Get insight into the vast range of truck accident injuries in Rhode Island. These devastating issues can prompt years of physical and emotional suffering, as well as significant medical bills and even job loss. A Rhode Island truck accident attorney from Marasco & Nesselbush can be an invaluable resource during a time of great suffering, providing assertive advocacy as you fight for the damages you deserve.
Rhode Island motorists share the road with hardworking commercial truck drivers. Most operate their sizable vehicles safely and considerately, recognizing just how much power they wield. Negligence is still a reality, however — and when it involves a truck, the risks are undeniable.
Data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals that, in 2020, nearly 45,000 people were injured in crashes involving large trucks. That year, large trucks accounted for nearly nine percent of the total vehicles in fatal crashes. These statistics only capture a small share of the pain and suffering prompted by truck accident injuries in Rhode Island.
What Is A Catastrophic Truck Accident Injury?
Any truck accident injury can cause significant physical pain and a world of mental anguish, but some are especially devastating. To qualify as ‘catastrophic,’ the injury must substantially change the victim’s way of life. This is most likely with injuries to the head and spine. Common truck accident injuries deemed catastrophic include:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Generally caused by violent blows to the head, traumatic brain injuries are jarring incidents that bruise vulnerable brain tissues. These are exclusively external sources of trauma, as opposed to strokes or tumors.
Research suggests that 1.7 million Americans suffer these injuries every year, with around 230,000 hospitalized on an annual basis. While slip and fall accidents are a top source of TBIs, motor vehicle accidents are also a major contributor to these alarming statistics. TBIs are especially likely if victims are thrown from their vehicles.
TBIs can range dramatically in terms of severity, but all are cause for concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control, moderate to severe TBIs shorten victims’ lifespans by approximately nine years. Many victims suffer long-term issues with communication and concentration, as well as physical concerns such as weakness of the arms or limited coordination.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Truck accidents often prompt significant damage to the spinal cord — the bundle of cells responsible for sending messages between the brain and the body. Physical trauma can break or dislocate the vertebrae, causing bone pieces to tear into the tissue of the cord.
In other cases, the damaged vertebrae may simply press down on the portions of the nerve responsible for carrying messages. Either way, essential signals are disrupted. As a result, truck accident victims can lose much of their bodily function below the site of the injury. The most severe injuries lead to paralysis.
Trucks often carry significant amounts of fuel or flammable cargo, making them uniquely susceptible to catching fire in the event of a collision. Victims may find themselves trapped in their vehicles, unable to escape the flames. As such, truck accidents often lead to second or even third-degree burns that may cover a sizable portion of the body.
Third-degree burns are especially debilitating, as they may impact not only the outer skin layer but also the nerves and muscles. Large third-degree burns can take years to heal. Data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests that vehicle fires claim more lives each year than fires that occur in apartment buildings or non-residential structures.
When injuries to the limbs are extremely severe, amputation may prove necessary. These may involve the extremities (such as the fingers or toes), but the loss of limbs is especially common in the aftermath of a truck accident. Physical trauma is often to blame, especially when victims are pinned under their cars. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Orthopaedics and Trauma suggests that traffic accidents prompt over 85 percent of trauma-related amputations.
In other cases, amputations may be required if deadly infections threaten patients’ lives. Sometimes, these infections do not appear until days or even weeks after the truck accident. No matter why amputation is needed, it has a huge impact on accident victims for the remainder of their lives, influencing everything from work to hobbies and even mental health.
What Other Injuries Can Occur In A Truck Accident?
The injuries highlighted above are devastating, but suffering is by no means limited to victims with injuries categorized as catastrophic. Those with mild to moderate injuries also suffer greatly.
Unfortunately, these victims often fail to secure sufficient damages, as they’re more likely to downplay the extent of their injuries or face obstacles on their path to legal damages. Some simply struggle to understand just how debilitating their injuries might be later on.
Examples of surprisingly harmful injuries after accidents with semi-trucks include:
Any injury that involves the upper torso can be classified as a chest injury. Often, the very mechanisms that save victims’ lives also cause damage, with seatbelts tightening to the point of injuring drivers or passengers. While this is preferable to being thrown from the vehicle, the physical impact can still be significant. Frequently, victims endure damage to ribs, including bruising or even fractures. In other cases, the internal organs may be impacted.
Rear-end collisions may force the neck to move back and forth. This prompts soft tissue damage and typically results in significant pain in the neck and shoulders. Other common symptoms include headaches, dizziness, ringing ears, or blurred vision. These issues are likely even when truck accidents occur at low speeds or don’t initially seem all that severe. Despite the severity of the accident, it is important to seek medical attention immediately, as symptoms of a whiplash injury can be delayed.
Whiplash is just one of many types of neck injuries that can result from the physical trauma of a truck accident. Neck fractures are also common, with some leading to spinal cord damage. Pinched nerves are also possible and may accompany concerns such as whiplash or fractured vertebrae.
Among the most common issues attributed to truck accidents, back injuries can vary dramatically in scope. Some victims experience only mild pain after these accidents, while others suffer debilitating spinal fractures.
Herniated discs are also possible, as the sheer force of the crash may cause the vertebrae to push into or compress the spinal canal. These injuries pose unique liability complications, as victims could be in the early stages of disc degeneration at the time of the crash. If the injuries are attributed to pre-existing conditions, it could be more difficult to secure compensation.
How Long After A Truck Accident Can Injuries Appear?
While many truck accident injuries are immediately obvious at the scene of the crash, others may not become evident until hours, days, or even weeks later. Thorough documentation of the victim’s physical condition is crucial immediately after the accident and may also be required later on, as late-onset symptoms of soft tissue damage or traumatic brain injuries begin to appear.
Who Could Be Held Liable For My Injuries?
Truck accidents are caused by a variety of factors, but these crashes often involve some element of driver negligence. Distraction is a major culprit, with far too many truck drivers engaging in unacceptable behaviors such as texting or eating behind the wheel. Others, even if attentive, may simply lack the training or skills necessary to operate such complex and dangerous vehicles.
Sometimes, vehicle manufacturers share in the blame. Tank defects, for example, may contribute to fires. Other common issues include:
- Tire blowouts
- Steering column defects
- Defective engines
- Misaligned brake shoes
These concerns may be present from day one but could also result from improper maintenance. In these cases, the trucking company may be held liable for failing to keep its fleet in excellent shape.