Truck accidents are a leading cause of catastrophic injuries. Catastrophic injuries are severe and change your whole life. They affect movement, coordination, reasoning, memory, and mental health. Also, the recovery period for these injuries is more extended and more expensive. If another party was at fault for the accident, you could file a personal injury lawsuit to recover the damages you suffer from the accident. If your loved one died from the accident, you can sue for wrongful death damages. The Orange County Personal Injury Attorney works with victims to help them pursue compensation for the catastrophic injuries they suffer due to truck accidents.

Common Catastrophic Injuries from a Truck Accident

A catastrophic accident permanently prevents you from engaging in gainful work. These severe injuries leave you with a permanent disability, and you have to deal with the long term effects of such an injury. 

The impact of a truck either on another vehicle or directly on a pedestrian often has fatal results. The weight and size of the truck magnify the impact of a crash or even a minor accident. For example, if a large commercial truck is fully loaded, then it weighs more than 25 times the weight of a standard car.

While the law holds truck drivers at a higher standard than other drivers, accidents still occur with startling fatalities. Thousands of people lose their lives in truck accidents while leaving hundreds of thousands struggling with catastrophic injuries.

Some of the common injuries include:

  1. Amputations

Amputations in truck accidents happen as part of the accident or during a medical procedure to treat the injuries. For example, shattered limbs with irreparable damage and tissue death necessitate an amputation.

Amputations affect your ability to use your limb or the amputated part, such as a finger. Depending on the severity of the amputation, you could lose one or more limbs, making you dependent on others for help, at least temporarily.

You will have to pay for medical bills until you heal from the amputation. Other costs and challenges associated with amputations include:

  • Losing the ability to work
  • Costs related to readjusting your home to fit your condition (for example, if you have to use a wheelchair, your home has to be readjusted to accommodate your condition)
  • Dependence on others as you learn to use alternative limbs such as prosthetics
  • Mental anguish due to the loss
  • Phantom pain where the limb used to be
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Costs of counseling and therapy

When amputations occur alone, the outlook is generally good for the victims, especially with a good support system. However, you can still sue the negligent party for the damages you suffered due to the truck accident.

  1. Severe Burns

Severe burns are a common injury in accidents involving trucks that carry hazardous materials. These materials can cause chemical burns or explode and burn their victims.

Burns vary in severity with first and second-degree burns being the less severe. However, third and fourth-degree burns cause severe damage to the skin tissue and can reach the bone tissue. These burns require extensive treatment, skin grafting, and surgery to correct the burnt tissues.

The treatment will last several months before you can start recovering. After recovery, you may be left with severe scarring. These scars can cause you embarrassment or low self-esteem.

You will also have incurred hefty medical bills throughout the treatment procedure. In some cases, the doctor may have to amputate some limbs, especially if they suffer irreparable damage.

After treatment, you may still have trouble with using certain parts of your limbs or pain where the burns are. You might be dependent on medication to relieve constant pain and skin irritation.

You might also have to deal with psychological issues such as post-traumatic depression and anxiety after the incident. These conditions lower the quality and enjoyment of your life.

  1. Multiple Fractures

Fractures are common in a truck accident due to the force of the truck. When a truck collides with a smaller vehicle, the force created upon impact is sufficient to cause severe bone fractures to the passengers of that car.

These fractures also occur when the victim is thrown off a car if they did not have a safety belt, or during a rollover accident.

If the victim is trapped within the wreck, fractures are likely to occur. The most common fractures occur on the legs, hands, ribs, hips, pelvis, skull, wrist, and the back.

While multiple fractures are rarely fatal, they take considerable time to heal, therefore affecting your movement and ability to work. If a compound fracture occurs, the surrounding area is at risk of infection and nerve damage.

  1. Traumatic Brain Injuries

Blows to the head during an accident can lead to traumatic brain injuries. The injury affects the normal functioning of the brain. Traumatic brain injury varies in severity ranging from mild to severe brain injury. Mild brain injury results in brief mental changes that heal over time.

However, in more severe cases, the result is often prolonged unconsciousness, coma, and death. The death rate from traumatic brain injuries is fifty percent within the first two hours. Those who survive after the two hours go through long periods of treatment and rehabilitation.

Traumatic brain injury is an emergency and should be handled swiftly to prevent further damage to the brain tissue. Usually, surgery is a common treatment approach for traumatic brain injury. The operation aims at removing the contusion or hematoma that is responsible for applying pressure on the brain tissue.

Patients of TBI require close monitoring to ensure that emerging conditions are dealt with soon. After the surgery, patients usually stay in the ICU where their vital signs are monitored to prevent damage to the brain.

TBI makes the brain sensitive to slight changes in the blood pressure, glucose, or oxygen levels that the brain would ordinarily tolerate. These changes can worsen the condition.

