Dr. Fletcher has devoted his entire 35-plus-year medical career to making the nation’s highways safer. He has done this through his national leadership on improving the system to determine a driver’s medical fitness to operate a commercial motor vehicle or a school bus.
For nearly three decades, Dr. Fletcher has been on the front lines of commercial motor vehicle driver medical fitness on a national level. In October 1993, he was the first to propose major changes in the system in order to certify commercial drivers, and in developing the first Department of Transportation (“DOT”) medical certification training program for physicians. In May 1995, Dr. Fletcher produced “The DOT Medical Certification Process: Avoiding Pitfalls and Problems,” a day-long training seminar at the American Occupational Health Conference (“AOHC”) in Las Vegas sponsored by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (“ACOEM”).
State and federal regulations and industry standards play a big role in any litigation involving a commercial motor vehicle or school bus. The increasing complexity of truck and bus accident litigation requires a medical expert who thoroughly understands the medical fitness of drivers and who possesses an intimate knowledge of US Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) and Federal Transit Administration (“FTA”) regulations. Dr. Fletcher has the knowledge and a thorough understanding of FMCSA and FTA regulations and how they apply to driver fitness.
When it comes to providing opinions concerning medical driver fitness in relation to proximate cause of an accident, Dr. Fletcher’s experience and intimate knowledge of the regulations has made him one of the most sought-after medical expert witnesses in the United States.
In more than 50 cases around the United States, Dr. Fletcher has qualified as an expert regarding driver medical fitness. In fact, Dr. Fletcher has provided expert opinions on several high-profile national cases that were subject to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigations where Dr. Fletcher gave opinions regarding whether or not driver fitness issues were a proximate cause of the injury.
Dr. Fletcher has been consistently retained by both plaintiff and defense counsel in these trucking-related cases. Notably, Dr. Fletcher has never had any Daubert exclusions relating to his testimony regarding medical fitness of a driver.
Trucking & Bus Accident Litigation Support Services:
- Review of Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Medical Fitness DOT Medical “Long Forms” (Medical Examination Report Form, MCSA #5875)
- Review of Medical Records (Driver)
- Review of Driver Qualification (DQ) File
- Review of Substance Abuse Testing and Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) Assessments
- Review of Corporate Policies and Testimony Regarding Medical Monitoring and Fitness of Drivers
- Review of Accident Reconstruction Reports to Help Determine if there was a medical issue
- Review Hours of Service reports to determine if fatigue factored into an accident.
- Prepare opinions on medical fitness of a driver.
Why Dr. Fletcher?
Contrary to other medical experts who do not have daily medical practice, Dr. Fletcher provides a unique level of expertise for your trucking and bus accident case because he performs driver medical certification examinations on an everyday basis in his SafeWorks Illinois medical office.
Dr. Fletcher is a nationally recognized expert in driver medical fitness. Dr. Fletcher has published and spoken on topics related to medical fitness of truck drivers, including driver fatigue, obstructive sleep apnea, cardiovascular issues, and diabetes.
His expert qualifications regarding medical fitness of drivers include, but are not limited to the following:
- Dual-board certified physician in preventative medicine and occupational medicine, Dr. Fletcher is also a certified Medical Review Officer (MRO) and a certified Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), both of which are important credentials to have in an expert reviewing complex litigation regarding truck and bus litigation, especially when substance abuse may be a factor.
- Fletcher is a Fellow in the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).
- Fletcher is certified on the National Registry for Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME) for the US Department of Transportation. (NRCME certification number 2987172716).
- Fletcher is the Medical Director of SafeWorks Illinois Occupational Health Services, a private occupational medicine practice that performs medical certification examinations for commercial motor vehicle and bus drivers. SafeWorks performs an average of 1,000 DOT medical examinations each year. Dr. Fletcher has personally performed over 20,000 DOT medical examinations throughout his career.
- In addition to certifying truck and bus drivers for medical fitness to drive, Dr. Fletcher is a senior Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), another operating mode of the DOT, that requires medical certification of commercial and private pilots. Fletcher has performed thousands of medical examinations on pilots to certify their medical fitness to fly an airplane.
- Fletcher serves as the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Champaign Urbana Mass Transit District (CUMTD), a public governmental agency that relies on his unbiased assessment of their bus drivers to protect the public safety by ensuring that only medically fit drivers are on the road. This governmental public agency depends on Dr. Fletcher’s thorough understanding of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regulations and how they apply to driver fitness.
- In October 1993, Dr. Fletcher proposed the first overhaul of the DOT Medical Certification System based on the need to change the then current system of inadequate certification and the need for major changes to protect the public from unfit drivers.
- On May 21, 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) adopted a certification process for examiner competency and to improve the training process with the advent of the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME).
- In 1995, Dr. Fletcher conceived and proctored the first national training program for physicians regarding DOT medical certification issues relating to commercial truck drivers
- In 1996, Dr. Fletcher served as one of two physician representatives on a national advisory panel for the DOT Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) with the overarching goal to develop new regulations as well as merge the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) procedures with the physical qualifications necessary to obtain a CDL.
- Assessing drivers for undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a major aspect of Dr. Fletcher’s clinical practice as a DOT medical examiner. It is imperative that an examiner not certify any commercial driver that suffers from respiratory conditions which would impact their ability to drive safely, including sleep apnea. See, e.g., 49 CFR § 391.41(a)(3)(b)(5) and Appendix A to Part 391 – Medical Advisory Criteria (respiratory dysfunction).
- Although Dr. Fletcher is not a board-certified sleep doctor and refers drivers to specialists to conduct sleep studies to confirm sleep apnea, understanding sleep apnea and sleep studies is an important part of his clinical practice in caring for drivers within the transportation industry.
- Fletcher has been consistently retained by both plaintiff and defense counsel in trucking-related cases and has never had any Daubert exclusions for his testimony regarding medical fitness of a driver.
- Fletcher served as the plaintiff’s medical expert in the 1999 Mother’s Day Custom Bus crash in New Orleans that killed 22 passengers and went all the way to the US Supreme Court, and was also investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
- Fletcher served as one of the plaintiffs’ medical experts in the November 2016 Baltimore School Bus crash that killed six people and was the subject of a NTSB investigation.
- Fletcher served as the plaintiff’s expert in the Lindsey v Celadon case. Dr Fletcher opined that Celadon’s driver had untreated obstructive sleep apnea and was the proximate cause of the accident which killed John Lindsey on May 7, 2010 in Texas. The case settled right at the eve of trial in May 2011. Aspen Insurance UK Limited and Hiscox, LT Companies paid the victims’ damages on behalf of Celadon. With the settlement, the widow Wanda Lindsay, created the John Lindsay Foundation to improve public awareness of the dangers of undiagnosed drivers with sleep apnea affecting the commercial motor vehicle industry. In 2012, Aspen Insurance filed suit against Community Hospital in Indiana, alleging its provider negligently issued the medical certificate to Celadon driver David Downey. Aspen hired Dr. Fletcher to be their expert in a suit filed after they had paid out damages to the Lindsey family.
In each of the above cases, Dr. Fletcher’s expert testimony assisted in pre-trial resolution.
In closing, as a nationally certified DOT medical examiner and occupational medicine physician, Dr. Fletcher has extensive expertise and training in the DOT regulatory requirements, DOT medical certifications, and issues regarding the occupational safety and medical certification of commercial motor vehicle drivers, which allows him to offer sound medical opinions on fitness-for-driving related issues.