The consequences of a passenger car or motorcycle accident can leave you with significant injuries that can affect your whole life. As terrible as a car or motorcycle accident could be, especially on a busy highway, truck accidents are even worse because they can leave you with catastrophic and life-long injuries.
It does not become worse than an accident or collision with an eighteen-wheeler or a big rig. These beasts dominate our highways and city roods, carrying raw materials, food, chemicals, packages, products, and more. Although we are all grateful for their work, these big rigs cause some of the most severe accidents, leading to catastrophic injuries and fatalities.
When you sustain a catastrophic injury in a truck accident, you should know what to do because life-changing bills and damages are likely to follow you. Like any other personal injury case, you deserve adequate compensation for all your losses and injuries to bring your life back on track or live a decent life.
Keep reading this article for everything you need to know about catastrophic injuries resulting from truck accidents.
What is a Catastrophic Injury?
Catastrophic injuries are typically those injuries that occur without warning, leaving you with severe and life-long effects that can affect your whole life, including the ability to work or perform any productive activity. From a medical perspective, a catastrophic injury is any physical injury or illness that can leave you:
- Severely disfigured, scarred, or deformed
- In need of chronic special accommodations and care
- With permanent disability
- Permanently incapable of enjoying life or work to further your profession and career goals
Considering the weight and size difference between a truck and a typical standard car, it is no wonder that these accidents will most likely cause catastrophic injuries and fatalities. Semi-trucks can weigh up to 8 tons, depending on what they are ferrying or transporting.
Due to this much weight, even when a truck is moving at a low speed, it can cause catastrophic injuries to other motorists and road users.
It is essential to know what to do if you sustain any injury or loss in a truck accident because time is of the essence as well. After reviewing your case keenly, an experienced truck accident attorney can help you point out the at-fault party and calculate your case's monetary worth for adequate compensation.
Apart from the truck driver, several other parties could be responsible or liable for your injuries and losses in a truck accident. That is why you need a knowledgeable attorney in your corner to protect your best interests and point out the liable party in your injury case for an appropriate cause of action against them.
Catastrophic Injuries You are Likely to Suffer in a Truck Accident
Truck accidents are technically dangerous and fatal. You could be lucky to survive a truck accident, but you could still have a catastrophic internal injury that you cannot see with your naked eyes. Hence, it is advisable to seek medical assistance immediately after a truck collision, even if you feel okay.
A doctor will help you determine whether or not you have an internal injury that requires immediate treatment. Generally speaking, below are some of the most common catastrophic injuries that you are likely to sustain in a truck accident:
Back and Neck Injuries
One of the most common truck accident injuries you are likely to sustain is back and neck injuries. Typically, your neck and back carry small and fragile ligaments and bones that can easily fracture due to an accident's impact.
The back and neck injuries you are likely to sustain in a truck accident could include a minor whiplash to entirely disabling and severe back injuries, especially if there is a fracture on the vertebrae or spinal cord. A whiplash could occur when your neck and head suddenly snap forward due to the accident's impact, but your torso remains in place.
Although symptoms of this injury could fail to appear instantly, you will experience significant pain, soreness, and other symptoms days or hours later after the accident. On the other hand, if the accident's impact affects your vertebrae or spinal cord, you could experience changes in your strength, sensation, and other body functions, particularly beneath the injury site.
Unfortunately, it is never an easy fix if you have a back or a neck injury. Typically, treating back and neck injuries could take several months and years of treatment, including physical therapy, surgeries, and adaptive devices.
Sometimes, a spinal injury could lead to partial or complete paralysis, meaning your life will never be the same again. You will require ongoing medical attention to make your life more comfortable.
Head and Brain Injuries
A truck accident can also make you suffer head and brain injuries. Head and brain injuries usually occur due to the extreme forces of the accident's impact, which violently snap your head back and forth. Because of that, your head can hit an object in the car, like the steering wheel, dashboard, or roof, causing blunt force trauma or fracture to your skull.
