According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Authority, approximately 3,852 people succumbed to injuries resulting from truck accidents in 2015 alone. If you or your loved one has suffered one of the most common truck accident injuries discussed below, you could be entitled to file a claim to recover damages from the accident. We at the Clay County Personal Injury Attorney encourage you to contact our experienced attorneys to begin exploring the different legal options.
An Overview of Common Types of Injuries Suffered in a Truck Accident
While the various injuries resulting from a truck accident can be varied depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, there are categories of injuries that are more common than others. Some injuries may heal within a couple of days with little or no treatment. Severe injuries, on the other hand, could become permanent and lead to physical disability.
The seriousness or type of injuries sustained by victims involved in the accident depends heavily on the following factors:
- Was the victim wearing a seat belt?
- Did the victim get hit from the front, side, or rear?
- Was the victim's body or head turned in a given direction, or was the victim facing straight in their seat?
- Did the truck have airbags?
- Was the accident a high-speed or low-speed crash?
Truck accident injuries can be grouped into two main classifications, namely penetrating and impact injuries. Typically, impact injuries occur when a part of your body hits a part of the truck's interior. It can be your knees hitting the dashboard or the head hitting the truck's seat rest. Penetrating injuries, on the other hand, are caused by loose substances or shattering glass flying in the truck on impact. Typical examples of penetrating injuries are scrapes and cuts.
Here are common injuries resulting from truck accidents.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three in every ten deaths resulting from accidents occur because of a head injury. This is because the human brain does not have a lot of protection. Discussed below are different types of brain and head injuries resulting from a truck accident.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Usually, TBI is due to a violent jolt or blow to the head. Also, an object that penetrates your brain tissue can cause TBI. A mild TBI can affect the brain cells temporarily while severe injury could lead to torn tissues, bruising, bleeding, death, and long-term complications.
Closed Head Injury
A closed head injury happens when trauma is applied to your brain but doesn't crack your skull, tissue, or skin. Although it is a surface wound, it can be severe, and you should visit a medic for treatment.
Open Head Injury
An open head injury occurs when a blow cracks the tissue, skull, or skin of a victim. Compared to a closed head injury, an open head injury is more severe due to complications such as infections. You should seek medical attention immediately, even when the symptoms look mild.
Truck accident victims also experience hematoma when blood forms around the brain vessels and collects in the skin tissues. It can be likened to a bruise, but the fact that it is in the brain makes it hard to treat or detect without consulting an experienced medical expert and undergoing several diagnostic examinations.
You are likely to suffer a concussion if the accident causes a lot of force to be applied to your brain and head. Concussion effects include mere headache and body functional loss.
This is another form of head injury that occurs when tissue starts leaking blood into your brain cavities. Like every head injury, a contusion should be treated immediately.
This type of head injury occurs when you start bleeding within the skull tissues, brain, or neighboring areas. The bleeding leads to a pressure that can result in coma or even death.
Head or Brain Signs and Symptoms to Look Out for After a Truck Accident:
- Wide pupils
- Vision challenges, dilation, or limited pupil movement
- Redness, warmth, pain, or swelling at the trauma site
- Loss of consciousness
- Memory loss
- Loss of coordination
- Inability to wake from sleep
- Numbness or weakness in the extremities
- Slurred speech
Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that vehicle accidents, including those involving trucks, are the leading cause of SCI. Since trucks are more massive than passenger cars, the impact in a truck accident is significantly more notable compared to a smaller vehicle. That means the spinal cord injuries are more severe.
An SCI can alter your life significantly. This is because the injury affects in ways you may never have put into account like emotional suffering, ongoing pain, permanent or temporary paralysis, or death. It is, therefore, wise to have a physician examine you after a truck accident to check whether the spinal cord was affected.
Although spinal cord injuries manifest once a paralysis occurs, you need to look out for the following symptoms:
- Pain between the hips and neck or in the back
- Reduced mobility
- Numbness, tingling, loss of sensory ability, or weakness in your extremities
- Difficulties with vision
- Hearing loss
The consequences of an SCI can be devastating; the injury will result in pain and an array of medical expenses. Additionally, it can take a toll on even aspects of life that you cannot put a dollar value on like lost family relationships, missed opportunities, and degradation in the quality of life.
Burns are among the most serious. Apart from causing pain, a severe burn can cause a permanent scar, leaving a reminder of the truck accident.
Burns range in seriousness from mild burns that can be treated using basic first aid to fatal burns that call for extensive medical care. Discussed below are various degrees of burns.
These are burns that affect only the top skin layer and can be sensitive and red. First-degree burns are often treated using basic first aid unless the burns cover a vast area of the victim's body or took place on a sensitive body part.
Also referred to as partial-thickness burns, second-degree burns can affect the first and second skin layers, hair follicles, and the sweat glands. Your skin will look blistered, wet, and red. The risk of infections, scarring, and experiencing pain is more than you would experience with first degree burns.
