Not everyone can be a truck driver. With some exceptions, there are medical conditions that may disqualify an individual from operating a truck. Meanwhile, there are other conditions that can prevent an individual from obtaining the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) that is required to legally drive a truck. Truck companies have a number of reasons they may hire an individual who is either unqualified or disqualified. The decision to do so can affect a company’s liability if the driver gets into an accident.
Were you or a loved one injured in a wreck resulting from truck driver disqualifications? The Kansas City, MO, truck accident attorneys of Aramjoo Law Firm examine this issue and what it means for you.
What Medical Conditions Disqualify a Truck Driver?
Certain medical conditions can negatively affect the ability of a driver to safely operate a truck and can, therefore, disqualify a driver altogether. These are a few examples:
- Heart problems: These include heart attacks, chest pain or discomfort caused by heart disease, congestive heart failure, and the risk of blood clots.
- Epilepsy: This neurological disorder can lead to seizures, which in turn can cause a truck driver to lose control and get into an accident.
- Vertigo: Because this condition results in dizziness and the sensation of spinning, vertigo can cause the driver to lose control of the truck.
- Vision or hearing loss: Good vision is obviously essential to safe operation of the truck, and hearing is necessary to detect horns, sirens, and other warning signals.
- Diabetes: Since this condition affects a person’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, a person with diabetes is susceptible to rapid drops in blood sugar that can cause dizziness, confusion, and sometimes loss of consciousness.
- Drug and alcohol use: Substance abuse leads to impaired judgment, coordination, and reaction time, all of which are critical to driving and responding to changing road, traffic, and environmental conditions.
- Sleep apnea: Federal trucking regulations don’t address sleep apnea, but drivers who suffer from it will likely be disqualified because of its effect on safe driving.
There are exemptions to several of these conditions, meaning that drivers with health issues can, in some cases, be permitted to drive anyway. For instance, a person with epilepsy who has not had a seizure for a certain period of time may be eligible for an exemption. These exemptions are granted on a case-by-case basis and may require medical evaluations, treatment plans, and safety accommodations.
What Disqualifies Someone From Getting a CDL in Missouri?
Truck driver disqualifications aren’t limited to medical issues. A CDL, or Commercial Driver’s License, is required if the vehicle exceeds a certain weight. The driver must also have the correct CDL classification. A truck driver may be disqualified from holding a Missouri CDL under certain circumstances.
Some examples are if the driver:
- Drives with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04 percent or greater
- Drives while under the influence of a controlled substance
- Refuses to submit to BAC testing
- Leaves the scene of an accident that involves a truck
- Commits a felony while driving or using a truck
- Drives while having a suspended CDL
- Causes a fatal truck accident
- Commits significant traffic violations such as reckless driving and speeding more than 15 mph above the speed limit
- Drives a truck that needs repairs and thereby violates an out-of-service order
Why Do Truck Companies Hire Unqualified and Disqualified Drivers?
Considering the clear safety risks posed by the above medical and other issues, why would a trucking company hire a disqualified driver in the first place? Moreover, why would a company hire someone who hasn’t acquired his or her CDL or is otherwise not qualified to handle a large truck?
Trucks can weigh tens of thousands of pounds. Combined with factors like speed and poor weather, an accident involving one of these massive vehicles can have catastrophic consequences.
Unfortunately, trucking companies often put profits over public safety despite being fully aware of the federal and state rules and regulations that govern their operations. Labor shortages may compel trucking companies to hire anyone they can get so there are no interruptions in business. Driving records that note disqualifying conditions may not be up-to-date. In still other cases, the company is simply too busy or negligent to check the driver’s background to determine whether he or she is qualified or has been disqualified from driving.
What Happens If an Unqualified or Disqualified Driver Causes an Accident?
When a truck driver causes an accident, the victim can take legal action. If the cause of the accident points to negligence on the part of the company that employed the driver, then a lawsuit can be filed to compel the company to pay the victim’s damages. This is certainly the case if it can be shown that the trucking company negligently hired, or otherwise allowed on the road, an unqualified or disqualified driver.
Evidence that the trucking company directly violated federal or state regulations or laws is especially compelling. These rules exist precisely to keep motorists, pedestrians, and others safe from unreasonably dangerous trucks and their drivers. Everyone who shares the road with trucks has the right to expect that these rules will be followed and that they and their loved ones won’t be injured or killed in a preventable accident.
When trucking companies disregard their duty of care and thereby cause someone to get injured, the victim can seek legal damages to pay for:
- Medical bills, including ambulatory service, hospitalization, surgery, prescription medication, physical therapy, adaptive medical equipment, and more
- Lost wages from time spent healing from injuries
- Lost income-earning capacity if the victim can no longer work at his or her previous job due to the accident
- Pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life
- Damage done to the victim’s vehicle and personal property
- Punitive damages in cases of especially negligent or malicious conduct
- Wrongful death damages for eligible survivors if the victim dies from his or her injuries
Our Kansas City, MO Truck Accident Lawyers Are Ready to Serve You
If you or a loved one were hurt in an accident stemming from truck driver disqualifications, reach out to Aramjoo Law Firm. We can explore your options, help determine how much your damages are worth, and get started on your legal case against the negligent parties. Reach out to schedule your initial consultation with us today.