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Duty of care includes personal health care for commercial drivers

"Don't Tread on Me" is a U.S. motto that has come down through the country's history. You've probably seen it emblazoned on a yellow flag below a coiled rattlesnake.

An online check of its history reveals that when it was created back in the Revolutionary War era, it was meant to be a declaration of national unity. When displayed these days, it's generally understood as a statement against a government that is too intrusive in the personal lives of individuals.

While that sentiment is certainly one that anyone in Texas has a right to declare, it can't be denied that there are instances when seemingly intrusive government rules are necessary for the sake of the general welfare.

That's one reason commercial vehicle drivers, whether they sit at the wheel of a big rig, a motor coach, a bus or the controls of a train have to clear higher hurdles than other drivers to get their special licenses. These individuals are understood to have a special duty of care to the people they transport and to other drivers on the road.

By extension, duty of care means commercial vehicle operators have a responsibility to be honest about their own health. If they have a known medical condition that could incapacitate them and result in a tragic accident, and keep it a secret, that could arguably amount to negligence worth of regulatory action.

And that is just what happened recently in Georgia. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration declared a trucker an imminent threat to public safety after he suffered a health issue that resulted in a crash. Though being declared physically unfit to drive, he hid that fact and continued to drive for several more months before being banned from hauling.

Victims of accidents in which a commercial driver's disregard for others can be blamed have a right to seek compensation. But many layers of liability may exist and that can present extraordinary legal challenges. For effective representation, it's always best to consult experienced legal counsel.

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