Full-thickness burns affect the first three skin layers and nerve endings. The skin will appear swollen, dry, and charred. Common treatment options include medication, surgeries, and hospitalizations.
Fourth-degree burns are the most severe type of burns since they affect all skin layers and muscles. Most of these burns are fatal and require emergency medical attention.
There are severe complications that could result from the burn. Not forgetting the immense pain, a seriously burned truck accident victim can suffer life-threatening blistering that changes the body chemistry, damage blood vessels, and increased likelihood of developing life-threatening conditions such as hypotension, infections, and shock.
Seat Belt and Airbag Injuries
Seat belt Injuries
The importance of wearing a seat belt each time you're in a truck can't be stressed enough. Well, this section is geared towards victims who suffer an injury as a result of a defective belt. If the seatbelt malfunctions, are exceptionally tight, or has a manufacturing defect, then you can be injured. An injury can happen if you have not buckled the belt properly or positioned it correctly on your body.
The most common seat belt related injuries include lacerations, neck injuries, chest bruises, abdominal wall contusions, pelvic injuries, intestinal and bowel injuries, and intra-abdominal trauma.
When a truck is involved in an accident, and its sensors are triggered, the airbags will be deployed at a very high speed to cushion the impact, hence, preventing the driver and passengers from colliding with hard structures in the truck. Colliding with the airbag is less severe than with the truck's side, windshield, steering wheel, or dashboard.
However, there are instances when the airbag's force can result in harm. Common examples of airbag-related injuries include neck injuries, facial trauma, head injuries, eye injuries, and loss of hearing.
One of the most common truck accident injuries is whiplash. Whiplash happens when your head is flung backward and forward, causing the neck ligaments and muscles to be pushed beyond movement range. In an accident, the tremendous force and velocity of the collision causes the head to violently jerk when brakes are applied or at the time of impact.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That means, for instance, when your truck slams into a car, the forward momentum will be exerted back towards you, forcing the head back as a result.
Generally, whiplash is a mild injury whose pain is relieved by taking painkillers, exercising, or applying heat or ice. Its signs and symptoms include jaw pain, headaches, stiffness, shoulder and neck pain, fatigue, low back pain, and dizziness.
Also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, a herniated disc occurs when a disc from a spinal cord breaks open or bulges. Although more severe than a whiplash, the treatment is similar. However, in more severe cases, surgery is an option.
Commonly known as a broken neck, a neck fracture shouldn't be taken lightly. It occurs when a vertebra is broken in the truck accident. If you experience paralysis, swelling, bruising, or limb numbness, you need to seek medical attention so that the seriousness of the injury can be determined. Minor neck fractures are treated with cervical collars or braces, while serious fractures require surgery.
An internal injury is any damage or injury sustained inside your body. As a truck accident victim, you can sustain any of the following internal injuries depending on the circumstances and seriousness of the accident.
Each organ in your body has its function, and the injured organ cannot perform effectively. Depending on the organ injured, it may require repair or to be removed completely.
The impact of the accident is enough to result in blunt trauma as well as perforation damage to the internal organs, arteries, and blood vessels. When this occurs, hemorrhage will occur.
When the ribs are broken in an accident, you may experience difficulties while breathing, relaxing while laying down or moving. In a severe case, fractured ribs can puncture the organs they protect.
Amputated Limbs and Extremities
Another common truck accident injury is amputation that involves the removal of any extremity. A limb can be separated from your body at the time of the accident or during surgery since the limb is completely damaged. It can be because the limb has poor blood flow or the injured area is infected, and the infection is spreading.
An amputation takes time to heal, and the amputee must learn how to perform daily tasks. After the recovery of the wound, you can attach a prosthetic. Extensive rehabilitation is needed to adjust living with the prosthesis.
It is possible for a person who has been involved in a truck accident to be impaled by an outside obstacle, debris, or the truck's piece. For instance, if a truck overturns, a piece of glass could impale you in the abdomen resulting in a serious injury. While the first decision may be to remove the object, this is not the best decision. Instead, it is wise to seek medical attention.
Another common injury sustained from a truck accident, particularly those involving high-speed impacts is lacerations. A laceration is a serious cut to the skin as well as tearing of the soft tissues. In fatal situations, it consists of a lot of blood loss, and patients are left with disfiguring and significant scars.
The different types of laceration experienced include overstretching, cut, split, and grinding compressions. Out of these kinds, the cut laceration is the most common, and it occurs when a victim comes in contact with a sharp object during an impact between two trucks or when the truck hits a stationary object on the road.
Ribs and Torso Injuries
The primary role of ribs is to protect your vital organs such as lungs from internal injury. Rib and torso injuries vary in seriousness depending on the force and location of impact. Common rib and torso injuries include:
- Fractured or Broken Ribs
Generally, a victim who experienced a blunt force trauma will sustain at least one broken rib. A broken rib injury occurs when any of the twenty-four ribs break.
