Many truckers in Virginia and across the U.S. suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. With OSA, the throat muscles and mouth palate relax and collapse during sleep, blocking the airway for 5 to 10 seconds at a time and thus interrupting one’s sleep. These interruptions prevent one from achieving deep sleep, which repairs the physical side of fatigue, or REM sleep, which repairs mental fatigue.
The result is continual sleepiness during the day, problems focusing, poor memory and depression. One may even develop diabetes or suffer heart attack or stroke because of untreated OSA. In the meantime, those truckers who travel with undiagnosed OSA are putting themselves and other drivers at risk for a crash. Truckers who snore loudly, gasp for air during sleep and suffer morning headaches may want to see a doctor.
OSA treatments are plentiful. Individuals may start by trying to sleep on their side. They can put tennis balls under their clothes to keep from lying on their back. For mild OSA, one possibility is the use of mouthguards called mandibular advancement devices.
Then there are CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines. Users wear a mask over the nose and/or mouth, and the machine delivers a stream of air pressure to keep the airway open. Surgery can be considered, too, for serious cases.
When motor vehicle accidents involve a negligent trucker, such as a trucker who was drowsy, drunk or simply distracted, the victims have a good chance of filing a personal injury claim. Virginia, however, follows the rule of contributory negligence, which means plaintiffs who contribute so much as 1% to a crash cannot recover damages. Besides that, plaintiffs may face strong opposition from the trucking company and its team of lawyers. For these reasons, it may be wise to hire a lawyer of one’s own.