Spinal Cord Injuries
Our 18-wheeler accident attorneys understand the extraordinary physical and emotional trauma accompanied with a spinal cord injury caused by a semi truck accident. Losing motor skills and other functions of the body is a frustrating experience. We also understand your grief and anger and want to assist you in pursuing compensation. Those involved in an 18-wheeler accident and are affected by such tragedy should not hesitate to contact our offices to determine your future legal options.
Over 10,000 people in the US suffer a spinal cord injury, also called SCI, each year. SCI is defined as any damage to the spinal cord results in loss of function or mobility. Such injuries can be caused by trauma or disease and can result in temporary or permanent loss of sensation, loss of movement (paralysis), or loss of bowel or bladder control. Auto accidents are the primary cause but violence related accidents have been increasing steadily as a cause of SCI’s. Falls and sports accidents also cause many SCI’s each year.
There are two types of injury, compete and incomplete. A compete injury is one in which the victim has no sensation or voluntary motor movement on either side of the body below the level of the injury. If the victim has some feeling or partial movement, it is called an incomplete injury.
Injuries are usually defined with reference to the area of the spine affected. Nerves in the spine are defined by the area of the vertebrae – an injury to the spine in the neck area will affect the cervical vertebrae – injury to the nerves at the fifth cervical vertebra is called a C-5 injury, for instance. Below the neck are the thoracic vertebrae, so injuries there are defined as T-1, etc. Then there are lumbar and sacral vertebrae.
Generally speaking, neck injuries will lead to paralysis of all limbs (quadriplegia) while thoracic injuries cause paralysis to the lower limbs only (paraplegia). Both areas have variations in the amount of dysfunction, depending on the severity of the injury. An incomplete cervical injury can leave the patient with some hand use, while a complete injury at C-4 can require the patient to be on a ventilator. Thoracic injuries can leave the arms functional but interfere with walking, bowel and bladder control, and sexual function. Other functions affected are blood pressure, body temperature, and pain levels.
A spinal cord injury usually involves swelling of the spinal cord which affects the whole body. When the swelling goes down, the patient may regain function months or years after the injury but it is rare for all functioning to be recovered. Treatment presently consists of stabilizing any broken vertebrae, maintaining the patient, preventing movement to the injured area, and reducing swelling. There is no cure for SCI but stem cell research has shown some signs of being useful in the future.
Our truck accident lawyers understand the hindrance of a fracture injury suffered as the result of a semi truck accidents. The loss of function in a limb prevents the victim from working and living their everyday lives. When a fracture injury is suffered as a result of another person’s negligence, our semi truck accident attorneys can assist the victim in recovering damages from the at-fault party to the fullest extent of the law.
The term fracture refers to a broken bone. The damage to the bone can range from a hairline crack in the outer structure to a complete break whereby two or more parts of the bone no longer align correctly. A fracture which occurs during a semi truck accident can often be accompanied by a sprain, strain or dislocation due to the relative severity of the impact upon the bone.
Several distinct indicators accompany a fracture injury. These include: an audible pop or snap, pain which increases with movement or pressure on the injury site, swelling and bruising, the bending of a limb where there is no joint, or a bone visible protruding through the limb.
In treating a fracture injury, a healthcare professional may set, cast, or splint a broken bone to help it heal. In the case of a severe fracture, surgery may be required. Weeks and sometimes months are required for a fracture to fully heal. Often the duration of recovery is determined by the person’s health, the severity of the injury, and whether other injuries accompany the fracture.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Our 18-wheeler accident lawyers know the extent of pain one can feel upon enduring a soft tissue injury. Knee, hand, neck and arm soft tissue injuries are a common result of semi truck accidents. In the event of a ‘whiplash’ type neck motion during the accident, a soft tissue injury is a likely culprit of lingering pain and inconvenience. The medical and personal costs of such injuries can be considerable and should not be taken lightly. Though not as threatening or damaging as other forms of injuries common after a semi truck accident, they are considered damages worthy of compensation through legal means. If you notice the signs of a soft tissue injury while recovering from a semi truck accident, please mention it to your personal physician and consult one of our expert semi truck accident attorneys as soon as possible.
Soft tissue injury is a collective term used to describe persistent pain in muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. Repetitive, forceful movements or maintaining an awkward posture for an extended period of time are the primary causes. Noticeable conditions resulting from a soft tissue injury include: muscle sprains and strains, injuries to muscle ligaments, invertebrate discs and other structures in the back, nerve injuries in the arms, wrists, shoulders, necks or legs, abdominal hernias and general chronic pain. While minor forms of soft tissue injury can occur from repetitive stress disorder, massive damage can be incurred as a result of a semi truck accident.
Our semi truck accident attorneys sympathize with those suffering from a herniated disc caused by a semi-truck accident. An injury involving the spinal cord, the damaged disc can cause intense head, neck and back pain for the victim of a semi truck accident. If you are not at fault for a semi truck accident which results in a herniated disc, our semi truck accident attorneys believe the physical damage to your body coupled with emotional trauma entitles you to compensation from the party at fault.