- Soft-tissue Rib
Once one of your ribs breaks, chances of suffering from a soft-tissue injury are high.
- Flail chest
A flail chest injury occurs when a number of consecutive ribs are broken. Since this type of injury is fatal, a victim must seek medical care immediately.
Often rib and torso injuries are treated by surgery, ultrasound, immobilization, pain killers, and physical therapy.
What Steps Should You Take After a Truck Accident?
- Call the Police
One of the first things you need to do after a truck accident is contacting the emergency medical technicians and police. While waiting for help to come, stay away from the traffic. Also, refrain from moving the truck, unless leaving it poses a safety risk.
- Seek Medical Attention
Even if you are slightly injured, consult a doctor; you may not realize that you're hurt until later. Also, your doctor should be in a position to discover injuries like concussions early.
- Gather Contact Information
Take note of names, addresses, insurance details, license plate number of all parties involved in the accident. Additionally, collect contact information of witnesses.
- Take Photographs of the Truck Accident Scene
If possible, take photos of the scene from different angles. Your lawyer will use these photos as evidence in your case.
- Have a journal of everything
Write down all the details regarding the accidents like the events that caused the accident as well as road and weather conditions. Memories can fade over time. Therefore, these notes will be useful in supporting your claim.
Also, document the severity of the injuries, pain experienced, and medical treatment received. Remember to note if you miss work due to a physician's appointment or injuries.
- Contact the Insurance Company
You should also call the insurance company and report the accident immediately.
- Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you've been injured severely, hire a competent personal injury lawyer who will assist you with the claim. The lawyer will not only gather evidence but also negotiate with your insurer to assist you in recovering a fair settlement. If an agreement is not reached, the lawyer will prepare your case for trial.
Proving Fault in a Truck Accident
Like other types of injuries, defining who was responsible for the truck accident is a matter of determining who was negligent. A person is considered negligent when they act in a careless manner that causes an injury to somebody else. A person can be careless by doing something that they shouldn't have done like over-speeding or by failing to do something that they should have done such as stopping for a pedestrian.
As a plaintiff, you should prove that:
- The respondent owed you the duty of care,
- The respondent breached the duty of care, and
- As a result, you suffered an injury.
Any experienced personal injury lawyer will use a police report to support your claim. If police officers came to the accident, they probably made a written report. Ask them how you can get a copy of the report. Sometimes the police report will state that somebody broke a traffic law and that violation resulted in the accident. Other times, the report will only mention negligent behavior.
Damages Awarded After Sustaining a Truck Accident Injury
The term damages can be defined as an estimated dollar value awarded to compensate a victim for injuries suffered as a result of another person's negligence. In Florida, damages awarded in personal injury cases can be compensatory or punitive. Compensatory damages are meant to make you whole while the purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for egregious behavior.
Different types of compensatory damages include:
In most personal injury cases, medical expenses form the basis of compensation. This is because it includes all medical expenses incurred during and after initial treatment and rehabilitation. Testimony from your treating doctor is imperative when determining the total medical costs incurred.
Whether you are self-employed or employed, any time spent away from your work represents an economic loss which you can claim damages for in the lawsuit. You are also entitled to this type of damage if the injury is hindering you from earning the income you made before the accident.
As noted earlier, there are truck accident injuries that don't go away, and these conditions will change your life forever. Fortunately, the law allows you to claim permanent disability damages.
Pain and Suffering
Injuries resulting from a truck accident cause physical pain that is debilitating and extreme. Additionally, this pain comes with emotional suffering. Humiliation, uncertainty, depression, fear, and anxiety are common emotional consequences of a severe injury. The law permits the finder of fact to place value on pain and suffering.
Loss of consortium
Unlike other forms of compensatory damages, loss of consortium is awarded to a victim's loved ones for loss of affection, companionship, and love.
Frequently Asked Questions in Truck Accident Lawsuits
- What is the Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Clay County?
Like all states, Florida has a statute of limitations that sets a deadline for the amount of time you have to sue the party that is legally accountable for your injury. In Clay County, you have four (4) years to file a lawsuit from the date of the truck accident. Failure to file the case within this timeframe, the jury will most likely refuse to hear it.
- What is Comparative Negligence Law?
There are instances when the person you are trying to hold responsible for the injuries can turn around and argue that you are liable for causing the truck accident that caused your injuries. If you share some percentage of fault for the injury that could affect the amount of compensation you receive from other responsible parties.
Under Florida's pure comparative negligence law, the total compensation you are entitled to receive will be reduced by the amount that's equivalent to your percentage of fault.
Find a Reliable Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
Most people live according to routine and take for granted the ability to perform daily tasks. Unfortunately, a truck accident can throw everything off balance. Sometimes the injuries sustained are fatal or catastrophic. The personal injury attorneys at Clay County Personal Injury Attorney have assisted thousands of victims to receive compensation after sustaining injuries as a result of negligence. For more information, call us at 904-494-8242 today!