In severe cases, extreme trauma to your head can leave you with traumatic brain injuries (TBI). A TBI can significantly affect your memory or even cause stroke and other mental disabilities. Some of the symptoms you are likely to experience if you have a head and brain injury due to the extreme impact of the truck accident include (but are not limited to):
- Problems with speech
- Loss of balance
- Loss of consciousness
- Moods swings
- Extreme confusion
Even if some of these symptoms are not immediate, you should seek immediate medical care after a truck accident. A quick and immediate intervention by a doctor could prevent many possible negative repercussions down the road.
It is not uncommon for truck accidents to cause burn injuries. Due to the impact of the collision, your vehicle or motorcycle can explode due to the leaking gasoline, leaving you with severe burn injuries. The explosion is even likely to be worse and fatal if the truck was ferrying a flammable substance like gasoline.
You can experience severe skin damage, inhalation damage, and chemical burns when that happens. Apart from being painful, often, these burns can leave you with permanent disfiguring scars and other chronic conditions that could require life-long medical attention.
Permanent disfigurement and scarring can limit the quality of life you previously enjoyed and even deny you many opportunities. Fortunately, all this is compensable in a personal injury lawsuit or claim against the at-fault party.
Loss of Body Limbs or Amputation Injuries
Undoubtedly, loss of body limbs is more prevalent in truck accidents or collisions than in most other kinds of auto accidents. Due to the extreme crushing force of a truck, you could lose your arm or leg instantly. Even if you do not lose your limb instantly, you could lose it later at the hospital when your doctor decides that it is impossible to save it due to the severity of the injury sustained.
Apart from the extreme crushing force of the truck accident, you could also lose your body limb due to severe lacerations, cuts, or even severe burns. Although it occurs instantly, these injuries could affect your whole life henceforth. That means you will have to learn to live without some of your body limbs, like an arm.
You could also need caretakers to help you with your daily chores and activities, meaning the cost will shoot up. Ensure the attorney you will hire is ready to fight for all the costs you will need to live a comfortable life like any other uninjured person, including the costs for buying adaptive devices like prosthetics.
Crushed Limbs and Bone Fractures
Due to the extreme comprehensive impact of a truck accident, you are also likely to suffer crushed body limbs and bone fractures. A crush injury on your arm is also likely to cause severe damage to your muscle tissues, tendons, arteries, and ligaments.
Some bone fractures or breakages could seem minor, but they could take months or even years to heal, meaning you will have to remain in your bed for extended periods. With a reliable attorney in your corner, you can fight for all your losses, including the salary and opportunities you have lost during the healing period in a personal injury lawsuit against the liable party.
Even if you are lucky to avoid spinal or traumatic brain injury, you could also sustain internal injuries. Although the purpose of an airbag in your car is to protect you, it can make you sustain severe abdominal injuries due to the severe blunt force it exerts on your chest when deploying.
In most cases, there are chances that you will not know you have an internal injury until you visit a doctor. Hence, it is advisable to seek medical assistance immediately after an auto accident for an accurate diagnosis and start your treatment immediately. Due to the airbag's blunt force on your abdominal area, you could experience liver, spleen, bladder, kidneys, or bladder injury.
Ensure you keep your medical journal detailing all your medical expenses to strengthen your compensation claim during the lawsuit.
Even if you feel you are partially at fault in the accident, it is wise to seek legal help in your injury case. Under comparative negligence laws, you could recover damages proportionate to your level or degree of negligence in the accident.
Steps to Take After Sustaining Catastrophic Injuries in a Truck Accident
The aftermath of a truck collision or accident can be confusing and overwhelming, making it challenging to know the steps to take next. Below is a list of some of the steps you can take to protect your best interest after sustaining a catastrophic injury in a truck collision:
- Call 911 for emergency medical assistance
- Collect and preserve any evidence on the accident scene. You can do this by taking photos and videos of the accident, including your injuries, weather condition, road condition, and the number plate of the truck involved
- Request a copy of the accident scene's report from the police who will respond to the accident
- Avoid talking to the insurance adjusters or giving any recorded statement
- Call an injury attorney
You cannot undermine the need for an attorney if you want to maximize your truck accident case's value. Your attorney will know how to calculate your case's worth, including possible expenses you are likely to incur down the line due to the injury.
