Trucking accidents often mean severe injuries with long-term impacts. Big trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and the considerably smaller size of the average passenger vehicle offers relatively little protection against that massive weight in the event of an accident.
As a result, many truck accident victims find themselves dealing with injuries that likely have long-term consequences. Even minor truck accident injuries can prove devastating, including limiting the victim's hobbies, ability to work, and finances for months after the accident.
During a truck accident, most of the body takes significant force. Not only does the actual force of the accident cause the body to jolt forward against the seatbelt, often leading to significant head trauma, but that force may also cause the victim to bounce back against the seat, leading to further trauma to the head. As the brain hits the inside of the skull, it can suffer significant injury, leading to bruising and bleeding.
Brain injury can vary from mild to severe, depending on the accident's force and the injuries' extent. With even mild traumatic brain injury, the victim may experience confusion and disorientation at the accident scene. Even minor traumatic brain injury can cause the victim to struggle with focus or memory tasks. Both short-term and long-term memory may see a heavy impact from the accident. Worse, victims with traumatic brain injury may have significant problems following instructions or keeping up with everyday events.
Brain injury can also cause emotional trauma, including a significant struggle with emotional regulation or trouble keeping up with everyday activities and requirements. A patient with severe brain injury may struggle with mood swings or inappropriate responses to emotional stimuli. While patients can recover from brain injury with time, even minor traumatic brain injuries may leave the victim with symptoms that linger for more than a year after the initial accident.
Brain injury can require extensive medical treatment, including hospitalization and long-term monitoring for many patients. Furthermore, brain injury can make it impossible for many patients to work normally or even to work at all. Some patients may struggle with the focus or concentration necessary to stay on task and keep up with work responsibilities. In contrast, others may have difficulty with creative problem-solving or other skills they typically use in their daily jobs.
Spinal Cord Injury
The force of a truck accident may lead to substantial spinal cord damage, including a partial or full severing of the spinal cord. Patients with incomplete spinal cord injury may suffer from pain and loss of mobility. Complete spinal cord injury, on the other hand, can lead to much more substantial limitations and suffering.
Complete spinal cord injury occurs when the victim's spinal cord severs completely in the accident. Victims may lose function below the site of the injury. Depending on where the injury occurred, they may have little to no mobility. In addition, spinal cord injuries can cause patients to lose some organ function below the injury site, which can cause significant health problems and even reduced lifespan for people with those devastating injuries.
Spinal cord injuries can lead to substantial expenses for many victims. Not only do many spinal cord injury victims have to contend with high treatment costs for the rest of their lives, but they may also need to make extensive modifications to their homes and use durable medical equipment regularly to help with the overall quality of life and functioning.
Furthermore, spinal cord injury can interfere heavily with a patient's income since the patient may lose the ability to work in a highly active field after the accident or may have to change work positions or responsibilities.
Back and Neck Injuries
Even if the truck accident victim does not suffer a permanently paralyzing or limiting spinal cord injury, he may still sustain severe injuries to the back or neck. Even minor injuries like whiplash, which occurs due to the rapid back-and-forth movement of the head and neck during the accident, can lead to substantial, long-term suffering for many truck accident victims. Victims may suffer various back injuries, including herniated discs, strained muscles, etc.
Back and neck injuries can take a long time to heal. In many cases, they may mean long-term limitations for the patient, or even permanent restrictions, depending on the extent of the injuries. Back or neck pain can make it difficult for victims to sit or stand for long periods, so office jobs and jobs that require a great deal of physical activity may prove much more difficult. Lingering pain can make it difficult for patients with back and neck injuries to participate in activities they did before the accident. They may have to give up their previous hobbies, time with friends, or vacations and events they were looking forward to.
In some cases, the extreme force of a big truck accident can lead to limb amputation. The amputation may occur as a direct result of the trauma from the accident, or the victim may suffer such severe crushing damage as part of the accident that they have to have the limb amputated later due to damage and lack of blood flow.
Amputees often learn how to function using prosthetics, which can both help restore normal appearance and aid in some of the function lost along with the limb. However, even modern-day prosthetics cannot entirely replace a regular limb. Furthermore, those prosthetics can mean extensive expense over time since the average amputee will have to replace prosthetics every three to five years.
Amputees may also have new challenges they have to contend with, including the inability to enjoy some hobbies that they once engaged in regularly or the inability to return to their former professions. It often takes considerable time for amputees to rebuild their lives following a significant accident.
