Injured? Free Advice (844) 283-0656
We Help People Injured By Trucks

CBS Evening News: Steve Gursten explains how truck drivers with dangerous medical conditions are causing deadly wrecks

Written by Steve Gursten Posted May 31st, 2016

In this special report, Gursten outlines the safety crisis that truck accident attorneys see when truckers hide health problems to keep driving

According to the latest FMSCA statistics, nearly 4,000 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2014. But a recent report from ‘CBS This Morning’ and the ‘Evening News with Brian Pelley’ featuring Steven Gursten, Co-Founder of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, shows that some of these deadly truck wrecks could have been prevented if authorities did a better job of screening truckers for serious medical conditions, and limiting exemptions for other drivers with otherwise disqualifying medical conditions.

Gursten told CBS, “As an attorney, I see medically unfit drivers causing accidents all the time.” This is something our attorneys also commonly encounter in our own Roundtable law firm cases. In every lawsuit involving a truck, it’s important for attorneys to look very closely at driver personnel files and whether they are qualified to drive commercial trucks.

Here’s how the system currently works: Truck drivers are required to pass a health screening in order to drive. But the process is extremely flawed, as it depends heavily on a commercial drivers’ willingness to “self-report” and accurately answer questions about his or her medical well-being. This is essentially self-reporting, and as any personal injury attorney and medical doctor knows, self-reporting is a big problem. Our system requires truck drivers to report on something that could cost them their jobs, and in essence, promotes lying.

For instance, medical examiners are not going to investigate many disabling and extremely dangerous health conditions if the truck driver, whose livelihood often depends upon him continuing to drive a commercial truck, chooses to deny serious health problems. So unless it’s blatantly obvious on visual inspection to a medical examiner, the medical exam system that’s meant to protect all of us on the road today is very much broken. Here’s a blog post Gursten wrote about the problem, as outlined in the CBS broadcast.

“For the trucking companies, they want to look the other way, even though they know these truckers really should not be behind the wheel because they’re too dangerous for everybody else on the road. But they need to put drivers behind the wheel so they can get paid,” Gursten said to CBS correspondent Chris Van Cleave.

The network’s investigation also found cases where drivers omitted dangerous medical conditions from the DOT medical form, which the driver is expected to fill out truthfully. For instance, a dash cam video showed Greyhound driver Curtis Woods slamming into a pickup, killing the driver. He later admitted he stopped using the machine to treat his sleep apnea and even hid his condition.

Gursten shared his own case with CBS: That of Patrick Nunez, a loving father and husband who was killed after a fully-loaded gravel hauler crashed into his car on I-75 in Detroit, Michigan. The truck driver had epilepsy and was on powerful epilepsy medication that causes drowsiness. His employers turned a blind eye to his medical condition.

Simply put, these truckers should not be behind the wheel.

CBS News has reported that the U.S. Department of Transportation says safety is its top priority and fraudulently obtaining a medical certificate is illegal. The American Trucking Association has called aspects of the DOT program troubling and in need of further reform.

Related info:

Long form medicals are a treasure trove when a trucker’s medical condition is at issue

Are crashes caused by medical emergencies truly unpreventable?

 

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
Advantages of the Roundtable
Free Consultation
877-999-TAAR
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Seven Things You Must Now NOW After a Truck AccidentFree BookSeven Things You Must Know NOW After a Truck Accident
Truck Accident
Injury Scholarship
for college students who are survivors of truck accidents and have overcome their injuries while pursuing an education. Eligibility Criteria and Requirements