The U.S. Department of Transportation prohibits people with epilepsy or a history of seizures from driving commercial motor vehicles across state lines. However, since 1 in 10 Americans will have a seizure in their lifetime and truck drivers spend a lot of time on the road, there is still some risk that a truck driver will have a seizure while driving. If a truck driver has a seizure while behind the wheel, it could result in 80,000 pounds and 65 feet of metal and cargo hurling down the roadway uncontrollably.
Whether you are a truck driver or someone who is concerned about your safety on the roadways, there are 2 important questions to ask if you are ever involved in a truck accident due to a seizure.
Was Medical Condition Known or Undiagnosed?
The first thing that will need to be determined is whether or not the medical condition that caused the seizure was diagnosed, undiagnosed or ignored. If the truck driver was diagnosed with a medical condition that causes seizures, then he or she should not have been driving a commercial vehicle.
However, often there is no diagnosis because the symptoms are not realized or they are ignored altogether. Unfortunately, symptoms are sometimes purposefully ignored because truck drivers don't want to lose their commercial driving privileges if they are diagnosed with something serious such as epilepsy.
Truck drivers: It's extremely important to pay attention to your health and get regular check-ups with your primary care physician. Do not ignore health problems, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Headaches, high blood pressure and low blood sodium are just a few symptoms of medical conditions that may cause a seizure. If you ignore these symptoms and an accident happens, you could lose in a lawsuit.
Other drivers: A lawyer can hire a medical examiner to go through the truck driver's medical records to look for signs that a medical condition was diagnosed, undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, while staying within HIPAA laws. During the discovery period, your lawyer may ask the truck driver's coworkers and friends for statements regarding any health complaints during the period leading up to the accident to see if any symptoms were purposefully ignored.
The findings during the discovery period may make the difference between determining if the driver caused the accident due to negligence or if the accident was unavoidable.
Was the FMCSA Medical Examination Form False?
Another important question to have answered is whether or not the history on the medical examination form, a requirement by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for all commercial drivers, was falsified or truthful. This form is a requirement and is part of the process in obtaining a commercial driver's license. The concern with this is that the individual needs to be completely truthful when he or she fills out the form.
Truck drivers: When completing your medical examination form, either initially or for each update, it's extremely important that you are as truthful as possible. If that means asking your parents what types of medical problems and conditions you may have had as a child, do it. If you leave information out of the form and the truth is discovered after an accident, you could lose a significant lawsuit, as well as face a civil penalty for falsifying information.
Other drivers: A lawyer will determine if the medical examination form and the medical records from the driver's primary care physician match. If they don't and it's obvious that the driver kept important medical history information out of the form, your case will be very strong for a lawsuit.
Seizures are more common than most people think. With 10% of all people having a seizure at some point in their lifetime, it makes you wonder if you or a loved one would ever be involved in a motor vehicle accident due to a driver having a seizure. Fortunately, there are regulations that bar people who are known to have epilepsy and other medical conditions from driving commercial trucks. If an accident does happen though, work with an experienced accident attorney to make sure justice is served. You can click here for more information.