Back in 1995, the number of truck drivers on U.S. roads were almost three million, and that number grows every year. People may be surprised to learn of how many different injuries the operators of big rigs are exposed, outside of those typically caused by crashes. Although workplace injuries entitle most employees to workers’ compensation benefits, it can be challenging to prove that many of the injuries suffered by truck drivers are work related.
Non-crash injuries or fatalities
If you are a big rig driver, you may want to look out for the different types of health and safety risks you face. Hundreds of truck drivers lose their lives every year while they are outside their vehicles — mostly after dark or at dusk, but some incidents occurred during daylight hours.
Their activities at that time may include:
- Exiting or entering the truck
- Walking behind or alongside the truck
- Truck Maintenance
- Directing or flagging traffic around a broken down truck
- Crossing the road
- Unloading or loading the truck
- Other activities related to transport operations
Approximately 50 percent of those who suffer non-fatal injuries report serious strains and sprains. One of the reasons for these injuries is drivers loading and unloading their vehicles without assistance. Many reports indicate that heavy objects fell onto them while they were loading or offloading trucks. The body part most frequently injured during these activities is the back.
A part of the problem seems to relate to the significant pressures to meet deadlines that make drivers do their own offloading to get back onto the road as soon as possible. After many hours in a sitting position, their bodies need some stretching before overexerting with lifting and moving heavy objects. Soft tissue injuries often occur when drivers are unfamiliar with lifting techniques that may limit their chances of suffering injuries.
When employers provide lifting or loading equipment, they must ensure workers receive adequate training in the operation of the equipment. Untrained operators of equipment are always at risk of injuries.
Crash Injuries and fatalities
A significant percentage driver who died in large truck accidents were operating tractor-trailers. Factors that may lead to these crashes include:
- The type of vehicle
- Condition of the vehicle related to maintenance and repair
- Weather conditions
- The driver’s general health and level of fatigue
Brake failure and inclement weather are two factors frequently cited as accident causes — in many cases both played a role. Driving such large vehicles is an exhausting activity, and maneuvering them in adverse weather or heavy traffic conditions can bring about fatigue quicker than for drivers of passenger vehicles. There are strict regulations related to the hours that truck operators may drive without resting, but accidents continue to occur.
While injuries suffered in some of these circumstances will qualify for straightforward workers’ compensation claims, other may be more challenging to navigate successfully. An experienced Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney can provide the guidance and support in your pursuit of financial benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages. A seasoned lawyer may have the skills to gather all the necessary information to justify your claim.