The trucking industry in the United States of America is responsible for employing more than three million people according to 2013 statistics. The importance of the profession is often underappreciated when you consider that virtually every retail product you purchase was shipped through trucking. Not only do they supply us with the furniture, clothing, food and machinery or parts, but they also supply our hospitals and emergency services and transport fresh water as well. It’s a critical industry that helps keep manufacturers, consumers and key services supplied.
But as a profession trucking is also one of the most dangerous occupations. Over-the-road truck drivers can spend ten to twelve hours per day behind the wheel and drive through a number of hazardous conditions including bad traffic and inclement weather. The long hours, fatigue and health impact of being a trucker are challenging for those in the profession, but one of greatest risks to both their personal safety and their profession comes from other drivers on the road.
If you think you have a bad commute, you can only imagine the diversity of poor drivers that the average trucker encounters every day. It is these bad drivers who under estimate the maneuverability of a large truck (and its ability to stop quickly while pulling a load) which creates the shocking statistical prevalence of motor vehicle accidents for truck drivers.
How Often Do Accidents Occur?
There are a variety of reasons that accidents occur on the highway, and when they involve a large transport truck they tend to make the news. One of the reasons is that the average transport truck can weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds when loaded. Combine the weight and velocity of a truck against the average car (3,000 pounds) and you have the potential for a serious accident where both drivers can sustain significant injuries.
While many people attribute driver fatigue to trucking accidents, most accidents are in fact caused by automobile driver error according to the statistics. Truck drivers are experienced, professional drivers who are accustomed to their vehicle and the roads they travel. Drivers (in particular young drivers) can underestimate the distance between their vehicle and “cut off” a truck leading to collisions and dangerous “jack-knife” incidents where the truck is unable to stop safely. In all occurrences the damage and loss is significant when a transport truck is involved.
Loss of Income
When a truck driver is involved in an accident, the loss of income to his family can be catastrophic. The average over-the-road truck driver can earn up to $1,200 per week depending on the experience of the driver and the size of the cartage company. Contrary to belief, most truckers are married with families and the loss of income coupled with the cost of medical care (rehabilitation) post injury can quickly create a significant problem for the average family.
Rehabilitation and Medical Expenses
The rising cost of healthcare in the United States makes the journey back to normal pre-injury function expensive. The initial costs of care vary according to the severity of the accident, but can quickly escalate to the tens of thousands of dollars if prolonged hospital stay is required. Immediately following the recuperation period is a need for comprehensive physiotherapy to regain range of motion and pre-injury mobility. The cost of specialists can add up to a surprisingly unmanageable medical expense with few options for families who simply cannot afford to incur the financial burden of treatment costs. If the injured is receiving disability pay, the amount of income is only part of their full time pay, which makes dealing with medical expenses even harder on a far smaller budget.
Inability to Regain Duties of Employment
Depending on the severity of the injury, the trucker may or may not be able to resume his/her pre-injury employment duties. Most insurance providers will allow for a course of rehabilitation therapy in order to restore range of motion or address other injuries sustained in the accident. For a percentage of truck drivers however a return-to-work is not possible if they are unable to maintain the prolonged seated positioning required for driving. Retraining for another occupation within the transportation or similar industry may be required for drivers who sustain neck, back or leg injuries.
Finding a Trucking Accident Attorney
Insurance companies do not have your best interest at heart when it comes to compensating you for your post-accident loss. If you are a trucker who has sustained an injury due to an accident while driving, you are entitled to compensation and medical coverage that will help you get back on the road. If you are not able to return to work, a Personal Injury Lawyer can assist you by ensuring that your medical expenses and long term cost of rehabilitation, retraining and other necessities are accounted for before you sign off on your compensation.
Having an accident and getting your life back on track is the priority. Don’t let Insurance companies short change what you are entitled to receive. Protect your family and your recovery by consulting with a personal injury legal professional.
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