The outlook after a traumatic brain injury depends on the severity of your injury. Mild to moderate TBI patients have a better recovery outlook compared to patients of severe traumatic brain injury.

Most people with severe TBI cause death by about 33%. Only 25-33% of the same patients have a positive outlook. Most of the victims of severe TBI are permanently disabled and cannot resume the tasks they once handled. They are also at risk of other conditions such as respiratory, skin, and psychological conditions.

  1. Head Injuries

Head injuries are common in a truck accident. They vary depending on the severity and the type of injury. The common head injuries in truck accidents include:

  • Concussions
  • Hematomas
  • Bleeding within the brain or skull tissue
  • Contusions
  • Edema
  • Skull fracture
  • Sheer damage

Head injuries are either open or closed. Closed head injuries do not break the skull. They might include bumps or bruises on the head. Open head injury, on the other hand, penetrates the skull.

The severity of head injuries can be difficult to measure by just looking at the injury. Therefore, you will have to look at the common symptoms to determine the severity of the injury. Symptoms of mild injury include:

  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Ringing in the ears

However, when the injury is severe, the symptoms will include seizures, loss of consciousness, balance and coordination problems, and worsening headaches.

Damages You Can Recover from a Truck Accident

If you suffer catastrophic injuries from a truck accident, you can successfully fight for compensation. The law allows victims of accidents to sue the at-fault parties for any damages they incur due to their negligence.

The possible defendants in a truck accident vary depending on:

  • The cause of the accident
  • The contribution of each party to the accident
  • The responsibility of each of the parties
  • The status of the truck driver as an employee or an independent contractor

Before you can collect damages for your injuries, you have to determine the at-fault party. Your personal injury attorney will help you with this process. He or she will investigate:

  • The possible causes of the accident
  • The evidence at the scene of the accident, including statements from witnesses
  • Testimony from a mechanic or body shop that worked on the truck after the accident
  • The testimony of an accident reconstruction expert
  • Maintenance records of the vehicle

Identifying the cause of the accident will help your attorney pinpoint the source of negligence. For example, if the truck manufacturer produced inefficient parts, leading to the accident, then the manufacturer is liable for the accident.

However, if the driver of the truck failed to conduct regular maintenance and checkups, then he or she is responsible for accidents caused by poor maintenance.

In some cases, multiple parties will be at-fault for the accident. Here, you can file a lawsuit against all the potential defendants. The court will then determine the settlement you should get, and then divide it among the defendants based on the percentage fault.

Some of the damages available in truck accidents include:

Medical Expenses

Medical expenses are the most noticeable expenses associated with catastrophic accidents. They keep piling from the day you are injured, and sometimes, into the future. You might need medication for the rest of your life.

These expenses are unexpected and unplanned for. Therefore, they will upset your life significantly. Covering medical costs is a significant burden for most people who are injured in truck accidents.

First, if you sustain catastrophic injuries, you cannot go to work for some time, as you recover. It can take up to a year of continued treatment before you can resume some routine tasks. For others, you have to depend on your family or nursing homes for care.

You can cover medical expenses from a truck accident through alternatives such as:

  • Your auto coverage policy
  • The auto insurance policy of the at-fault party
  • Your health insurance coverage
  • Contingency based medical care where the doctor delays your bill until you get a settlement from the personal injury lawsuit
  • Litigation funding
  • Paying out of your pocket

Medical expenses will include costs such as:

  • Treatment
  • Medication
  • Surgical procedures
  • Therapy

The current medical expenses that you have incurred are easy to calculate, as you only need to add up the respective bills. However, in the case of catastrophic injury, you will need medical care in the future for the same injuries. Calculating the amount of future medical expenses requires the testimony of an economic expert as well as a doctor.

The doctor evaluates your conditions to determine the extent to which you will need future medical care. For example, you may need regular care if you are paralyzed from a truck accident. A doctor can explain how paralysis affects your life and the reason for needing additional treatment.

The economic expert calculates the value of medical expenses in the future, taking into account economic changes around the world, inflation, and the value of the bills in the present.

When calculating the amount to award for medical damages, factors such as:

  • The nature and extent of your injuries
  • The type of treatment you receive and how invasive it is
  • The type of medical provider who treats Insurance adjusters will willingly pay for medical doctors, unlike those of alternative medication.
  • The duration the treatment lasts
  • Your future needs for medical care

Ideally, you should keep all the receipts for medication and treatment that you incur in relation to the accident. You should also seek treatment as soon as possible so that treatment starts early.

Lost Wages

Catastrophic injuries from truck accidents interfere with your ability to work. Losing wages will strain your finances as you recover from your injuries, and even in the future.

