In any accident involving a passenger car and a large commercial truck, the occupants of the smaller car are likely to suffer catastrophic injuries due to the size and weight differences between the two vehicles. While a car or SUV might weigh 4,000-5,000 pounds, a fully loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 40 tons. The impact of a collision at highway speeds with a truck of that size is horrifically violent.
Any body part of the driver or passenger(s) in the smaller car can be slammed with tremendous force against the steering wheel, dashboard, windshield, or other hard surfaces. A victim who is lucky enough to survive a truck crash might be left with broken bones, cuts and lacerations, spinal cord damage, or traumatic brain injury, as well as severe damage to the mouth and teeth.
Truck Crash Dental Injuries
A truck wreck victim who suffers a strong impact to the head, face, mouth, or neck can sustain serious dental injuries that cause excruciating pain and require very expensive treatment. If you suffer injuries to your teeth in a truck accident in South Carolina, you’re entitled to file a claim against the insurance company of the at-fault driver for your dental bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
If the insurer does not offer a reasonable settlement, you may file a lawsuit and seek compensation in civil court, but both an insurance claim and a personal injury lawsuit are much more complicated procedures in a crash with a commercial truck than they are in an accident between two cars of similar size and weight. The services of a truck accident lawyer are often necessary in the quest to obtain fair compensation for truck accident dental injuries.
Types of Dental Injuries
Dental injuries are classified as direct or indirect. While direct injuries result from impact to the teeth or mouth, indirect injuries are caused by impact to the lower jaw, which closes with such force that teeth can be cracked, broken, crushed, or knocked out. Common direct and indirect tooth injuries include:
Luxation occurs when a tooth is knocked loose but not completely out. The tooth moves within its socket, causing pain and interfering with eating, speaking, and brushing. If not treated by a dentist, the problem only gets worse, and the tooth might fall out completely or become infected.
An avulsed tooth is one that has been knocked out of its socket. If you can retrieve the tooth, preserve it in a saline solution, and get to a dentist immediately, you have a chance of putting the tooth back where it belongs. After approximately two hours, however, an avulsed tooth “dies,” and you’ll need an implant, a bridge, or a denture to replace it.
A fractured tooth falls into one of three categories:
A crown fracture breaks the tooth’s enamel but goes no deeper. The crack may feel rough to the tongue, but the tooth is not tender or discolored.
Not only the enamel but also the underlying dentin layer is fractured, leaving the tooth sensitive to touch and air.
The fracture damages the enamel and dentin, as well as the pulp of the tooth, causing extreme sensitivity. This fracture is characterized by blood or discoloration at the center of the tooth.
Signs of Serious Dental Injuries
The most obvious symptom of dental injury is oral pain, but some victims also experience headaches, earaches, or vertigo (if a jaw injury has affected the inner ear). Rough, chipped teeth or sensitivity to air, water, or touch can be symptomatic of a dental injury that requires treatment.
Truck crash victims might also experience temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, a jaw injury that makes chewing painful and often causes a clicking sound when you open and close your mouth. If you have these or any symptoms of oral injury, you should see a dentist as soon as possible, keep all follow-up appointments, take medication as prescribed, and retain documentation of all your dental care.
Don’t Overlook Dental Injuries
If you sustain other serious physical injuries in a truck crash, you’re likely to see a doctor for medical treatment first and worry about dental injuries later. Delaying dental examination and treatment, however, can make your dental injuries even worse, more painful, and more expensive in the long run.
Putting off dental care can also damage your claim for compensation. You have a duty to mitigate your damages by seeking dental attention before your injuries worsen. If you put off addressing your dental issues, the at-fault party’s insurer can dispute your claim by insisting that they did not result directly from the crash or are not as serious as you say they are. Otherwise, you would have sought treatment immediately.
Multiple Parties Could Be Liable for Your Injuries
While recovering damages in any vehicle accident can be a tedious process, truck crash cases are more difficult to pursue than wrecks between cars, in which the victim generally files an insurance claim or lawsuit against one at-fault driver who caused the accident. When you’re injured by a negligent truck driver who was driving recklessly or in violation of traffic laws or federal guidelines, however, more than one party might share responsibility for your damages, including:
- The truck driver who caused your wreck due to reckless operation, distraction, fatigue, speeding, or violation of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations
- The trucking company that employs the trucker and is responsible for any damage done by that driver in the course of performing job duties
- The owner of the truck or a leasing agency if the trucking company is not the owner
- A mechanic or repair service that failed to keep the truck in safe operating condition
- The truck manufacturer or a replacement parts manufacturer if equipment failure played a role in the accident
- Loading dock personnel if improper loading led to shifting cargo that made the truck hard to control and contributed to the crash
Filing claims against multiple parties with different insurers, demanding and negotiating fair settlements, and filing more than one lawsuit if necessary are jobs best left to an experienced truck crash lawyer. Your attorney will be able to determine which parties are at fault and calculate their respective percentages of liability in order to demand fair compensation. Your lawyer can also obtain crucial data from the truck’s black box recorder, as well as the trucker’s logs, to find out if violation of any FMCSA regulations contributed to your crash.
Have You Been Injured In A Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina Truck Accident?
If you've been hurt in a truck accident you should speak with an experienced South Carolina truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Mt. Pleasant office directly at 843.488.3226 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Charleston, North Myrtle Beach, Florence or North Charleston office locations.