Citing a spike in fatal truck accidents, the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General is conducting an audit of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) medical certificate program. According to national statistics, there was an 11 percent increase in the number of deaths from 2012 (4,397) to 2017 (4,879). The IG is conducting a thorough investigation into the procedures used by FMCSA when it comes to oversight of its medical certificate program and how the agency validates the information in their National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.
- Trucks, Seizures & Big Rig Crashes
- How to Determine If a Truck Operator Was Tired or Impaired in a Truck Accident Injury Case
- Sleep Apnea and Commercial Truck Drivers: A Deadly Combo
Computer Hack and Fraudulent Activity
Under federal regulations, all commercial truck drivers must obtain a valid medical certificate from a medical examiner who has been certified by the FMCSA. It is crucial that all truck drivers who are operating these massive vehicles be healthy and free of medical issues which could cause them to crash and put other commuters’ lives at risk.
In December 2017, there was an unauthorized hacking to the agency’s system, causing the medical examiner’s site to be shut down for months while the site was completely rebuilt, delaying certification for more than one year.
The IG’s office also cited other fraudulent activity as reasons for the audit. Since August 2014, the IG has conducted multiple criminal investigations that have resulted in eight indictments and six convictions involving medical certification fraud.
In one of these investigations, 600 Georgia truck drivers were informed they needed to renew their medical certifications when the medical examiner who had issued their certifications was arrested for issuing bogus medical certifications. She later received a 21 to 20 months prison sentence.
In another Georgia case, a medical examiner issued thousands of false certificates. More than 6,500 truck drivers were required to obtain new certificates in that case. The doctor avoided prison time by pleading guilty and working out a plea agreement.
False certificates mean unhealthy truck drivers behind the wheel, putting all of our lives at risk. It is well-documented that long-distance truck drivers are more susceptible to developing serious medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, sleep apnea, and high cholesterol. When a trucking company hires a driver they know is hiding any of these conditions from the government, this is a form of reckless hiring and negligence.
Proving a Known Medical Condition in a Truck Accident
With so many issues regarding the FMSCA’s medical certification program, if it suspected that a truck driver had a medical condition that caused a crash, how does the victim prove this? A skilled Virginia truck accident attorney knows just what steps to take.
At Shapiro & Appleton, our legal team has successfully litigated multiple truck accident cases where the truck driver’s medical fitness was called into question. The first step we take is to review all relevant hiring documents the trucking company had on the employee to ensure that the company took all required hiring process steps, past physical exams, and all employee reviews to see if there is anything that indicates a health issue.
When it comes to obtaining the medical records of the truck driver, once a case is filed in court, we will obtain a subpoena from the court that will compel the release of the driver’s medical records.
We will also obtain the truck driver’s driving records as part of our investigation, especially looking at any previous accidents which could indicate known medical conditions that the trucking company were aware of or should have been aware of.
Contact a Virginia Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, contact a Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have against the responsible party or parties. Our personal injury law firm has successfully advocated for many truck accident victims and their families and we understand how complex these cases can be. Our attorneys are available to meet and discuss the details of your case and how we may be able to help.
For more information about truck accidents in Virginia, please download our free guide.