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Oil boom sparks rise in truck accidents

Some previous posts on this blog have focused on workers injured in the oil fields that have sprung up in Montana and other states in connection with the Bakken Shale oil boom. But the boom has had another unfortunate side effect: the number of truck accident victims in the Bakken region is also on the rise.

One North Dakota woman's experience illustrates the trend. She was driving her SUV with her five children - all under age 12 - on board when she collided with an oil truck. She says that before the collision, dust and debris kicked up by other semi trucks reduced visibility to nothing. She did not see the truck she collided with until she was only a couple of feet away, when it emerged from the haze.

The woman suffered serious injuries, including two broken knees, a broken leg, collar bone, shoulder, wrist and nine ribs. Fortunately her children suffered only minor injuries, with the exception of one son whose jaw was broken.

The woman is not alone. Statistics from North Dakota indicate an increase in road fatalities has accompanied the oil boom, as more and more big rigs and other vehicles compete for space on the roads. A Washington, D.C. transportation consultant says that the connection between the increase in traffic and the increase in accidents is a matter of common sense.

Those who are injured in a semi truck accident have the right to bring a civil lawsuit against the trucker and his or her employer, if there is evidence that the trucker's negligence caused the crash. A victim of a negligent truck driver can recover damages to compensate for medical expenses, lost wages, disfigurement, and pain and suffering.

Source: DL-Online, "Consequences of the North Dakota oil boom: Road, rail deaths on rise," Erik Burgess, Jan. 13, 2013

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