Commercial drivers in West Virginia and elsewhere are currently not subject to mandatory sleep apnea screenings. However, bills in both the House and the Senate may require the FMCSA to keep trying to create one. Such a rule was under development throughout 2016, but it was tabled in the summer of 2017. If implemented, it would create objective criteria under which a medical examiner could refer a trucker for testing.
In addition to providing clear guidelines as to when a driver should be tested for sleep apnea, it would also create guidelines as to how a driver should be treated. Currently, there are many guidelines that can be used, and this has resulted in confusion and frustration among drivers. Some drivers see these referrals as nothing more than testing companies and doctors simply cashing in on a vague standard.
If a person is hurt in an accident caused by a commercial truck driver, that driver might be liable for the resulting damages. An attorney may look for evidence that a driver was distracted, impaired or tired at the time of an accident. If a truck driver has sleep apnea, it may increase his or her risk of being involved in an accident. Medical records and other evidence may help determine if that is the case in a given accident.
Assuming that negligence does play a role in causing an accident, an injured victim may be entitled to compensation to help pay for medical bills, make up for lost wages and possibly make up for lost future earnings. Punitive damages may also be awarded depending on the facts of a particular case.