Sick and Behind a Big Rig’s Wheel
Indiana experiences its share of truck traffic, with eight primary interstates and its geographic position in the middle of busy routes between Chicago and the southeastern U.S. Our state is ninth out of fifty when it comes to traffic fatalities involving large trucks during 2015, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In that year alone, 117 persons died in crashes involving large trucks.
Now imagine a circumstance in which a driver could have caused an accident due to health problems. It’s one big reason that federal regulations require health exams of big rig drivers and forbid those with certain health conditions from driving.
Who Was “Dr. Tony”?
Did you know that, on their way from Chicago to the deepest of the south, some truck drivers could possibly have stopped just outside Atlanta to obtain their mandatory physical exams from a chiropractor called “Dr. Tony”? While we don’t have any evidence this actually occurred, it is within the realm of possibility.
Anthony Lefteris is charged with operating a scam in which drivers obtained their required commercial trucking medical certificates without receiving a genuine examination as defined by the FMCSA. Lefteris allegedly saw patients at the Petro Center located just off I-285 on the Hollowell Parkway, giving them the medical certificates required by law without performing the mandated exams and tests. The FMCSA has warned that all drivers who saw Dr. Lefteris during the past two years will need to be medically retested or lose their CDLs (commercial drivers’ licenses).
No longer listed as a certified medical examiner, Lefteris is out on bond.
What the CDL Medical Tests Look For
The mandated exams include a battery of tests for hearing, vision, illegal drugs, and taking a complete medical history. Certain conditions can disqualify a driver, such as:
- Serious heart disease, including angina pectoris
- Diabetes that is insulin-dependent
- Serious respiratory conditions
- Psychiatric disorders.
The FMCSA’s medical exams are meant to be stringent in order to prevent the types of deadly crashes that occurred during the 1990s. Perhaps the worst was in New Orleans, where 22 people died and 15 experienced significant injuries. According to National Transportation Safety Board investigators, the bus driver had been suffering from both congestive heart failure and kidney failure. He had also been operating the bus under the influence of marijuana and antihistamines, losing consciousness while driving the bus.
Previous Fraudulent Medical Examinations for CDLs
While the FMCSA states it doesn’t keep records of how many medical practitioners have lost examination privileges, Dr. Tony’s story is not unique. Three different cases involving fraudulent medical exams of truckers have occurred in recent years:
- At JFK International Airport in New York, where the doctor was often not present for exams. His signature was forged on the certificates.
- In Missouri, where unqualified staff performed parts of exams.
- In Pennsylvania, where a woman with a suspended chiropractor’s license was falsely signing certificates, sometimes forging other doctors’ names.
In all three cases, persons either pled guilty or were found guilty. Statements from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General that were released in October, 2016, reported these incidents.
Trucks, because of their size and weight, are often deadly to those in passenger vehicles when a crash occurs. In late December, 2016, a semi tractor-trailer hit a pickup truck head-on, killing the driver of the pickup on Indiana Route 63 in Cayuga, Indiana. The driver of the tractor-trailer was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated that resulted in death.
Having healthy, unimpaired drivers behind the wheels of semis that can carry up to 80,000 pounds of gross weight is crucial to preventing deaths in accidents. If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries because of a crash involving a large truck, and you were not at fault, it might be prudent to seek legal assistance.
When Others Breach Their Duty, We Keep Ours.
Indiana truck accident cases can be complex legal claims that require thorough investigation and demand aggressive litigation to secure the best possible outcome for the plaintiff. While monetary compensation can never undo the damage done as the result of a truck accident, a financial recovery can ease the financial burdens caused by overwhelming medical bills, loss of income, and disability.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer or other commercial truck, we suggest you talk with Indianapolis truck accident lawyer Mike Stephenson. With more than three decades of experience, substantial financial resources to commit to your case, and a commitment to the highest standards of client care, you can count on Mike. Contact him today by calling 1-317-825-5200 for a free accident consultation, or use our online contact form.