Vehicle fires can lead to substantial injury for vehicle occupants. A fire may occur because of the extreme force of the truck accident. In addition, some victims may suffer chemical burns due to the cargo carried by big trucks.
Burns can lead to immense complications for many victims. Burns can cause more physical pain than many other types of injuries. They may result in a long road to recovery and a high risk of complications during that extended recovery process. Many burn victims have to spend extensive time in a particular burn unit where they will have a reduced risk of infection.
Burn victims also have a high rate of substantial scarring, which may cause considerable psychological complications. Many patients need significant therapy to help cope with changes in appearance related to burn injuries. While plastic surgery can help restore some normal appearance, it may not entirely return the victim to their former appearance following an accident.
Chemical burns may introduce additional complications. Chemical burns can cause internal complications, particularly if the chemical gets inhaled during the accident.
Any type of accident can lead to broken bones. Truck accidents, however, often lead to multiple broken bones, which may mean a very long and complicated recovery period and greater overall limitations for the victim.
Broken bones can prove relatively simple, requiring just a cast and time to heal, or may prove more complex. In cases of severe broken bones, the victim may require surgery to set the break. Surgery may lengthen the recovery time and introduce additional restrictions.
Likewise, patients with multiple broken bones may suffer more complications during recovery. They may suffer a more significant overall loss of independence, requiring more assistance to take care of everyday and familiar tasks. Those broken bones may also have a greater risk of causing long-term complications and limitations.
Big truck accidents may involve twisted metal, broken glass, and cutting hazards. Simply trying to get out of the vehicle after an accident can introduce the risk of further lacerations. In addition, those lacerations can occur during the accident itself. Many lacerations will require stitches and may have a high risk of significant scarring. Furthermore, severe lacerations may increase the risk of infection, which can sometimes have deadly consequences.
Sometimes, the force of a big truck accident can lead to devastating internal injury. Internal bleeding can lead to swelling, severe blood loss, and considerable pain. Sometimes, patients do not even recognize internal bleeding immediately after the accident. As time goes on, however, they may feel increasingly weak and lethargic. Internal bleeding can lead to substantial health complications and may require surgical treatment to resolve.
What Should You Do After Truck Accident Injuries?
In many cases, after a truck accident, you will immediately recognize the extent of your injuries and know that you need emergency medical attention. Sometimes, however, patients with severe injuries may not realize the full extent of those injuries.
They may try to ignore the immediate aches and pains after the accident, or they may not even notice them due to adrenaline from the accident. Regardless of whether you immediately notice the injuries from your accident, you should always seek medical attention after any type of accident involving severe property damage.
A doctor can review your injuries and ensure you get the necessary treatment.
- Keep track of your medical bills, starting with any bills you may need to pay in the emergency room. You may want copies of your receipts for co-pay and deductible amounts. If you carry and use MedPay insurance to cover some of the cost of treatment, make sure you note it. That information can prove incredibly valuable when you file an injury claim.
- Make careful notes regarding your doctor's instructions and follow them as carefully as possible. The more extensive your injuries, the more restrictions you may need to follow, and the more procedures you may have. If you ignore your doctor, however, it could worsen your injuries. Further, your decision to ignore your doctor's orders could make it more difficult for you to get compensation for those injuries later.
- Talk to a lawyer as soon as you can. A lawyer can provide essential information about your right to compensation after a big truck accident, which may make it easier for you to file an injury claim and pay your bills.
- Photograph your injuries. Include both immediate photos of your injuries right after the accident and pictures of the healing process. Your photos can help document the course of your recovery and offer evidence of the pain you may have faced because of your truck accident.
- Avoid talking to the insurance company yourself. Often, you will hear from the truck driver's insurance company right after your accident, before you even have the chance to process the full extent of your injuries. Letting your lawyer take over those communications can help that process move much more smoothly.
- Journal about your recovery—the limitations you may have faced, the challenges you may have had to deal with, and even your successes. Your journal can provide a much clearer look at your recovery, which may make it easier for you to describe the suffering you have faced as part of your injury claim.
An injury claim after a big truck accident can prove very complex, especially if you suffered severe injuries. Working with a truck accident lawyer makes it easier to file an injury claim and, ultimately, recover the compensation you may deserve. Contact a lawyer as soon after your accident as possible to review your rights.