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Commercial trucking accidents have risen significantly over the last decade, and unsurprisingly, fatalities and serious injuries caused by these events are up as well. More than 70% of the deaths and injuries that occur involve drivers and passengers in passenger vehicles, and more than 10% involve pedestrians and cyclists. There is much to do in the wake of a serious vehicular accident, but personal injury lawyers advise that there is nothing more important than seeking medical attention, getting any immediate care required, and establishing a record of your losses.
Semi-trucks are integral to the U.S. economy, and most operators are highly trained professionals who drive in a safe manner. Still, accidents happen. In fact, America averages about one commercial trucking accident every 15 minutes. These accidents result in hundreds of injuries every day, and while many of these accidents occur on interstates, they often happen on other roads as well.
Interstate 80 is among the deadliest roads in the U.S. when it comes to semi-truck accidents. The stretch of I-80 in New Jersey has been particularly deadly in recent years, and many of those accidents occur on a section called Christopher Columbus Highway, which is not only part of the interstate but a major road that is integral to the local infrastructure.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has expanded and refined hours of service rules and other trucking regulations in order to keep truckers and other road users safer. Many states throughout the country are working to improve safety as well. In New Jersey, a five-year Strategic Highway Safety Plan was implemented in 2020 and focuses on improving road conditions, adding more lanes, making signage clearer, installing more barriers, and other measures.
With efforts like these, why then are semi-truck accidents on the rise? One reason is that the number of trucks on the road continues to increase, so even though the rate is going down, the actual count is going up. Another reason is that semi-trucks are getting bigger. Recent law changes have allowed an increase in the overall size, and a fully loaded semi-truck can now weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. There are also likely reasons that are not quite clear to us, yes, and toward that end, there is a great deal of research being conducted by organizations like the FMCSA, the NHTSA, and the Institute for Safer Trucking.
Stop immediately no matter how seemingly minor the accident is. Turn off the engine, engage the parking brake, and turn on your hazards. Take a deep breath, and check yourself for injuries. If you are injured, it’s best to remain still and calm. Otherwise, you may want to scan your surroundings and get yourself to a safer location, such as the roadside, if the spot you’re in is particularly dangerous. Call the police. When paramedics arrive, have them assess your health, and go to the hospital if they recommend it or you notice any indications that something is wrong, such as neck or back pain.
If you do not need to go to the hospital and can remain at the site, take photos. Take close-up and mid-range pictures of your vehicle, the commercial truck, all other vehicles involved, road signage, and road debris. Record vital information as well. This includes the date, time, location, license plate numbers, trucker employer information, and contact information for police officers and witnesses. As soon as practical, contact your insurance company. You’ll also want to contact a law firm that specializes in such accidents to review your case and potentially continue the investigation on your behalf.
Going to the hospital after you’ve been involved in a commercial truck accident is generally a good idea. Paramedics can provide any immediate medical attention required, but they don’t have access to the advanced diagnostic tools available to doctors at a hospital. These diagnostic tools include:
MRI stands for “magnetic resonance imaging.” The technique involves the use of magnets and radio waves to capture images of your soft tissue, which are then processed by a computer. This data lets doctors assess many aspects of your body, including your brain, heart, spinal cord, muscles, and more.
Digital X-ray imaging involves the use of radiation, which means that it can’t be used on all areas of your body. It is highly effective for assessing bones and joints, and it does offer some advantages over an MRI. An X-ray provides information much faster and can be taken in any position, such as standing up.
CT stands for computer tomography, and a CT scan involves taking multiple digital X-ray images and using that data to construct a three-dimensional model. If an injury is discovered by a traditional X-ray, a doctor may call for a CT scan in order to have a more comprehensive view of the injury.
A fluoroscopy exam is similar to a digital X-ray but is captured over time and thus provides a video as opposed to a still image. This diagnostic tool is typically used in conjunction with other imaging techniques, and it often provides the information a surgeon needs to carry out a medical procedure.
Commercial trucking accidents result in a wide range of serious injuries. The potential for head injuries is among the reasons you need to seek medical attention right away. Such injuries are often classified as either open, which involves penetration, or closed, which involves an impact. While there are often signs of an impact, such as bruising, this isn’t always the case, and there can be brain trauma without many if any physical manifestations.
Neck and spine injuries are great cause for concern as well, as they permanently affect the quality of life for many accident victims. Whiplash is among the most common neck injuries. It can range from neck stiffness to severe pain and loss of motion. While most people recover in weeks or months, others experience ongoing complications, and you’re more prone to those complications if you’ve ever had a similar injury.
Shoulder injuries are also common and often require surgery and rehabilitation. When you brace for impact, elbow fractures and dislocations are prevalent as are tears to elbow tendons and bicep muscles. Devastating hip injuries can occur when there is a great impact, and many people experience broken hands, wrists, knees, ankles, and feet.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a New Jersey accident with a semi-truck, the law firm of Rebenack Aronow & Mascolo is here to assist you. RAM Law has extensive experience investigating, litigating, and navigating civil trials in cases involving commercial trucking accidents. Our team is available around the clock, and we have offices in Freehold, New Brunswick, and Somerville. If you’d like to schedule a case review with one of our personal injury lawyers, call us at (732) 394-1549 or contact us online.
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