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An overlooked cause of truck accidents: Sleep apnea

On Behalf of | Jan 30, 2020 | Firm News

You may know someone who suffers from sleep apnea if you don’t suffer from it yourself. This condition can have numerous adverse health effects, such as heart disease and hypertension, just to name a few.

Around 4% of the United States population suffers from sleep apnea. The problem is that 35% of those people drive 18-wheelers for a living. When the condition isn’t properly treated and controlled, the side effects of it increase the likelihood of a truck driver causing an accident by up to 250% when compared to the risk associated with drivers who receive enough rest.

A bit of background on sleep apnea

In individuals who suffer from sleep apnea, the airway is blocked for anywhere between five and ten seconds at a time, and this can happen several times while sleeping. As you can imagine, this doesn’t make for a good night’s sleep. This condition comes in three types:

  • In obstructive sleep apnea, an individual’s mouth palette and throat muscles relax so much they cut off the airway.
  • In central sleep apnea, an individual’s brain fails to send the proper instructions to the muscles involved in breathing.
  • In complex sleep apnea syndrome, an individual suffers from both of the above.

Truck drivers most often suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. The constant interruptions from not breathing continuously bring them out of their sleep if even for a second or two. As you can imagine, this leads to excessive sleepiness, irritability and other ramifications that make driving unsafe. With upwards of 80,000 pounds that should be under the control of the driver, this makes for a dangerous situation.

What happens if untreated sleep apnea causes an accident?

If you encounter a truck driver with untreated sleep apnea, you could end up the victim of a truck accident. Your injuries could be quite serious and keep you out of work for some time as the medical bills pile up. The financial stress could hinder your recovery and jeopardize your future.

You may be able to pursue compensation to help with your monetary losses through the filing of a personal injury claim in a Tennessee civil court. However, doing so could add even more stress, but if you turn to an experienced attorney for help, it could relieve at least some of it during an already challenging time in your life.


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