More and more often, sleep apnea is a major factor in semi truck crashes across the United States. Sleep apnea is a breathing-related sleep disorder that causes brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. These pauses in breathing can last at least 10 seconds or more and can occur up to 400 times a night. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says that as many 28 percent of commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders have sleep apnea.1 (See the FMCSA’s “A Study of the Prevalence of Sleep Apnea among Commercial Truck Drivers.”) This is a shockingly high number and it poses an extreme danger to all drivers who share the road with these sleep-deprived truck drivers.
Trucking companies may not require or permit a driver to operate a semi truck – or other commercial motor vehicle – if the driver has a condition, including sleep apnea, that would affect his or her ability to safely operate the vehicle. Due to the extensive transverse side effects of driving while tired the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has engaged in national campaigns in attempt to curb driving while tired, rallying behind slogans like, “Don’t Drive Drowsy” directly mirror those of drunk driving campaigns. Unfortunately, drowsy driving remains an elusive metric because it is difficult the level to which driving while tired factored into the cause of an accident.
If a semi truck driver who was drowsy – or who fell asleep at the wheel – hit your vehicle, causing serious injury or wrongful death, there is a good chance the truck driver may have had sleep apnea. If we can prove that – and if we can prove the trucking company knew of the condition – you may have a claim for punitive damages against the driver and the trucking company. (Punitive damages are meant to punish behavior as a deterrent to future, similar behavior. Seeking punitive damages is one thing accident victims and their families can do to help prevent similar accidents from happening again.)
Contact me for a free consultation regarding an independent investigation and/or lawsuit against the truck driver and trucking company that caused your accident.
Attorney Eric Hageman represents accident victims and their families in lawsuits against negligent truck drivers, trucking companies and others, and has successfully sought punitive damages in accident cases. He has been given the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell for an attorney, AV Preeminent. Eric can be reached at 1-888-377-8900 (toll free) or by submitting our free consultation form.
1. Pack AI, Dinges DF, & Maislin G. (2002) A Study of Prevalence of Sleep Apnea among Commercial Truck Drivers (Report No. DOT-RT-02-030). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation, FMCSA.
Accidents Involving Truck Drivers
- A Semi-truck driver killed a Kansas family in head-on crash. The truck driver had crossed the center line to pass.
- Two truck drivers were killed in a Kansas accident. One was from California and the other from Georgia.
- A semi driver was charged with manslaughter for causing a fatal accident in Ohio.