, causing him or her to wake up. A sleep apnea sufferer can experience as many as 400 disruptions in a single night. This interrupted sleep can lead to fatigued and drowsy driving.

The FMCSA has attempted to address the issue, although indirectly. According to their federal regulations, an individual is allowed to drive with a medical condition so long as he or she has been successfully treated. This includes sleep apnea. Yet, not all sleep apnea sufferers can be successfully treated. This means that truckers need to ensure that they have sufficient medical documentation to support their claim that they are medically cleared to drive.

If you have been injured in a truck accident, then you may find yourself facing issues such as medical clearance to drive. Truckers and the truck company for which they work may try to hide medical documentation, or they may not voluntarily offer such evidence to you. Therefore, when pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, you need to know what to look for and how to obtain it. This may be where the assistance of a qualified legal professional may prove beneficial.

Source: FMCSA, "Driving When You Have Sleep Apnea," accessed on Feb. 24, 2017

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