Truck drivers are at risk for developing a number of health conditions that may make operating a truck dangerous. Some experts report that long-haul truckers are actually twice as likely to be obese when compared to other workers. Obesity has been linked to dozens of serious health conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, sleep apnea, diabetes, and many more. These conditions may cause symptoms that suddenly interfere with a truck driver’s ability to drive, increasing the risk of an accident.
Illinois recognizes a sudden medical emergency as a defense to liability for car accidents. However, the defense may only be used in the medical emergency was not foreseeable. For example, a driver who has always been in good health may use this defense if he suddenly has a stroke and rear-ends another vehicle.
However, when a driver has had some warning signs about a health condition, and this health condition does cause an accident, the driver may be liable for any harm that he or she causes.
For example, consider a truck driver who has gained a significant amount of weight during his time on the road. The lack of time to exercise paired with eating on the go has caused him to pack on 60 pounds. At a doctor’s visit, he is diagnosed with sleep apnea. The doctor warns him that if he does not follow his treatment plan, he could suffer from a number of complications, including excessive sleepiness during the day. The trucker does not follow his doctor’s advice, and sure enough, he falls asleep at the wheel. He runs a red light and hits another vehicle, causing the other driver serious injuries.
In this situation, the truck driver would likely be liable for the victim’s injuries because he had notice of a health condition and he failed to take measures to manage it properly. The truck driver may be responsible for the victim’s medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and even the cost of any future medical care that will be required.
To prove that a truck driver was aware that he might become ill while driving, the accident victim’s attorney will request medical records that show the trucker’s health history. If the trucking company has noted any health conditions on the trucker’s records, those may be used as well.
If a trucking company had notice of any health conditions that may cause an accident, and it retained or hired the truck driver, the company may be liable for any accidents that result as well. These companies have a duty to monitor their drivers.
Contact our truck accident attorneys to discuss your case
At Stein & Shulman, we know how to prove that a truck driver should have known about an existing health condition when he or she caused an accident. During your free consultation, we will discuss your accident and what your legal options may be. To schedule your free consultation, call us at (312) 422-0506.