Investigating Technique – DOT Physical Results
San Antonio Personal Injury Lawyers » Investigating Technique – DOT Physical Results
Obtaining the Truck Driver’s Medical Certification & DOT Physical Results Following a Commercial Vehicle Accident
Commercial trucking companies have a duty to employ drivers that are drug-free and physically able to drive the massive tractor-trailer trucks that share our roads and highways. To ensure that the drivers are physically able to perform their job duties as a commercial truck drivers, the Department of Transportation requires that drivers take a physical and obtain the proper Medical Certificate signed by a medical examiner that certifies their physical health and ability to drive commercial vehicles. The Medical Certificate is valid for two years.
The medical examiners are not required to provide the medical exam information to the driver’s employer, but they are required to supply the Medical Certificate to the employer if the driver passes the exam. Therefore, it is logical step for the commercial trucking company to have medical certificates on file for each of its drivers as the medical certificate is something each driver must have passed to be permitted to drive commercial trucks in the first place. The trucking company has a duty to ensure that the drivers in its employ meet the state and federal requirements for commercial truck drivers, and this includes the physical ability of the driver. More information here
If you are in an accident with a tractor-trailer it is important that the Department of Transportation’s physical results on the driver are obtained as soon as possible. The trucking company should have the medical certificate on file, but the medical examiners are not required to provide them with all the information from the exam. However, the trucking company has a right to this medical information and should have it. The absence of the medical certificate can indicate that the driver was not physically able to be driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the accident. This can go a long way in demonstrating the trucking company’s liability in the accident by having someone that has not been medically authorized driving their commercial truck.
Getting the medical records necessary to prove that the driver had a condition that impaired their ability to drive or was not medically fit to drive can be difficult to obtain. There are issues with the trucking company’s willingness to provide these documents, the driver’s rights in the medical records, and the general red tape you will encounter trying to get these records. This is why you need attorneys like ours at our Law Offices to help you with your claim. Our attorneys have significant experience dealing with commercial truck accidents and the extensive measures it can take to obtain the medical documents necessary to prove the driver’s and the trucking company’s liability in your case.
The Driver’s Duty
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation, commercial truck drivers have many different responsibilities depending upon the type of driving they do. Some drivers are short relay drivers and they return to their home base at the end of each day. Some drivers work as long relay drivers and they will drive for 9 to 11 hours and then have a 10 hour off duty period before returning to home base. And then there are team drivers that will work in pairs and drive cross country. These drivers will take turns between driving and resting to make sure neither exceeds the hours of service regulations and have proper rest before driving again. The type of driving a commercial truck driver performs can directly impact any underlying health conditions they may have just by virtue of some of their job duties.
Drivers may have to deal with abrupt schedule changes, rotating schedules, long hours, extended time away from home and family, tight schedules, irregular patterns for eating and sleeping, noise, lifting cargo, and even temperature extremes. There may be other duties in addition to the driving that a driver is responsible for and needs to be fit to perform. Some of these responsibilities include coupling and uncoupling the trailer from the tractor hitch, sitting for long periods of time without being able to stretch, inspecting the operating condition of the truck, and assisting with the unloading of cargo. These tasks require a certain level of physical agility, the ability to bend and stoop as necessary and climb the truck’s ladder to inspect cargo. The driver must also be perceptive enough to monitor the road and complex driving situations. The driver needs to be able to have the judgment skills to make quick decisions, the ability to maintain control of the tractor-trailer truck and its contents and to navigate through traffic and areas with which the driver may be unfamiliar.
All of these duties and situations are the kind of factors that can trigger or aggravate a driver’s underlying health condition and this is why it is so important for them to have a medical certificate clearing them to drive commercial trucks. The driver has a duty to have his or her medical exam performed by a medical examiner authorized by the Department of Transportation and obtain the medical certificate indicating his or her physical fitness for driving commercial vehicles. Until the medical certification is obtained the driver should not be allowed to drive commercial vehicles.
What is Physically Fit?
