What Are Common Injuries in Semi-Truck Accidents?November 7, 2022
Semi-trucks are massive vehicles that can weigh more than 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, compared to the average passenger vehicle which weighs approximately 4,000 pounds. Unfortunately, because of their massive size and weight, when a semi-truck is involved in a serious truck accident with a passenger vehicle, the truck driver often walks away without a scratch while the occupants of the passenger vehicle often suffer catastrophic injuries.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), over 4,000 people suffered fatal injuries from truck accidents in 2020. Approximately 15 percent of those fatalities were occupants of the truck, whereas 68 percent were occupants of the passenger vehicle, and 16 percent were pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. There was a 28 percent increase in the number of fatal truck accidents in 2020 compared to 2009.
Unfortunately, when a passenger vehicle is involved in a truck accident, the resulting injuries are often severe if the occupants of the passenger vehicle were fortunate enough to even survive the crash. Truck accident survivors often suffer permanent impairments, life-long disabilities, and chronic pain and discomfort that will require ongoing medical care. The following are examples of injuries that truck accidents often cause:
- Head and neck injuries: Head injuries caused by truck accidents can range from mild concussions to devastating traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Whiplash is a common neck injury, and truck accidents tend to cause more serious back and neck injuries, including spinal fractures, dislocations, and torn or ruptured discs. These can cause debilitating pain and discomfort.
- Broken bones: The extreme force of impact caused by a massive semi-truck can cause bones to become fractured, broken, or crushed. The muscles, nerves, and tendons surrounding the bones can also suffer serious damage.
- Spinal cord damage: A serious spinal cord injury caused by a truck accident can cause partial, temporary, or complete paralysis. Depending on the area of the spinal cord that is damaged, the person can suffer from paraplegia (paralysis from the waist down) or quadriplegia (paralysis from the neck down.) Both injuries involve extensive treatment, surgeries, physical therapy, and adaptive devices.
- Amputation and disfigurement: If a truck accident causes the bones in a limb to become crushed, it may become necessary to amputate the limb. This type of injury is uniquely traumatic because it involves losing a body part. This will require extensive medical treatment, as well as adaptive devices, like prosthetics and physical therapy.
- Burns: If a fuel tank ruptures during a truck accident, the fire can spread rapidly and engulf the truck and the other vehicles involved in the accident. If the occupants in the passenger vehicle are trapped, or unable to move, they can suffer excruciating burn injuries that can require multiple surgeries and leave permanent disfigurement.
- Cuts and lacerations: A particularly deep cut can cause excessive bleeding, which can quickly become life-threatening if the bleeding is not stopped. In some cases, a cut can develop a serious infection, or result in a disfiguring scar.
- Internal injuries: In addition to the visible injuries that are common in truck accidents, people often suffer internal injuries as well, like broken ribs, internal bleeding, and damage to vital organs like the bladder, spleen, liver, pancreas, or kidneys. If these are not diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, they can become life-threatening or even fatal.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
Most truck accidents are caused by driver error, which means that most of these devastating accidents are preventable. The following are examples of some of the most common causes of catastrophic truck accidents:
- Drowsy driving: Driver fatigue is a serious problem in the trucking industry. Truck drivers are often required to meet very tight delivery deadlines, which means that they often spend hours behind the wheel with not enough breaks and very little rest. While there are federal hours of service regulations that all truck drivers are required to follow, many truck companies do not enforce these rules. As a result, truck drivers continue to drive while drowsy, which can be extremely dangerous. Research suggests that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving, particularly if a truck driver has gone without sleep for more than 18 hours straight. This can result in a reduced reaction time, inability to multitask, reduced hand-eye coordination, and other impairments.
- Distracted driving: This remains a serious problem for all drivers. However, when a truck driver is texting, talking on the phone or engaged in any other behavior that takes their attention away from the road, the consequences can be much more severe.
- Impaired driving: A recent study found that 30 percent of truck drivers said that they used amphetamines and other stimulants to stay alert while driving. Unfortunately, while the drugs helped them stay awake, they also make truck drivers more likely to speed, make unsafe lane changes, and make unsafe decisions during inclement weather. In addition, once the stimulants start to wear off, they are more likely to become drowsy and fall asleep at the wheel.
- Speeding: Driving too fast is extremely unsafe, regardless of the type of vehicle you are driving. However, when a semi-truck causes an accident while speeding, the consequences are going to be much more severe due to the extreme force of impact. Unfortunately, speeding is a common problem due to the pressure that truck drivers face to meet their tight delivery deadlines.
- Poor training and truck maintenance: In order to obtain a commercial driver’s license, truck drivers must complete the required hours of training, which includes learning how to manage inclement weather, and how to prevent jackknifing, hydroplaning, and skidding. The truck must also be inspected and maintained on a regular basis. However, this does not always happen, which can increase the risk of a devastating accident caused by inexperience or a preventable maintenance issue.
- Improperly loaded cargo: If the contents of the trailer are not properly loaded or secured, they can come loose and fall onto the road, causing a catastrophic accident. In addition, if the cargo is not properly balanced, it makes the truck more difficult to operate, and there is an increased risk that the truck could tip over.
Compensation for a Truck Accident Injury
There is no question that the costs associated with a truck accident can accumulate very quickly, from the damage to your vehicle to extensive medical expenses. A skilled lawyer will work closely with you to fight for you to get compensation for the following:
- All medical expenses associated with the injury.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
- Loss of future earning capacity.
- Lost wages if your injuries prevent you from being able to return to work.
- Pain and suffering.
- Wrongful death benefits if a loved one suffered fatal injuries.
What if a Truck Accident Resulted in a Fatality?
Due to the massive size of a semi-truck compared to the average passenger vehicle, truck accidents continue to cause devastating fatalities. In fact, a truck accident is 10 times more likely to cause fatal injuries compared to an accident involving two passenger vehicles.
If you lost a loved one in a tragic truck accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. While this will not bring your loved one back, it will ensure that you are compensated if the truck driver or the truck company was negligent.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Those Who Have Been Injured in Truck Accidents
If you or a loved one suffered a devastating injury in a truck accident, do not hesitate to contact one of our Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We understand how devastating these accidents are and we will tirelessly pursue the maximum financial compensation you are entitled to for your injuries. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.