Being medically fit to drive is important whenever anyone gets behind the wheel. This is more crucial when someone is operating an 80,000 pound truck. If a trucker has medical conditions that make it unsafe to drive, you and your family can be the innocent victims of a large truck accident.
What Are the Medical Certification Rules for Truck Drivers?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates transportation companies and truck drivers, and many of its rules are designed to prevent deadly accidents.
In order to be qualified as a truck driver, an individual must meet a number of requirements, such as obtaining a commercial driver’s license. Another requirement is any trucker who intends to operate a commercial vehicle with a maximum gross weight rating of over 10,000 pounds in interstate commerce must have a physical exam and receive a medical certification that he's fit to drive. Interstate commerce is the transporting over goods across state lines, which applies to the majority of trucks on our roads.
The trucker must obtain a medical certification from a Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved examiner. The medical examiner must be listed on the FMCSA National Registry and can include:
- Medical doctors (MD)
- Doctors of osteopathy (DO)
- Physician assistants
- Advanced practice nurses
Some Medical Requirements Truckers Must Meet
In order to receive a medical certification, an individual must be certified by the examiner as not having certain conditions that would disqualify him from being a truck driver.
Some of the physical requirements include:
- A loss of a foot, leg, arm, or hand unless the trucker has a skill performance evaluation certificate
- No impairment of his hand or finger that prevents him from grasping; or of an arm, leg, or foot that would interfere with driving ability
- No established medical history of or diagnosis of diabetes which requires insulin for control
- No diagnosis of certain heart conditions, such as myocardial infarction, which is a heart attack; angina pectoris; the pain associated with coronary heart disease; and a cardiovascular disease causing cardiac arrest
- A diagnosis of a respiratory disease that would interfere with the driver’s on-road capabilities
- A diagnosis of high blood pressure, epilepsy, arthritis, or mental disorders that would limit his ability to drive safely
- Passing a vision and a hearing test that prescribe the minimum requirements for vision and hearing for driving a truck
- No diagnosis of alcoholism
- Not using Schedule 1drugs, such as marijuana, amphetamines, narcotics, or other addictive drugs
If a truck driver passes his physical exam, the health professional will complete a medical certification that's valid for 24 months. The driver is given a copy of the certification, and it's also filed by the practitioner with the Department of Transportation.
In some cases, a certification may be for a shorter period of time. For example, if a truck driver suffers from hypertension, the examiner may feel that he needs more regular check-ups before certifying him as medically fit to operate a commercial truck.
What Happens If the Truck Driver Who Caused Your Accident Wasn't Medically Fit?
If the driver didn't have a medical certification to operate a commercial vehicle or had let it lapse, this could be grounds to prove his negligence caused your wreck.
In addition, you may have a separate claim against the trucking company that employed him. As part of the hiring process, supervisors are required to obtain a copy of the driver’s medical certification. The company had a duty to ensure certification was renewed when necessary. Failing to do so is a violation of federal regulations—and possible evidence of the trucking company’s liability to compensate you for your injuries.
An experienced truck accident attorney can assist you in obtaining medical documents from the transportation company, trucker, and health professional. If you need to file a claim for compensation following a truck accident, contact us online or call our office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation to learn how we can help.