According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, in 2012, over 12,000 trucks and buses were involved in accidents resulting in 97 deaths and several thousand injuries. These injuries and deaths can have a great impact on the lives of families and victims. Because of the increased loads that trucks carry, truck accidents are more likely to result in more serious life-altering injuries. Families may find themselves facing years of rehabilitation expenses. Injuries can put individuals out of work, hurting not just the victims, but the families that depended on these paychecks in order to pay the rent and put food on the table. When truck accidents occur, victims may not be aware that they have the right to seek out the counsel of a personal injury lawyer like Raymond Arenofsky Attorney at Law. Insurance companies and truck companies may offer low settlements to victims and families who may suffer in silence, unaware that they are entitled to more money to cover their medical fees, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

Yet, truck accidents alone are not the only ways that trucks cause injuries to individuals every year. According to the European Respiratory Journal, recent research indicates that exposure to diesel exhaust can lead to respiratory difficulties in younger children. According to the European Respiratory Journal, lower respiratory track illnesses are the leading killer of young children globally. These illnesses can also lead to lung infection, problems of immune system development, and respiratory disease later in life. The studies found that children exposed to diesel traffic pollutants were more likely to wheeze and more likely to suffer from compromised respiratory systems. Children who live near major roadways and other high-traffic congestion areas may be susceptible to these kinds of respiratory illnesses.

According to the American Cancer Society, large engines, including those used in trucks and buses are most likely to produce diesel exhaust. Everyone, to some degree, is exposed to diesel exhaust, but some individuals may be more vulnerable. For instance, truck drivers, toll booth workers, and operators of large vehicles may be vulnerable to exposure to diesel exhaust. Researchers have found that long-term, and heavy exposure to diesel exhaust led to cancer in laboratory animals. Truck drivers, for instance, were found to have a greater risk of lung cancer than the general population. While the American Cancer Society explains that the risk of diesel exposure outside of the workplace has not been studied closely, the research published in recently in the European Respiratory Journal seems to be a step in that direction.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration governs safety regulation for truck drivers. For drivers who are loading or unloading goods, OSHA law applies. Yet, when it comes to driving and transporting goods on public highways, the Department of Transportation has jurisdiction. According to the American Public Health Association, “diesel exhaust emissions represent a major public health hazard.” These emissions have been classified as known carcinogens. The World Health Organization recently upgraded the risk of diesel exhaust from group 2A to Group 1. Substances in Group 1 are known to be highly carcinogenic—in fact, this is the highest risk label afforded to any carcinogen. According to the American Public Health Association, OSHA currently has set no standards regarding these emissions. Furthermore, the Department of Transportation has currently set no limits for emissions nor has it set any guidelines for health standards.

When one considers the populations that live within major highways where trucks release diesel emissions, one can quickly appreciate the risks that have not been addressed by the organizations that are put in place to keep workers and the public safe.

According to the American Public Health Association, more than 1.35 million workers are regularly exposed to these deadly emissions on the job. With no current standards in place, it seems that the government is leaving it up to the public to take action themselves. One way workers and the general public can protect their rights is to sue companies and agencies for illnesses and damages that occur due to exposure to these deadly chemicals. In many cases, lawsuits are the first step toward the implementation of better policy and laws to protect workers and the general public.

Of course, lawsuits involving exposure to truck emissions are much rarer than lawsuits involving truck accidents. That said, as the public becomes more aware of the risk of diesel fuel emissions, and as states move to set higher standards, diesel emission lawsuits may be just as important in regulating the truck industry as truck accident lawsuits are. Families of victims of truck accidents often have recourse to sue for injuries and damages and they often have dedicated attorneys to protect their rights during litigation and settlement negotiations. Perhaps in the future, there may be more dedicated truck attorneys working to help victims of diesel emissions receive fair compensation for medical care and pain and suffering resulting from cancers caused by these emissions.

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