In 2015, almost three years after she hit a tractor-trailer that allegedly failed to yield the right-of-way, an Illinois teacher obtained a $14 million settlement after the accident left her with an incomplete spinal cord injury that prevented her from returning to work.
The woman hit the truck, which was making a left turn in front of her, while she was on her way to work, and was unable to stop in time to prevent the collision.
As a result of the accident, her spinal cord was injured, impacting her ability to work. The insurance company wanted to dispute her claims, but her attorneys stood their ground, securing her settlement.
Why Are Truck Accidents So Dangerous?
A passenger car is so much smaller than a tractor-trailer that in an accident between the two, it is unlikely that there wouldn’t be injuries for those riding in the car.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the vast majority, approximately 98 percent, of accidents involving a big rig involve at least one fatality, almost always the passenger vehicle, which weight can be as much as 32 percent less than a tractor trailer.
In a rollover accident, a small car is likely to become crushed by a semi, while a collision can cause catastrophic injuries, especially injuries related to the neck and spine.
They Mayo Clinic says that more than 40 percent of spinal injuries happen when people are in accidents while traveling on the road.
Spine and neck injuries are common in a collision with tractor-trailer, because the jarring, sudden impact is harsh on the muscles and ligaments of the back and neck, forcing them to move in a way that puts pressure on joints and bones.
Because of that force, aside from of the back injuries that are caused by lifting, falling, or the result of a hereditary condition, car accidents top the list of ways spinal cord injuries can occur.
Injuries related to vehicle accidents can include whiplash, herniated discs, compression fractures, and spondylolisthesis.
Depending on the type of neck injury, pain can last for a short while or can become a chronic condition.
Types of Spinal Injuries
If you are experiencing neck and back pain after an accident, your doctor will likely make a diagnosis based on how you describe your injuries and what is seen during an examination.
Some potential spinal injuries include:
- Whiplash is a common injury caused by a rear-end collision or in a head-on collision. The impact can jar the head backward then forward, damaging parts of the neck including the joints between the vertebra and discs of the neck Cervical muscles, ligaments and nerve roots can also be damaged, leading to what could potentially be long-term pain and stiffness.
- Spinal fractures. Compression fractures of the spine associated with tractor-trailer accidents are most common in the thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine, which make up the middle and lower back, because the impact of an accident can throw the body forward, while the lower body is restricted by a seat belt. The stress can cause spinal cord injuries including broken vertebrae, tingling of the extremities, pain and numbness that worsens with movement, numbness, weakness, and loss of bladder and bowel control. In this kind of injury, it is important not to move the victim until rescue workers can immobilize the neck and spine.
- This condition is caused when a stress fracture forces a vertebra to shift out of place. The vertebra can compress the nerves of the spinal cord or the spinal canal, causing pain, weakness, numbness in the leg and difficulty walking.
- Herniated discs. In an accident, discs absorb the impact to the spine, potentially causing the disc to herniate. Discs have a hard exterior and a soft center. When the discs herniate, the soft part of the disc presses out of cracks in the hard exterior, exposing nerves to pain, tingling, numbness and weakness.
What to Do if You Have a Spinal Injury
If you have any sort of back or neck pain after an accident, it’s important to see a doctor for an evaluation as soon as possible if an ambulance does not transport you to a local hospital.
It is important to determine the exact cause of the pain, not only so that medical professionals can work to correct the problem, but also so that you have records reflecting what your injury stems from. You should also see a medical professional even if you have no pain, because the adrenalin of surviving a truck accident could disguise injuries for hours or days.
If you’ve suffer a spinal injury after a truck accident, it’s important to talk to an experienced attorney to make sure that the trucking company’s insurance company will cover not only your injuries, but also pain and suffering, providing a settlement that protects you now and into the future.
Call us now to discuss your case. Your consultation is free, and we charge no fees unless we secure a settlement for you and your family.