The spine is made up of a series of small, round, and flat discs. Upon injury, such as a semi truck accident, or through normal wear and tear, the discs can form into an abnormal bulge or rupture. A slipped or herniated disc is the result. Spinal discs deteriorate over time and become rigid and dry, thus becoming more susceptible to damage with age. A semi truck accident injury can hasten the formation of this aged state, causing tiny tears and other physical damage around the covering of the disc.
A sudden, excessive amount of pressure on a weakened disc might cause the jellylike material in the center of the disc to squeeze through the tears in the capsule covering, forcing the disc to rupture (or herniated) into the surrounding space near the nerve root or spinal canal. The result is an injured disc that can interfere with nerve function, leading to numbness, weakness, and pain.
In many cases, the symptoms of a herniated disc can addressed through nonsurgical treatments and will fade over time. Surgery is only required in some cases.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Our semi truck accident attorneys know the potential signs of TBI and can assist you in receiving additional compensatory damages when the cause of your injury is the fault of a third-party. After a semi truck accident, it might be possible the pain in your head or neck is more than a temporary nuisance. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can lead to consequences ranging from physical disability to sudden mood swings which might go unnoticed by the victim for an extended period of time. The personal, respectful attention our semi truck acccident lawyers give to sufferers of TBI is grounded in our commitment to serve those injured by semi truck accidents.
Traumatic brain injury occurs when the brain is injured by a sudden force, or trauma. The brain can be driven into the side of the skull by a sudden blow, or by the force of shaking or “whiplash.” In either case, the brain can suffer bruising and swelling, and in some cases the impact will be sufficient to tear blood vessels into the brain, causing intracranial bleeding.
If the trauma results in damage to the skull itself, such as a crack or break, the trauma is considered a penetrating head injury. More difficult to diagnose are closed head injuries, in which the brain is injured but the skull remains undamaged. This can occur from a blow or impact, or from severe back-and-forth shaking, such as whiplash. Babies and small children can suffer such injuries from being shaken, the so-called “shaken baby syndrome.”
In any case of closed head TBI it is necessary to study the symptoms following the accident in order to diagnose the condition. Anyone who has sustained a blow to the head or whiplash-like injuries should be evaluated by a medical professional to determine if TBI has taken place. In many cases the symptoms may be so slight as to escape the victim’s notice, but if treatment is not available, further injury can develop. Often the symptoms may be delayed for many hours, until swelling in the brain reaches a point it affects the victim.
TBI can cause serious, life-threatening events and can result in permanent irreversible damage to the brain. It can lead to paralysis, seizures, blindness, memory loss, impaired communication skills, and many other disabilities. Symptoms may be as obvious as coma or as subtle as a change in emotional behavior. TBI can have a profound effect on quality of life, including inability to work, inability to interact socially and within the family, loss of normal body skills, etc.
Our semi truck accident lawyers have a wealth of experience when dealing with wrongful death suits. The premature loss of a loved one in a semi truck accident is a heinous and upsetting event. Ensuring our clients will be compensated for their tragic loss to the fullest extent of the law is a noble purpose we take great care in pursuing.
Wrongful death is the term used when someone causes the death of another person. The death may be caused by the actions of someone or by their failure to act (negligence). Wrongful death is a civil action rather than a criminal action. Since the person killed (decedent) cannot file suit or collect damages, the family or representatives of the estate must do so. The intent is to recompense family members who have suffered monetarily and emotionally from the death. Damages can be assessed for lost wages and benefits, loss of companionship, and emotional pain and suffering caused by the trauma.
A defendant can only be held responsible for a wrongful death if it can be proved the defendant’s conduct was the cause of the death. It must be proved the death would not have occurred without the defendant’s act. The time between the defendant’s action and the death of the decedent is not a factor as long as it can be proved the defendant’s action was the cause of death.
If it can be shown the decedent was partially responsible for his death, then he may be found to have comparative or contributory negligence and dependent upon the state in which the incident occurred, damages may be awarded based on the percentage of negligence imputed to the decedent. Also, if the decedent failed to seek appropriate medical care and the failure led to his or her death, there may be no grounds for a wrongful death claim or a reduction to an award.
Different states have different methods for deciding who may file a wrongful death suit and who may recover damages. Generally, it must be shown the death was caused by another’s wrongful act, the act was such the decedent would have been due damages from the act, and monetary damages arose from the act. If these three criteria are met, it is possible a wrongful death claim can be filed.
In a case of wrongful death, damages are assessed to compensate family members for their loss. There are many ways in which damages can be calculated. Since damages can be awarded in a number of areas, it is important to examine each one carefully.
The most obvious loss in a case of wrongful death is the actual expense occasioned by medical and death expenses. These are usually easy to determine.
Less obvious but equally important is the loss of future earnings and benefits, as well as the loss of companionship. These damages are more difficult to calculate and include anticipating the lifespan and earnings of the decedent, as well as the relationship to remaining family members.
Loss of companionship is very difficult to calculate since it is totally subjective and does not lend itself to empirical measurements. It is a measure of the emotional pain and suffering experienced by the survivors.
A final area of damages is punitive damages. This is an amount awarded to punish the person who caused the death, rather than to compensate for a specific loss. It can typically only be awarded when the action of the defendant was intentional or grossly negligent.