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The trucking industry provides valuable service in this country, moving goods from shore to shore. Along the way, accidents occur. Because of the size and speed of a tractor trailer, collisions between a truck and a car often result in catastrophic injury or death.

In Ohio alone, there were 9,319 truck crashes in 2011. Of those, 5,514 were caused by truck drivers. While many factors contribute to driver error, fatigue directly impacts road awareness, physical agility, reaction time and decision making ability.

Recently the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made rule changes to try and reduce mistakes made by tired truck drivers. While the effective date of those changes passed in 2012, the final compliance date is July 1 of this year.

Points about the new hours of service (HOS) rule change include the following:

Sharing a road with a semi-truck can make any driver nervous. Hopefully these rule changes will provide some confidence that the truck operator in the vehicle next to you is not asleep at the wheel.

If involved in a car, or truck accident, always seek experienced legal advice.

Low back pain, sciatica, sprain strain lumbar spine

Sciatica, also known as lumbar radiculopathy, is a symptom of a problem with the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body and the primary nerve of the leg. The sciatic nerve controls muscles in the back of the knee and lower leg and provides feeling to the back of the thigh, part of the lower leg, and the sole of the foot. Sciatica usually affects only one side of the lower body. Sciatica can occur suddenly or it can develop gradually. It may start in the lower back and extend down the leg to the calf, foot, or even toes. Sciatica consists of pain, weakness, tingling or numbness, which might feel like a bad cramp, or it can be excruciating, shooting pain that makes standing or sitting nearly impossible. The pain might be worse when sitting, sneezing, or coughing. For some people, the pain from sciatica can be severe and debilitating, while for others it may be infrequent and irritating, but has the potential to get worse.

Diagnostic procedures for sciatica may include a complete medical history and physical examination, x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and electromyography/nerve conduction study (EMG/NCS). The symptoms of sciatica may resemble other conditions or medical problems, so one should always consult a physician for a diagnosis.

[depiction of low back pain, burning, numbness, tingling, radiating pain, sciatica caused by low back injury]

While there are many causes of sciatica, it is most commonly caused by a herniated disk in the spine that presses on the sciatic nerve. Other causes include: a ruptured intervertebral disk, lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back), an injury such as a pelvic fracture, degenerative disc disease (breakdown of discs, which act as cushions between the vertebrae), spondylolisthesis (a condition in which one vertebra slips forward over another one), irritation of the root(s) of the lower lumbar and lumbosacral spine, and pregnancy.

Sometimes sciatica goes away on its own with time and rest. Treatment, if needed, depends on the cause of the problem and it may include exercises, medicines, and surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve. The goal of treatment is to decrease pain and increase mobility. In determining the specific treatment, a physician takes the following factors into consideration: age, overall health and medical history, extent of the disease, tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies, expectations and patient opinion and preferences.

If you develop sciatica in the work place, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney may be necessary.

If you develop low back radiating pain (aka sciatica) from a motor vehicle accident in Ohio, consult for free with an attorney at NRS Injury Law.

While the automobile insurance companies flood the airwaves with clever commercials and catchy jingles about their low rates, accessibility, and commitment to “being there” for their customers, the reality is a much less personal, more anonymous, and an entirely bottom-line profit-maximizing business model, when it comes to claims adjusting, that far too often boils claim evaluation down to, “Don’t like it? So sue me.”

One of the most common complaints amongst our clients who have suffered injuries as the result of auto accidents is that they end up being made to feel more like a wrongdoer than a victim. This is especially common in claims like the ones on which this CNN article focuses – i.e., those accidents involving relatively minor property damage to the vehicles, but still resulting in injuries (http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/02/09/insurance.hardball/). The insurance companies know and love the popular misconception that only catastrophic or "serious" car crashes can cause real bodily harm, despite the countless cases where the impact of cars colliding (even at low rates of speed) causes damage to the people inside even when the bumpers do their job in protecting the cars (and insurers) from major damage (i.e., repair costs). For these lower impact accidents, insurance companies scoff at medical records and doctors’ opinions as to degree of injury, with insurance adjusters often relying instead upon their own “medical expertise” to determine that the resulting injuries couldn’t possibly be so severe as what the medical evidence says. In other words, the accident victim must be lying. Adjusters are trained to evaluate low impact accidents where treatment goes beyond 6-8 weeks as being medically unnecessary without any further consideration.

