In order to operate commercial vehicles, drivers have to keep themselves medically in check. If they have disorders than may affect their ability to drive safely, those disorders must be treated if they wish to keep their commercial licenses. Sleep apnea is one such medical issue that is known to contribute to truck accidents. Louisiana residents who have suffered injuries or worse in collisions caused by truck drivers with this disorder may have legal recourse.
Sleep apnea is, in short, disordered breathing during sleep. There are various types of sleep apnea, but they all cause the same things — lack of oxygen and poor sleep. A person with this disorder may stop or struggle to breathe hundreds of times during the night, causing the brain to miss out on much needed oxygen and rest. This, of course, can cause a person to struggle to stay awake, focus or properly function during the day.
The symptoms of sleep apnea are many. They include snoring, headaches, extreme fatigue during the day, depression and memory problems — among various others. These symptoms alone are not enough to diagnose sleep apnea, though. In order to do that, one must submit to a sleep test which is typically done overnight in a medical facility.
Truck drivers who are suspected of having sleep apnea are not permitted to drive until they are tested and — if diagnosed with the disorder — treated. Why? Because a driver with untreated sleep-disordered breathing is more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel, have a slower reaction time or make bad decisions that can cause an accident.
Following truck accidents, is it common to look at all possible causes. If a medical issue is believed to have contributed to a wreck, the driver and his or her employer may be held accountable for any losses incurred by the victim or — in the event of fatality — his or her surviving family members. If appropriate, legal claims can be filed and fought in a Louisiana civil court and if such actions prove successful, monetary relief may be awarded.
Source: fmcsa.dot.gov, “Driving When You Have Sleep Apnea“, Accessed on April 6, 2018