A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, whereas the average passenger car is closer to 4,000 pounds. For this reason, a vehicle accident involving a semi-truck and a smaller passenger vehicle generally results in major damage to the smaller vehicle and catastrophic injuries or death for its occupants. Among the very serious injuries that can result, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the worst.
If you suffer a TBI in an accident caused by a tractor-trailer, you may file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. Because your claim is likely to be an expensive one with life-changing injuries, high medical bills, and significant time off work, the insurer will probably try to dispute it or offer you a quick, low settlement that you should not accept. An experienced truck accident attorney can evaluate your claim and help you to seek fair compensation for your damages while you focus on recovery.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Head injuries are classified as either closed or open. A closed head injury occurs when the brain is jolted inside the skull and swells or bleeds, but the impact does not penetrate the skull. An open head injury, which is more serious, occurs when the skull is fractured, or the tissue of the head is penetrated.
The resulting TBIs fall into one of three categories according to their severity:
The victim might lose consciousness briefly after a hard impact to the head and wake up confused and disoriented. A physician’s exam of the victim’s mental functions can reveal a mild TBI that might not show up in diagnostic tests.
The victim is likely to remain unconscious for a few hours after impact and suffer disorientation in the following weeks. The resulting cognitive, physical, and behavioral issues might persist for months or indefinitely.
The victim suffers an extremely hard blow to the head or penetration of the brain by bone shards or a sharp object. Permanent brain damage or death can result.
Approximately 300,000 people with traumatic brain injuries are hospitalized each year in the United States. Specific types of TBIs include:
This is a mild TBI that is not always revealed by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure.
Contusion or hematoma
This is a brain bruise that results from broken blood vessels at the point of impact to the head (coup injury) or on the opposite side of the brain (contrecoup injury). The level of damage can range from mild to severe.
This is bleeding of the brain, which creates internal pressure that can cause a coma or death.
This TBI occurs when suffocation, drowning, poison, or carbon dioxide reduces the level of oxygen in the blood flowing to the brain.
Head trauma, a heart attack, a stroke, or a blood clot can cause this injury and reduce the flow of blood to the brain. Within minutes, the deprivation of oxygenated blood can kill brain cells.
Diffuse anoxic injury
DAI can occur when a whiplash injury tears tissues connecting the spinal cord and brain stem, resulting in serious brain damage or death.
When a collision with a commercial truck results in a fractured skull and fragments of bone or other sharp objects penetrate brain tissue, permanent brain damage can result.
TBI symptoms include memory loss, disorientation, headache, nausea, balance problems, anger, fatigue, difficulty standing or walking, blood clots, and seizures.
The Role of Your Attorney
If you’re severely injured after a South Dakota truck accident, you’re probably in no shape to file an insurance claim, deal with the insurer’s adjusters and lawyers, evaluate your own case, demand reasonable compensation, negotiate a fair settlement, or file a lawsuit if necessary. An experienced lawyer does these things daily and can handle them while you focus on getting well. Another good reason to consult a lawyer is that the claims process is even more difficult in a truck accident case than it is in a car crash because there could be multiple defendants liable for your damages, including:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- Truck owner or leasing agency
- Mechanic or repair service
- Truck or parts manufacturer
- Cargo loading personnel.
An experienced truck accident attorney can conduct a thorough investigation to determine the defendants’ respective percentages of fault, obtain data from the truck’s “black box” recorder, make multiple claims, negotiate with multiple insurers, and file more than one lawsuit if necessary. Contact us online or call us at 605-306-4100 to schedule a free consultation. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.