Insurance companies will frequently make a play to offer nominal settlement amounts to victims of their customers’ driving mistakes as soon as possible to avoid having to pay more if/when the injuries turn out to be more serious than just a bump or a scratch, which is especially common with the types of spinal injuries that often result from car accidents. And if you think that initial offer was unreasonable? Tough. An insurance company gets no benefit out of paying more or paying earlier. So the mantra becomes, "deny, delay and defend." (http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/anderson.cooper.360/blog/2007/02/insurance-companies-fight-paying.html); (http://www.cnbc.com/id/36178055).

While popular opinion seems to be unkind to those individuals who hire lawyers to pursue insurance claims and take these insurance companies to court, what other options do the insurance companies give victims in these kinds of claims? As the CNN article poses it, the position has increasingly become, “Take it or leave it...” or, perhaps more accurately, “Take it or spend time, money, and energy fighting for more.” That uphill battle for fair compensation is a tough pill to swallow for anyone who’s already suffered due to a car accident. It’s unlikely to change anytime soon, but articles like this CNN report help raise public awareness regarding what those “good hands” and “good neighbors” are really up to, aside from collecting premiums.

If you or a loved one are injured in an automobile collision and are getting this kind of run around from an insurance adjuster, call the attorneys at NRS Injury Law.

The process for determining fault in crashes involving a commercial truck can be complex. Crashes involving commercial trucks often have a number of contributing factors such as driver error, weather, roadway conditions, and vehicle malfunctions which may complicate the liability determination. A thorough investigation that takes into account all these factors, as well as statements of witnesses and reports made by the highway patrol or local police must be conducted to determine which driver was at fault. Ultimately, the driver or drivers who are determined to be at fault for causing the accident will be responsible for compensating any person who was injured or killed in the accident.

Trucking companies and drivers must adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These rules govern licensing of truck drivers, weight limits for cargo, and the number of hours drivers may be on the road. Under these regulations, truck drivers are only permitted to drive for 11 hours in a 14 hour work day, following a minimum of 10 hours of rest. These regulations were modified in July of 2013 to combat the problem of truck driver fatigue and increase safety on the road.

Stay safe on the roads by avoiding the “no-zones” of trucks. No zones are the areas around trucks where crashes are most likely to occur. Due to their size, trucks have large blind spots on the sides and directly behind them. Keep in mind that if you cannot see a truck driver’s mirrors, they cannot see you.

In the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident with a commercial truck, call a Cleveland truck accident attorney at Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg to discuss your rights at 855-GOT-HURT, or fill out our contact form.

When Injuries Happen, Know Your Rights 

Big trucks cause big accidents for motorists—and even pedestrians. Official statistics show that one out of every eight automobile accident fatalities involve large trucks, and every 16 minutes, a crash or collision involving a big truck occurs. These trucks, which include tractor trailers, big rigs and other commercial vehicles, dominate the space they occupy on streets and highways. Too often, automobiles and motorcycles come into contact with them, and the results can be devastating.

In fact, when a commercial truck is involved in an accident, 86 percent of fatalities, and 77 percent of those injured, end up being the drivers and passengers of the smaller vehicles involved in the crash. Given the large size of the trucks, the long hours that many drivers spend behind the wheel and the failure of some big truck drivers to abide by the posted speed limits, such a high rate of big truck accidents is not at all surprising.

Many big truck accidents are caused by human error. Others are traceable to mechanical failure, intoxication or even a trucking company’s failure to adequately maintain current inspection standards for the truck that was involved. In the aftermath of an accident, victims who survive can be severely injured and/or traumatized. Additionally, big truck accidents can result in substantial damage to the victim’s vehicle and other personal property that was impacted by the accident.

In most big truck accidents, liable parties that can be sued may include the driver of the truck, the commercial vehicle owner, the owner of the freight, the employer of the driver, the manufacturer of the truck cab, trailer or other truck equipment, and even third-party maintenance companies.

Crash Evidence is Key to Determining Fault in Big Truck Accidents

It is not unusual in big truck accidents for the trucking company involved to actively work to deny that the truck driver they employed was at fault. Federal law requires that trucking companies keep evidence; but the law stipulates that this applies only for a certain time period. If you or a loved one have been involved in a big truck accident, it is essential to protect your rights, so you should immediately contact an experienced big truck attorney.

