Transportation accidents are a major cause of work injuries

In a state as populous and diverse as New York, employers come in all manner of sizes and industries. Just as varied are the types of health and safety risks that workers face while on the job. One topic that is often overlooked in discussions of occupational injuries is the danger of work-related traffic accidents, which can affect people in almost any industry in the Albany area and beyond.

Although not as high-profile as other occupational hazards, such as construction falls, machinery accidents or even repetitive motion injuries, car accidents are a leading cause of workers' compensation claims throughout the United States. Furthermore, when on-the-job traffic accidents do occur, they are more likely than other work accidents to result in severe or fatal injuries, and they tend to require longer recovery periods for those who are injured.

Crash risk spans many industries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, transportation accidents were the cause of nearly 40 percent of occupational fatalities that took place nationwide in 2013 - a total of 1,740 on-the-job crash deaths that year. This category of occupational injuries encompasses boating, aviation and railroad accidents as well as more typical traffic accidents involving cars, trucks and other roadway vehicles. However, ordinary traffic accidents account for the majority of those incidents.

It may be easy to assume, upon learning of these statistics, that people who drive for a living are most at risk of being killed or seriously injured in an occupational traffic accident. However, this is not necessarily the case. A 2014 report by Business Insurance explained that work-related car accidents tend to affect workers who do not drive for a living.

One reason for this may be that professional drivers are more likely to receive in-depth training on driver safety issues and thus may be less vulnerable to collisions. Another factor may be that people who drive infrequently for work may tend to be less familiar with their surroundings and thus more likely to be involved in a crash.

Serious neck and back injuries are common

Whatever the cause, injuries caused by on-the-job traffic crashes tend to be more severe and long-lasting than other types of occupational accidents, at least in part because they involve a high frequency of head, neck and back injuries. On average, a worker who is injured in a crash will recover about one-third more time to recover than a worker who suffers a different type of injury, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance.

If you have suffered a work-related accident in upstate New York, be sure to talk your situation over with an experienced workers' compensation attorney to learn about your legal rights and the steps you should take to protect them.