According to the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety, in Nebraska, in 2013 alone, one car accident occurred every 17 minutes, resulting in 211 deaths and over 16,000 injuries. The cost of these accidents on the citizens of Nebraska is immense. In 2013, the cost of medical bills, property damage, lost wages, rehabilitation, and other administrative costs related to car accidents exceeded $700 million. Unfortunately, individuals who don’t have access to a skilled personal injury lawyer like Rensch & Rensch often end up paying many of these fees out of pocket, causing serious financial strain on victims and families.
The toll of these personal injuries is not just financial. Families often find their lives completely changed as a result, with family members sometimes having to take time off work themselves to care for injured or recovering loved ones. In Nebraska, 44 people every day suffered a personal injury as a result of a car accident.
Truck accidents are often more devastating than car accidents, leading to more catastrophic and costly injuries. Yet, recent research suggests that Nebraska may not be properly accounting for the number of truck accidents that take place every year. The implications of these incorrect numbers can be immense, as personal injury lawyers, policy-makers, and other stakeholders often use these numbers to make decisions about law and traffic signal upgrades, among other decisions.
According to a study published in Traffic Injury Prevention, truck misclassification in state records was found to be large enough to affect federal and state traffic safety management. The researchers took a look at the VIN numbers of vehicles involved in crashes in Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Utah and discovered that the classification of these vehicles in state crash systems were sometimes inaccurate when it came to accidents involving single-unit trucks. The researchers found that single-unit trucks between the weights of 10,000 and 14,000 pounds were most often misclassified.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, in its listing of vehicle types, doesn’t also seem to differentiate between commercial trucks and large campers and motor homes. This means that when accidents are recorded, it can be difficult to distinguish between accidents involving large commercial vehicles and accidents involving private vehicles. For instance, vehicles are classed as “passenger cars” or “other two-axle, four-tire, single-unit vehicles.” Larger trucks are divided according to axle number.
Researchers Ivan Cheung and Elisa Braver noted in their research in Traffic Injury Prevention that tractor-trailer trucks were less often misclassified than smaller trucks.
Yet, even a misclassification of light trucks can be problematic. Light trucks carry much heavier weights than passenger vehicles. When these trucks collide with passenger vehicles, the risk of personal injury is increased. Skilled personal injury lawyers fight both inside and outside the courtroom to ensure that victims of these serious and sometimes catastrophic injuries are properly compensated for their pain and suffering, medical expenses, and rehabilitation costs. Large truck accidents may sometimes need to be handled by personal injury lawyers in a different manner than passenger vehicle accidents. Victims who have been involved in misclassified accidents may not realize that they may require counsel from a personal injury lawyer who specializes in truck accidents.
The researchers, in consultation with the National Transportation Safety Board, urged policy-makers to improve crash data to ensure that the public and key stakeholders remain informed about the kind of accidents that occur across the country, and in Nebraska, each year.
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