Any accident involving a tractor-trailer and a car or SUV can result in catastrophic injuries for the driver and passengers of the smaller vehicle. The horrific impact between a semi-truck, which can weigh up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded, and a smaller car, especially when both are traveling at highway speeds, commonly leads to broken bones in the victim’s hands, wrists, arms, legs, neck, back, and other parts of the body. All bone injuries are painful and take time to heal, often leaving the victim unable to work or perform normal daily activities. Some require surgery and long-term physical therapy to rehabilitate the injured areas.
How Bones Get Broken in Truck Crashes
Bone fractures are sustained by truck crash victims in a number of ways:
A rear-end or head-on accident with a commercial truck can cause the victim’s neck to snap back and forth like a whip, breaking cervical vertebrae in the upper spine and possibly damaging the spinal cord.
The occupant of a smaller vehicle hit by a truck is likely to bounce around inside the car, striking the dashboard, windshield, steering wheel, or other hard surfaces and fracturing the fragile bones of the face or other body parts. A skull fracture can result in a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
When a smaller car gets stuck beneath a truck’s cab or trailer, the car’s roof can collapse, and bones in an occupant’s head or shoulders can be broken or crushed.
Seat Belt Shoulder Harness Injuries
Although all drivers are required by law to wear seat belts, they can cause hip, pelvis, or rib fractures, especially in a head-on truck wreck.
The driver of a smaller vehicle might grip the steering wheel and lock the elbows in anticipation of a crash with a truck, which then breaks bones in the victim’s hands, arms, or shoulders.
Accident victims lucky enough to survive a crash with an 18-wheeler are likely to sustain severe bone injuries requiring surgery. Steel screws or plates might be necessary for the reconstruction of crushed bones, and medical expenses for treatment of truck crash bone fractures are likely to be very high. The recovery could be slow, leaving the victim unable to work for months. In the worst scenarios, broken vertebrae could damage nerves in the spinal cord and cause paralysis, or a fractured skull could result in a traumatic brain injury. Either injury could leave the victim disabled for life.
Types of Bone Breaks Sustained in Truck Accidents
The bones of a truck accident victim can be fractured in a number of ways:
- In a complete fracture, the bone is broken into two or more pieces.
- In a partial fracture, the break does not go completely through the bone.
- An open or compound fracture is one in which a part of the broken bone pierces the skin from the inside.
- In a closed fracture, the break is internal and not visible to the eye.
- A stable fracture is relatively easy to set because the pieces of the broken bone are still aligned with one another.
- In a displaced fracture, the broken pieces of the bone are not aligned. This type of break is more difficult to set and may require surgery.
- Stress or hairline fractures are small cracks in the bone that can deteriorate if not treated.
- A linear fracture is a break that’s “vertical” or parallel to the length of the bone.
- A transverse fracture is a “horizontal” break that’s perpendicular to the length of the bone.
- An oblique fracture is a diagonal one caused by internal contact between two bones due to the impact of the crash.
- In a comminuted break, the bone is broken into pieces or crushed.
- A greenstick fracture is one in which only one side of the bone is broken.
- In an avulsion break, a piece of a bone that is connected to ligaments or tendons tears away from the rest of the bone.
- A buckle is a bend rather than a break in the bone. Buckling is common in children, whose bones are more flexible than adult bones.
If you suffer a bone fracture as a result of an accident caused by a negligent truck driver, you’re entitled to file an insurance claim for your damages, which include medical bills, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering. Unlike a car accident, though, a truck crash might have more than one defendant who is fully or partially liable for your damages.
When There Is More Than One Liable Party
When you’re involved in an accident with another passenger car, the at-fault driver, alone, is responsible for your damages, except perhaps in the case of a DUI crash, in which a third party who served that driver alcohol might be partially liable. In an accident with a commercial truck, responsibility for your damages could be shared among more than one party. The driver’s employer (typically a trucking company) is liable for damages caused by its employees in the course of doing their jobs. If, for example, the company pressures its driver to spend more hours on the road without rest than legally permitted, it has violated its duty of care to other drivers on the road and can be held liable.
If the truck crash that injured you was caused by defective equipment or a mechanical problem, a manufacturer and/or a truck repair service could be held responsible. If the accident resulted from improper loading of the truck’s trailer, cargo-loading personnel could be partially at fault and owe you compensation. These multiple defendants might all have different insurance companies with which you may file damage claims, but doing so is a complex legal process with many procedural requirements and deadlines. The average person recovering from truck crash injuries and perhaps taking medication is generally not up to the task. That’s why the services of an experienced truck accident lawyer are highly recommended in such a case.
The Role of Your Attorney
A truck accident attorney knows how to identify multiple at-fault parties in a truck accident and investigate to determine their respective percentages of blame. Your attorney can also:
- Call in an accident reconstructionist and medical experts to strengthen your claim
- Interview any eyewitnesses
- Obtain data from the truck’s on-board recording devices
- Gain access to video footage of your wreck from nearby security or red-light cameras
- Communicate with multiple insurers and demand reasonable compensation from each
- Negotiate on your behalf for fair damage awards
- File multiple lawsuits and take your case to court if reasonable settlements are not offered.
Have You Been Injured In A Florence, South Carolina Area Truck Accident?
If you've been injured in a Florence truck accident you should speak with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Florence, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.7540 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Charleston, Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.