What Are Common Truck Accident Injuries?
Because of their size, weight and decreased maneuverability, 18-wheelers are at a higher risk of causing or being involved in serious accidents. If you've suffered an injury in a truck accident, you probably have a lot of questions. If your accident was the direct result of someone else's carelessness or negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the damages you sustained.
Truck Accident Injury & Fatality Statistics
According to data 4,119 people died from truck accidents in 2019. Of these deaths, about 16 percent of them were truck occupants, 67 percent were occupants of other passenger vehicles, and 15 percent were pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. According to the National Safety Council, 118,000 large trucks were involved in injury causing accidents during 2019.
Since 2009, truck accident fatalities have increased 31 percent.
The facts above reveal one thing: preventable truck accidents are unfairly changing lives and, in the worst cases, taking them away. When a person survives a truck accident, they'll likely have serious injuries that require extensive treatment and can last a lifetime.
What Is a Catastrophic Trucking Injury?
A catastrophic injury permanently and adversely affects the victim's quality of living.For instance, a spine injury could leave the victim paralyzed, which would leave them needing extensive medical attention and affect his/her ability to work, care for children, etc.
Common serious trucking injuries include:
- Head & brain injuries
- Burn injuries
- Orthopedic injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Detailed further down on this page, each of these injuries are serious and are often life-changing. When a person sustains any type of injury during a truck accident they weren't at fault for, they deserve compensation for the medical care, lost wages, cost of future care, and any other damages they've experienced.
One of the most serious injuries caused by truck accidents is amputation. Sometimes it can be caused directly by the accident and other times it comes as a result of injuries sustained in the accident. Amputation can occur instantaneously because of the force of a truck accident. For example, a limb could be crushed during an accident to such an extent that it is removed.
More commonly, a limb is damaged to such a degree that it must be removed later by surgery. Whatever the case, amputation changes a person's life forever. Amputation is not something that can be protected—even with all the necessary vehicle safety equipment. It is only prevented by the safe driving of truck drivers and passenger vehicle drivers alike.
Information About Amputation Injuries
There are few injuries that are truly as catastrophic as an amputation, which refers to the removal of any extremity such as a foot or entire leg. There are several ways in which an amputation can occur, but the most common are an accident or bodily trauma. While a limb may be severed during the course of an accident by an enormous amount of pressure, it is also possible that tissue / nerve damage to the extremities is so severe that surgical amputation is required.
Situations that may require the procedure include the following:
- The limb suffered from severe trauma during an accident
- The extremity is suffering from unusually poor blood flow
- The limb has suffered an infection that will not go away or is worsening
Due to the extreme nature of an amputation, recovery is often a drawn out process that takes a significant amount of time. Not only will the end of your limb need to heal (with the help of a dressing and a bandage), but you will also need to relearn how to complete normal daily tasks. This requires extensive rehabilitation, which can help you adjust to life with a prosthesis. Your prosthetic limb can be fitted once the wound is healed and is no longer tender or painful to the touch.
Many of those who endure amputation not only suffer from physical injuries, but emotional ones. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common side effect among amputees, due to the severity of the accident along with the realization that a limb has been lost. An amputation can also result financial damages, such as large medical bills, ongoing rehabilitation costs, as well as lost wages. Many of those who lose limbs can no longer perform their jobs, which will mean a loss of earning capacity.
Head Injuries & Brain Injuries
Head injuries are one of the most common injuries sustained in a truck accident.
About 2 million Americans suffer a head injury each year, with 3/4ths of those being concussions. Concussions are generally perceived to be a mild injury, but in reality, they can be quite severe and lead to long-term disabilities.
Traumatic Brain Injuries & Concussions
Head injuries known as traumatic brain injury (TBI) can leave a person disabled for life. There are an estimated 3.2 million Americans who live with disabilities related to TBI. Concussions are a form of TBI known as mild traumatic brain injuries (or mTBI). They are generally caused by blows to the head, but can also occur from violent shaking of the head (eg. severe whiplash caused by the impact of a truck accident).
There are many types of head injuries that differ depending on the severity, as well as the area affected:
- Concussion: These happen when something hits your head with high force. The trauma that ensues can cause complete loss of function or lesser, but still serious, side effects such as headaches, decreased alertness, insomnia, or unconsciousness. Concussions can be dangerous if left unchecked.
- Hematoma: This happens when blood collects outside of the vessels in your head and pools in the skin tissue. It is similar to a common bruise but can occur in the dura or skull which makes it more dangerous.
- Hemorrhage: These occur within the brain or skull tissue and cause bleeding. Because of increased bleeding, those suffering from a hemorrhage will have increased head pressure which, if left unchecked, can cause coma or death.
- Contusion: This is bruised brain tissue caused by a bunch of small hemorrhages leaking small amounts of blood into the tissue of your brain. These need to be monitored closely, because they can give a false appearance of health. Damage happens slowly and can be prevented from worsening as long as medical attention is carried out.
Sometimes a concussed person may retain consciousness and simply feel hazy or dazed. People who do not lose consciousness are often not aware that they have even suffered a brain injury.
Problems Associated with Brain Injuries
Most problems associated with head injuries are neuropsychiatric. Many of these problems go undetected without the use of in-depth examinations and cognitive testing. This includes problems such as:
- Changes to mood or behavior
- Outbursts of anger
- Intellectual deficiencies
- Memory loss
- Inability to concentrate
Severe brain injuries can also lead to neurological problems and seizures—requiring a lifetime of care for those who suffer from them.