Potential Negligent Parties in a Catastrophic Truck Accident Case
Depending on the specific facts and circumstances of your truck accident case, several parties could be liable for your injuries and damages, including:
The Truck Driver
Unquestionably, most truck accidents are due to the truck driver's negligence. A truck driver could be negligent for failing to use reasonable care or violating traffic laws. Typically, most truck accidents where the truck driver is at fault are due to:
- Distracted driving
- Improper lane changes
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Texting while driving
- Failure to yield appropriately
When a truck driver violates a traffic law and causes a collision, it could be enough evidence to prove that he/she was negligent. If that is the case, he/she should be liable for your injuries and losses resulting from the truck accident.
The Trucking Company
Apart from the truck driver, trucking companies could also be liable for your catastrophic injuries resulting from the truck accident. Sadly, trucking companies can sometimes violate transportation and safety regulations recklessly or intentionally for more profit margins. If these violations were the cause of the truck accident or collision, the company should be liable for your losses and injuries.
Below are examples of common negligence acts by the trucking company that could cause a truck accident:
- Allowing their trucks to carry unbalanced cargo
- Negligent retention or employment of employees
- Allowing overweight trucks
- Allowing their truck drivers to operate in violation of safety regulations
- Overloading trailers
- Failing to repair and maintain their trailers and trucks
If the trucking company's reckless or intentional acts were the cause of your truck accident, you could also receive punitive damages on your compensation claim. Other possible causes of truck accidents that led to your injuries include:
- A defective trailer or truck's parts
- Improper road signage
- Truck manufacturer
- Unsafe road conditions
Potential Compensatory Damages for Catastrophic Injuries in a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Like any other injury case, potential truck accident damages will also include economic and non-economic damages. If everything goes to your advantage, your economic (monetary) damages in a truck accident lawsuit could include:
- Vehicle repair costs
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Future medical treatment costs
- Court costs
- Prescription drugs
- Medical supplies
- ER treatment
- Lost earning capacity
On the other hand, non-economic damages in truck accident claim will cover the following types of losses:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Lack of enjoyment in life
- Disfigurement or physical disability
If the truck accident led to the death of a loved one, as the surviving family member, you could also recover damages under wrongful death laws. Compensatory damages in your wrongful death lawsuit could include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- The total monetary amount the deceased used to provide to the family
- Compensation for the loss of consortium or companionship
You can focus on your healing and treatment if you have an attorney in your corner after suffering a truck accident, and the attorney will handle the rest. A skilled attorney will know how to maneuver all the legal complexities you are likely to face on your lawsuit or claim for maximum compensatory damages.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Civil Lawsuit After Sustaining Catastrophic Injuries in a Truck Accident
When you suffer injuries in a truck accident, time will be of the essence. Generally speaking, you have a maximum of two (2) years from the date of the accident to file a truck accident claim against the at-fault party. However, if the defendant is the state, you will have not more than six (6) months to file your lawsuit.
That is why it is critical to retain an injury attorney's services as soon as you can to file your claim while the time limit is still valid and the evidence is still fresh in your memory. A skilled and experienced attorney will know how to uncover all violations by the trucking company or the truck driver to fight for the utmost compensatory damages in your case.
Find a Truck Accident Attorney Near Me
If you have suffered a catastrophic or fatal injury in a truck accident, you should retain the services of a knowledgeable attorney to protect your best interests. As you can see above, a catastrophic injury could involve significant medical expenses and even limit your ability to perform physical tasks that you could comfortably perform before the accident.
Fortunately, you can seek compensatory damages for all your catastrophic injury-related losses from the at-fault party with the help of an attorney. We invite you to call Truck Accident Injury Attorney Law Firm at 619-754-7667 if you or your dear friend has sustained a catastrophic injury in a truck accident.
Our attorneys understand how devastating catastrophic injuries resulting from truck accidents can be. Wherever you are in California, we can offer you the legal representation you need to achieve maximum compensatory damages for your losses and injuries resulting from the truck accident.