As a driver or occupant of a passenger vehicle, there are few hazards on the road more dangerous than a collision with a large truck. The size and weight of large trucks make them very likely to cause severe injuries and even death in accidents with other types of motor vehicles. If you’ve been involved in a collision with a truck as a driver, passenger, or pedestrian, you should seek representation by a personal injury lawyer with extensive experience in handling large truck litigation in order to be compensated appropriately for the truck accident injuries that you sustained.
Truck Accident Statistics: Pennsylvania and Nationwide
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines a large truck as one that weighs more than 10,000 pounds. According to their Traffic Safety Facts for Large Trucks, in 2016:
- More than 4,300 people died on the nation’s roads in an accident that involved a large truck;
- More than 80 percent of those trucks were heavy large trucks, weighing more than 26,000 pounds;
- Only 17% of those accidents involved a fatality to the driver or other occupant of the truck;
- 72% of the accidents involved a fatality of occupants of other vehicles;
- 11% of the accidents killed pedestrians, cyclists, or otherwise a non-occupant of a vehicle; and
- In 2015, 86,000 occupants of vehicles and/or pedestrians, etc. were injured in an accident with a large truck.
For the same year the report states there were 1,698 vehicles involved in fatal crashes on Pennsylvania roadways. Of those vehicles, 169, or 10 percent, were large trucks. Of the 165 people killed in 2016 in accidents with large trucks, 139 of them were either a pedestrian or the occupant of a vehicle other than the truck. In short, truck accidents tend to be far more dangerous to others than they are to truck drivers themselves.
Types of Truck Accident Injuries
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, large trucks can be 20 to 30 times heavier than the average passenger car and take 20 to 40% longer to come to a stop when they are full of cargo. Many drivers have spent long hours on the road and may be tired and not driving under optimal conditions. These factors create a particularly dangerous situation for drivers and passengers of cars, SUVs, motorcycles, and for pedestrians.
Here are some of the most common truck accident injuries sustained by those who are unlucky enough to find themselves in an accident with a truck:Back and Neck Injuries
Injuries to the back and neck following a truck accident can cause severe, debilitating pain while being difficult to both diagnose and treat. The force of the impact can cause pain from whiplash, but it can also cause disc injuries and dislocation, which are often painful and distressing over the long-term. Any amount of neck or back pain can result in an inability to work for months, years, or even a lifetime.Head Injuries
Head injuries sustained in a collision with a truck can range from mild and temporary to life-altering and permanent. They may be caused by the impact of the head against a part of the interior of the car, but a brain injury could even be caused by whiplash or slamming on the brakes.
Head trauma should be treated with the utmost caution. Any victim of a truck accident should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible, as head injuries may take hours or even days to show symptoms. Nausea, vision problems, and confusion and other cognitive difficulties may develop, indicating a concussion, swelling, bruising, or bleeding in the brain. Head injuries can cause long-term or permanent damage, or even death.Spinal Cord Injuries and Paralysis
Injuries to the bones, muscles, or nerves in the spinal cord can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis of one or more parts of the body. Again, injuries to the spinal cord may not be readily apparent following an accident with a truck and will likely need to be diagnosed by MRI rather than by simple X-ray. Even when spinal cord injuries can be successfully treated, they are likely to require time and specialized rehabilitation, and possibly surgery.Burns
Trucks carry large amounts of fuel in order to power their larger, heavier size and cargo. When a truck is involved in a collision, its weight and speed are more likely to cause either its own or another vehicle’s fuel tank to rupture and explode. Burn injuries happen more frequently in accidents involving commercial trucks than in accidents between two passenger vehicles. Burn injuries can cause severe pain, disfigurement, and psychological trauma.Internal Injuries
Unfortunately, our bodies were not meant to withstand a crash with an object that weighs tens of thousands of pounds and is moving at 50 or more miles per hour. Due to the impact, internal injuries to organs such as the bowels, lungs, liver, heart, spleen, and kidneys are common in passenger car occupants and can be life threatening.
Fractured ribs can also cause damage to internal organs, such as a punctured lung. Injuries to internal organs are not always easy or straightforward to remedy and may come with a lifetime’s worth of medical issues causing expense and pain to victims.
Psychological Injuries from Truck Accidents
While physical injuries can cause pain, suffering, and loss of mobility for an accident victim, truck accident injuries can involve debilitating psychological effects as well. Driving, once a normal, everyday part of life, may become terrifying, hampering your ability to go to work, take care of yourself and your family, or do simple tasks such as grocery shopping. After an accident, even leaving the house may make you feel unsafe, or you may experience depression or PTSD.
It is as important to seek treatment for psychological issues as it is for physical injuries. Despite the traumatic experience of being hit by a truck and the time and effort it takes to heal from your physical and psychological injuries, you deserve to be able to get back to the activities that give you enjoyment and purpose in life.
Delaware County Personal Injury Lawyers Fighting for Truck Accident Victims
Truck accident injuries effect thousands of people each year, and many times are fatal. If you’ve been in an accident involving a truck, your case should only be handled by a personal injury attorney with extensive experience with truck accident law. It may be necessary to prove that the truck driver was in violation of drive-time limits, that the truck was not maintained according to schedule, or that it was improperly loaded.
At Donaghue & Labrum, we’ve represented many, many victims of car and truck accidents. In fact, we have been fighting for just compensation for truck accident victims for over 30 years in Philadelphia, Delaware County, and Chester County. We understand that our clients desperately want to return to their normal lives, and we fight tirelessly until they get the compensation that they deserve. If you or a loved one has suffered significant truck accident injuries, contact Donaghue & Labrum today.