What Should I Do if I am Paralyzed after a Truck Accident?September 6, 2021
When a passenger vehicle is involved in a serious truck accident, the occupants of the passenger vehicle often suffer catastrophic injuries, if they were lucky enough to survive the accident. The type and severity of the injuries will depend on a number of factors, including how fast the vehicles were traveling and the crashworthiness of the passenger vehicle involved. One of the most common and devastating types of injuries that truck accidents cause are spinal injuries. When the impact of the crash causes a traumatic blow to the spine, it can cause partial or total paralysis. In addition to the impact this can have on the victim’s quality of life, the costs associated with treatment, rehabilitation, adaptive equipment, and modifications to the home can accumulate very quickly. An experienced truck accident lawyer will work closely with individuals who were paralyzed in a truck accident and ensure that they receive the maximum financial compensation they deserve.
What Causes Paralysis?
The spinal cord is the part of the central nervous system that sends messages from the brain to the extremities, including the arms and legs. When the spine suffers a serious trauma from the impact of a truck accident, the spinal cord may sustain damage that prevents the brain from being able to communicate or send messages to the rest of the body. Spinal damage that results in paralysis is generally caused by fractures, dislocations, compression, or crushing of the vertebrae and the spinal cord tissue. Truck accidents are one of the leading causes of spinal injuries each year in the United States.
In some cases, a spinal cord injury may be incomplete, in which case the victim may regain some or all their abilities with extensive rehabilitation therapy. However, a complete spinal cord injury is generally irreversible. Depending on whether the victim suffers from paraplegia or quadriplegia, a complete spinal cord injury is devastating. In most cases, the victim will no longer be able to walk, drive, or participate in a range of other activities that they could do prior to the accident. In addition, they will likely require the following equipment and assistance for the rest of their life:
- Assistance with personal hygiene, eating, and other basic tasks.
- Modifications to the home and/or vehicles so that they are handicapped-accessible.
- Respiratory assistance.
- Patients with quadriplegia will require assistance with almost all tasks for the rest of their lives.
The extent of the paralysis depends on the part of the spine that was injured. Paralysis can affect certain parts of the body, or multiple body parts. The following are the main types of paralysis:
- Monoplegia: This only affects one part of the body, such as a limb. People with this type of paralysis can move the rest of their body.
- Hemiplegia: This affects one side of the body. Hemiplegics can only move the side of the body that is not affected.
- Paraplegia: This affects the lower part of the body. Paraplegics generally lose all function below the waist.
- Quadriplegia: This causes the person to lose function from the neck down. Some quadriplegics experience spasticity, or uncontrollable movements, but this is not an indication that the person will regain sensation or use of his or her arms or legs.
In addition to the loss of feeling and movement associated with paralysis, there are a number of other health complications that victims of spinal injuries may experience, including the following:
- Circulatory issues: When paralysis prevents a person from being able to move, this can lead to circulation problems, which can cause blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, and/or deep vein thrombosis.
- Incontinence: People who are paralyzed from the waist or neck down may no longer have control over their bladder or bowels.
- Phantom pain: Despite being paralyzed and unable to feel their body from the waist or neck down, it is common for people to experience phantom pain at the site of the injury.
- Respiratory challenges: Quadriplegia and paraplegia affecting the chest muscle can impact the person’s ability to breathe properly. Special exercises and medical equipment can help.
What are the Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most truck accidents are caused by human error. However, some are caused by other factors such as weather and poor road conditions. All truck accidents can cause devastating injuries, including spinal cord injuries that can result in partial or total paralysis. Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include the following:
- Drowsy driving: This is a serious problem among truck drivers who are under a great deal of pressure to meet very tight delivery deadlines. Despite federal hours of service (HOS) regulations that truck drivers are required to follow, they often continue driving, even if they have exceeded the number of hours that they are supposed to be on duty. Studies have shown that drivers who are awake for 18 consecutive hours or more can experience the same impairments as someone who has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent.
- Distracted driving: Talking or texting on the phone, setting up the GPS system, and eating or drinking while driving are all examples of distracted driving. This is dangerous driving behavior, particularly when the driver is behind the wheel of a massive 80,000-pound commercial truck.
- Impaired driving: Drunk or drugged driving is another common, yet preventable, cause of serious truck accidents. When a truck driver is driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it impacts his or her judgment, coordination, and ability to make quick decisions. In addition, when truck drivers are driving while drunk, they are more likely to speed or engage in other reckless driving behaviors that can result in particularly devastating accidents.
- Poor truck maintenance: When a commercial truck is not properly maintained, there is a great risk of a serious accident. Drivers and the truck companies are responsible for making sure that the brakes, tires, lights, and other truck parts are inspected and maintained on a regular basis. All damaged or defective parts should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
- Negligent hiring: Truck companies are responsible for ensuring that all drivers meet the requirements to be a commercial truck driver. In addition, the truck companies must provide the necessary training for all drivers. Inexperienced drivers who have not been adequately trained are more likely to cause a serious accident.
- Poor road conditions: A significant number of truck accidents are caused by potholes, poor road quality, and lack of adequate signage or poorly placed signage.
- Improperly secured cargo: When a truck’s cargo is imbalanced, overloaded, or improperly secured, it can come loose and fall out of the back of the truck. If there are other vehicles in the vicinity, the cargo can hit another vehicle, causing a serious accident. Even if the cargo does not fall out of the truck, imbalanced cargo that moves around inside the trailer can make it difficult for the truck driver to maintain control of the truck.
Poor road conditions
There are a number of parties that may be liable for a truck accident. For example, if the truck driver was texting or talking on the phone at the time of the accident, he or she may be held liable for the accident. If the truck company failed to properly train a truck driver who caused the accident, the truck driver and the truck company may share liability. Other third parties may also be liable, including the following:
- Company responsible for loading the truck if improper or insecure loading caused the truck accident
- Maintenance and repair company if the truck was not properly serviced
- Government entities if road hazards or poorly designed roads led to the accident
What Damages May I Receive after a Truck Accident?
The costs associated with a paralysis injury can accumulate very quickly, so it is imperative that the injured victim has a skilled legal team on their side who will communicate with the trucking insurance company, ensure that their rights are protected, and negotiate the best possible settlement. Truck accident victims may be eligible for the following damages:
- Economic damages: These are expenses that can be easily quantified, including past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.
- Non-economic damages: These are non-monetary losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of quality of life, and loss of consortium.
- Punitive damages: These are meant to punish someone for behavior that is considered particularly egregious.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Truck Accident Victims Suffering from a Spinal Cord Injury
If you or a loved one suffered a serious spinal cord injury in a truck accident, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Paralysis injuries can require extensive medical care, physical and occupational therapy, medical devices, and modifications to the home, all of which can be very costly. We will work closely with you to determine who is responsible for causing the accident, assist you with every step of the claims process, and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injury. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.