As of 2015, there were more than 11 million commercial trucks registered in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were also more than 400,000 truck accidents and more than 4,000 lives lost in those accidents.
Commercial trucks include delivery vans, box trucks, semi-trucks, tankers, tractor-trailers, and other trucks of different sizes. The bigger a truck is and the faster it’s traveling, the more serious the collision is if there’s an accident. A loaded 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and normally travels at high speeds. If it collides with a smaller passenger car, the resulting injuries can be catastrophic or fatal.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
While truck collisions are not the most common traffic accidents, the injuries they cause are among the most severe. For example:
- Respiratory injuries. When a driver or passenger comes into contact with the steering wheel or dashboard of the vehicle, lungs can collapse from the impact. Breathing problems can also result from inhaling toxic vapors if a truck is carrying liquid or gas cargo that leaks after the collision.
- Burns. As well as being a source of toxic fumes, the cargo carried by tanker trucks is sometimes combustible, so a fire might result from a collision and burn the accident victims badly. Serious burns can require hospitalization, antibiotics, pain medication, and skin graft surgery—followed by a long, painful recovery and possible scarring and disfigurement.
- Broken bones. Fractured and broken bones are extremely common in truck crashes due to the impact of the collision. Breaks can range from minor fractures in hands and fingers to ribs and pelvises broken by tightening seat belts and shoulder harnesses. Some breaks might be simple and easy to set, but often bones are crushed and require expensive and difficult reconstructive surgery.
- Amputations. Limbs that are badly broken or crushed can sustain permanent nerve damage or become infected. If a limb is too severely damaged to be saved, it might have to be amputated. You could lose an arm, leg, hand, foot, finger, or toe and need a prosthesis and physical therapy. Amputation can be not only physically challenging but emotionally difficult.
- Spinal cord injuries. Damage to the spinal cord can cause partial or total paralysis. The victim might require lifelong care and never be able to work again. The costs of medical treatment and long-term care for a victim of a spinal cord injury can be astronomical.
- Brain injuries. If the head suffers impact with a hard part of the car interior or if broken glass or flying objects inside the car puncture the brain, a life-changing traumatic brain injury can occur. Again, the result could be the inability to work and the need for lifelong care with unimaginable costs.
- Psychological trauma. Adjusting to amputations or just the experience of being in a horrific truck accident can leave victims with emotional issues like flashbacks, PTSD, and fear of driving again. Counseling or therapy might be necessary.
- Death. Unfortunately, victims of truck accidents often lose their lives. If you’ve lost a loved one in a truck accident, your attorney can help you to file a wrongful death claim against any and all negligent parties.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
The cost of medical treatment for truck crash injuries, as well as lost wages from time off work, can be many times more than the costs associated with car accidents. You might also have claims against multiple defendants for your medical bills, property damage, and pain and suffering:
- Truck driver
- Truck owner
- Trucking company
- Vehicle or parts manufacture
- Cargo loading personnel
Because the awards sought and won by experienced truck accident attorneys are often significantly larger than car accident awards, the defendants’ insurance companies are going to fight as hard as they can to dispute your claim, devalue the worth of your pain and suffering, and offer you a low settlement. If you’re trying to recover from severe injuries, it’s nearly impossible for you to fight multiple defendants’ insurance companies on your own. The services of an experienced truck accident lawyer are vital to your case.
Have You Been Injured in a Truck Accident in South Dakota?