Based on the circumstances surrounding the accident, a qualified and experienced big truck attorney will likely send the trucking company a spoliation letter. Without this letter, the trucking company may be able to legally destroy the trail of guilt. Beyond this, an experienced attorney will represent your interests throughout your case. He/she will determine who the responsible parties are in the accident that occurred, and work to obtain other important evidence such as official accident reports and truck logs. That attorney will also pursue just compensation for injuries, lost wages and loss of financial stability, costs associated with ongoing care and medical treatment, and emotional distress.

No Cost Evaluation

If you or a loved one have been injured in a big truck accident, your rights are at stake—you need to seek immediate legal advice. At Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A., our big truck accident attorneys may be able to help you pursue compensation for the pain and suffering that you have been forced to endure. The experienced personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers at NRS are highly knowledgeable in big truck litigation. We fight side by side with injured victims to make sure they and their families receive compensation for negligence that caused them to be hurt. We will aggressively pursue your case and work to help you obtain the medical care and compensation you need to rebuild your life.

In the event you or a loved one has suffered a big truck accident-related injury, contact the personal injury attorneys at NRS Injury Law by filling out our No-Risk Consultation form, or call (855) GOT-HURT and speak with one of our trained staff members.

According to new research by the American Automobile Association (AAA), drivers who miss two to three hours of sleep a day more than quadruple their risk of getting involved in a crash, compared to drivers who sleep for seven hours.

In the AAA study, sleep-deprived drivers were found to be nearly twice as likely to be involved in an accident when they get five to six hours of sleep; more than four times as likely with four to five hours of sleep; and nearly 12 times more likely to be involved in a crash with less than four hours of sleep.

In a Dec. 6 CBS This Morning interview, Jake Nelson, AAA’s director for traffic safety and advocacy and research, said, “Driving with having only earned four to five hours of sleep in a 24-hour period can be just as impairing as driving legally drunk.”

Lack of sleep impairs a driver’s attention, ability to think clearly, and ultimately, reaction time. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tracks accidents throughout the U.S. and states that there are about 56,000 crashes every year in the U.S. for which authorities cite driver fatigue or drowsiness. Likewise, the NHTSA states that drowsy-driving accidents cause nearly 40,000 personal injuries and 1,550 fatalities each year.


Understanding How Drowsy Driving Causes Ohio Car Accidents

An NHTSA study called “Drowsy Driving and Automobile Crashes” concludes that fatigue or sleepiness can ultimately lead to the inability to resist falling asleep at the wheel.

According to the study, a typical crash related to drowsy driving has the following characteristics:

Further, the NHTSA study determined that drivers at the highest risk for drowsy driving are:

Medications, including sedatives like anxiolytic hypnotics, tricyclic antidepressants and some antihistamines, can also cause drowsiness. Of course, alcohol, which is a sedative, compounds the detrimental effect that drowsiness has on physical and mental activity.

These factors, the NHTSA study concludes, have a cumulative effect, and when combined, they dramatically increase the risk of a car crash.

How Can Drowsy Driving be Proven as an Accident Cause?

Investigators utilize many tools, techniques and pieces of evidence to determine the cause of accidents, including drowsy driving accidents. For starters, a basic accident report includes information about the type of accident that occurred that could point to drowsy driving. As mentioned above, the lack of skid marks points to a driver not braking to avoid a crash.

Receipts from credit or debit cards, as well as witness testimony, could indicate that a driver ate or drank something before the accident that made him/her drowsy. Additionally, prescriptions for medication that cause drowsiness could also be used as evidence. Cell phone records also contain data that help to prove whether the driver traveled a long distance prior to the crash.

No one should ever get behind the wheel when they are too drowsy to drive safely. Those who do should be held accountable when their actions result in accidents that harm others. Victims who are injured as a result of a driver who fell asleep at the wheel are entitled to pursue claims in order to obtain compensation for their losses. Additionally, if someone is killed in an accident caused by drowsy driving, the surviving family members may be entitled to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against that driver.

No Cost Evaluation

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of drowsy driving, your rights are at stake—you need to seek immediate legal advice. At Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A., our personal injury attorneys may be able to help you pursue compensation for the pain and suffering that you have been forced to endure. The experienced personal injury lawyers at NRS are highly knowledgeable in personal injury litigation, including drowsy driving. We fight side by side with injured victims to make sure they and their families receive compensation for negligence that caused them to be hurt. We will aggressively pursue your case and work to help you obtain the medical care and compensation you need to rebuild your life.

In the event you or a loved one has been injured as a result of drowsy driving, contact the personal injury attorneys at NRS Injury Law by filling out our No-Risk Consultation form, or call (855) GOT-HURT and speak with one of our trained staff members.

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