To meet the Department of Transportation standards and to pass the medical exam and receive the medical certificate making a driver eligible to be a commercial truck driver certain physical requirements must be met. Most of the requirements are pretty common and are the type of physical qualifications one would think of when dealing with a commercial truck driver. However, some of the requirements are not as intuitive so that’s why these regulations are helpful to have in place and important for the commercial truck drivers and the commercial trucking companies to abide by.
The Department of Transportation medical exam requirements states that a driver is considered physically fit if they have not lost a foot, hand, leg, or arm they have been granted a waiver to this requirement by receiving the loss of limb waiver certificate. The person must not have any impairment of their hand or finger that interferes with the ability to perform normal tasks associated with driving a commercial truck. The driver must not have been diagnosed with diabetes that requires the use of insulin for control. The driver must not have been diagnosed with or have a medical history of heart disease or suffered from cardiac failure. The driver must not have any history or diagnosis of respiratory failure or dysfunction or diagnosis of high blood pressure that is likely to interfere with their ability to function as a commercial driver. The driver must have any medical history or diagnosis of rheumatic, orthopedic, muscular, vascular, neuromuscular disease or arthritis that would interfere with the ability to operate the commercial truck. The driver must not suffer from epilepsy or other condition that causes seizures or have any mental, nervous, or functional disease that is likely to interfere with the ability to operate the commercial vehicle. Finally, the driver must meet the vision and hearing qualifications as well. If the driver does not pass each aspect of the physical exam they will not be issued the medical certificate allowing them to drive. Some of the medical requirements have a waiver provision such as the loss of limb certificate mentioned above. In these instances, if the driver can demonstrate their ability to operate the commercial truck in a sound and careful manner despite their handicap or medical issue a waiver for that portion of the medical certificate can be obtained.
However, there are certain medical conditions that can disqualify a driver from driving at all. According to the regulations, drivers that have suffered hearing loss or vision loss can be disqualified. Additionally, drivers who suffer from epilepsy or have insulin-dependent diabetes are disqualified from commercial truck driving as well. If a trucking company hires a driver who does not have a medical certificate, a driver that has not obtained the necessary waiver for their medical condition, or a driver who has one of the conditions that can disqualify a driver from driving commercial trucks, the trucking company’s liability for an accident that involves that driver can be demonstrated through this failure on their part.
The DOT Physical Results Can Help Your Claim
If you have been in an accident with a commercial truck driver, it is important that certain medical records of the truck driver be obtained as soon as possible. When a commercial truck driver has been in an accident with a motorist, it is a standard procedure that the driver be given medical tests shortly after the accident has occurred. These medical tests will include drug and alcohol testing which must be performed within 8 hours after the accident. These tests are helpful in two ways. First, the tests can determine if the driver was under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. Second, the tests can also detect other medications as well. The presence of other medications in the driver’s urine or bloodstream can point to medical conditions that are either disallowed for commercial drivers under the Department of Transportation regulations or point to a medical condition that may have contributed to the accident.
Additionally, obtaining the proof of the driver’s medical certification is key as well. According to the FMCSA Roadside Inspections Driver Violations Database, over the past five years there were almost 500,000 citations issued to drivers who could not provide proof that they were medically qualified to be driving commercial trucks. This statistic is important because it sheds some light on the trucking company’s liability as well. If the driver is unable to provide proof of their medical qualifications to the FMCSA inspectors, odds are they are unable to provide those to the trucking companies as well. Trucking companies should not knowingly allow medically unqualified drivers to operate their commercial vehicles, and by doing so they are liable for the accidents these medically unqualified drivers may cause.
The lawyers at our Law Offices know how to get the medical documents needed to demonstrate the trucking company’s liability for the actions of their negligent driver that injured you. The trucking companies have certain duties assigned to them by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation, and one of those duties is to hire medically qualified drivers. When they fail to do this and when a driver’s medical condition causes or contributes to an accident, they must be held accountable. Making sure this happens can be a difficult task for you on your own. Bringing in our attorneys as soon as possible after your accident will enable us to act quickly and increase the chances that we can obtain all of the medical and physical testing results before they are destroyed or become unavailable. The trucking companies have lawyers on their side fighting for their rights, you should have an experienced group of attorneys on your side as well. Call us today