Every time you pass a semi truck on the road, you share that space with a vehicle that could transport a combined weight of up to 80,000 lbs, including truck, trailer, and cargo. Semi truck drivers undergo substantial training to help them better prepare their vehicles.
Unfortunately, that does not always prevent the possibility of an accident entirely. Semi truck accidents can lead to serious injuries for victims in other vehicles. If you suffer injuries in a semi truck accident, you could face high medical bills, a long recovery, and the possible need to file a personal injury claim.
A free consultation with a truck accident lawyer can help you learn more about your legal rights after a semi truck accident.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Semi trucks weigh substantially more than the average passenger vehicle even when empty. Add thousands of pounds of cargo, including physical cargo in the case of semi trucks and liquid cargo hauled by tanker trucks, and the result is an extremely heavy load over which drivers must maintain control. This additional weight can substantially increase the risk of serious injury for victims of truck accidents.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Victims with traumatic brain injury, who usually lose consciousness at least briefly at the scene of the accident, experienced severe force to the head during the semi truck accident. Traumatic brain injury can leave victims with physical, mental, and emotional symptoms, impacting everything from their ability to perform daily job duties to their relationships with friends and loved ones.
Traumatic brain injury may cause:
- Memory difficulties: most people imagine losing long-term memories as part of traumatic brain injury, but victims may also suffer the loss of short-term memory capacity, which can make it difficult to perform many common tasks
- Changes in sleep habits: some victims suffer from insomnia, while others sleep excessively
- Ringing in the ears
- Changes in vision, including blurred vision or tunnel vision
- Trouble concentrating, especially over long periods of time
- Difficulty with emotional regulation, including extreme volatility and overreaction
- Changes in personality
- Changes in overall sensory perception, including tastes and smells
- Difficulty with some motor functions
While some victims of traumatic brain injury will make a full recovery, others may deal with symptoms for the rest of their lives. Even minor traumatic brain injury may leave symptoms that linger for a year or more after the accident.
Spinal Cord Injury
Victims with spinal cord injuries may suffer severe mobility difficulties for the rest of their lives. Even incomplete spinal cord injury, which occurs when the spinal cord does not sever completely in the accident, can leave victims suffering from decreased motor function. Complete spinal cord injury, which results when the spinal cord severs completely, usually leaves the victim fully paralyzed below the site of the injury. Victims may also have problems with motor function below the site of the injury.
Spinal cord injury may require the victim to receive extensive occupational therapy to relearn how to perform daily tasks and functions as well as ongoing physical therapy to help maintain as much muscle tone as possible below the site of the injury. In the first year after spinal cord injury alone, victims may face costs totaling as much as $1 million.
Some truck accidents have a significantly higher risk of burn injuries than others. Because of their contents, for example, tanker trucks can substantially increase the risk of both chemical and thermal burns when they cause accidents. Increased flammability of some tanker truck cargo poses a serious risk to both accident victims and first responders. Many tanker trucks also carry caustic chemicals that may cause chemical burns on contact.
In many semi truck accidents, the force of the accident punctures or rips into the gas tank, leaving a substantial fire hazard at the scene. Burns can cause severe complications for many victims. Not only do burns cause extreme pain and suffering for victims, victims with both chemical and thermal burns may also experience severe scarring, increased risk of infection, and a risk of hypothermia, which, left untreated, can lead to organ damage or death.
Truck accidents apply substantial force to the victims of the accident. Sometimes, the accident itself may rip away limbs. Other victims find, on arrival at the hospital, that decreased blood supply or extreme crushing damage to a limb necessitates the removal of that limb. Victims of amputation may choose to use prosthetic devices to help increase mobility and independence following the accident. Prosthetic devices often add significant expense to the victim’s life: on average, they require replacement every three to five years.
In many severe accidents, including semi truck accidents, victims suffer broken bones. The driver of the other vehicle has an increased likelihood of broken hands and arms from bracing on the steering wheel. Broken ribs often result from the pressure of the seat belt.
