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Sleep Apnea is Linked to Fatal New Jersey Train Crash

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Attorney at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers

Sleep Apnea is Linked to Fatal New Jersey Train Crash

As Virginia personal injury lawyers we see many cases in which undiagnosed sleep apnea has caused serious trucking accidents.

It appears the issue is not confined to the roads. This week a report into the devastating train crash that wrecked a station in New Jersey and killed a woman found the engineer suffered from the condition.

Two officials told the Associated Press about the sleep apnea issue. They said 48-year-old engineer was diagnosed with sleep apnea after the incident.

Did sleep apnea cause train crash

Sleep apnea

This was a serious crash that left more than 100 injured and killed a woman on the platform of the station in New Jersey. Falling debris killed the commuter.

Sleep apnea is known to lead to dangerous daytime drowsiness. The condition repeatedly wakes sufferers as their airway closes and their breathing stops.

The engineer for New Jersey Transit told investigators he had no memory of the crash. In the moments before the commuter train hit the platform, it sped up.

Unions representing the engineer were cagey after the claims. However, sources said it was not clear why the engineer’s condition was not picked up during screening.

Like a trucking company, a railroad can be held liable for a medical condition that causes an accident if it should have been identified during screening.

If sleep apnea is found to be the cause of the Hoboken crash, it won’t be the first time the condition has been blamed for a serious railroad crash in recent years.

In December 2013 a Metro-North train derailed in The Bronx in New York causing loss of four lives. The driver in that tragedy had fallen asleep leading the train to speed up and derail. He was later diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea has become a hot-button issue in recent years. Metro-North gave physical examinations to all 320 of its engineers after the Bronx crash.

The testing revealed 84 of them potentially suffered from sleep apnea. Further testing suggested about 18 percent of Metro-North’s engineers have sleep apnea.

It’s alarming to think that when you get on a train the driver could be suffering from sleep apnea. While America’s railroads are bringing in a system called Positive Train Control that’s meant to prevent crashes like those seen in New Jersey and in The Bronx, the implementation of PTC has been dogged by delays.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a train crash, see our resources about railroad accidents or call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at (757) 455-0077.

John Cooper

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John Cooper

John Cooper is a veteran of personal injury law practice in Virginia. A native Virginian, he was raised in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He has more than 20 years of experience handling personal injury cases and recently handled the largest auto accident settlement in 2010, according to VA Lawyers Weekly. The award provided $3.5 million to a child whose young father died when the vehicle he was a passenger in was rear-ended by a careless truck driver.

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Jim Hurley

Jim Hurley has been practicing law throughout Virginia for more than two-and-a-half decades. During his career, he has tried more than 100 jury trials — a staggering number — and handled hundreds more that were settled out of court. He is guided by the principle that the client is in charge of his or her case and should be kept fully aware of the litigation process. Jim has been awarded an AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating given, for his practice of law. He was named in Virginia Super Lawyers in 2014, 2015, 2016.

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Bill O’mara

Bill O’Mara started his legal career in 2008, moving back to his home town of Chesapeake, VA. He has practiced in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury and other litigation. He has gained extensive court room and trial experience, including contested trials before judges and juries across Hampton Roads. In 2014, Mr. O’Mara joined Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers as an associate attorney. He became a partner in 2017.

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