Lost wages are part of the economic damages you recover from a personal injury lawsuit. The damages aim at compensating you for any days you miss work due to the accident.

The theory behind lost wages is that you would not have missed your earnings, had you not been injured in the accident. Usually, the best time to file a lost wage claim is when you have healed as much as possible from the injuries.

To prove that you lost some wages, you will have to present documents such as a doctor’s note indicating the types of activities in which you can engage. It could also indicate the days your doctor recommends you do not work to recover from your injuries.

You should also provide your paystubs, tax forms, invoices, and correspondence to prove the wages you earn. The court can then use these documents to calculate the wages you have lost from the injury.

You can also get a letter from your employer stating the number of hours in which you work, the number of times you have been absent, and what you earn.

The ease of calculating the value of lost income depends on whether you are an employee, an independent contractor, or are self-employed. Where your earnings and benefits have been consistent, calculating the lost income is a straightforward process.

However, where your income varies over time, you need to hire a forensic economist. The forensic economist will help you in calculating the value of your lost wages.

Lost Earning Capacity 

Lost earning capacity damages differ from lost wages, lost earning capacity compensates you for the disparity in income created by your injuries. For example, if you suffer a broken limb, which prevents you from maintaining a job with the same earning potential as your previous job, then the injury has cost your earning potential.

Lost earning capacity compensates you for future earnings that you are likely to lose due to your accident. Factors that go into calculating lost earning capacity include:

  • The period the injuries might last
  • When you can expect to return to your job, if possible
  • Your age
  • Your life expectancy before the accident
  • The period you had to work before retirement
  • Your health before the accident
  • Your past earnings
  • The nature of your income as fixed based on your performance
  • The policies in your company about raises, promotion, overtime, etc.
  • The prospects for a promotion in your career field
  • Your performance reviews

The court might also determine how your earnings will be affected even if you were not working at the time of the accident.

Your personal injury attorney might seek the help of your employer, expert economists, and a vocational rehabilitation expert to testify on your behalf. These experts can help to adequately determine the potential earning capacity that you have lost from the truck accident.

Friends, family, and co-workers can also testify on your behalf to provide information on your goals, interests, and activities before and after the accident. These testimonies can offer a clear picture of how the accident has affected your earning potential.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering damages are awarded to compensate you for the emotional distress you suffer due to a truck accident. Pain and suffering is an abstract concept whose value is hard to calculate.

These damages award you for issues such as:

  • Mental anguish after the injury
  • Temporary and permanent restrictions on certain activities
  • Aches
  • Embarrassment
  • Loss of enjoyment in life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of parental guidance

The damages you get for pain and suffering depends on the available evidence and the extent of your injuries. Other factors used in determining the value of pain and suffering damages include:

  • The time it takes for the injuries to heal
  • The type of pain associated with the specific injury you suffered
  • Your need for future care
  • The type of medication required for the injuries
  • The effect the injuries have had on your career and relationships

Since catastrophic injuries tend to cause a lot of pain and suffering, the damages are significant.

However, you still need to provide sufficient proof to sway the jury in your favor. Some of the evidence you can use includes:

  • The testimony of a mental health expert who can evaluate your state of mind and determine how the accident has affected you
  • The opinion of a doctor on the nature and extent of pain you could be experienced due to your injuries. A doctor will often give advice based on the pain symptoms of an injury. for example, if you suffered head injuries, the possibility of suffering constant migraines is very high
  • Prescriptions for pain medication before and after the accident
  • The testimony of your friends and family before and after your accident

Ultimately, the amount you recover for pain and suffering depends on your attorney’s negotiating skills. Both the insurance company and the attorney have formulas they use in calculating the worth of a case.

However, the insurance company will often downplay the worth of your case to pay less. Your personal injury attorney’s job is to negotiate for a worthy settlement that adequately compensates you for the damages.

Punitive Damages

These are awarded where the negligent party acted with gross negligence. The court awards punitive damages to punish the negligent party and discourage others from engaging in similar conduct.

Both the insurance company and your attorney will come up with values for your personal injury lawsuit. These values provide a starting point for negotiations that might end in a settlement.

In cases involving catastrophic injuries, your attorney should be capable of negotiating a suitable settlement that adequately meets your needs and unique challenges. Your attorney will advise you on whether it is best to settle outside the court or pursue the case through trial.

Find a Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

Catastrophic injuries after a truck accident requires significant time, money, and effort for recovery. You could still be learning how to live with the new changes in your body. If you were injured in a truck accident, contact the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney for help with your case. Our attorneys have worked with many clients to negotiate the most appropriate and acceptable settlement. He or she will provide the necessary guidance throughout the process to ensure that you understand what is going on and express your wishes as well. Contact us today at 714-876-1959 for a consultation.