Many victims of truck accidents may also suffer broken arms and legs. A single broken bone can cause substantial pain and mobility or independence difficulties for the victim, even if the bone does not require surgical treatment. Multiple bones or the necessity for surgery to set the broken bone can leave the victim struggling for some time after the accident.
Truck accident scenes show many risk factors for severe lacerations, from shattered windshields to twisted metal. In some cases, severe lacerations can cause the victim to lose substantial blood at the scene of the accident, increasing the risk of shock. Severe lacerations may, in some cases, leave serious scarring or require plastic surgery for repair.
Liability in Truck Accidents
You suffered severe injuries in a truck accident. The truck driver bears liability for those injuries and your expenses associated with the accident, right? In many cases, while the truck driver may bear primary liability for anything that happens on the road, the driver may not bear sole liability for the accident. Other factors can have a substantial impact on the accident scene and shift liability in the truck accident.
When a trucker owns his own vehicle, he bears primary responsibility for maintaining that vehicle: identifying potential problems with the vehicle, taking care of oil changes, and replacing tires and other parts as needed. Other parties, however, may share liability when a mechanical failure causes a serious truck accident.
The company that owns the vehicle. Many drivers drive, not for themselves, but for another company, which owns the truck and therefore bears responsibility for taking care of that maintenance.
The mechanic that repaired the vehicle last. The mechanic may bear liability if:
- He failed to complete needed repairs, but certified the vehicle as road-worthy anyway
- He did not fix all the problems with the truck or fixed them improperly
- He failed to note another problem with the vehicle that he should have seen during his repairs
Unrealistic Driver Expectations
The trucking company must strike a tight balance between getting cargo to the proper location in a timely manner, and maintaining the safety of the driver and others on the road. The trucking company may share liability for a truck accident if:
- The company requires the driver to drive for excessive hours
- The company requires the driver to drive in unsafe conditions, including weather conditions
- The company forces the driver to ignore legal mandates, including the rules of the road
The way a truck gets loaded has a substantial impact on the safety of that load. When a loading company or the company that wants the cargo transported loads a truck improperly, causing shifting load accidents or jackknife accidents, that company may share liability for the accident.
Consulting with an attorney can help you identify all parties who share liability for your truck accident and how that liability impacts your claim.
How Much Compensation Do You Deserve After a Truck Accident?
Immediately after your truck accident, the insurance company that covers the driver or trucking company may contact you, offering a fast settlement. Before accepting this offer, talk with an attorney. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you develop an idea of how much compensation you deserve after a truck accident.
Most truck drivers and trucking companies carry substantial liability insurance designed to protect any victims who suffer serious injury in an accident, which helps increase your ability to receive compensation for your expenses following an accident. While an attorney cannot guarantee the compensation you will receive, most people who file a truck accident claim include:
Compensation for Medical Bills
You may have substantial medical bills from your truck accident. The more severe your injuries, the higher your medical bills have the potential to climb.
Talk with an attorney to learn everything you should include as a medical expense, including:
- Emergency treatment
- Surgeries or procedures
- Scans and tests
- Durable medical equipment
- Modifications to your home as a result of your injuries
- Therapy, including physical, occupational, and psychological
Compensation for Lost Income
When you have to miss work long-term due to serious injuries from a truck accident, you may struggle to pay any of your bills, much less your increased medical bills. You can claim compensation for your lost income, including lost time at work due to hospitalization, recovery, procedures, and therapies. When your truck accident injuries permanently prevent you from returning to work, you can claim lost earning potential.
Compensation for Pain and Suffering
In addition to the tangible costs associated with your accident, you can also claim compensation for your pain and suffering. Many victims face substantial physical pain and suffering as well as ongoing emotional trauma, a sense of isolation during recovery, or lost enjoyment of many activities normally part of their lives. An experienced personal attorney can help calculate the financial value of pain and suffering associated with your truck accident.
Do You Need a Semi Truck Accident Attorney?
If you suffered injuries in a semi truck accident, an attorney can help give you a better idea of how much compensation you deserve, as well as reduce the stress you suffer during this difficult period of your life. Semi truck accidents are often complicated, and may require the guidance of an experienced semi truck accident attorney to secure the best outcome possible.