Evaluating a Brain Injury
The evaluation process of a person who is suspected of having suffered a brain injury requires a thorough review of the person’s neurological, psychiatric, and medical condition before and after the injury. Individuals who suffer from prior TBI typically have a slower recovery process and may not regain full functionality. While it may not always correlate to everyday functioning, neuroimaging could prove useful for mTBI evaluations in some cases.
Some imaging modalities that may be used include:
- Computed tomography scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging
- Positron emission tomography scan
- Single-photon emission computerized tomography scan
- Diffusion tensor imaging
The tests listed above are crucial for those who are suffering from a brain injury. They help doctors determine how much care a person needs, if they're at risk for other medical emergencies, and how lasting an injury might might be. Yet, these tests are also expensive. Truck accident lawyers can help a person get the care they deserve by demanding compensation that they need to obtain it.
While accidents involving passenger vehicles can cause serious injury and even death, think about how much more amplified injuries are that involve large trucks. The human body is composed of 206 bones total, all of which can be broken. If you are involved in an accident with a semi truck, tanker truck, or any other kind of commercial truck you may sustain broken bones.
Some common types of broken bones are listed below:
- Impacted - Occurs when bone fragments are forced into each other
- Spiral - Occurs when bones are twisted
- Complete - In contrast to an incomplete fracture, occurs when the bone is broken all the way through
- Comminuted - Occurs when a bone shatters into multiple pieces
Depending on the severity of the break, the treatment for these injuries will vary from minor casts and splints to surgery, which can include pin placement so that the bone heals correctly. While some broken bones heal with time, others require extensive rehabilitation. Crucially, getting the right care for a broken bone matters. Without it, a person's bones might not heal properly, triggering other issues later on.
When big rig trucks carrying fuel and other dangerous chemicals are involved in an accident, the result can be catastrophic. Chemical and gasoline leaks from a truck tipping over or crashing can be highly flammable and even explosive. This, in turn, makes it more likely for the victims of an accident to sustain permanent burn injuries and disfigurement as a result.
Burn injuries can be life-threatening as they have the potential to cause infections and fluid loss; in some cases, these injuries might require a blood transfusion or amputation of the limb entirely.
There Are Multiple Degrees of Truck Accident Burn Injuries
The severity of the type of burn is divided into four categories:
- First Degree: Only damages the outermost layer of skin; does not leave permanent scars
- Second Degree: Reaches the superficial layer of skin; might cause blistering or infection
- Third Degree: Extends throughout the entire dermis; usually causes permanent scars (might require amputation)
- Fourth Degree: Reaches muscle and bone; usually requires amputation and might cause functional impairment
Burn injuries can cause irreparable damage and create life-long struggles for survivors. If you have suffered a burn injury as a result of a truck accident, you could be entitled to compensation—whether monetarily or through reimbursed medical expenses. Secure the help of a qualified truck accident lawyer to see what they can do for you.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Trauma to the spinal cord is a common injury sustained in truck accidents.
Direct injury can be caused by damage to the bones and disks of the back. If the truck accident is serious enough, fragments of bone break and lodge into the spine. They don't always happen from a direct blow to the back, but can happen in head and neck injuries, as well. The head and neck when forced sideways or compressed can contort the spinal cord, causing injury. Spine injuries are classified on a scale from A to E, with A being the most severe and E displaying normal motor / sensory scores.
- Loss of Muscle Function
- Bone Degeneration
- Complete Paralysis
Classifying Spinal Cord Injuries by Placement
In addition to levels of severity, spinal cord injuries can also be classified by placement:
- Cervical: Cervical spine injuries occur in the neck and cause breathing loss, partial or complete paralysis of upper extremities, as well as lost ability to control heart rate and blood pressure
- Thoracic: A thoracic injury occurs in the mid-back and often results in paraplegia
- Lumbosacral: These involve the lower back and can cause loss of bladder function and other leg / hip functions
Truck Accident Whiplash Injuries
If you were involved in a truck accident, chances are you at least suffered from some whiplash. Although not an official medical term, "whiplash" is commonly used to describe neck injuries sustained in car accidents. The technical term for whiplash would be cervical acceleration-deceleration injury; it may also be called a neck sprain or strain.
- Neck Aches
- Back Pain or Stiffness
- Blurred Vision
- General Pain / Numbness
However, you may not notice any pain right away. In fact, it is common for people who have been involved in a truck accident not to display symptoms of whiplash for up to 24 hours after the initial trauma.
How Is Whiplash Caused?
Don't make the mistake of thinking whiplash only occurs in high speed accidents.
Whiplash can actually happen at speeds as low as 15 mph. In all cases, it is caused by injury to the neck's soft tissue; this can include neck ligaments, muscles, and tendons stretched beyond their normal range of motion. In the most severe cases, patients are diagnosed with coup-contra-coup. This occurs when force pushed the brain into the cranium while the head and neck were both extended. If you believe you are suffering whiplash after being involved in an accident, contact a doctor immediately.
What Can Our Truck Accident Lawyers Do for You?
At Arnold & Itkin LLP we are dedicated to helping people like you get the compensation they deserve for their injuries. We understand that accidents change lives, that they're preventable, and that no one deserves to suffer financially because of one. When people approach us for help, they do so because we have a history of doing what it takes to get the results that clients need.
From intensive investigations, tense negotiations, and heated courtroom battles, our team has a reputation for never backing down from a fight. Over the years, we've recovered billions of dollars for clients because we're always focused on the recovery that they need, not the initial low settlements that they're offered.
Call us now for help from a truck accident lawyer who won't accept less than you need to move forward. We're standing by to talk at no cost when you call (888) 493-1629.